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, May 31, 2006

The crisis in Balochistan

On May 25, the US Institute of Peace hosted an event entitled The Crisis in Balochistan. This event was meant to highlight the ongoing unrest in Balochistan, and provide information on the causes of the unrest.

Archived audio of the event can be found at the link above, which goes to the USIP page for the event. It is an mp3 file, about 16 Meg in size, and runs about 90 minutes.

The event was moderated by J Alexander Thier of the USIP.

The panelists were:

  • Senator Sanaullah Baloch, (via video)
    Senate of Pakistan

  • Frederic Grare
    Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

  • Selig Harrison
    Center for International Policy

Some photos of the event can be found in a post at the Government of Balochistan in Exile blog.

Thier welcomed everybody. He said the focus of the event would be primarily on Pakistani Balochistan, which has been a place of "frequent and unresolved conflict." He brought up the old conundrum of whether this was a police action or military action, whether this was terrorism or a nationalist insurgency.

He brought up three strategic interests involving Balochistan that should concern us all. The first is the stability of Pakistan itself. The second is the stability of Afghanistan and the region. The third is the broader economic picture (ports, mineral wealth, etc...).

The first speaker was Senator Sanaullah Baloch, who spoke via a recorded video presentation. The Senator was awarded a National Endowment for Democracy fellowship, and had a visa to come to the US in March, awarded by the State Dept, but the visa was cancelled. (I hope that's not a statement of US support, or lack thereof, for Balochistan.)

The Senator said Pakistani pressure led to the cancellation of his visa. (Has anyone seen the State Dept's backbone?)

He started by talking about the forced merger of Balochistan with Pakistan. (For more on this, see here, here and here at GOB Exile.)

The Senator spoke about the poliics of the region. Balochistan is in between two nuclear states, Iran and Pakistan. He reviewed past and present military action in Balochistan. He spoke of natural resources in Balochistan, and how the province receives a small share of the benefits. For instance, much of the gas is piped elsewhere in Pakistan. Also, Pakistan's government has awarded some resource concessions to China. (And China is also developing the port of Gwadar, where the local population receives little benefit in terms of employment, etc...)

As an example, he cited a large mine in which Pakistan's government will get 48% of the benefits, the Chinese will get 50%, and Balochistan will get 2%.

He spoke about the extent of Pakistani military sites throughout Balochistan. But, he said there was little human resource development for the people of Balochistan.

He spoke about the role of political parties in the Balochistan issue. He said the Taliban active in Balochistan operate there against the wishes of Baloch parties.

He addressed the human rights violations in Balochistan. The Pakistani military seeks to intimidate activists in Balochistan. Pakistan has not signed various human rights standards.

The next speaker was Selig Harrison.

He noticed several Balochs in the audience.

He pointed out how Balochistan also includes parts of Afghanistan, and of Iran. He said Iranian forces in Iranian Balochistan have been bombing and strafing Baloch villages. Reasons include stepped up Baloch activity there, but also because Iran suspect the Balochs are cooperating with US Special Forces operating in Iran. He said 3,000 troops have been sent to the area.

He reviewed the brutality of past Pakistani oppression in Balochistan, and how it plays a role in the unrest today. (In the 1970s, Pakistan used Iranian helicopters, given to Iran by the US, and even used Iranian pilots. The Shah was fearful of Baloch unrest spreading to Iran.)

He said the Pakistani military doesn't officially acknowledge the operations in Balochistan, and keeps journalists out for the most part. Human Rights organizations report indiscriminate bombing and strafing. Some of this involves US-supplied helicopters which were meant to fight the Taliban.

He said the Bush Administration should call on the Musharraf government to start negotiations with Balochistan immediately. He said Pakistan is likely to become increasingly ungovernable if the unrest continues long-term without a political settlement. He said aid to Pakistan should be withheld until the military repression is stopped and negotiations are started.

He said the US should then support democratization efforts in Balochistan once the present crisis is diffused. (It would include autonomy for Sindhis and Pashtuns.)

The third speaker was Frederic Grare.

He said he would try to place the previous discussion into some context.

(His accent and sound level made him difficult to understand at times.)

He said there was no love lost between the fundamentalists in the Pashtun belt and the Baloch nationalists in the Baloch districts of Balochistan.

He said an independent Balochistan may not be viable if it has to depend largely on natural resource development. There must be other elements.

He, too, pointed out how natural resources are largely benefiting other regions of Pakistan. He said it's not that no natural resources should be used outside Balochistan, but what are the priorities.

He spoke about Gwadar, and how little of the development there benefits the Baloch population living in the area.

He spoke of how the presence of the Pakistani military combined with the lack of benefits from natural resources causes resentment in the Baloch people, and is a factor in the unrest.

He talked about the implications of an independent Balochistan. He said it might lead to another area of instability in the region, which doesn't need it. He said Balochistan doesn't currently have the human resources for its own development. Pakistan would feel the loss of natural resources.

He said there is a split between those who want a negotiated settlement, and those who want a military settlement.

The remainder of the time (about 40 minutes) was given over to a Q&A session.

Other accounts of this event can be found at the Daily Times, and at the Pakistan Christian Post.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Tremors in Iran

Numerous protests have erupted all across Iran in the last week or so. Gateway Pundit has had good coverage (see here and here), and The Spirit of Man blog has good coverage and pictures as well.

Amir Taheri has a must-read column that points out how Iran, far from being a Persian monolith, may be fracturing along ethnic and tribal lines.

One of the most important groups to keep an eye on are the Azeris. They are a signficiant portion of the Iranian population, perhaps as much as 25%. Their ancestral homes in NW Iran are closely linked with neighboring Azerbaijan. Some of the largest protests have been in NW Iran. Read through the links I've posted above. Also, Regime Change Iran links to a report that two Azeri journalists were detained.

In fact, the border between Azerbaijan and Iran was formed in 1828, in the Turkmanchay treaty between Russia and Persia. Tabriz, an Azeri city which has experienced some of the protests, is now in NW Iran.

Azeris are a Turkic people, whereas Persians are an Indo-European people. Ancient tensions run deep.

Taheri writes:

Last week Tabriz, capital of East Azerbaijan, was the scene of anti-government demonstrations that, despite claims by some exile groups, were largely spontaneous. The trigger for the protests was a cartoon published in a government-owned newspaper depicting Azeris, Iran’s largest ethnic and linguistic minority, as “dumb cockroaches.”

No one knows how many Iranians have Azeri roots. However, official statistics indicate that Azeris form a majority in four provinces: East Azerbaijan, West Azerbaijan, Ardebil and Zanjan. Taking into account Azeris living in other provinces, at times for generations, the community may be 15 million strong.

For centuries, Azeris have played a leadership role and served as the vanguard of such historic events as the 1906 Constitutional Revolution. Their Shiite faith and passionate attachment to Iranian nationhood have made them the backbone of the modern Iranian nation-state.

Azeris also played a crucial role in sweeping the late Ayatollah Khomeini to power in 1979. Immediately after the revolution, however, Khomeini moved to stop the rise of Azeri influence in his newly created Islamic republic.

One such move was to defrock Grand Ayatollah Kazem Shariatmadari, an eminent Azeri theologian and one of the most respected Shiite leaders of the last century. Most Azeris saw the move as a direct attack on themselves. They were also outraged by the fact that Khomeini had forgotten that he owed his own title of ayatollah to a decree signed by Shariatmadari in 1963.

What was perceived as the Islamic republic’s anti-Azeri stance came into sharper focus in 1989 when the then President Hashemi Rafsanjani flew to Baku, capital of Soviet Azerbaijan, to call on the population not to seek independence from the USSR.

Rafsanjani’s visit came at a time when Baku was still trying to recover from a crackdown launched by Soviet troops, including naval units, on Mikhail Gorbachev’s orders. Iranian Azeris had expected Tehran to support their fellow-Shiites in Soviet Azerbaijan rather than invite them to remain under Soviet colonial yoke.

In the years that followed matters worsened, as far as Azeris were concerned. In the war over the enclave of High Qarabagh, the Islamic republic supported Christian Armenia against Shiite Azerbaijan. Tehran also incited the Sunni minority in the Talesh area of the former Soviet Azerbaijan against the Shiite government in Baku.

In his excellent book The Ends of the Earth, Robert Kaplan writes the following about Azerbaijan:

Azerbaijan's borders were senseless, including both a flat, windswept littoral jutting out into the Caspin, centered around Baku, and a rugged subtropical chain of mountains surrounding the Armendian enclave of Nagorno (Mountainous) Karabakh.
A bigger problem was that less than half of the Azeri Turks lived in Azerbaijan, the rest lived south of the international border in Iran.
Nothing even remotely similar to what Ataturk or Ozal had done occurred in Azerbaijan. And because many of the communist overlords in Baku were not only Russians but Azeris too, Azerbaijan suffered a disorienting tyranny that divided the inhabitants rather than uniting them (as Ottoman tyranny had united the Armenians.) The Turks of Azerbaijan had never become a nation, regardless of what the maps in 990s said.
Contradictions abounded. The Qom faithful supported their brother Moslems in Azerbaijan struggling against the Christian Orthodox Armenians. On the other hand, Qomis feared an enlarged Azerbaijani state because, as Persians, their loyalties lay with their fellow Indo-Europeans, the Armenians who were Persia's traditional allies against the Turks. An Azerbaijani victory would help Turkey and endanger Iran.

A similar clash of past history and the present could be found in other ethnic groups in Iran. The Kurds, the Arabs, the Balochs, etc...

The mullahs are trying to hold tight to their power, but subjugated people in Iran drawing strength from their ethnic identities to stand up to the brutal regime.

There are reasons to believe the Iranian regime can be toppled from within. Will the United States stand up and voice strong support for regime change?

Would China go to war over oil?

From the Jamestown Foundation:

An article in the April edition of the Far Eastern Economic Review, written by two senior Chinese academics, reveals that China would go to war to secure its energy needs. For the past few years, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) has reorganized the army into combined arms battle groups in order to perform this mission, which it has labeled the doctrine of "active defense." The PLA is being organized and equipped to fight its battles deep inside an enemy's territory, rather than on the periphery or in the Chinese hinterland as envisioned by the "people's war" theory, which Mao himself acknowledged creates a large amount of infrastructure destruction.

By the end of the decade, Kazakhstan will become vital to China's energy security. China is buying up Kazakh oilfields and companies. If there were to be a problem with the flow of oil to China, its doctrinal philosophy of "active defense" means that the Chinese government will launch a pre-emptive strike to ensure the security of the state and its assets. The PLA is mechanizing much of its army and is creating at least two powerful armor heavy mechanized corps modeled after the 1980s Soviet Operational Maneuver Groups, which are designed for both breakthrough and exploitation roles in an offensive operation. Too heavy for amphibious deployment against Taiwan or for operations in China's tropical areas, the corps is designed to ensure China's future energy security. The force, using Xinjiang province as its springboard, would quickly overrun the defenses of any Central Asian state and would then be able to secure relevant oilfields. The PLA has already announced its readiness to go to the next stage of its development and "forge a strong military force powerful enough to take on important missions on the basis of China's economic development".

The Chinese government views stability as essential to China's future growth and the PLA group in Shenyang will have another armor heavy corps to ensure the stability of China's heavily industrialized northwest. An unstable, nuclear-armed North Korea would be viewed with alarm in Beijing, and the economic and military power of a unified Korea on its northwestern border could be seen as another reason for intervention. The armor heavy corps could easily cross the Yalu River and quickly occupy large parts of the country, as most of North Korea's weapons systems are on the border facing South Korea.

Iran and the SCO

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is meeting in Moscow today. (See my post here for some background on the SCO.)

Currently the SCO includes Russia, China, and the Central Asian states of Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

One important matter the SCO is considering is whether to admit Iran as a full member. Iran currently has observer status, along with Mongolia, India and Pakistan.

The SCO should take up the matter at their summit in Shanghai in June. Iranian President Ahmadinejad hopes to attend.

In an opinion piece at RIA Novosti, Dmitry Kosyrev outlines why Iranian membership is a thorny issue for the SCO.

At that time, political scientists that were not well informed on the true workings of the organization jubilated at its success: after all, everyone with serious interests in Central Asia was shifting towards the SCO. Sum up the population of these countries, and you will get an incredible publicity effect.

What has happened? For obvious reasons, everyone was interested whether Iran would be accepted as a member this summer. The answer in Shanghai was a clear no. Neither Iran with its complicated relations with the U.S. and the IAEA, nor European Belarus, nor Pakistan with its attempts to find new friends in the wake of the ongoing Indian-American rapprochement, none of them will join the SCO now.

The reason is not so much the lack of understanding - and documents - of what new members will bring the SCO. Is it necessary to review, for instance, their agreements and treaties with other nations?

The problem is that there is too much politics and too many words and general declarations around the SCO. New members mean new declarations. According to available information, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who will attend the forthcoming summit in Shanghai, was asked to speak not so much of America and Israel as of Iran's role as the region's economic partner.

Economy is the key, the essence of existence. In short, the SCO envisages security guarantees plus economic and social development of Central Asia. That's all.

Given the serious matters confronting the UN over Iran's nuclear program, giving Iran full membership in the SCO would be seen as a move against the US, since the SCO is becoming a vehicle to squeeze the US out of Central Asia.

And since the June summit is ahead of the July meeting of the G-8 in St. Petersburg, Russia may be wary of creating a hot button issue for itself that could cause tensions in what will already be a closely watched G-8 meeting.

Oil politics play a large role in the SCO, and Iran wants to be involved. The SCO can signal how willing it is to oppose the West by whether or not it gives Iran full membership this summer.

Monday, May 29, 2006

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 Peace Like a River and Security Watchtower.

Top Topics

* A U.S.-led coalition strike on a militant training facility in Afghanistan's borderlands with Pakistan killed five suspected extremists, including senior Taliban leaders, the U.S. military said Saturday. The military said that "key senior leaders of the Taliban network" were among the five dead in the strike late Friday on the site at the remote Qal'a Sak village in Helmand province.

* Following protests over the publication of a controversial cartoon that enraged the Azeri minority in Iran, government officials are blaming outsiders for the unrest. Gateway Pundit has more analysis and photographs of the protests and response (More here).

* Islamic and secular militias battled in Somalia's capital Thursday, the most widespread and some of the deadliest fighting in Mogadishu in 14 years. Dozens of people were killed and thousands fled their homes on foot.

* Violence flared up along the Israeli-Lebanon border, when Palestinian militants fired Katyusha rockets from Lebanon into northern Israel on Sunday, prompting Israeli airstrikes against two terror camps in retaliation. Later in the day a Hezbollah sniper shot an Israeli soldier, setting off additional airstrikes. By Sunday night, Israel had agreed to UN-brokered ceasefire.

Other topics today include: Hamas gunmen reappear in Gaza; Abbas to expand security force; Palestinian terrorists detained in Burin; Ahmadinejad doubts Holocaust again and consolidates power; IDF counterterrorism operations; Hamas rejects Abbas plan; Saudi charities; Hayden confirmed as CIA chief; Padilla's al Qaeda connections; Manhattan subway plotter convicted; Canadian cell funding terror; Russian plots averted; Beslan terrorist gets life in prison; Russia to sell Iran missiles; Militants detained in Chechnya; Violence in southern Afghanistan; Peace talks in Nepal; Kashmir bus bombing; Osama bin Laden sighting reported; Pakistan's war against al Qaeda; Pakistan looking at Waziri withdrawal; Tourists killed in Sri Lanka landmine attack; Violence in Timor; Japan to boost maritime security; Alleged ties between Philippine communist rebels-Jemaah Islamiyah; UK to extradite 9/11 suspect to Spain; Britain uncovered 20 major conspiracies; EU to add Tamil Tigers to terror list; Fierce fighting in Somalia and more.

Iran & the Middle East

* Following orders to keep a lower profile, Hamas gunmen have reappeared in limited numbers in areas of Gaza on Sunday.

* Three Palestinians have been killed in Gaza on Friday after attempting to dismantle an unexploded artillery found outside their home.

* According to several reports, Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas intends to increase his Presidential Guard to 10,000 members.

* Following recent escalation of violence on the Israeli-Lebanese border, Israeli secret services are concerned about a possible terrorist attack against Israeli diplomatic and economical locations abroad, especially in Eastern Europe.

* Two Arab terrorists on their way to strike Israel were captured by IDF troops in the town of Burin, south of Shechem. The two men were carrying explosive charges. The Arabs tried to evade capture before their arrest and threw away their explosives. The explosives were recovered and exploded by police sappers.

* Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told Germans they should no longer allow themselves to be held prisoner by a sense of guilt over the Holocaust and reiterated doubts that the Holocaust even happened. Ahmadinejad said he doubted Germans were allowed to write "the truth" about the Holocaust and said he was still considering traveling to Germany for the World Cup soccer tournament, despite what he called a "Zionist plot" trying to prevent him from attending.

* Egyptian prisoner Abdel-Fattah’s blog has become one of the most popular pro-democracy voices in Egypt. He has continued writing despite being arrested in early May during a street demonstration in Cairo - part of a crackdown on reform activists by Egyptian security forces.

* President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is trying to consolidate power in the office of the presidency in a way never before seen in the 27-year history of the Islamic Republic, apparently with the tacit approval of Iran's supreme leader, according to government officials and political analysts here.

* IDF soldiers involved in counter-terrorism operations throughout Judea and Samaria on Sunday arrested 13 suspects. Arrests were made south of Jenin, near Ramallah, in Bethlehem and the Hevron area. Suspects in custody include Islamic Jihad, Fatah Tanzim and Hamas terrorists.

* On Saturday, Hamas rejected a deadline set by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to accept a plan that indirectly calls for recognition of Israel, which he has threatened to put to a referendum.

* Crossroads Arabia has the latest on Saudi efforts to restrict charities, now prohibited them from soliciting donations at government schools, private schools and other educational institutions in Saudi Arabia, such as colleges and universities.

* Abu Hamze, a senior Islamic Jihad official, and his brother Nidal were killed in southern Lebanon in a car bombing on Friday that the Palestinian terrorist group blamed on Israel.

* Late Saturday, gunmen open fired at IDF soldiers operating in Samaria near Assira a-Shimaliya. No injuries were reported. On Sunday, IDF troops fired on two Arab terrorists as they were approaching the security barrier separating Gaza from the Negev, near kibbutz Kfar Aza.

America Domestic Security & the Americas

* After hearing assurances he will be independent of the Pentagon, the Senate on Friday easily confirmed Gen. Michael Hayden, a career Air Force man, to head the CIA. Hayden, a four-star general, currently is the top deputy to National Intelligence Director John Negroponte.

* In unusually frank criticism of U.S. policy on Cuba by a top military officer, the outgoing head of the Miami-based Southern Command said Thursday he favors a top-to-bottom review of the policies, including a long-standing ban on most contacts between the U.S. and Cuban militaries. The comments by Army Gen. Bantz J. Craddock came just days before President Bush is to receive a major report on U.S. policies toward the island, coordinated by the State Department but with input from other agencies, including the Department of Defense.

* Federal investigators say they have evidence that former Chicago street gang member Jose Padilla was a higher ranking member of Al Qaeda than first thought.

* In 2004 Shahawar Matin Siraj settled on bombing one of Manhattan's busiest subway stations - a scheme that resulted in his conviction Wednesday on federal conspiracy charges. A jury in Brooklyn deliberated two days and reached the verdict in a case that cast a spotlight on the New York Police Department's efforts to monitor radical Muslims after the Sept. 11 attacks. Siraj faces up to life in prison at sentencing Oct. 5, although the term could be much shorter under sentencing guidelines.

* A federal judge sentenced a Lebanese man to the maximum five years in prison for conspiring to help the group Hezbollah, turning aside his plea for mercy "if not for me, then for my kids." U.S. District Judge Harvey Schlesinger imposed the maximum sentence, plus five years' probation, Thursday for Fadl Mohammad Maatouk.

* A criminal cell operating across Canada is funneling millions of dollars to Dubai to fund terrorist activities through a sophisticated credit/debit card fraud scheme, says the head of Alberta's Integrated Response to Organized Crime unit.

Russia, Caucasus & Central Asia

* According to Russian Deputy Prosecutor-General Nikolay Shepel, forty nine planned terrorist attacks were averted by the Russian security services in South Russia during the investigation into the Beslan case.

* The opening of the Baku Tbilisi Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline comes amid heightened security and the potential of terror attacks on the new Caspian supply route to western demand.

* A southern Russian court sentenced to life in prison the only known surviving hostage-taker in the Beslan school siege, a ruling that failed to appease many victims' families who had hoped the trial would expose the role negligence by Russian authorities played in the siege's deadly outcome.

* Russian defence minister Sergie Ivanov has confirmed that Moscow intends to honour a controversial deal to supply Iran with surface-to-air missiles. The contract for up to 30 missile systems would be fulfilled except in "extraordinary circumstances".

* According to an Iranian official, Russia wants Iran and European countries to resume talks on Iran's nuclear programme and stands firmly against the use of force.

* Kyrgyz security forces detained and interrogated prominent Islamic preacher Sheikh Rafiq Kamalov, the imam of Jami-mosque Al-Sarhasiy in Karasu city, after the security services found a book with his phone number among the personal belongings of the gang members killed during May 12th raid on the Kyrgyz border.

* Law enforcement officers detained four militants in the south of Chechnya, the republic's Interior Ministry said Saturday. Local police detained three militants in the Shatoi District, and another one, suspected of being involved in grave crimes in the region in the past years, in the Shali District.

* The Russian Federal Security Service's border troops will change over to recruiting professionals, not conscripts beginning in 2008, FSB First Deputy Director and border service chief Vladimir Pronichev said on Sunday.

* A monument to Soviet secret police founder Felix Dzerzhinsky was unveiled in the Belarusian capital Minsk, provoking protests from human rights defenders and opposition politicians. Dzerzhinsky, reviled by critics of the Soviet era, helped establish the first Soviet secret service, called the Cheka, in 1917 under Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin.

* The Russian Federal Drug Control Agency will open foreign representations in eight countries, including Afghanistan and Tajikistan, in 2006, Viktor Cherkesov, the agency's director, told journalists.

Afghanistan & Southern Asia

* An upsurge in violence in Afghanistan over the past week was the result of pressure on the Taliban from al-Qaeda and other supporters, a provincial governor said, citing Afghan intelligence. This included al-Qaeda and other militants based in neighbouring Pakistan, said Asadullah Khalid, governor of Kandahar province, which has seen the bulk of the unrest.

* Three Taliban militants and two policemen were killed in a clash in southwestern Afghanistan on Friday, a provincial official said. The clash erupted after guerrillas ambushed a convoy of police in Ghazni province, southwest of the capital Kabul.

* In the wild, unforgiving terrain of southern Afghanistan, over which people have fought for centuries, the latest players on the battlefield are crack British troops in light, maneuverable Land Rovers. The Pathfinders, an elite unit of 16 Air Assault Brigade, spent five days on a grueling pursuit of Taliban militants across this rugged landscape, it emerged yesterday. The hunt culminated in their first engagement with the Taliban since 3,300 British troops arrived in Helmand province.

* Nepal's government and Maoist rebels began their first peace talks in nearly three years on Friday in a bid to end a decade-long insurgency that has cost thousands of lives.

* A bomb planted on a Kashmir tourist bus that killed four Indians came as a bloody reminder that peace efforts by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh cannot ignore the demands of armed Muslim rebels. No one claimed responsibility for the explosion which hit Srinagar shortly after the premier wrapped up a two-day roundtable here Thursday evening with a pledge to look at devolving more power to Indian Kashmir and to halt human rights abuses.

* The Pakistan-based chief of an alliance of Muslim militant groups fighting New Delhi’s rule in Kashmir said the guerrillas would continue their struggle until the region secedes from India, a report said on Friday.

* Two terrorists were killed and an army jawan injured in a gunbattle in Badgam district of Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday, a defence spokesman said.

* With a spurt being witnessed in terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and reports of 59 terrorist camps operating from across the border, India will ask Pakistan what steps it has taken on the ground to dismantle terror infrastructure on its soil when top officials of the two countries meet in Islamabad on Tuesday.

* Pro-Taliban militants shot dead a trader whom they accused of spying for government forces in a restive Pakistani tribal region bordering Afghanistan, officials said.

* Here are the daily updates from the South Asia Terrorism Portal for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

* Reports that US has not closed Pakistani nuclear scientist AQ Khan's case and that Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden has been sighted in North West Frontier Province (NWFP) are seen as indicators that President Pervez Musharraf is coming under renewed American pressure.

* Pakistani security agencies have arrested more than 1,000 al-Qaeda suspects between January 2002 and May 2006, according to a comprehensive study by the Pak Institute of Peace Studies (PIPS).

* A large quantity of explosives have been seized by Pakistani police during a dawn raid in Karachi, reports say. Two men were arrested during the operation on suspicion of supplying bomb-making material.

* Sources in northern Pakistan have told AKI that Islamabad is rapidly reviewing its policies on Waziristan and will eventually withdraw its troops and recognise the Pakistani Taliban militants who in practice run the tribal region.

* A powerful bomb blew up a gas pipeline in a remote town of insurgency-wracked southwestern Pakistan, gutting dozens of shops but causing no casualties, a government official said Saturday.

* Seven people have died when a jeep carrying Sri Lankan tourists hit a landmine in a national park in the northwest of the country. The army found bodies in a destroyed jeep in Wilpattu National Park, near the area held by the Tamil Tigers.

Far East & Southeast Asia

* Women and children ran screaming from their homes as renegade militias burned dozens of homes in East Timor's capital Saturday, even as foreign troops worked to stem violence that threatens to split the nation. Civilian militiamen armed with machetes and spears roamed neighborhoods in southern Dili, throwing rocks through the windows of the small, tin-roofed houses and setting them on fire. In response, Australia is sending hundreds of more troops in hopes of containing the violence.

* Filipino minority party members are calling for a recently signed agreement between the U.S. and Philippines to be submitted to the Senate for review and ratification, a move the current government calls unnecessary. The new agreement aims to bolster the mutual efforts of the two allies in combating terrorism and other security threats.

* Don Randall, a Liberal Party MP and Chairman of the Australia-Sri Lanka Friendship Group, blasted the LTTE's spokesperson in the Australian Federal parliament, John Murphy, for making allegations against the democratically elected Sri Lankan government and aligning himself with a terrorist organisation.

* The Japan Coast Guard will heighten efforts to deal with pirates in the Malacca Strait and other areas of Southeast Asia to protect Japanese ships against attacks. The coast guard will establish a five-member team of experts in anti-piracy issues, who will gather information from dangerous areas, analyze the data and come up with countermeasures. The information will be shared with shipping companies.

* Communist insurgents attacked the southern Philippine village of San Roque and killed three people while wounding four others. According to Colonel Ricardo Visaya, commander of the 69th Infantry battalion, communist rebels from the New People's Army (NPA) have ties to Jemaah Islamiyah.

* Two Filipinos will share a 500,000-dollar reward from the US government for a tip that led to the arrest of a key terror suspect in the southern Philippines last year, the US Embassy said Monday. Hilarion del Rosario Santos III, the alleged head of the Rajah Solaiman Movement, a group of Christian converts to Islam that has been closely associated with Al Qaeda-linked militants, was arrested in southern Zamboanga city in October together with six other suspects.


* Is there a threat for foreign visitors in Germany? Recently there has been a lot of discussion about safety for foreigners in Germany. Discussion that is very unwelcome by the German government, because it damages Germanys image right before the start of the football world cup.

* A London court ruled today to extradite to Spain a supposed Al Qaeda activist who is believed to have been connected with the 9/11 terrorist attacks. 38-year-old Farid Hilalili has 14 days to appeal the court’s decision before the Supreme Court which must make a final ruling on the extradition of the Moroccan.

* According to British Defense Secretary John Reid, security services have uncovered twenty major conspiracies being plotted by Islamists in Britain.

* The Old Bailey has heard that members of an alleged British terror cell discussed planting explosives in London's famous Ministry of Sound nightclub. In secret recordings made by security surveillance teams, Akbar and Omar Khyam, another member of the alleged al-Qa'eda-linked cell, appear to discuss possible targets.

* Poland has dissolved its military intelligence service in a bid to weed out communist-era spies. Polish lawmakers voted 375 to 48 to do away with the old service, which has seen no reform since the fall of communism in 1989, and replace it with two new agencies, called the Military Intelligence Agency and the Military Counterintelligence Agency.

* Along with stone lifting and all-male cooking clubs, hearty traditions in Spain's Basque Country include violent rampages by "the puppies of ETA" -- young supporters of the separatist guerrilla group. A quiet summer would be a boon for Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who hopes to be able to tell parliament in June that ETA is honouring a permanent ceasefire it declared in March after 38 years of armed struggle for Basque independence.

* The European Union is expected to put Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers on its list of terrorist groups next week, a spokesman for the EU's Austrian presidency said Saturday. The EU move, agreed in principle on May 18, is an item on the agenda of a meeting of the 25-member bloc's ministers in Brussels.

* Adnkronos International (AKI) is reporting on the suicide bomber recruitment effort in Iran and a telephone interview they conducted with Mohammad Ali Samadi, spokesmen for Setad Pasdasht Shohadaye Nehzat Jahani Islam (Headquarters for the Commemoration of the Martyrs of the International Islamic Movement). According to Samadi, suicide bomber applicants are allowed to select whether they would like to attack Israel, the United States or Great Britain, but proposals are underway to expand upon that and add other European nations to the list.


* Heavy artillery, mortar shelling and gunfire killed at least 20 people in a fourth day of fighting between rival militias in the Somali capital, residents and militia leaders said on Saturday.

* A report from PINR entitled Somalia's Tangled Web Becomes Contorted examines the myriad of competing factions and interests in Somalia. The report says "The most important and complicating recent development in Somalia's political situation is the rise of the I.C.U., which marks the emergence of Islamism as a major force that cuts across traditional social divisions and has polarized them to some extent, disrupted the tenuous and shifting balance of power, and challenged traditional modes of dispute resolution by transcending to some degree the clan structure."

* A baby with its leg blown off by shrapnel. Corpses in the streets. The wounded writhing in pain inside wheelbarrows, the only ambulances around. Horrible memories have followed those who fled the war-ravaged Somali capital, Mogadishu, this week for the relative safety of this town about 50 miles down the coast.

* One of the world's most wanted rebel chiefs, Joseph Kony, of the Lord's Resistance Army, has called for an end to his 20-year war with the Ugandan government. "Most people do not know me...I am not a terrorist," the elusive Kony said from the southern Sudanese bush in the first video footage seen of him for years.

The Global War

* The United States has offered to help an Indian state remove thousands of mines planted by Maoist rebels and train its police force to battle the insurgents, a senior Indian official said on Friday. Two American diplomats made the offer to the government of the central state of Chhattisgarh during a visit on Thursday, said B.K.S. Ray, senior state official for home affairs.

* Relatives of Omagh bomb victims demanding the closure of a Real IRA support website hosted in Toronto have requested a meeting with the Canadian Ambassador in London. It features a public forum topic on 101 ways to murder Lord Trimble.

* This roundup on terrorism was at FreeRepublic.

Thanks for reading! If you found something here you want to blog about yourself (and we hope you do), all we ask is that you do as we do and offer a Hat Tip hyperlink to today's "Winds of War". If you think we missed something important, use the Comments section to let us know. For ongoing tips, email "MondayWindsOfWar", over here

Update to my thank-you Maya post

In that post, I mentioned I was contacted by someone whose family member had met Captain Furat in Iraq. This "American Mother" and other family members have left a number of comments in my posts on Capt. Furat. You can read through by following the links to previous posts.

Here is a photo of Renee. This picture was taken in February 2006 when she was presented with the "Employee Of The Year" award, at the Idaho State Correctional Institution. Standing with husband, Mark Segrove, and grandson, Little Andre'.

Previous posts

The future of Iraq
Update on Captain Furat
Another update on Captain Furat
Thank you, Maya

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Memorial Day

I shared some thoughts on Memorial Day over at the Bachmann v Wetterling blog I'm contributing.

I posted some links to some videos, photos and a story that are a good reminder of just what Memorial Day should mean to us.

We are free because of what others have done for us.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

If true, it's a big deal

From the NY Times:

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is trying to consolidate power in the office of the presidency in a way never before seen in the 27-year history of the Islamic Republic, apparently with the tacit approval of Iran's supreme leader, according to government officials and political analysts here.
Political analysts and people close to the government here say Mr. Ahmadinejad and his allies are trying to buttress a system of conservative clerical rule that has lost credibility with the public. Their strategy hinges on trying to win concessions from the West on Iran's nuclear program and opening direct, high-level talks with the United States, while easing social restrictions, cracking down on political dissent and building a new political class from outside the clergy.

Mr. Ahmadinejad is pressing far beyond the boundaries set by other presidents. For the first time since the revolution, a president has overshadowed the nation's chief cleric, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on both domestic and international affairs.

He has evicted the former president, Mohammad Khatami, from his offices, taken control of a crucial research organization away from another former president, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, challenged high-ranking clerics on the treatment of women and forced prominent academics out of the university system.

This certainly is one of the important questions here, just how much of what Ahmadinejad is doing has the blessing of Khamenei.

As for direct talks with the US, see Krauthammer's Friday column for the best argument against this.

Entering negotiations carries with it the responsibility to do something if they fail. The E.U. Three understood that when they took on the mullahs a couple of years ago. Bilateral U.S.-Iran talks are the perfect way to get Europe off the hook. They would preempt all the current discussions about sanctions, place all responsibility for success on the negotiations and set America up to take the blame for their inevitable failure.

It is an obvious trap. We should resolutely say no.

Except on one condition. If the allies, rather than shift responsibility for this entire process back to Washington, will reassert their responsibility by pledging support for U.S. and/or coalition military action against Iran in the event that the bilateral talks fail, then we might achieve something.

You want us to talk? Fine. We will go there, but only if you arm us with the largest stick of all: your public support for military action if the talks fail. The mullahs already fear economic sanctions; they will fear European-backed U.S. military action infinitely more. Such negotiations might actually accomplish something.

Friday, May 26, 2006

A plan for victory in Iraq

Frederick Kagan has an article in the Weekly Standard entitled A Plan for Victory in Iraq.

It is a serious plan, and worth considering. His thesis is that victory cannot come until the insurgency is neutralized to the point the Iraqis can provide security for their people. When citizens will not provide intelligence on the terrorists because of the real fear they will be murdered for doing so, the country cannot go forward.

Today, the Sunni Arab insurgency is the single most powerful force for disorder and violence in Iraq. Shiite militias, present since the beginning of the occupation, have grown in power in response to the spectacular bombings conducted by Islamist terrorists. Those terrorists, some of them foreigners, rely on the Sunni Arab community for safe havens, supplies, and other necessary assistance. They receive that support primarily because fear and disorder prevail. The breakdown of law and order in parts of the country reflects the difficulty of a robust Iraqi police force in the face of the insurgents' continuous attacks.

Here is his plan in a nutshell.

With an additional 7 brigades devoted to active combat operations, it should be possible to conduct clear-hold-build operations in two phases, totaling perhaps 12 to 18 months of significant combat, followed by a longer-term commitment of substantially smaller numbers of "leave-behind" forces. The general concept of the operation is to move from the outside in.

Phase I - The first phase of the operation would clear the three river valleys except for Ramadi.

Phase II - When clearing operations were completed, the ISF troops that had participated would remain in place to consolidate, supported by about 5 American battalions (2.5 brigades). That would leave about 9 battalions (4.5 brigades), in addition to those already deployed in Iraq, to continue active operations in the second phase: clearing Ramadi and the southern suburbs of Baghdad, and beginning to clear Baghdad itself.

There is much more in the article. Do give it some time.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

All you need to know about Russian gas politics

Well, most of it anyway. There is an excellent article by Pepe Escobar at the Asia Times on Russia and the leverage it has in its foreign relations given its enormous gas reserves. It's a lot to digest, but worth understanding, because it will help you understand why Russia does a lot of what it does. Here's an excerpt:

Whatever the results of the EU-Russia summit this Thursday in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, there seems to be one clear winner: the Gazprom nation - Russia.

With the United States - the European Union's No 1 trade partner and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ally - mired in the Iraq quagmire and the EU with an ongoing constitutional crisis, Russia is exceptionally positioned to have its way in the negotiations leading to the post-2007 "Strategic Partnership Treaty" between the EU and Russia.
Natural gas, "blue gold" in industry lingo, has become, in an emerging multipolar world, the prime source of intractable conflict and a formidable political and diplomatic weapon in the hands of such states as Russia, Iran, Venezuela and Bolivia.

Gas, unlike oil, complies with the constraints on carbon emissions defined by the Kyoto Protocol. It is even more abundant than oil; proven reserves, with existing technology, may last as many as 70 years, compared with 40 or so for oil. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), gas will be consumed in a faster progression (2.3% annually) than oil (1.6%), carbon (1.5%) or nuclear power (0.4%).

But there's a catch: for this to happen, says the IEA, the industry would need global investments totaling at least US$100 billion a year.

Before the January Russian-Ukrainian crisis, there had not been a geopolitical gas war. Now we've entered the era of pipeline power, where geopolitical turmoil is intimately linked to gas-pipeline routes, as in the Northern European Gas Pipeline, the Russian-German project under the Baltic Sea (bypassing Baltic states and Poland); the pipeline from Siberia prioritizing either China or Japan; and the pipeline from Venezuela to Argentina via Brazil, bypassing Bolivia.

Geopolitical turmoil is also linked to pipeline routes in the making, as in the Arctic, which pits the US against Canada, Russia against Norway (in the Barents Sea) and Denmark (in Greenland) against Canada. According to the US Geological Survey, 25% of the world's gas reserves still to be discovered lie in the Arctic.

Bask in the tolerance of the Academic Left

From the NY Times:

Douglas J. Feith's table at the Georgetown University faculty club is shaping up as a lonely one.

The move to a teaching position at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown by Mr. Feith, a former Pentagon official, set off a faculty kerfuffle, with 72 professors, administrators and graduate students signing a letter of protest, some going as far as to accuse him of war crimes.

Some critics complain about the process. (He was hired without a faculty vote.)

Some complain about the war in Iraq. (Mr. Feith has been accused of promoting it with skewed intelligence.)

All say the open protest is unusual at a place that embraces former officials as part of its panache. A former secretary of state, Madeleine K. Albright; a former national security adviser, Anthony Lake; and a former director of central intelligence, George J. Tenet, have joined the faculty without event.

But Mr. Feith, a former under secretary of defense for policy planning and analysis, is another story.

"I'm not going to shake hands with the guy if he's introduced to me," said Mark N. Lance, a philosophy professor who teaches nonviolence in the program on Justice and Peace and who organized the protest. "And if he asks why, I'll say because in my view you're a war criminal and you have no place on this campus."


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

No AQ or Taliban in Balochistan?

From this article:

The Balochistan Home Minister Muhammad Shoaib Nowsherwani has denied the allegations that any Al-Qaeda or Taliban network exist in the province.

Talking to media persons here Tuesday, Provincial Interior Minister while commenting on the allegation of a neighboring country that Quetta is a stronghold of Taliban termed it baseless.

He said that if someone has any solid prove in this context then they should provide to Pakistan and assured that on the basis of these proofs strict action would be taken. Provincial Minister on the occasion asked not to accuse Pakistan without any proof.

The Home Minister's comments are certainly false. I can't point you to definite Al Qaeda activity in Balochistan, but the Taliban are present there.

Someone described the Home Minister to me this way:

The Balochistan Home Minister, Muhammad Shoaib Nowsherwani is a Baloch
and a loyalist, but certainly not a nationalist. He serves his masters, the Pakistani government, and not his people, the Baloch nation.

The "neighboring country" that he is referring to is definitely Afghanistan. This Nowsherwani fella is following in the footsteps of his masters by making false statements that there are no Al Qaeda and Taleban in Balochistan.

Quetta, the provincial capital, is up towards the region of the province where the Pushtuns are more populous, and the Taliban find some support there.

You may recall this item from a recent Briefing:

Unidentified gunmen today shot dead a former Taliban leader in Pakistan's southwestern Balochistan province, relatives of the deceased said.

Mulla Samad Barakzai, former head of Taliban's department for promotion of virtue and prevention of vice in the southern Helmand province, was gunned down in Pushtoon Abad area of Quetta, the provincial capital, they said.

No one has claimed responsibility for the murder.

Barakzai had been living in Balochistan since the fall of Taliban.

The Daily Times had this article last week:

A top British Army officer accused Pakistan of allowing the Taliban to use its territory as a headquarters for attacks on Western troops in Afghanistan, reported the UK newspaper The Guardian on Friday.

Colonel Chris Vernon, chief of staff for southern Afghanistan, said Taliban leaders were coordinating their campaign from Quetta. “The thinking piece of the Taliban is out of Quetta in Pakistan. It’s the major headquarters,” he told the Guardian. “They use it to run a series of networks in Afghanistan.”

For additional reading, see here and here.

If you've been paying attention to the news lately, you know that the fighting is heating up again in Afghanistan. In particular, the fighting has been heavy lately in the Afghani provinces of Uruzgan, Kandahar and Helmand.

The provinces of Helmand and Kandahar share a border with Balochistan, and Kandahar is the closest Afghani province to Quetta. (See this map.) Helmand borders on the Chagai district in Balochistan, which is thinly populated. (Pakistan did nuclear testing in the Chagai district.)

Taliban fighters would find it convenient to slip across the border and find haven in Balochistan. As the summer wears on, don't be surprised if you hear more about cross-border activity.

Alexei Miller reelected Gazprom CEO

From RIA Novosti:

Alexei Miller has been reelected as the chief executive of Gazprom for another five years, the Russian energy giant said in a news release Wednesday.

"The five-year contract will come into force on May 31, 2006," the release said.

A former deputy energy minister, Miller was first elected Gazprom CEO on April 30, 2001, replacing Rem Vyakhirev at the post.

One question floating around is whether Miller is just keeping the seat warm till Putin's term is up in March 2008.

Miller is Putin's man, and has been part of the effort to make Gazprom an instrument of Russian foreign policy.

Putin has said he did not want to be CEO of Gazprom when he leaves office.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Random observations

On the commute home tonight I was behind a true Leftymobile. It had the following bumper stickers…

“Republicans for Voldemort”

“He’s not my President”



“What would Jesus bomb?”

And, for what it’s worth, the Leftymobile was an import. A white KIA minivan. It’s been awhile since I’ve been in an education camp, so I’m not sure what the current orthodoxy is. Are we supposed to buy foreign now, because America is Evil, and we shouldn’t support the McBushitler regime by buying American cars?

Also, the driver was a young woman. Dialing and yakking on her cell phone, naturally. It is not at all uncommon, of course, for the young to drift to the liberal end of the spectrum.

I have a theory about that. I think it’s because the young really haven’t had to make their own way in the world yet. They haven’t yet learned what it takes to support oneself, and one’s family. Throughout their childhood and high school, Mom and Dad have always provided. Everything they have has been given to them.

Similarly, when they go off to college, and I realize there are many exceptions, they enter another cocoon. Mom and Dad pay for college, meals are provided in a cafeteria, and they don’t have to work for a living. They spend their days getting their first glimpses of the intoxicating world of ideas and ideals. There is little accountability, either to authority figures, to employers, to civic leaders. Study, party, talk about ideas, repeat.

They begin to dream about changing the world, and such dreams seem attainable, because again, they are blissfully unaware of the work it takes to wrest peace and prosperity away from the evil in this world.

This is why I think the young naturally fall into liberalism. It’s an extension of what they know. Why can’t the government hand wealth and services to its citizens for free? If someone is lacking or in need, it must be because some evil conservative interrupted the natural state of things, and took something away from that person.

Young people in America have never known hunger. They have never known the fear of invasion. They have never had to flee before marauding rebels. No secret police have taken away their family members in the night. They enjoy the fruit of the labor of others, and don’t even know it. As a result, they feel entitled to such childish behavior as booing Senator McCain at the New School, and turning their back on him. They are utterly unaware that they are simply broadcasting their own ignorance.

I was younger once. I was in college. I heard the siren call of liberalism. I flirted with ideals. (I am loathe to admit I was a Gore supporter when he ran for President in 1988. On the plus side, I did vote for Reagan.) Why? Because I was clueless about the real world and didn’t know any better. I hadn’t yet confronted the “work or starve” world of work. An employer trying to build a successful business will pay a person for their work, but not as a gift out of the goodness of their heart.

I am older, and wiser, and a little more educated. I have two masters degrees and two bachelors degrees. But the most valuable education I’ve received has come in the wisdom passed down to me. By my grandparents, my parents, my pastors, certain teachers, authors I respect and admire. Be a person of honesty and integrity, follow God, work hard, do what it takes to support your family. Defend your country from those who would destroy our freedom.

Yes, I believe there is hope for the young, if only because time inevitably marches on, and most of them will grow up. And learn.

24 Day 5 5:00 AM - 7:00 AM

And now, the end is here, and so we face the final graphic violence warning. My friends, I’ll say it clear, I’ll state my case, though it may be corny. Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, way too many to mention. I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption. Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew when I bit off more than I could chew. But through it all, when there was doubt, I ate this show up and spit it out. I faced it all and I stood tall, and wrote it this way.

The recaps remind us that this show was written by dropping a ball through a Pachinko machine. Each peg was labeled with a different possible plot development, and each peg the ball hit on the way down, that plot point was tossed into the script. At least the ball never hit the "Jack has a talking dog" peg.

And so, it is time to deploy the Rantennae one last time. If I were a vampire, I'd live in Rantsylvania. My fellow reviewers and I form a Rant colony. Ok, stopping now.

A sign tells us we are at a Private Marine Overhaul Facility. Why the sam hill this sub pulled up to a civilian dock, and not a military one, who knows. Why would this civilian port have the facilities to service a sub? Why didn't this thing sail down to San Diego? I know, never mind. The writers were making things up at the last minute, it's the best they could come up with to kill the last two hours.

Jack is dead! Oh, it's some guard on the pavement. So, on a day of multiple terrorist attacks, an attack on the Russian president, terror attacks at an airport known to have involved Russian separatists, there was one person guarding this Russian sub?

Hurrah! The baddies have flushed the Sentox nerve gas from the sub! *a hand is raised in the back* Um, where did it go? Did they just vent it into the outside air, killing whoever else happened to be in the port?

Bierko says to start the countdown. C'mon. Do military subs really do "countdowns" when firing missiles? Then Bierko gives an inspirational speech to his newly formed band of baddies. He says "You can soar like an eagle, and be anything you want to be." No, wait, he says "We are close to finishing what we started today." Uh, come again? How's that? What you started today, Sgt. Bierko, was an attempt to ship a whole bunch of gas canisters back to Central Asia, and then attack Russia. Blowing up a lot of Los Angelananianiters is not quite the same thing.

Bierko says he has identified 12 high-value targets. Oh, so that's what Bierko was doing while he was shacked up in CTU Medical? When he had no idea he was about to be freed? Cuz I don't when else Bierko would've cooked up these targets. Or, maybe he is like Marwan. Marwan was going to melt down a hundred reactors, and not content with that, was going to make the rubble bounce with a missile fired from Iowa. Bierko, not content to lay waste to most of LA with nerve gas, perhaps planned to hold back one canister cuz he planned all along to take the sub? Oy, he thinks big.

Bierko's stitches make him look like one of Dr. Frankenstein's early experiments.

Audrey hops on her IM and rings up Admiral Kirk.

audreySnoogumms: u thr?
Admiral Kirk: Say, r u another lonely space babe? Can I see yr pic?
audreySnoogumms: shove it, creep. A Commie sub has been hibierkoed. Can u send f18s?
Admiral Kirk: no can do. take 2 long.

And, darn the luck, ground teams won't get there in time either. Convenient, that. Ya know, that F-18 got in the air and after the plane Jack hibauered within minutes. But here, it would take 22-25 minutes. What are the odds.

Jack has visual contact with the sub. And he's not even using visual protection.

Henderson wants a gun, and Jack is understandably reluctant. But, remind me again why Henderson is going in with Jack?

Oh, look, someone on the sub is hoisting a petard and sending radio distress signals. Why, it's Petty Officer Tim Rooney! He's sending a Code 7 SOS, whatever that is.

And why is he still alive? Says he was in a sealed compartment, which he closed off when the atmosphere warning thingies warned him. Of something. First, how does he know how to read Russian atmosphere warning thingies? And second, are these warning sensors designed to look for nerve gas? I can understand CO and CO2, but who would put a sensor on a sub to test for nerve gas?

Back at CTU, Chloe has instantly figured out how to read sub schematics.

Jack has a job for Rooney. He needs Rooney to open the forward hatch. Oh, and kill the guard standing by it.

Rooney says "Danggit, Jim. I'm an engineer, not an engineer."

Jack relents and gives Henderson a .45 pistol.

Back at the retreat, Logan is wetting himself over the sub crisis. Martha talks to Aaron. She's still trying to catch Mike's attention.

At CTU, just how does Chloe have a timer up for the missiles? How does she know when they'll fire? Anyone? Is she tapped into the Russkie sub's telemetry? And if so, how?

Jack tries to coax Rooney into killing the guard. And has some very specific medical instructions. He says "Slit his throat. Cut deep to sever the vocal chords and carotid artery." Eek. Do not try this at home, kids.

Jack says "You need to focus on the objective", but the krazy kaptions have him saying "I want you to visualize the hostile on the ground, dead." And Jack keeps calling Rooney "son."

Alas, Rooney doesn't make the old man proud. The whole throat slitting thing doesn't go so well. It's more like a throat stabbing. But, in the end, Rooney says "My status is...he's dead."

And splash one bad guy as someone goes into the drink. Did they bother dragging the body up and out of the hatch? Why not just stuff him in a cabin somewhere?

While up top though, the missile hatches open. Somehow, Chloe magically knows the missiles are about to fire. She says "You have less than seven minutes." But, the krazy kaptions have her saying "You have less than four minutes." Perhaps the writers figured out later they needed the extra three minutes so all this would seem plausible.

Team Bauer is going to storm the control room. Jack tells Rooney, aka BulletCatcher, "You go first." Thanks. Rooney is to create a diversion to draw the baddies out of the control room. Perhaps he'll stage a midget wrestling event.

Wha...? Bierko is talking about sending a missile to San Francisco! Apparently he's not content to hit LA?

Jack has yet another visual. Then, Crawly Jack goes slithering down the floor. Again, Chloe the Sorceress knows the missiles are armed.

Jack hides behind a console, and when the baddie is near, Jack leaps up and knifes the baddies. Eew. Too bad Junior, I mean, Rooney isn't around to see how it should be done.

Now, Jack goes Bierko hunting. Rooney's diversion was to tip a tool cart over. Bierko takes two others to investigate. There is a fight. Jack wings Bierko. He shoots a steam pipe. (Are there really hot steam pipes like this on modern subs?) Jack steams one baddie to death, and then break's Bierko's neck with his thighs, taking his inspiration from Famke Janssen as Xenia Onatopp.

All this time, Henderson has been busy trying to disarm the missiles. And he succeeds. Oh, so that was why Buckaroo was along. But just how does Henderson know how to do this?

Anyway, by the time Jack is done with Bierko, he realizes Henderson is gone. He goes up top, and Henderson gets the drop on him. Jack admits he wasn't really going to let Henderson go. Henderson fires at Jack, but... *click click*. Clever Jack. No bullets in the gun.

Then, Jack executes Henderson. That really is just wrong. Isn't that murder, really? Jack is not judge and jury. Junior, I mean, Rooney just stands there with his mouth open catching flies, shocked at what his pappy just did.

Whew. And finally we get to the first commercial break! Clocks are at :21 to :21. But, coming back, the clocks are at :27 to :25. Suddenly, everyone around me is wearing white jumpsuits with no zippers and they're listening to a bald headed man spout slogans on a TV screen.

Oh, now naval security shows up. Jack talks to Bill, and he lies, saying Henderson fired on him, and he didn't have a choice. I'm losing some respect for Jack here.

Jack wants to talk to Chloe on the QT. He isn't going back to CTU, he's going after Logan. He needs some help modifying field comm equipment. Surely that will void the warranty.

Chloes asks "Field comm equipment? What is it?" Jack says "Technology that allows us to communicate in a wireless fashion, but that's not important right now."

Mike tells Logan that all known associates of Bierko are dead or in custody. Given Bierko's multiple teams he's put together, I think the safe thing would be to assume they have no idea how many more "associates" are out there. Of course, between the two of them, Bierko and Henderson might have cleaned out the supply of evil henchmen in LA.

Logan wants to say some words by David Palmer's casket, which is going back to DC. This is the very definition of chutzpah.

Martha finally gets Mike's attention, and no, not by flashing her girls, as she did earlier in the season. Mike asks a logical question, he asks "Mrs. Logan, have you been...?"

Logan calls Graham and tells him the happy news about the sub, but apparently Graham already knows. And how? We have no idea. But, he apparently doesn't know Henderson is dead. So, not clear how Graham is getting his information. I'm sure the writers have no idea either.

Martha tells Mike everything. They go find Aaron. Mike knows the people at the Western Gate. Suddenly we're in Jerusalem? Martha and Aaron share a tender goodbye. No kissy, just a thank-you.

Clocks are at :41 to :37.

Mike and Aaron are out in the woods not so much burying Agent Adams as dumping him to be left as coyote food. Jack calls for Aaron. Mike says "This is a real mess, Jack." Stop talking to the writers, Mike, and just say your lines.

Jack wants to get a confession out of Logan. Ooh, goody, I sense torture! Jack is still 20 minutes away.

At CTU, Karen has been recalled to DC. Apparently the White House is unhappy with her job performance.

Radar O'Chloe comes in, needing Karen to sign for an authorization code. It's for someone named "Morris." Apparently he's currently selling womens shoes in Beverly Hills. Karen asks "Is this a joke?" Why yes, yes it is. Because, Bill says this "Morris" is Chloe's ex-husband.

What? I'm sure this seemed funny when the writers wrote it half-stoned at 3 in the morning, but what is the point of adding this wrinkle at this late date?

And! And! This Ba-bing Guy is Morris! He's there already? And he's dressed. Was he camping outside the door? How did he get there so fast?

And wait, there's more. He's a charming Brit who calls everyone "Love". OK, so the writers need to kill a couple of hours, so they steal the character of Daphne's brother from Frasier and hope nobody notices.

Chloe needs Morris to crank up a digital transfer rate to 6.8, as she can only manage a 6.5. Super Chloe, bested by her ex-husband in a technogeek task? That's gotta chafe her hide.

At the retreat, Mike tells Martha she has to find a way to keep Logan at the retreat, so Jack has time to get in place. I swear, as soon as I first heard this, my first thought was "Oh no, please not that." Yes, it's that.

Clocks are at :53 to :46.

Jack arrives and hooks up with Aaron. Well, meets him. It's nearly 6 in the morning, and it's still pitch dark. Jack needs to get in the chopper that will take Logan to the airport.

So, Martha puts into motion her grand scheme. Logan is packing. Say, why doesn't Martha wonder where Evelyn is? Wouldn't she want her flunky around to be packing up for her?

Martha and Logan have an extra slimy conversation. Martha acts like she's sorry and that she needs her little Chucky Wucky, and Logan is surprised that his gorgeous wife still apparently has the hots for him.

Martha really lays it on thick. There is some First Kissy Kissy. Logan gets a boyish grin, and suggests they stay for a bit. The helicopter will wait. A suit jacket comes off.

Oh my. Martha is really really praying Jack will hurry up.

This hour ends with the clocks way out of whack at :60 to :53.

ok, this is the last graphic violence warning. I mean it this time. And, for the ADD crowd, we recap what we just finished watching.

Martha is... putting on a French maid outfit? What? Oh, she's getting dressed. Already? You mean they... And he... Oh my. Logan is a real Minute Man. They did it while Martha was getting dressed? It's only been a few minutes. Please let us devote no more thought as to what Martha must have done. Sometimes this show is as messed up as Fibber McGee's closet.

Jack finds a flight suit. And then, goes through a long elaborate charade to print up false protocols and lure the real co-pilot in and put the sleeper hold on him, so Jack can walk out to the chopper and pretend to be the replacement co-pilot Ron Franklin.

Martha makes up an excuse of needing more drugs, so she won't get on the chopper with Logan. Except, I'm sure it's not an excuse. After what she had to do, she's probably about to throw up.

Logan gets in the chopper, gives a thumbs up, and off they go. Say, how did Jack know what the pre-flight routine is? Was he just flipping switches and turning dials and babbling nonsense, while the pilot just stared at him in disbelief? "Uh, yeah, the air gauge is all go, and, um, flaps are in the upright position, and our radio thing is sailing five by five, roger."

When they are in the air, Jack gives the pilot two choices. Live or Die. The pilot chooses the former. Jack goes in the back and tasers the two agents with Logan, and tosses some cuffs at Logan. Logan is a mite surprised to see Jack.

Jack yells up at the pilot. Can he hear over the sound of the helo? Lucky the pilot didn't misunderstand and think Jack said to fly them to the middle of a military base.

And this pilot is awfully willing to save his own neck and sacrifice the president. No noble deeds here.

Logan starts to babble at Jack, trying to save his skin, saying all manner of things. Say, is Jack recording this? This is pretty much a confession. Jack just stares, and it bothers Logan.

When they land, Jack tasers the pilot. Hasn't this helo been on radar? Don't folks keep pretty close tabs on the president? Does anyone know where the helo went? And where they are is some kind of abandoned printing press.

The krazy kaptions have Jack saying "Move inside, go." but we don't hear anything.

Logan offers Jack money, anything. Not so tough now, are we Chuckles? Jack cuffs him to a pole, as he did that baddie back in the mall.

Morris comes in and gives Jack his souped up equipment. Morris catches sight of Logan. Jack just tells Morris to beat it.

Ah, apparently folks do know where Logan is. Jack has 10 minutes before security forces get there. Chloe tells Jack all this, and then says "We'll all be arrested for treason." What's this "we" stuff? It's just Jack and Chloe breaking a whole truck load of laws.

Going into the first commercial break, clocks are at :14 to :14. And, coming out, clocks are at :18 to :18! They match! What's going on? Unprecedented! Forest animals are in a panic! The glaciers are melting! The desert is blooming! The lion lies down with the lamb! Bob Saget is funny!

Ah, there it is, sunrise!

Jack tries to get Logan to talk, but doesn't get anywhere. Logan makes a good point. He says if he's tortured, of course he'll say something, but it won't mean anything, and everyone will discount what he says.

Jack says to Logan "I will kill you." Then, he sits down in front of Logan and gives a history lesson. Jack says he has nothing to lose.

Logan keeps shrieking "Good of the country! Good of the country!" Jack says "If you think I'm scared to put a bullet in your brain, you don't know me." Aw, there was the perfect time to say "You don't know Jack."

Jack points the gun at Logan and is going to count to three. Not four, not two, except he immediately proceedeth to three. Logan, impressively, has enough composure to launch into a long discussion of previous presidential assassins.

Jack counts. One! Two! Five! But... Jack can't do it. He can't pull the trigger. Logan tenderly says "Jack, it's all right." Jack puts the gun down and assumes the position as security forces close in and arrest him. Logan thinks he should be put in solitary confinement.

In a fitting commercial, there is an ad for Pirates of the Caribbean, which also has a character named Jack.

Clocks are at :29 to :28. Ah, it was inevitable we would slide out of phase.

And, typical of 24, we're only 10 minutes after sunrise and it's broad daylight.

We're at the airport now. Mike tells Martha Jack is in custody. Some First Kissy and Photos for the press.

Palmer's casket is put on a bier. (Please, no jokes at a time like this about needing a beer.)

And then, Martha has another "episode." She freaks, yelling and screaming "You're a murderer! Don't you touch me! It's a sacrilege." etc... Martha is hustled away into a hangar. Logan will go see if she's "all right."

And oh dear! Logan just hauls off and slaps Martha! That is harsh. Then, he paws at her, wanting another go around. I mean, he checks her for listening devices. Logan realizes it was Martha's job to "delay" him. (Didn't delay him very long, did it.)

Martha is really having a conniption now. She shrieks "You're insane." Again Logan with the "good of the country" bit. Logan then threatens her with drugs and "Vermont" for the rest of her life.

Logan asks "Are we clear?" Ok, all together now. Crystal.

Clocks are at :39 to :38.

Martha is struggling to keep her stuff together. Logan salutes the casket and begins to speak. He says "This has been a terrible day." Ok, Itzen, you stop talking to the writers, too. Actually, wasn't yesterday the "terrible day"?

Now, we cut to CTU. The Attorney General is on the phone. Chloe arranged it without permission from Karen. Chloe is going to play a recording. What recording? We're as surprised as Karen.

Oh, I see. Apparently Jack planted a listening device on Logan. Clever boy. Rooney could learn a lot from his old man.

It's a recording of Logan and Martha in the hangar. Logan admits to everything.

So, the AG makes a call to US Marshall Holtzman on the tarmac. He'll do what the AG says. The agents go on stage. Which makes Logan nervous.

Holtzman quietly tells Logan he is under arrest. Martha is standing there with one of the all time great smirks. Enjoy your triumph, Martha. You earned it.

Mike tries to smirk as well, but mostly ends up looking like the Wise Old Man of the Mountain with a bit of gas.

In a strange parallel, Palmer's casket is loaded onto the plane, and Logan is put into a vehicle. Two presidents making their farewell.

Well, show's over now? We can go home? Nyoop, not yet.

Back at the printing press, Audrey shows up. A tender moment with Jack as the Hey Hey theme tinkles on the piano.

An agent wades hip deep into the mush and tells Jack there is a call from Kim. It's been patched to a land line inside the building.

Um, first, why not just give Jack a cell phone. Second, how did they know what number to patch the call to, and third, why are there working phone lines in this abandoned building?

Ah, but not all is as it seems. Jack goes inside, and two masked men jump him and drug him.

Clocks are at :53 to :51.

Karen tells Bill he'll be back running CTU again soon. Bill toes the floor in an aw shucks way and asks Karen out on a breakfast date. She has to run, but smiles and asks for a rain check. Bill and Karen sitting in a tree...

Bill has a tender moment with Chloe. He gives her something found in Edgar's possessions. It's a photo of Edgar and Chloe, Edgar is smiling like he just won a 10 minutes shopping spree in a grocery store. Chloe is burdened with memories, and it is a touching scene. Then, to ruin it all, Morris sticks his snout in and asks Chloe if she wants to talk about it. Surprisingly, she does.

Audrey goes looking for Jack, and realizes he is gone. She tells Agent Davis, who immediately asks for three people on the perimeter. Oh, sadly he doesn't know how utterly ineffective perimeters are.

We are somewhere else now. Some Chinese guys drop a sack of hamburger on the floor. Oh dear, it's Jack. He doesn't look so good. All beat up and bloody.

So, was this what Logan had in store for Jack? To give Jack back to the Chinese? But, how did the Chinese get to the printing press so quickly? Nobody knew that's where Jack would be? Did they fly in with the security team that rescued Logan? Sigh.

Hey, it's the Chinese Security Guy from the Consulate last year! The one that waltzed right into the heart of CTU, a sensitive intelligence location. But it was ok, CTU was just going to cover up the monitors.

Security Guy says "China has a long memory. Did you think we'd forget?" They're like elephants!

Then, we cut to the exterior of, I have to say it, a slow boat to China.

Fittingly, the season ends with clocks out of kilter. :60 to :57.

So, a unique ending. What does it mean for next year? Curtis flies to China to bust Jack out of prison? (Speaking of Curtis, he wasn't in the finale at all.) Jack in prison, meets an old man who tells him the location of a fabulous treasure and Jack returns to get vengeance? We shall see.

Now, as I did last year, I offer this in closing. This is in honor of all those who have made it this far with me. Thanks for coming along for the ride.

What's he that wishes so?
My cousin Wendell? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark'd to die, we are now
To do this show loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more watch this show.
By Jove, I am not covetous for internal logic,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my reviews;
It yearns me not if men my blog read;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet something that maketh sense,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not another episode.
God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, through my internet host,
That he which hath no stomach to this viewing,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call'd Season 5.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
And rouse him at the name of 24.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'I have all the seasons on dvd.'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say 'These wounds I had on the fifth day.'
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Jack the King, Bill and Chloe,
Curtis and Audrey, Aaron and Martha-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
This story shall the good man teach his son to avoid;
And 24 shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that watches this show with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen on their couches now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That watched with us upon this fifth day.

Our intrepid guest critic, Paul Foth, was in Los Angeles when the finale aired. Surrounded by graphic violence, he used his discretion to poke his head above the table in his hotel room and look out the window. Amid the missile explosions, clouds of nerve gas, hails of bullets, gales of emotive outbursts, tornadoes of plot points, and tsunamis of continuity errors, he seemed to sense a dichotomy. The people in the streets--those who weren't terrorists or being killed by terrorists, anyway--seemed to be saying, "Jack Bauer, you fight your war. We'll go about our lives."

Paul was about to give me his review, but he ducked inside an abandoned warehouse to take a call from his Auntie Mildred. And, I haven't seen him since. Not sure where he went. Paul? Paul? I'll go check the perimeter...

Number of times Jack says "Now!": 38
Number of times Jack says "No!": 8
Number of times a "protocol" is mentioned: 46
Number of times someone says a variation of "Go!": 36
Number of moles: 5
Final Approximate Body Count: 109 (plus three rats, plus one human nerve gas guinea pig, plus 11 in the mall food court (and no, not from food poisoning), plus one security camera, plus 56 in CTU, plus whoever else was on the Russian sub)

<-4:00 AM - 5:00 AM

Monday, May 22, 2006

Thank you, Maya

I got the following two comments in a post I did on Captain Furat.

My son was with Captain Furat at Balad Airforce Base the day Furat
left for our country. My son would volunteer at the hospital after his
security duties because he is also a radiological technician. He would
find Furat, wheel him outside and have a cigarette while telling Furat
about me, (The young men talked about their mothers. I have a picture
of Furat with my son, IVs still in Furat's arm, his smile so
infectious. I tell them both good morning every morning when I look at
the picture. Furat told my son, "You are my brother and your mother is
also My Mother." Please tell Furat that my son comes to the US in two
days and home for a visit in two weeks.
He wants to see him again. Furat will know who you're talking about if you get
this message to him. My e-mail address [email], I'm
mother of Airman 1st Class S...
God bless you Furat (your American Mother)


Captain Furat:

I knew I'd find you. God brought you here so you could show us the
power of love, the impact of freedom, that "We All, are of one_blood.

Your American Mother

I don't have a way of reaching Capt. Furat, so I emailed Maya Alleruzzo and asked if she could pass it along. Maya has written about Capt. Furat in the Washington Times. Maya graciously agreed.

Hi Jeff,
Thank you so much! I'll pass it along to Furat right now. He's doing great, and getting better day by day. I'll write to Renee as well.

Thank you very much, Maya!

Update: My commenter had a reply:

Thank you for contacting Maya. She indicated to you that
she would contact Captain Furat and e-mail me. You've helped
create a miracle.
American Mother

Previous posts

The future of Iraq
Update on Captain Furat
Another update on Captain Furat

Funding the terrorists

From The Times:

France, Italy and Germany sanctioned the payment of $45 million in deals to free nine hostages abducted in Iraq, according to documents seen by The Times.
All three governments have publicly denied paying ransom money. But according to the documents, held by security officials in Baghdad who have played a crucial role in hostage negotiations, sums from $2.5 million to $10 million per person have been paid over the past 21 months. Among those said to have received cash ransoms was the gang responsible for seizing British hostages including Kenneth Bigley, the murdered Liverpool engineer.

The list of payments has also been seen by Western diplomats, who are angered at the behaviour of the three governments, arguing that it encourages organised crime gangs to grab more foreign captives.

“In theory we stand together in not rewarding kidnappers, but in practice it seems some administrations have parted with cash and so it puts other foreign nationals at risk from gangs who are confident that some governments do pay,” one senior envoy in the Iraqi capital said.

Thanks, Eurofriends. Our soldiers who will be on the receiving end of the weapons this money will buy are most appreciative.

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 Peace Like a River and Security Watchtower.

Top Topics

* Afghan police hunted for Taleban insurgents on Friday after two of the country’s bloodiest days since the 2001 overthrow of the hardline Islamists. About 100 people were killed in violence that began on Wednesday. It included a large-scale attack on a town in the southern province of Helmand and two suicide blasts in different parts of the country. “We are hunting for them all over Mosa Qala district, to capture them or kill them,” said Helmand’s deputy governor, Amir Mohammad Akhundzada.

* One French and 16 Afghan soldiers were killed and about 40 other troops were wounded in two firefights in southern Afghanistan, coalition and Afghan officials said Sunday. In one battle in Helmand province, 13 Afghan soldiers were killed and 15 injured in an eight-hour firefight Saturday, said Gen. Zahir Azimi, the Defense Ministry spokesman. He said at least nine Taliban militants were killed in the battle in Sangin district. In a second firefight in the same district of Helmand on Saturday, one French and three Afghan soldiers were killed, the U.S.-led coalition said.

* Iran has apparently rejected a United Nations Security Council proposal prior to it even being formally offered. In exchange for Iran suspending enrichment of uranium, the UNSC would agree to move Iran's file back to the IAEA, but Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said that while Iran wants the council to end its involvement, "suspending nuclear activities goes against our legitimate rights and is not part of the NPT." The security council is set to meet in London on Wednesday to discuss the incentive package.

Other topics today include: New book on Ahmadinejad; Iran's nuclear pursuit; IJ leader killed in airstrike; IDF raids; Iran sets up fund to destroy Israel; assassination attempts in Gaza; Fatah-Hamas fighting; Qassam rockets fired on Israel; Kuwait frees former Gitmo detainees; Fatah burns al-Jazeera vehicles; Egyptian terrorist killed; Fight at Gitmo; bio-exercise at Pentagon; extremists in the U.S.; Chavez's delusions; bombing hits Columbian pipeline; Russian Navy in the Med; militants arrested in Nalchik; Tajik court sentences extremists; Senior ULFA leader arrested in west Bengal; Firefights in Kashmir; Tensions between Afghanistan-Pakistan; Fighting in southern Afghanistan; Pipelines bombed in Balochistan; Killings in Waziristan; and more.

Iran & the Middle East

* Iran continues to lobby for direct talks with the United States, with Kazem Jalali, spokesman for the Iranian national security and foreign affairs commission, saying that "some space must be opened so that we can talk to US public opinion, its thinkers and even lawmakers."

* A new book, “Ahmadinejad: the Third Millennium Miracle” by Fatemeh Rajabi, is set to hit the bookshelves in Iran and will express the author's view that the election victory of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a third millennium miracle on earth.

* According to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Iran is months not years away from being able to construct a nuclear weapon.

* Mohammed al-Dahdouh, a senior Islamic Jihad member involved in manufacturing weapons, was killed on Saturday along with his family when an Israeli UAV targeted their vehicle with an airstrike in the Gaza Strip.

* IDF soldiers launched raids in Judea and Samaria on Sunday night, arresting 4 suspected terrorists, including members of Hamas and Fatah Tanzim.

* A group of Iranian students spoke out at an event attended by a high-ranking member of the elite Revolutionary Guard and revealed that they were setting up a fund to destroy Israel. Despite the initiative's name ("The Student Fund for Demolishing Israel") organizers said their goal was to support the cash-strapped Palestinian government. Some 300 students attended the event hosted by a group calling itself the Movement of Justice-seeking Students at the University of Tehran.

* General Tareq Abu Rajab, Chief of the Palestinian intelligence services, was wounded in an assassination attempt on Saturday in Gaza, where politics come at the end of a gun.

* Palestinian terrorist fired two Qassam rockets from the northern Gaza Strip on Saturday, with one landing in the sea and the other landing in an open area south of Ashkelon. No injuries or damage was reported. The Israel Defense Forces responded with massive artillery fire into what it described as "launch areas" in Gaza. By Saturday night over 100 shells had been fired.

* A Kuwaiti court on Sunday cleared five Kuwaitis of charges of belonging to Al Qaeda and ordered the former inmates of the US’s Guantanamo Bay prison freed immediately, judicial sources said. They said the five, who returned to the Gulf Arab state in November, were also cleared of charges of fighting a friendly state, a reference to the United States.

* On Sunday, a large bomb was defused in Gaza city outside the home of Rashid Abu Shbak, the head of the Palestinian security services and an ally of Prime Minister Abbas. Fatah is pointing the finger at Hamas in response.

* Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is calling for an investigation into senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri, who was stopped by Palestinian border guards while trying to bring 600,000 Euros into Gaza.

* Reports indicate that Fatah members set fire to three vehicles belonging to al-Jazeera, in response to the Arabic media outlets failure to cover an anti-Hamas rally held a day earlier.

* Arafat Ali, an Egyptian wanted in connection with the bombing of tourist resorts on the Sina'i, killed himself on Friday when an explosive device he attempted to hurl at police exploded and killed him. It is reported he was second in command of Tawhid wal Jihad.

* Syria is being criticized by the European Union for a recent campaign against dissidents and human rights defenders, nine of which have been arrested in the past few days. According to reports, most of them had signed a petition calling for better relations with Lebanon.

* Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has pardoned Yehia Hussein al-Daylami, a Muslim preacher sentenced to death and also Mohamed Meftah, who was jailed for backing a rebel movement and spying for Iran. Recently Jamestown wrote about the large number of Islamic militants that have been released from prison and how that facilitates jihad.

* A Palestinian carrying a pipe bomb was arrested and detained west of Jenin on Saturday.

America Domestic Security & the Americas

* Prisoners wielding improvised weapons clashed with guards trying to stop a detainee from committing suicide at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the military said Friday. The fight occurred Thursday in a medium-security section of the camp as guards were responding to the fourth attempted suicide that day at the detention center on the U.S. Navy base, Cmdr. Robert Durand said.

* Little Green Footballs cites a Reuters story saying that an earlier report that Guantanamo guards were attacked by inmates while trying to stop a detainee from committing suicide was inaccurate. The guards were lured into a cell by a staged suicide attempt, then ambushed by the prisoners.

* A full-scale bio-exercise in the Pentagon parking lot tested how the Pentagon police, in partnership with local emergency services, would respond to a biological attack at the military headquarters. The Pentagon Force Protection Agency, Arlington County Fire Department, Red Cross, and other local and federal agencies participated in the exercise, dubbed "Gallant Fox 06," based on a scenario involving a suspected anthrax attack inside the Pentagon that triggered a sensor.

* Lawmakers railed against security gaps at the Homeland Security Department on Thursday, demanding to know why a man now charged with sex offenses had access to classified information and a convicted felon's limousine company was paid millions of dollars to chauffeur top officials.

* MEMRI reports Dr. Salah Sultan is president of the American Center for Islamic Research (ACIR), a non-profit organization registered in Ohio and located in Columbus, and says 9/11 planned by Americans, and praises the wanted Al-Qaeda-linked Yemenite Sheikh Al-Zindani.

* A Queens, N.Y. congressman won a legislative skirmish Thursday in his long-running battle with the government to reopen the top of the Statue of Liberty to the public. The statue, which sits on 12-acre Liberty Island in New York Harbor, was shut down in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks because of terrorism concerns.

* The Spirit of Man blog cites a notice on the International Trade Ministry of Canada web site saying "Effective immediately, we will limit our encounters with Iranian officials to the Kazemi case, Iran's human rights record and Iran's nuclear non-proliferation performance. No visits or exchanges by Iranian officials to Canada will be permitted, nor will Canadian officials engage with Iran, except relating to these issues. Canada will not block the initiatives of private Canadian companies to trade with their Iranian counterparts. However, we will continue to apply strict export controls on sensitive goods and we will continue to advise business people about the political environment to consider when doing business with Iran. Furthermore, any existing programs of cooperation between Canadian government agencies and their Iranian counterparts will be halted. This state of relations will persist until Iran has taken steps to launch a credible and independent investigation and judicial process into the Kazemi case. We have not decided to recall our Ambassador, nor to shut down Embassy services. We believe there continues to be a need for professional-level dialogue regarding the serious existing difficulties in our relationship."

* Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has for years predicted that a foreign army would attack the South American nation to snatch its vast oil reserves. A simulation conducted last week showed how it might happen. A naval landing craft made landfall on the shores of Western Falcon state carrying troops and over a dozen camouflaged tanks. The "invading" army then took over the massive Paraguana Refining Complex, a key asset of the world's No. 5 crude exporter.

* Left-wing guerrillas have bombed Colombia's Cano Limon-Covenas oil pipeline and halted its crude pumping operations in an attack just a days before presidential elections, the army said on Friday. The pipeline, the country's second most important, transports crude oil from Cano Limon fields operated by U.S. company Occidental Petroleum in Arauca province on the Venezuelan border to Covenas port on the Caribbean coast.

Russia, Caucasus & Central Asia

* Russian security forces raided a residence in the republic of Daghestan to seize Bulat Abdullayev, suspected of terror activity and of carrying out attacks against the local police.

* The Russian frigate Pitliviy began training with NATO forces in the Mediterranean on Friday, in preparation for Operation Active Endeavour, the alliance’s seaborne anti-terrorism mission.

* Three militants involved in an attack last October against the southern city of Nalchik have been arrested according to Russian officials.

* Russia wants major changes to agreements with the United States to boost sales of its nuclear materials, a source in the Russian nuclear industry said. Russian officials want changes to agreements that give U.S. uranium supplier USEC the right to buy uranium recovered from dismantled nuclear weapons and an end to U.S. anti-dumping duties on other uranium sales.

* The court of the city of Khudzhand, Tajikistan, has sentenced ten activists of the religious extremist party Khizb ut-Tahrir, to various prison sentences ranging from 9 to 16 years. All the ten defendants were heads of primary cells, each having from three to five members below them.

* Four men accused of staging a series of terrorist acts, including the assassination of Dagestani Nationalities and Foreign Relations Minister Zagir Arukhov in May 2005, were acquitted in a Russian courtroom, and set free.

* The bodies of 95 people killed in an attack in southern Russia last October will not be returned to their relatives because there was evidence that the dead people had committed crimes.

* Russia has finally decided to start production of the Su-34 fighter-bomber, but they're so strapped for cash that the first run will only be 24 aircraft. These are expected to enter service in 2010.

Afghanistan & Southern Asia

* Police in the Indian state of West Bengal say they have arrested a top separatist leader and three accomplices from the neighbouring state of Assam. West Bengal police said a special team arrested Mrinal Hazarika, a senior leader of the United Liberation Front of Assam (Ulfa), early on Thursday.

* Indian troops shot dead three suspected Islamic militants along the de facto border dividing Kashmir between India and Pakistan, the army said. "The three were killed Thursday evening when they refused to surrender and opened fire after infiltrating into our territory," spokesman Colonel Vijay Kumar Batra told AFP on Friday.

* Islamic militants dressed as policemen hurled grenades and shot into a rally by the ruling Congress party in India's portion of
Kashmir on Sunday, killing five people and wounding at least 20 others, officials said. Two attackers were killed. The assault began as about 3,000 people assembled inside a park in Srinagar, the main city in Indian-controlled Kashmir, to observe the anniversary of the death of former Prime Minister Rajeev Gandhi, said local Congress party chief Pirzada Mohammed Sayeed.

* Bill Roggio comments here on the recent numerous attacks in Afghanistan. Roggio writes "It is important to understand how the fighting was initiated, as the current reporting is giving the impression of a coordinated Taliban uprising."

* The Taliban consider themselves in "a war" with British troops in Afghanistan, a spokesman for the deposed regime told The Times newspaper. Taliban militants vowed earlier this year to unleash a wave of suicide bombings across Afghanistan as part of a stepped-up campaign against the government and its foreign allies.

* Pakistan rejected Afghan president Hamid Karzai's allegations that it was training and infiltrating militants for violence in Afghanistan. Karzai blamed Pakistan on Thursday after two days of bloody clashes in his country left around 100 people dead, including scores of militants, 13 policemen and a female Canadian soldier.

* A senior member of an Islamic organisation linked to Al-Qaeda is funding his activities through the kidnapping of Christian children who are sold into slavery in Pakistan. The Sunday Times has established that Gul Khan, a wealthy militant who uses the base of Jamaat-ud Daawa (JUD) near Lahore, is behind a cruel trade in boys aged six to 12.

* It's not so much meeting the Taliban that worries M. Nawab Momand, a correspondent for Tolo TV, Afghanistan's top television channel. "For us, the problem from the Taliban side is not the major problem," he says. "It's a problem actually that we get pressure from the government." Tolo TV finds Afghanistan's hot buttons - and pushes them.

* A top Taleban leader, Mullah Dadullah, has been captured in Afghanistan. The senior military commander was said to have been detained by international troops in southern Kandahar province. The Taleban deny Mullah Dadullah has been captured. There has been no official confirmation of the arrest from the Afghan government or US military.

* An American counternarcotics official was killed and two other Americans were wounded in a suicide bombing on Thursday in western Afghanistan, while heavy fighting between forces suspected of being Taliban insurgents and the Afghan police continued in two southern provinces, officials said.

* One US soldier has been killed and six others wounded in a gun battle between US-led coalition forces and insurgents in southern Afghanistan. The fighting broke out during a joint operation between US and Afghan troops in Uruzgan province, the US military said in a statement. It said the six wounded soldiers were evacuated to a nearby medical facility.

* Two French soldiers were killed and a third was wounded in fighting with suspected Taliban militants in southern Afghanistan, the defence ministry said here. The deaths had occurred during an "engagement against the Taliban in the region of Kandahar," a communique said Saturday.

* Militants hiding in a vineyard and armed with machine guns ambushed an Afghan army convoy Saturday, shooting dead four soldiers but losing 15 of their own. It erupted again Friday with six militants, an Afghan soldier and a civilian killed in Helmand province. Hours later in the same area, insurgents crouching among fields of grapevines and wheat opened fire on a half-mile long convoy of Afghan army trucks as they snaked their way slowly along a dirt road with reinforcements, he said. The two sides exchanged fire with machine-guns and AK-47 assault rifles for six hours before the insurgents fled on foot and motorbikes, the general said.

* About 50 Afghan soldiers were isolated in Taleban-held territory Saturday after coming under attack in southern Afghanistan, a military commander said, fearing heavy casualties.

* A car bomb exploded on a busy road in the Afghan capital Sunday, killing the driver of the car and two civilians, officials said. The attack occurred on a road that links several bases belonging to the U.S.-led coalition and a separate NATO-led peacekeeping force, said local deputy police chief Maj. Pashtun Khan.

* Afghanistan is on the brink of becoming a narco-state with drug cartels now posing a greater threat to the country's future than Taliban insurgents, NATO's top military commander in Europe said on Saturday. Afghanistan is the world's largest producer of opium, the raw material for heroin. The narcotics trade accounts for about a third of its economy.

* Here are the daily updates from the South Asia Terrorism Portal for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

* Here is a roundup of events in Balochistan over the past couple of weeks.

* Suspected tribal militants blew up two state-owned gas Pipelines on Friday in insurgency-wracked southwestern Pakistan, disrupting supplies but causing no casualties, a company official said. No one claimed responsibility for the separate pre-dawn attacks in Sui, 350 kilometers (210 miles) east of Quetta, in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province.

* In Balochistan, a Frontier Corps soldier was killed when a mine exploded in Kohlu on Thursday. Ansar Ahmad was seriously injured by the blast and died at the hospital. Later, suspected tribal militants fired rockets on FC checkpoints in Chashma and Sangseela. No casualty was reported.

* Suspected insurgents killed a senior pro-government tribal elder and dumped his body on a road in Pakistan's restive tribal region near the Afghan border, officials said. Totti Gul, a leading supporter of Pakistan's anti-Al-Qaeda campaign in the tribal district of North Waziristan, was dragged out of his car by unknown men and later shot dead, a tribal security official said.

* A suspected militant has killed two Pakistani soldiers by hurling a grenade at a paramilitary post in a tribal region near the Afghan border, before being shot dead, officials said. The lone assailant tried to flee after lobbying the grenade at the checkpost in Mir Ali town in North Waziristan tribal district, but was shot and killed, a local security official said Saturday.

* Prosecutors have called for the death penalty for two militant leaders accused of waging a bloody campaign to impose Islamic law in Bangladesh, officials said. Shaikh Abdur Rahman, leader of the outlawed Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), and his second-in-command, Siddiqul Islam, are being tried for the murder of two judges last November.

* A visiting American official has urged the Bangladesh government to frame and enact an effective anti-money laundering law and take steps to curb financial crimes as part of the Bush administration's global drive against terrorism. Patrick M. O'Brien, assistant secretary for terrorist financing at the US Treasury Department, recommended the actions at a number of meetings with the central bank governor and high officials of the home and foreign ministries during his two-day official visit.

* Government forces and Tamil Tiger rebels traded artillery fire across a de facto front line in the island's north, military officials said. There were no immediate reports of casualties on either side after a 30-minute exchange of fire at Muhamalai in the Jaffna peninsula, but the main entry and exit points in the area were briefly shut, officials said on Saturday. In a similar clash elsewhere in the island's north Friday, two government soldiers were killed, the military said.

* Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels have warned that an imminent European ban on them could scuttle future peace negotiations as two soldiers were killed in mine attacks. London-based Anton Balasingham said his Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) would retreat from a peace process with the government if they are listed by the 25-member
European Union (EU) as a terrorist group.

Far East & Southeast Asia

* A Muslim man was shot dead by Islamic militants in Narathiwat province in southern Thailand, while villagers there took 11 teachers hostage to demand the release of suspected insurgents.

* According to the Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan may begin withdrawing some of their non-combat troops from Iraq next month. There are currently 600 deployed to the southern Iraqi city of Samawa.

* On Friday, the Japanese media reported that North Korea may be preparing to test fire a long-range ballistic missile capable of striking parts of the United States.

* Malaysia pledged $16 million on Sunday in humanitarian aid and budget support to the Palestinian Authority to compensate for the loss of US and European assistance. But in practice the Malaysian pledge, like previous contributions from Arab states, will not reach the Palestinians until the United States lifts the threat of sanctions against banks which transfer the funds to the West Bank or Gaza.


* A terrorist plot to blow up an El Al jet at Geneva airport with an RPG (rocket propelled grenade) in December was uncovered by the Swiss and French intelligence agencies, details released for publication on Friday revealed. The Yedioth Aharonot newspaper reported that a secret agent working undercover amongst an Islamic terror cell in the city discovered the plan after three immigrants of Arabic origin boasted of their attempts to smuggle weapons from Russia with the ultimate goal of shooting down an Israeli plane at the airport.

* Al-Qaeda's hierarchy in western Europe has vanished and the terrorist network's leadership has largely ceased direct management of attacks, a senior German police intelligence officer told a trial court this week. She said the al-Qaeda leadership now mainly relied on video and internet proclamations to inspire Islamists in the western world to act on their own. In a comment at Security Watchtower, C.S. Scott says "I think the central problem for Europe is home-grown radicals, that for too long were allowed to preach their intolerance and hatred towards the west, from the comforting sanctuary of western freedoms."

* Italy's new prime minister declared Thursday that the war in Iraq was a "grave error" that risked igniting conflict in the entire Middle East region. He said Italy would stick with plans to bring home its 2,700 troops stationed there but gave no timetable for their return. Making his first policy address as head of government, Romano Prodi formally abandoned the unequivocal support that his predecessor, Silvio Berlusconi, gave to U.S. policy in Iraq.

* Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has said he would announce in June the beginning of direct talks with the armed Basque group ETA to end more than three decades of separatist violence. Zapatero told a meeting of the governing Socialist party in Barakaldo, in the northern Basque region, that he would inform national political parties of the start of negotiations, but did not give any dates.

* More than 230 foreigners identified by MI5 and Scotland Yard as suspected terrorists have been allowed to stay in Britain as asylum seekers. Home Office records show that nearly a quarter of the 963 people arrested in counter-terrorism operations in England and Wales since September 2001 have claimed refugee status, saying their human rights would be violated if they returned to countries such as Algeria, Iraq and Somalia.

* The government of Romania passed a draft law for the ratification of a Council of Europe convention to strengthen cooperation between European states for the fight against terrorism. The convention also covers some gaps in international law on terrorism. It includes three other offences among acts of terrorism: the distribution of public messages instigating to acts of terror, recruiting people for acts of terror, and providing instructions or material for terrorism offences.

* Britain's Secret Intelligence Service is bracing itself for a fresh series of security leaks about its operations on an internet blog launched by a former top-ranking MI6 officer. Richard Tomlinson who was jailed in 1998 for breaching the Official Secrets Act, has been quiet since fleeing to Russia in 2001 to publish a book about covert MI6 activities. He is back now and seems intent on taking revenge on the secret service which sacked him in 1995. Tomlinson, who claims he now lives in the South of France and works as a yacht broker, began the blog last month with a warning: "Let the game begin."


* J. Peter Pham has two columns worth reading at World Defense Review. The first is entitled Facing Reality in Somalia, and the second is entitled Militant Islamism's Shadow Rises Over Sub-Saharan Africa.

* Rival militias massed on the northern edge of Somalia's lawless capital Saturday, prompting hundreds to flee their homes amid fears that another surge of violence was imminent in this Horn of Africa country, witnesses said. Islamic militias and a rival alliance of secular warlords signed a cease-fire last week after more than 140 people were killed in just eight days, but tensions remained high. Somalian MP's want warlords involved in the fighting to be charged with war crimes, a list that includes Security Minister Mohamed Qanyare Afrah, Commerce Minister Muse Sudi Yalahow, Religious Affairs Minister Omar Mohamed Mohamud and Militia Disarmament Minister Bootan Isse Alim.

* The Algerian army is surrounding a group of 60 terrorists in Mdeyyeh state, 90 kilometers west of the capital, Algiers, a security source said Saturday. The source said in press remarks the army has been launching a military operation since late last week by tightening control on movement and supply of the terrorists.

* Howard LaFranchi explains why the U.S. restored ties with Libya, saying it "should be a lesson to Iran and North Korea. Give up your nuclear weapons programs just as Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi did, administration officials argue, and you too can reap the benefits of political and economic ties with the United States."

* U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is sending retired diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi to Khartoum this week to press Sudan’s government to allow U.N. military planners into Darfur.

* An independent western security expert for terrorists’ activities said the recent confrontations in Somali capital Mogadishu were organized by Al-Qaeda operatives to have settlement the in lawless and war-torn country (Somalia) on Saturday. In an interview with the London based Arabic news paper Alqudus Alarabiya, the official who asked not to be identified, said Al-Qaeda network conducts bigger operations in the horn of African nation and attempts to create new insurgents in Somalia.

* Eastern Chad is now home for over 250,000 refugees, most of them in camps run by the UN and associated NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations). About 20 percent of the refugees are Chadians, fleeing the increasing violence between Chadian security forces and various rebel factions.

The Global War

* Combined Endeavor 2006, a two-week operation to test and document the interoperability of vital communication systems for multinational forces, began last week in Lager Aulenbach, Germany. The U.S. European Command, in cooperation with the German Ministry of Defense, is sponsoring the communications and information systems interoperability exercise. Forty-one countries, including members of NATO and Partnership for Peace, are participating.

* The U.N. International Maritime Organisation (IMO) announced that major shipping nations had agreed to new rules to track ships by satellite to fight terrorism and prevent the transport of materials used in weapons of mass destruction.

* Classified military spending has reached its highest level since 1988, near the end of the Cold War, a new independent analysis has found. Classified, or 'black,' programs now appear to account for about $30.1 billion, or 19 percent, of the acquisition money the Defense Department is requesting for fiscal year 2007.

* Until recently, Ammar al-Baluchi was considered a peripheral player in Al Qaeda, a functionary who made travel arrangements and wired money for terrorists. But new government disclosures place Baluchi in a larger role in the Sept. 11 preparations and rank him No. 4 among the conspirators captured by U.S. forces after the 2001 terrorist attacks. Indeed, investigators say he was instrumental in acquiring a Boeing 747 flight simulator and a Boeing 767 flight-deck video for the hijackers to practice on before heading to the United States.

Thanks for reading! If you found something here you want to blog about yourself (and we hope you do), all we ask is that you do as we do and offer a Hat Tip hyperlink to today's "Winds of War". If you think we missed something important, use the Comments section to let us know. For ongoing tips, email "MondayWindsOfWar", over here

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Some background on Darfur

Martin Meredith has written a masterful book entitled The Fate of Africa. It focuses primarily on the last 50 years, and how Africa has succeeded, and more importantly, failed, since in the independence era began.

(It makes a good companion to another excellent book on Africa, one by Thomas Pakenham entitled The Scramble for Africa. That book focuses on Africa's colonial era.)

Meredith tells the story of General Bashir, Sudan's current president who seized power in 1989. The beginning of Bashir's rule presaged the genocide in Darfur.

Shortly after seizing power in Sudan in 1989, General Omar al-Bashir addressed a rally holding a copy of the Koran in one hand and a Kalashnikov rifle in the other. 'I vow here before you to purge from our ranks the renegades, the hirelings, enemies of the people and enemies of the armed forces,' he declared.

Bashir's coup marked the beginning of an Islamist dictatorship that dealt ruthlessly with Muslim and non-Muslim opponents alike.

One institution after another - the civil service, the army, the judiciary, the universities, trade unions, professional associations, parastatal organizations - was purged of disssent.

A new Islamic penal code promulgated in 1991 provided for public hanging or crucifixion for armed robbery; execution by stoning for adultery; and death for apostasy.

Bashir also formed his own Islamic militia, the People's Defence Force, modelling it on Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

Meredith describes the awful fighting and unrest in the South, and the presence of oil led to ethnic cleansing.

Though reduced to a wasteland, southern Sudan still possessed the ultimate prize for both sides: oil.
The oilfields lay mostly in Nuer and Dinka territory. To protect the area from rebel attacks, the government initiated a campaign of ethnic cleansing, using the army and Baggara militias to drive out the local population and establish a cordon sanitaire around the oilfields.

And then, as if Sudan had not seen enough bloodshed, the terrible war in Darfur started up.

But just as one war was winding down, another broke out in the western region of Darfur, threatening disaster of a magnitude that had not occurred since Rwanda. Its origins lay in an age-old conflict over land between nomadic Arab pastoralists and settled 'African' agriculturalists that intensifed during the 1980s as a result of drought and increasing desertification. Arab pastoralists moving southwards from the arid northern part of Darfur into areas occupied by black Muslim tribes - the Fur, Msaalit and Zaghawa - were involved in a series of violent clashes. Rather than working to defure tensions, the Khartoum government sided with Arab pastoralists, providing them with arms.

Rebel movements cropped up, and the government struck back.

Khartoum reacted with a savage campaign of ethnic cleansing intended to drive out the local population and replace it with Arab settlers, just as it had done in oil-producing areas of the south and the Nuba mountains. The air force bombed villages; the army launched ground attacks; and Arab militias known as janjaweed were licensed to kill, loot and rape at will. They burned to the ground hundreds of villages, killed thousands of tribesmen, raped women en masse, abducted children and stole cattle.

Consider this same government is resisting the presence of UN troops in Darfur. How willing do you think this government is to solve this problem through diplomacy?

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Tweaking Russia

Here is another item that could cause some tension at the G-8 summit later this summer in St. Petersburg. From Regnum:

The USA will support Ukraine’s decision to revise gas agreements with Russia, USA Ambassador to Kiev John Herbst. In an interview to Den newspaper the American diplomat announced that if the Ukrainian government decides that they should revise gas agreements, it will have US support. As Herbst said, from the beginning of the year, the USA had not hesitated to point out “some problems” concerning the issue. Answering the question what the American assistance could be, Herbst said he did not think it was appropriate to speak about it at the moment. Herbst said the key issue was that Ukraine should make up its mind by itself. As the diplomat stressed he was not sure that a fresh view of the agreements would increase tension in comparison to what the implementation of the agreements may bring about. He reminded that there were still a lot of rumors concerning the prices that would come into force since June 1. It is only one of a few questions concerning the agreements that remain open.

This goes back to the beginning of the year, when Russia turned off the gas to Ukraine over pricing disagreements. That matter was settled in a somewhat murky deal, but nonetheless, Russia sent a very clear message it was willing to use its natural gas as an instrument of foreign policy.

Not for nothing did Vice President Cheney say in Vilnius May 4:

Other actions by the Russian government have been counterproductive, and could begin to affect relations with other countries. No legitimate interest is served when oil and gas become tools of intimidation or blackmail, either by supply manipulation or attempts to monopolize transportation.

By siding with Ukraine, the US is making it clear we won't back down from an argument with Russia, and that we won't let Russia hold Europe hostage over natural gas.

Armed Forces Day

Today (Saturday May 20) is Armed Forces Day.

It is fitting that on a day the first permanent Iraqi government since the end of Hussein's regime is forming, we pause and remember the freedom we have. We are free because over the history of this country family, friends, loved ones and neighbors have served, and died, on our behalf.

C.S. Scott of Security Watchtower says it well:

We are blessed to live in a land of unprecedented peace and prosperity, where our dreams and aspirations can be fulfilled. Our armed forces provide us the tranquility and freedom, which this republic has enjoyed. The ability to live in a free and democratic country that gives man the capacity to control his own destiny free from oppression and terror. The armed forces of this nation are engaged in the monumental task of fighting terror in Iraq, Afghanistan and other locations where the forces of evil hide, ridding the world of the scourge of international terror.

Unfortunately the rights of man are not enjoyed by all mankind, many across the globe face terror and oppression, denied the basic tenets of liberty. So long as freedom is threatened, we can't take our freedom for granted. Freedom cannot survive without protection. In protecting freedom of all mankind, we honor the men and women of our armed forces serving all across the globe in the preservation of that basic right.

Last Veterans Day, I posted some thoughts on courage, and they certainly apply today as well.

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.

To all those who serve, or who have served, in the Armed Forces, thank you.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Russia to expand its military presence in Kyrgyzstan

From the Jamestown Foundation:

The Russian military is set to expand its military presence in Kyrgyzstan later this year by increasing the number of Russian personnel at its airbase in Kant, near Bishkek. According to Colonel-General Vladimir Mikhailov, commander of the Russian air force, by the end of 2006 Russia will have increased its military presence at Kant by 150%. The move to strengthen the airbase underlines Moscow's commitment to promoting its military and security interests in Kyrgyzstan, as well as more generally within Central Asia; serves to bring pressure on the Bakiyev regime to avoid a Westward drift in its security policy; and confirms a sense of ongoing rivalry with the U.S. base at Manas (RTR, Russia TV, May 12).

Russian military ways, thinking, and influence, which permeate all the post-Soviet legacy forces in the region to a greater or lesser extent, is extended through the Kant base. On May 11 Kyrgyz Defense Minister Ismail Isakov announced Bishkek's plan to create a new structure within the armed forces, namely the Air Defense Forces. "They will comprise three elements: watching our airspace, destroying violators of our country's airspace, and radio-technical units," Isakov declared. In fact, Isakov and Mikhailov discussed the prospects for setting up air defense forces from subunits and subdivisions of Kyrgyzstan's air defense and air force personnel. Moreover, Mikhailov expressed his readiness to organize training courses for Kyrgyz air personnel at Russian educational establishments. Training flights will also be organized at the airbase in Kant. There are currently four aircraft being modified for this task.

As I mentioned in this post, Russia and China are making an effort to peel Kyrgyzstan away from the US.

The US makes use of a base in Kyrgyzstan, but Kyrgyzstan is asking for a significant increase in rent. The matter is to be decided by June 1. If the US is pushed out of Kyrgyzstan, the US military presence in Central Asia will essentially be confined to Afghanistan.

Through instruments such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Russia is competing with the US in Central Asia. The war on terror has made the region of strategic interest to the US, and yet we face strong challenges to our relationships with the Central Asian nations.

Aside from strategic physical locations, the region has energy resources that are drawing the attentions of Russia, China and Iran. The US may find itself on the outside looking in, and that may have negative implications for our security.

Iran’s Political/Nuclear Ambitions and U.S. Policy Options Pt. 2

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Iran’s Political/Nuclear Ambitions and U.S. Policy Options continued Thursday. Witnesses on the second day included Frank Wisner of the American International Group, Vali Nasr of the Naval Postgraduate School, Julia Nanay of PFC Energy, and James Phillips of the Heritage Foundation.

Again, here are some excerpts of the written statements.

Senator Lugar's Opening Statement

The witnesses generally shared the view that no diplomatic options, including direct talks, should be taken off the table. Direct talks may in some circumstances be useful in demonstrating to our allies our commitment to diplomacy, dispelling anti-American rumors among the Iranian people, preventing Iranian misinterpretation of our goals, or reducing the risk of accidental escalation. Our policies and our communications must be clear, precise, and confident, without becoming inflexible.

I noted a comment by Dr. Henry Kissinger in an op-ed on Iran that appeared in Tuesday’s Washington Post. Dr. Kissinger wrote: “The diplomacy appropriate to denuclearization is comparable to the containment policy that helped win the Cold War: i.e., no preemptive challenge to the external security of the adversary, but firm resistance to attempts to project its power abroad and reliance on domestic forces to bring about internal change. It was precisely such a nuanced policy that caused President Ronald Reagan to invite Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev to a dialogue within weeks of labeling the Soviet Union the ‘evil empire.’”

Frank Wisner

The political consequences of an American attack would be even more devastating. I can assure you that there will be an eruption of protest across the Muslim world; public opinion in allied nations would be hostile and our standing in international fora would be undermined. We must also calculate the economic consequences. I have no way to predict where the price of oil will go in the wake of military action against Iran or counter moves which impded the Straits of Hormuz.
The time is right, moreover, to signal that the United States not only seeks agreement which will contain the nuclear crisis but that we are prepared to cosider normalizing relations, provided, of course, that Iran is similarly disposed and acts accordingly. Engagement, through diplomatic dialogue, means addressing the broad array of issues that divide Iran from us and the international community – the issues that leave her marginalized and insecure - - in other words, the issues that undergird distrust of Iran.

Vali Nasr

Since 2005 elections Iran’s pro- democracy forces are demoralized and marginalized. They have lost their access to power and are excluded from all state institutions. They are disorganized. They lack political parties, and in?fighting has prevented them from forming a united front before the regime. They do not have a program of action or a platform that could challenge the current government’s foreign policy or populist ecnomic policies. In addition there is no wedge issue around which they could mobilize their followers, organize demonstrations, and build a movement. There is no major election on the calendar for the next five years—nothing to rally around. Escalation of tensions between U.S. and Iran—and especially the prospects of sanctions and a military strike on Iran—has moreover, created a rally to the flag henomenon in Iran—war and nationalist fervor do not favor democracy. As strong as the demand for democracy is in Iran the democracy movement is weak. It poses no palpable threats to regime stability.

Julia Nanay

About 60 percent of Iran’s export earnings come from the oil and gas sector and 40 to 50 percent of the government’s revenues. Investments in Iran’s oil and gas sector are already dramatically reduced and timetables delayed due to the sanctions currently in place, as well as weak terms on offer under the buyback contract model. Short of disrupting Iran’s oil trade with sanctions on oil exports, which would drive up oil prices and negatively impact the US economy, there is limited impact to be gained for the world community from any other additional sanctions on Iran’s oil and gas industry. In a market where companies and countries seek to secure their economic lifelines through access to oil and gas, the idea that you can create a fool-proof sanctions system targeted at any oil and gas producer is a non-starter. There will always be those who violate the sanctions.

Sanctions on gasoline imports would be disruptive and would result in creating dislocations in Iran’s economy. However, their impact would be offset to some extent by the likely elimination of the smuggling of gasoline to neighboring countries. Such targeted sanctions will have their own unintended consequences of probably encouraging the smuggling of gasoline from such offshore sources as Dubai from where many products already enter Iran.

James Phillips

The U.S. should mobilize an international coalition to raise the diplomatic, economic, domestic political, and potential military costs to Tehran of continuing to flout its obligations under its nuclear safeguards agreements. This “coalition of the willing” should seek to isolate the Ahmadinejad regime, weaken it through targeted economic sanctions, explain to the Iranian people why their government’s nuclear policies will impose economic costs and military risks on them, contain Iran’s military power, and encourage democratic change. If Tehran persists in its drive for nuclear weapons despite these escalating pressures, then the United States should consider military options to set back the Iranian nuclear weapons program.
Iran also has been increasingly aggressive in stirring up trouble inside Iraq. In October, the British government charged that the Iranians had supplied sophisticated bombs with shaped charges capable of penetrating armor to clients in Iraq who used them in a series of attacks on British forces in southern Iraq. Iran also has given discreet support to insurgents such as Moqtada al-Sadr, who twice has led Shiite uprisings against coalition forces and the Iraqi government.

Iranian hardliners undoubtedly fear that a stable democratic Iraq would present a dangerous alternative model of government that could undermine their own authority. They know that Iraq’s pre-eminent Shiite religious leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, whose religious authority is greater than that of any member of Iran’s ruling clerical regime, rejects Khomeini’s radical ideology and advocates traditional Shiite religious doctrines. Although Iran continues to enjoy considerable influence with many Iraqi Shiites, particularly with Iraq’s Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq and the Dawa Party, the moderate influence of Sistani dilutes their own revolutionary influence. Therefore, Tehran plays a double game in Iraq, using the young firebrand al-Sadr to undermine Sistani and keep pressure on the U.S. military to withdraw, while still maintaining good relations with Shiite political parties who revere Sistani and need continued American support.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Iran’s Political/Nuclear Ambitions and U.S. Policy Options

Yesterday (Wednesday) the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on Iran’s Political/Nuclear Ambitions and U.S. Policy Options. (The hearing continues today, and I'll have an update when materials are posted.)

Here is a summary of the hearing, with excerpts from the various written statements.

Senator Lugar's Opening Statement

Retaining all communication tools is also important because they may be necessary to avoid a tragic miscalculation by the Iranians. Analysts in our intelligence agencies and State Department do not regard the Tehran regime as irrational, but the framework for their decision-making is very different from our own. We must understand that they are interpreting our actions in ways that we do not always discern. If one overlays these perceptual differences with demagogic rhetoric, historic suspicion, and high political stakes, the possibility for miscalculation increases exponentially. Our policies and our communications must be clear, precise, and confident, without becoming inflexible. In some situations, this delicate diplomatic balance can best be achieved through direct communications.

Senator Biden's Opening Statement

Unfortunately, the Administration has chosen not to send a senior official to be a part of these hearings. That is a mistake.

If the Administration wants to avoid a repeat of the Iraq fiasco, it must begin to do what it initially failed to do in that arena: level with the American people about what is at stake and what its strategy is. Platitudes like “all options are on the table” and “we’re pursuing diplomacy” aren’t good enough.

Dodging congressional hearings is not a good start to what promises to be one of the most challenging problems facing our country over the next several years.

Let me state what the potential problem is: a nuclear-armed Iran. That would put the bomb in the hands of a radical theocracy, swimming on a sea of high priced oil, whose president has denied the holocaust, threatened to wipe Israel off the map and to attack us.

In my view, Iran probably would not use a weapon against us or Israel or give the technology to terrorists. But it would feel emboldened to make even more mischief in the region. And if Iran gets the bomb, that could well fuel an arms race with Sunni Arab countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, making an already volatile region even more dangerous.

There were two panels. The first panel featured Robert Einhorn, Senior Adviser for the CSIS, and David Albright, President of the Institute for Science and International Security.

Robert Einhorn

As documented by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in its report of April 28, 2006, Iran has indeed passed some important milestones in recent months. Since September 2005, it has produced over 110 tonnes of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) at the Isfahan uranium conversion facility, enough gaseous uranium feedstock for over 20 nuclear weapons. After ending its suspension of enrichment activities in January, it fed UF6 into a single P-1 centrifuge machine, then into 10-machine and 20-machine cascades, and then moved quickly to a 164-machine cascade (a key building block in a centrifuge enrichment facility) where it successfully enriched uranium to around 3.6%.

Meanwhile, Iran has been assembling two additional 164-machine cascades at its Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant (PFEP), one which is about to begin enrichment operations and the other which should be ready by June. In addition, the Iranians announced that they would begin installing the first 3000-machine module of their industrial-scale enrichment facility in the fourth quarter of 2006.

On the basis of these developments, Iran’s leaders are claiming that they have now mastered centrifuge enrichment technology and that it is too late to stop them. They
go so far as to say that, even if existing nuclear facilities were destroyed, they have reached a stage where they could re-generate their program quickly and confidently, with little loss of time. But such claims are premature.

The Iranians have cut corners in their research and development effort in order to register the accomplishments listed in the IAEA’s report. Standard practice would have required them to run the 164-machine cascade with UF6 on an uninterrupted basis for up to six months or more before gaining confidence in its operation. Instead of proceeding in parallel to assemble and operate additional cascades, the efficient operation of the initial cascade would first have been demonstrated. To verify the ability to manufacture centrifuges indigenously, the experimental cascade would have relied on machines made in Iran rather than imported, and it would have been heavily instrumented to measure performance. And before introducing UF6 into the cascades, any impurities in the uranium gas that could damage the centrifuges would have been addressed and eliminated.

But the Iranians deviated from standard practice. Apparently intent mainly on demonstrating publicly the ability to reach a significant enrichment level, they ran the cascade with UF6 for less than two weeks. A significant portion of the experimental cascade may have consisted of centrifuges imported from the A.Q. Khan network rather than produced indigenously. Moreover, little of the equipment normally used to measure performance seems to have been used during the short experimental run. And instead of taking the time to fix the problems in the Isfahan conversion process that have produced impurities in the UF6, the Iranians seem to have chosen to use the impure UF6 and accept the risk of having to replace any centrifuges damaged as a result.

David Albright

To understand the assumptions, key information, calculations, and uncertainties driving estimates of the timelines, I present two “worst-case” estimates of the time Iran would need to build its first nuclear weapon.

In both of these estimates, which involve the production of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and cover the more likely scenarios, Iran appears to need at least three years, or until 2009, before it could have enough HEU to make a nuclear weapon. Given the technical difficulty of the task, it could take Iran longer.

The second panel featured Kenneth Pollack of The Brookings Institution, Karim Sadjadpour of the International Crisis Group, Patrick Clawson of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and Geoffrey Kemp of The Nixon Center.

Kenneth Pollack

Setting aside the question of whether Iran is determinedly seeking actual nuclear weapons or simply the capability to produce fissile material (and thereby be in a position to acquire the weapons themselves rapidly), there is ample reason to believe that Iranians would want nuclear weapons. For deterrence (both defensive and offensive), prestige, and export of the Revolution.
Iran’s political leadership is divided over its nuclear program in important ways. While the available evidence suggests that most Iranian leaders would like at least a nuclear weapons capability (if not the weapons themselves), it also indicates that they differ widely in the priority they ascribe to this goal.
This discussion suggests that convincing Iran to give up its nuclear program is going to be tough. The Iranians are not going to do so willingly. But it also tells me that doing so should not be impossible, because there are Iranians—both the bulk of the people and important members of the regime—for whom nuclear weapons are desirable, perhaps even important, but neither essential nor even their first priority.

Karim Sadjadpour

Iran’s senior leadership has always attempted to project a unified mindset regarding the nuclear issue, but in reality the country’s ruling elites are divided into three broad categories: those who favor pursuit of the nuclear project at all costs; those who wish to pursue it without sacrificing diplomatic interests; and those who argue for a suspension of activities to build trust and allow for a full fuel cycle down the road. Understanding and exploiting these differences should be a key component of any diplomatic approach.
The first group, sympathizers of President Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, comprises ideologues and confrontationists who romanticize the defiance of the revolution’s early days.
Like the confrontationists, the second group is highly cynical of Western (particularly US) intentions, and argues that Iran is “bound by national duty” to pursue its “inalienable” right to enrich uranium. Unlike them, however, they favor working within an international framework.
The third, more conciliatory group, arguably most representative of popular sentiment, is currently the least influential. After months of silence, however, they are increasingly beginning to make their voices heard.

Patrick Clawson

Dr. Clawson talked about Iran's economic vulnerabilities.

Having pegged his reputation on his ability to help the ordinary man, Ahmadinezhad faces serious problems: the economy is a mess, his policies are disastrous, and Iranians’ expectations are sky-high. The World Bank’s 2003 report about Iran noted, “Despite the growth in the 1990s, GDP per capita in 2000 is still 30 percent below what it was in the mid 1970s, compared with a near doubling for the rest of the world.” Iranians are galled to find that their country has slipped badly behind the Arabs on the south side of the Persian Gulf, whom they traditionally have regarded as their social inferiors. Thanks to the tens of thousands of Iranians living in Dubai, Iranians know full well that Dubai is booming because it has embraced globalization, while their country falls ever farther behind, trapped by its suspicion of the West.

Ahmadinezhad’s policy is based on producing everything at home and creating barriers to trade – he has no use for globalization. His government has been discouraging foreign investors, for instance, refusing to allow Renault to use the billion-dollar facility it built in Iran to build an inexpensive car for the Asian market. The recent Iranian boom has been based almost entirely on profligate government spending which cannot last forever. Despite the flood of oil money, government policies are such that the IMF warns the budget will fall back into deficit again within two years even if oil prices remain sky-high.

The recent massive government spending has led to several years of solid growth, yet it has barely dented the country’s long-term economic problems. While reported unemployment fell to an eight-year low of 10.3 percent last year, job creation remains insufficient to absorb the 700,000 young people entering the job market each year. The IMF forecasts that even if oil prices remain at their present high level, unemployment will steadily increase in years to come. In its 2003 report, the usually sober and understated World Bank summed up the “daunting unemployment challenge” with strong words: “Unless the country moves quickly to a faster path of growth with employment, discontent and disenchantment could threaten its economic, social, and political system.”

Economic and political frustration is feeding social problems. One is chronic drug problem, with the Iranian government acknowledging that two million people use narcotics, mainly opium; other estimates are higher. Divorce is on the rise; one study found that 30 percent of newlyweds got divorced within three years. Another is increasing prostitution; the official estimate is 300,000 prostitutes. There have been a number of corruption scandals involving judges and government social workers involved in prostituting young girls. Instead of making reforms that would allow entrepreneurs to create jobs, the political elite is more comfortable with the “solution” of rising emigration rates, especially among the well educated. In sum, many of Iran’s best and brightest are leaving the country, and a growing number of those remaining are at risk of becoming an underclass.

Geoffrey Kemp

There is no doubt, in my opinion, that Russia is the key player on this matter and that with adroit diplomacy it would have been possible to obtain the cooperation of the Putin government to put far more pressure on the Iranian regime to put limits on its nuclear program. In the event of Russian cooperation it is unlikely that China would be the lone dissenter to joint pressure against the Islamic Republic.

However we have not handled the Russia portfolio with skill. Russia sees Iran as a cooperative partner in an unstable part of the world straddling the Caucuses and Central Asia. In contrast the U.S. policy towards Russia’s “near abroad” is seen in Moscow to be provocative. The laudatory objective of the Bush administration is to nurture more freedom in Eurasia and to develop multiple pipeline routes in the context of energy security. However in the specific context of persuading Russia that it is in its interests to turn on one of its partners, Iran, it must be asked what it is we are offering the Russians to make this difficult choice worthwhile? Russians privately tell you that if the Americans want to deal on Iran then it would require some quid pro quo, such as not encouraging Ukraine to join NATO or not deliberately making provocative speeches in the region a few weeks before the G-8 Summit in St. Petersburg. I would have to conclude that while there are good arguments for being critical of Russia and being supportive of neighbors such as Ukraine and Georgia, the Baltic states, and Kazakhstan, such pronouncements are counterproductive in the context of Iran policy.

Seen from the Russian point of view, not only are we interfering in their backyard, but if we eventually improve relations with Iran as part of some ultimate “grand bargain” and remove economic sanctions then Russia stands to lose a great deal of economic leverage in that country while witnessing the return of the U.S. and all that entails for the region.

A similar set of trade-offs could be made in the context of China. China is not unhappy to see us struggling in the Middle East, even though it does not want to see a failure in Iraq. Neither does it want to see an Iranian nuclear program. Yet China, too, would need some quid pro quo to put serious pressure on Iran.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A wrong number gone right

Or, when bad things happen to bad people. Ha. From Stars and Stripes last month:

One misplaced cell phone and one savvy interpreter equaled one dead insurgent, several pieces of intelligence and a whole lot of captured weapons.

On a routine patrol, U.S. troops with 1st Battalion, 68th Armor came upon a house in the midst of dense greenery and at the end of a dusty country road.

Staff Sgt. Matthew Nicodemus, 33, said he immediately noticed that no Iraqi men were around.

Suddenly, a cell phone inside the home rang, said Nicodemus, of Altoona, Pa.

“The interpreter went in and answered the phone, and on the other end of the phone the person said, in Arabic, ‘Hey, coalition forces are here, go ahead and run away,’ and he specifically said, ‘Go and run into the palm groves all around here,’ ” Nicodemus said.

The troops then fanned out into the palm groves and found several weapons including several rocket-propelled grenades and hand grenades, two AK-47s and a new sniper’s rifle, Nicodemus said.

They also found a hand-written map of a U.S. military base, diagrams on how to build rockets and a CD-ROM with several thousand files written in Arabic, said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Greer, 35, of San Luis Obispo, Calif.

If that weren’t enough, the insurgent kept calling the interpreter back to ask what the Americans were doing.

The interpreter kept the act going.

“He’s basically acting like, you know, he’s watching us ... making sure everything is fine,” Nicodemus said.

The U.S. troops knew the insurgents were coming back and decided to lie in wait for them.

Many troops said they were psyched by the prospect of killing the person on the other end of the phone.

“I love this [expletive],” said Sgt. Nicholas Hake-Jordan, 23, of Springfield, Ore.

The troops didn’t have to wait long.

Shortly after U.S. troops set up, the insurgents called the interpreter and said they would be by in about 10 minutes to attack the Americans, said Staff Sgt. Art Hoffman, 30.

When seven insurgents got to the house, they ran into a wall of U.S. fire, said Hoffman, of Baltimore.

“The first guy that came in the door just dropped like a rock. The other two guys behind him got hit pretty hard, too. The rest grabbed their wounded and just ran back off,” said Hoffman.

One insurgent was confirmed killed in the fighting and the other two were in bad shape, he said.

Afterward, the battalion commander, Lt. Col. Thomas Fisher, 42, praised his soldiers’ actions.

“The initiative demonstrated at the platoon level is exactly how you win this fight,” said Fisher, of Sioux Falls, S.D.

Could Russian troops leave the Transdniester region?

There is much to discuss at the upcoming G-8 summit in St. Petersburg in July. Russian energy policy, Russia's aid and comfort to Iran, freedom of the press in Russia, etc...

One matter that might come up, however, is the presence of Russian troops in the Transdniester region. An article at the Jamestown Foundation points out there may be an opportunity to replace Russian troops there.

Two upcoming international events offer Moldova and Georgia an unprecedented opportunity to demand the termination of Russian "peacekeeping" -- also known as "piecekeeping," that is, seizure of pieces of another country's territory -- and its replacement by genuine international peacekeeping missions. Those two events are the Conference to Review the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) at the end of May in Vienna; and the G-8 summit in St. Petersburg in July, when the United States is determined to raise the issue of Russia's involvement in those conflicts.
Moldova's situation closely parallels Georgia's, yet Chisinau has thus far hesitated to call publicly and consistently for termination and replacement of Russian "peacekeeping" in Moldova. Certain American and European diplomats have long discouraged Chisinau from denouncing the 1992 agreement on Russian "peacekeeping" on Moldova's territory. However, Chisinau has a compelling case for denouncing that agreement at this time and for acting in parallel with Tbilisi.

The agreement on "Principles of a Peaceful Settlement of the Armed Conflict in the Transnistria Zone of Moldova" was signed on July 21, 1992, by then-Presidents Boris Yeltsin and Mircea Snegur. It ended the overt intervention of Russian forces against Moldova, at a time when Transnistria's authorities did not yet have their own military units; those units were created shortly afterward -- and augmented still later -- by the Russian Federation's military. Under the 1992 agreement, "The parties commit themselves to undertaking all necessary measures for a complete ceasefire and halting all military actions against each other." The agreement may be terminated by mutual agreement or by being denounced by either of the two parties; no provision is made regarding advance notice. The agreement makes it clear that a military conflict between Russia and Moldova took place.

Crucially, Transnistria is not a party to that agreement. The official text published in the press at the time and, shortly afterward, in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs' reference collection of documents, Diplomaticheskii Vestnik (August 15-31), shows Yeltsin's and Snegur's signatures and no one else's. However, in 2004, Russia showed at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg (ECHR) a purported copy of the original held in Moscow's archives. On that purported copy, Transnistria leader Igor Smirnov's signature appears alongside those of the Russian and Moldovan presidents. Clearly, the Russian side "edited" the document, adding Smirnov's signature to support Moscow's and Tiraspol's twin claims that Transnistria is a "party" to the conflict and that Russia arbitrates a conflict between two parts of Moldova.
In this situation, Chisinau's most effective legal instrument is exercising its right to denounce the 1992 agreement. This would prevent a possible deal with Russia on "peacekeeping" at Moldova's expense during the CFE Treaty Review Conference (as some West European delegations at the OSCE envisage) and would ensure that the issue is raised effectively at the G-8 summit.

Russia would not react kindly to strong tactics to force its troops out of the area. However, Russia is certainly pursuing its own interests in Central Asia and Iran, and using its energy resources as a lever against Europe. This is a chance for Europe to push back.

Previous posts

The Transdniester region
Russian meddling
New customs rules in the Transdniester region

And what were they doing there?

From Iran Focus:

Baghdad, May 17 – Three members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards were arrested by police after a gun-battle in a northern Baghdad district, an Iraqi weekly wrote in its latest edition.

A statement had been distributed in the district of al-Azimiyah regarding the clashes and the subsequent arrests, the weekly al-Masar reported.

The three were arrested along with a number of other insurgents, the report added.

In March, United States Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld accused Tehran of sending elite members of the Revolutionary Guards into Iraq to cause harm to the future of that country.

We already are fighting against the Iranian regime.

A Baloch attach on a Pakistani nuclear facility?

I can't verify this, but IntelliBriefs has this report:

According to reports from reliable sources in Dera Ghazi Khan and Quetta, the Baloch freedom-fighters successfully launched a mortar attack on a Pakistani nuclear establishment controlled by the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) on May 15,2006. The establishment is located in the vicinity of the Dera Ghazi Khan-Quetta highway. Earlier too, it was once the target of an unsuccessful attack by the Baloch freedom-fighters.

2. The mortar attack caused the outbreak of a large fire in the woods surrounding the establishment. Twenty fire engines took nearly 10 hours to bring the fire under control. It has been reported that the fire could be extinguished before it could spread to the establishment itself. Apart from destroying a large number of trees planted around the establishment, a cafeteria and other service buidings, the fire does not appear to have caused any other damage. The sensitive parts of the establishment were reportedly not affected.

3. The PAEC has not issued any official statement on the fire. In talks with the local media, unnamed PAEC officials have projected the fire as due to a short circuit. They have not admitted that it was caused by a mortar fire.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Roundup of events in Balochistan

As before, these updates are from the South Asia Terrorism Portal.

May 3

One person was killed and two others sustained injuries when two landmines exploded in Dera Bugti and Chattar area of Nasirabad district of Balochistan province on May 2, according to Dawn. A police officer in Dera Murad Jamali said that a villager was killed when a bullock-cart hit the landmine. In another incident, two persons were wounded when a landmine exploded in the Dera Bugti area.

However, Jamhoori Watan Party chief Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti claimed that at least 19 security force personnel were killed and six others injured in a landmine blast in the Sarposh area of Dear Bugti district. The chief of the Bugti tribe said Frontier Corps suffered losses in the Sangsilla area where armed tribesmen targeted a camp of the security forces. No independent confirmation was available on his claim.
A top Al Qaeda leader whose links stretch from Afghan terrorist training camps to extremist networks operating throughout Europe has been arrested in Pakistan, according to a US law-enforcement official. Mustafa Setmarian Nasar, a Syrian who also holds Spanish citizenship, was captured during a November 2005 operation in Quetta that left one person dead, said the American official, according to AP. Pakistani officials said on May 2 that Nasar has since been flown out of Pakistan to an unspecified location. The American official said Nasar, also known as Abu Musab al-Suri, may now be in US custody but did not specify where. Nasar had a $5 million US bounty on his head.

May 5

Security forces using helicopter gun-ships carried out an operation against insurgents in the Dera Bugti district of Balochistan province after four Frontier Corps personnel, including an officer, were injured in an attack on their vehicle on May 4, according to Dawn.

Meanwhile, The News has reported that insurgents fired a series of rockets at security forces’ check-posts besides targeting them with light arms on May 4. Rocket attacks were reported from Dera Bugti, Sangseela, Kandwani, Hernai and Goth Habib Rahi check posts. However, no loss of life or property was reported.

May 7

Gunmen riding on a motorcycle killed a former regional Taliban leader on May 6 in the Balochistan province, according to Daily Times. Mullah Samad Barakzai, who was head of the Department for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice in Helmand during the Taliban’s rule, was killed near a seminary in Quetta, said Qazi Abdul Wahid, an area police chief. Barakzai, who is also known as Maulvi Yar Muhammed, had become a supporter of President Hamid Karzai’s Government, Wahid said adding, “We have made no arrest, but it seems that he has been killed by Taliban”.

Meanwhile, a bomb blast was reported from a police station in Gwadar on May 5. However, no loss of life or injuries was reported, but the police station building and a vehicle were damaged.

May 8

At least three people were killed and seven others sustained injuries in four landmine explosions in different areas of Balochistan province on May 7, according to Dawn. A vehicle carrying Kalpar tribesmen from Sui to Dera Bugti hit a landmine in Gandoi area killing two people, Nawabuddin Bugti and Gul Mohammad Bugti, and wounding three others. A man riding a camel was killed in another landmine explosion in the Arand area of Sibi district. Further, three police personnel were injured when their vehicle struck a landmine in the Chattar area of Nasirabad district. Separately, a bus carrying vegetables was blown up by another landmine in the same area.

Meanwhile, insurgents are reported to have fired rockets on Frontier Corps checkpoints in the Ghori Nullah area. Unconfirmed reports suggested that three soldiers were killed and five others injured in the attack. Clashes between security forces (SFs) and Bugti tribesmen were reported from different areas, including Sangsilla and Ghori Nullah.

Elsewhere in the province, SFs defused an anti-tank mine and another mine planted near Sui. They also claimed to have foiled an attempt to blow up a bridge near the Tariman area of Kahan.

May 10

Baloch insurgents are reported to have fired three missiles from Sui Neelakh mountain at security forces in the Sangsela, Chashma and Gory Nullah areas of Dera Bugti district in the Balochistan province on May 9. Further, the insurgents also fired seven rockets at the Pathar Nullah Check Post in Pir Koh. However, no loss of life or property was reported in these incidents.

May 12

Six police personnel of the Anti-Terrorist Force (ATF) were killed and 13 others sustained injuries in five powerful bomb explosions at the firing range of the Police Training College in Quetta, capital of Balochistan province on May 11, according to Dawn. The banned Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) claimed responsibility for the blasts. “It is an act of terrorism and the perpetrators had used booby traps to trigger powerful blasts,” Inspector-General of Police Chaudhary Mohammad Yaqoob said. Two suspects had been taken into custody, he added. The five blasts occurred in quick succession soon after the ATF contingent had arrived at the firing range at around 8.15am.

Meanwhile, four Bugti tribesmen were killed and five others wounded in an armed clash between two factions of the Mandwani and Kalpar Bugtis in the Lanjo area of Dera Bugti district on May 11. According to officials, armed men belonging to the Mandwani Bugtis opened fire on a convoy of Kalpar tribesmen, which was on its way to Sui. The vehicle of the Kalpars overturned after running over a landmine, killing four people. Subsequently, the Kalpar Bugtis returned fire by taking positions in nearby mountains, injuring five Mandwani Bugtis. The exchange of fire lasted for more than three hours and the tribesmen also used heavy weapons, including rockets, against each other, according to Dawn.

In another incident, insurgents reportedly blew up a tower of the 132-KV Rakhni-Barkhan power transmission line on May 11, suspending supply of electricity to Barkhan, Kohlu and Mawand.

Elsewhere in the province, several rockets were fired at a Frontier Corps check-post in the Karmo-Wadh area of Kahan. A heavy exchange of fire was also reported between security forces and armed insurgents in the Narigaj area of Sibi district. However, no casualty was reported in both the incidents.

May 15

A Government official, identified as Naib Tehsildar Shahzada Khan Bugti, who was abducted by unidentified persons on May 13 along with two Levies force personnel was found dead on May 14 in the Dera Bugti district, according to Daily Times. The District Coordination Officer, Abdul Samad Lasi, said that Shahzada Khan Bugti was investigating a land ownership dispute between tribesmen loyal to Nawab Akbar Bugti and the pro-government Kalpar clan. Meanwhile, according to Agencies, Nawab Akbar Bugti has claimed that three Frontier Constabulary (FC) personnel were killed and five injured in clashes with his supporters in Barboz.

Separately, unidentified men killed the Additional Sub-divisional Head of Dera Bugti, Liaquat Ali Cheema, in the Osta Muhammad area when he was on way to his house.

Elsewhere in the province, a bomb exploded in a drain in front of a shop at Rakhni, injuring one person.

May 16

Three pylons of a 132kv double-circuit power transmission line were blown up in the Mainghundi area, some 25 kilometers from Quetta, capital of Balochistan province, on May 15, according to Dawn. Power supply was reportedly suspended to various areas of the Mustang district and the Sariab grid station after the incident.

Elsewhere in the province, a heavy exchange of fire between security forces and armed insurgents was reported from the Sangsilla area of Dera Bugti district. Sources said insurgents fired at least 19 rockets on Frontier Corps check-posts in the Chashma, Loti, Pir Koh and Sangsilla areas of Dera Bugti.

Finally, don't miss this informative post from the (GOB) Exile about the Durand Line, the current dividing line between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Here's an excerpt.

In 1839, the Afghan and British governments agreed to demark a 2,450-kilometer (1,519 miles) long border dividing British India and Afghanistan. The signatory of the document, known as The Durand Line Agreement, were His Highness, Amir Abdur Rahman Khan, ruler of Afghanistan, and Sir Henry Mortimer Durand, the foreign secretary of the British Indian government.

Since British India ceased to exist in 1947 with the independence of India, Pakistan, and princely States, it was assumed that the Durand Line Agreement will be automatically upheld by the International Court of Justice as a binding agreement under uti possidetis juris, i.e, binding bilateral agreements with or between colonial powers are "passed down" to successor independent states.

Previous Posts

More unrest in SE Iran
The growing civil war in Baluchistan
Roundup of events in Balochistan
Iran hits back
The Port of Gwadar
Roundup of events in Balochistan
The Government of Balochistan in Exile
The toll in Balochistan
Why Balochistan is up in arms
Why Pakistan wants to hold on to Balochistan
Roundup of events in Balochistan

Whither this letter?

Regnum passes on a story from Iranian State Radio.

American scientists sent a letter to the White House and the Bush administration, Iranian State Radio broadcasted. Some 200 US academicians, students and former federal officials condemned Washington’s policy toward Iran and urged the US President George Bush to start direct negotiations with the Iranian government.

Taking into consideration the fact that IAEA has not found any proof of Iran’s working on the nuclear bomb, the dual-use technologies should be discussed at the direct Iran-USA talks, the signatories stated.

The authors warn against possible consequences the crisis could have for the region and for the whole world. They sustain that the current US policy will neither promote the US interests or Iranian reform, nor help establish peace and stability in the world.

However, I cannot find any other mention of this letter. Does anyone know what this story is referring to?

Is Iranian State Radio making up stories for the Iranian public, to make it seem like President Bush is isolated from all the forces of peace who just want to talk to dear, friendly Iran?

In April, 13 physicists sent a letter to President Bush, but that doesn't seem to be what this is talking about.

The letter referred to above in Regnum's story is quite conciliatory to Iran, saying the IAEA "has not found any proof of Iran’s working on the nuclear bomb." Is there anyone who seriously believes Iran is not developing a nuclear weapons program? Again, this has the sound of propaganda.

But, if anyone finds what this referring to, let us know.

24 Day 5 4:00 AM - 5:00 AM

Hey, the graphic violence warning looks like President Bush! What's going on?

In the recaps, a VCI is in great distress, an F-18 flies through the air with the greatest of ease, it's Moving Day for Bierko, Logan hums to himself "Suicide is painless, it brings on many changes, and I can take or leave it if I please", and Miles ruins a perfectly good tape.

As this week's episode falls into a Rancor pit, and we're left to scavenge for a logical plot among the bones of previous victims, Karen says the Attorney General will be on in 5 minutes. She hasn't told the AG about the contents of the tape yet. Boy is his day going to be off to a rough start. I bet he's wondering what happened to that immunity deal he got for Collette last night.

Chloe has a T1 line to the AG (what, no T3?), and Congressional reps will be involved, so they could quickly start impeachment proceedings.

Team Bauer sits down with their popcorn and bunny slippers to listen to the tape, but all they hear is *HISSSSSSSSSS*. That can't be a good thing.

Jack is vexed. He vexes at Chloe "You were responsible for the tape! What happened?" Chloe is flummoxed and bamboozled and hornswoggled.

Bill, always the manager, says they'll just tell the AG there are "technical difficulties." How many sins has that one covered in human history?

Chloe finally realizes that the only human being (and I use that term loosely) who got near her in the last few minutes was Miles. Karen and Jack go storming after Miles, looking like they're about to commit several felonies. Jack commits a minor infraction by knocking over a White Shirt. (So who wears white shirts and who wears red shirts now? It's gotten confusing with both around.)

Jack grabs Miles and attempts to turn him into a pretzel. Miles says he's just been transferred to the White House. (So, he's gonna hop on a plane to DC now?)

Karen gives Miles the disappointed parent routine, and then says "There will be an investigation." Miles sneers and says "Do what you have to do. I work for the President now." Good one Miles, you've just hitched your wagon to the biggest criminal in US political history. And you're doing nothing but setting fire to all the bridges behind you.

(I'd love to hear this conversation. Miles: "Uh, Karen? Old buddy Miles here. Can I have my old job back?" *click* Miles: "Hello?")

And then, to the cheers of millions around the globe, Karen slaps Miles. What, no knee to the groinal regionaria?

At this point, Logan calls up to gloat, in a roundabout way of course. He says he'll leave the decision to release Jack to Karen's discretion. Apparently RunLoganRun is not worried about the Chinese?

With all that taken care, it's time to move on to the next plot point. Word comes in that Bierko has escaped. There is remarkably little curiosity in CTU about how the bad guys could have pulled this off. I've said before though, moles in CTU are so common, everyone just assumes the baddies know everything, and that every mission is already compromised.

It is here that the plot, which to this point has been so tight and internally consistent, hits a bit of a rough patch. (I don't know, does my sarcasm come through in this medium?)

First, we are told the attack on Bierko's caravan happened 10 minutes ago, AND, that the caravan was attacked by an IED. Let's take that one by one. First, Bierko left only about 10 minutes ago! Did this attack happen in CTU's driveway? Second, an IED?! What is this, CTU Baghdad? For the IED to work, since it just sits in place and waits for something to drive by, the baddies would have had to have known the route the caravan was going to take. How?

Next, what was with the PORTENTOUS NOD Bierko gave the driver at the end of last episode? Obviously an indication that the driver was part of this attack, but what was his role? If the plan was to attack with an IED and then a team, why did the baddies need an inside man? Surely that driver didn't decide the route to take. And did anyone tell him there would be an IED attack?

Next, we're told there were 6 attackers. Where did these guys come from? Master Recruiter Henderson didn't round them up. The rest of Bierko's team was taken down at the gas distribution plant. So who arranged all of this? And in just a few hours?

The survivor on the scene said Bierko mentioned nerve gas. We see Bierko arriving at another bad guy hideout, and apparently his team had saved one of the gas cylinders. Why? Did Bierko know this? I was busy banging my head on the wall at this point, so couldn't hear everything, but it seemed like Bierko wasn't aware they had one remaining cylinder. Why would his team save one without telling him about it?

There's more to this lunatic plot development, but we'll come back to it.

We go the first break a little early, with the clocks at :9 to :9. When we come back, the clocks are at :13 to :11. Somewhere beneath the Citadel, a Netherworlder strikes the Gong of Time.

At the presidential retreat, Martha is turning into a druggie. She's popping pills like candy. Hmm, Jack kicked his drug habit in a matter of hours, now Martha is developing a drug habit in a matter of hours. But, driven by her inner demons, she flings the pills across the room. Weird violin music is playing during all this. Perhaps the musicians dove on the pills and scarfed them up.

Martha sees Agent Pierce's phone, and flags down Agent Cole and asks that the phone be returned to Pierce, at whatever radar station in Alaska he happens to be manning.

And then, we meet up again with Dear Agent Pierce. He is tied up in a room in the retreat. His face has stopped a few oncoming fists, and is bloodied. Logan comes in and says "Oh my God." Uh, Charles, this is all your doing. Logan is kind enough to say "Sorry about this, Aaron." Followed by some tough love. "You think you know what's going on. You don't."

Aaron reaches down into his inner moxie and says "Explain it to me." Logan explains. "The recording doesn't exist. You have a choice." And it's not much of a choice. Remain quiet and he can have any post he wants, except the White House. Otherwise, dot dot dot.

Agent Pierce has truly grown into a rich character. Always noble and loyal, he's displayed some real strength this season. Here, he says to Logan "You're a traitor to this country and a disgrace to this office. It's my duty to see you're brought to justice." And then, in perhaps the best line of the season, Pierce says "Is there anything else, Charles?" Pierce practically spits out that last "Charles".

Logan is taken aback, and takes Pierce's answer as a no. All in all though, I don't understand why it was necessary to beat up Pierce. Were they trying to get information from him? What did he know? Just pure revenge? What sadistic Secret Service agent would be a part of that? Just Agent Thug?

Outside in some tunnel (where are they anyway?) Agent Thug says to Logan "Believe me, he's going to be a problem." Logan has a look that does not promise happiness and light for Agent Pierce.

Still in this whatever it is, Logan calls up Graham. In a spectacular, and rare, example of continuity, the writers remembered that the last Graham knew, Logan was going to splatter his DNA all over the walls of the retreat. So, Graham says "I didn't expect to hear from you."

Logan says all is well. The tape was taken care of, Wifey is being handled, and Pierce is being taken care of. Also, Logan says Bauer will be taken out. You just can't trust weak, easily manipulated presidents these days.

Novick comes trotting into this tunnel and sees Logan. Novick spills the news that Bierko has escaped. Logan seems genuinely surprised. He says "What?! How?!" I'd accept this as proof Logan wasn't a part of Bierko's escape, but Logan was genuinely worried about Bierko earlier in the season, though that was before the writers decided Logan was actually Evil. So, it's entirely possible the writers have no clue yet if Logan really knows about Bierko or not.

Back at CTU (our motto: We release every terrorist we catch back into the wild!), Karen asks Chloe if she's having any luck. Chloe says "only the bad kind." And darnnit, the satellites didn't happen to be watching the IED attack site. What are the odds. The satellites happened to catch the helicopter attacking the SecDef, and caught Henderson's meeting with the copilot, and the copilot's trip to the diplomatic flight. Too bad the plot called for no satellite coverage here.

LAPD said there were no witnesses to the IED attack. The curfew and all. Jack thinks Henderson can help find Bierko, but doesn't think he'll talk. Karen and Bill want to offer Buckaroo a deal, but Jack is less than supportive of the idea. Bill tries a guilt trip on Jack and asks "What would David Palmer do?" Great, now FOX is going to hawking WWDPD bracelets on their website.

Jack gives in and agrees that with the time constraints, Henderson should get a deal, but he wants to be the one to talk to Henderson. Henderson immediately sniffs out what is really going on. He taunts Jack. Jack appeals to Henderson's patriotism. Buckaroo huffs about the politics of survival. Buckaroo also knows about Jack and the Chinese.

He says of the people behind all this, "You can't touch them, but they can touch you." He agrees to help Jack, but only if he helps Henderson disappear and leave the country with his wife. (The wife with the shot up gams courtesy of Jack, I might add.)

Jack agrees. Clocks are at :29 to :27.

Henderson coughed up 14 names that CTU might try. 14? What else is he sitting on? Curtis will be in charge of the response team.

Audrey is up and about. And she's dressed. Apparently nearly bleeding to death isn't enough to keep her down. Jack says to Audrey "Karen gave Henderson a deal", conveniently leaving out his role in the deal.

CTU has a bead on one of the names. Joseph Malina, an arms dealer. A call was made at 4:03 from a pay phone in Van Nuys, not far from the ambush site. Uh-huh. Let's bring the logic train to a screeching halt again, shall we.

Bierko left only shortly before 4. He got all the way up to Van Nuys in five minutes? Worse, craziest of all, think about the plan Bierko hatched in the approximately 60 seconds that elapsed between the attack and the phone call to Malina. Bierko instantly put a plan together to use the one remaining gas cylinder. He instantly decided to call Malina, and as we'll see in a bit, Malina provided him with plans to a Russian sub.

Just how did that conversation go? Did Bierko ask Malina for ideas on how to use the gas? Did Bierko already know about the sub, and he just asked Malina for specs on it? Recall that Bierko's original plan was to ship these cylinders to Central Asia. Then, the amazing back up plan was to use the cylinders in the gas plant. Now, the amazing back up back up plan, thrown together in a minute, literally, is to gas a Russian sub. Mein Gott, what could Bierko accomplish if he spent a couple hours hatching an evil plot? I'm going to resume banging my head on the wall.

Henderson wants to talk to Malina. Apparently Malina is a true geek with all the latest tech, including a magic Phoenix Shield, which is resistant to all CTU attacks, and adds +3 to all destroy hard drive rolls.

Jack will go with Henderson, to make sure there is no hanky-panky.

Back at the retreat, Martha is out smoking when she sees a car pull up. The trunk pops open. Uh-oh. It's Agent Thug, and he's holding a pistol with a silencer attached. (Where did Agent Adams go? Why is he driving back to the retreat?)

Agent Thug reappears with Pierce. Martha rushes to the aid of her knight in shining, uh, suit and tie. She asks "What are you doing? Are you going to shoot me?" as Agent Thug points the gun at her. There is a struggle, fight fight, kick hit punch. The gun is free. Martha grabs it and shoots Agent Thug! Wow, people do so many crazy things when they're high on drugs. (If I'm rushing through this, it's because my head hurts from banging it on the wall.)

Clocks are at :40 to :36.

Curtis is schlepping Jack and Henderson around in an SUV. They arrive at Malina's place. Luckily he only lived a few minutes from CTU. Jack tells Curtis "Set up a perimeter." How he keeps saying that with a straight face I don't know.

Jack wants to wire Henderson, but Malina the Technomage will detect it. Say, don't Bierko and/or Malina know that Henderson has been captured? I suppose it's possible they don't, and I suppose Bierko didn't know Henderson was just down the hall at CTU, but you'd think Bierko at least would know Henderson was nabbed and escaped several times today.

Henderson goes in. Malina has a device that shows Henderson's body is filled with blue plasma. That would explain Henderson's super powers. He's an alien.

Jack is up on the roof, listening to the conversation below. Henderson tells Malina that CTU is outside. That fink! He tells Malina to crash his files.

Luckily CTU happened to bring a blow torch, and CTU comes in with guns blazing. Curtis is winged in the fight. Malina is hipped.

After the fight, Curtis is sent back to CTU Medical, for at least the third time in the past few hours. He must be getting tired of it. (Though, this time he is the patient, and the other times he was just the ambulance.)

Henderson is all mad, because his betrayal was really a ruse. He was trying to get Malina to put his files on a flash drive that CTU could use.

Now, I beg you, Gods of Logic and Reason, please explain why Henderson didn't bother sharing this plan with Jack? What reason could he have had for concealing it? Jack would've gone along with it in an instant. And by telling CTU, Henderson could avoid getting shot by mistake in any gunfight. Gaaaah!

Clocks are at :52 to :47.

Back at the stable, Martha is tenderly tenderizing Pierce. Martha knows Logan ordered Pierce killed. Pierce says to Martha "I'm sorry to tell you Charles was involved in much worse things than that."

Super Agent Martha and Pierce figure out their plan. Pierce will stay out of sight. Martha will find Mike and tell all, and then send him to Pierce.

CTU rummages through what is left of Malina's computer and finds plans for a Russian sub. A Natalia-K524 Delta IV class. There happens to be on in LA, undergoing a US Navy inspection. (Part of the deal brokered with Suvarov.) You'd think after the gas cylinder plot was uncovered, CTU and HS would be suspicious of a Russian sub docked in LA.

Henderson says the sub has 12 Scorpion land attack missiles that could do considerable damage to LA. So, off they go to try and stop Bierko from taking over the sub.

Jack says "Get in!" but the krazy kaptions say "Go!" I'll count that one.

Audrey already has the senior Navy officer on the sub on the phone. Jack tells him that terrorists are after the missiles. The sub goes on alert.

The LT goes topside, only to see Bierko and company there, just before the baddies shoot him.

The baddies don gas masks and drop the cylinder into the sub. The gas kills whoever is on the sub. (We see only four drop. I'm assuming there was more.)

(Did Bierko need schematics to drop in a cylinder? Bierko: "Uh, what do I do with this cylinder?" Flunky: "Just drop it in, sir." Bierko: "Where will it go?" Flunky: "Uh, down, sir." *pause* Bierko: "Ok, I'm not getting this.")

Bierko finds the control computer and puts in the code he got from Malina. A255TR99.

The missiles are loaded. I wish I were loaded. This plot hurts my head.

This steaming pile of episode comes to an end with the clocks at :60 to :55.

Well now it's time to say goodbye to Jack and all his kin
We would like to thank you folks for kindly droppin in
You're all invited back next week to this locality
To have one last heapin helpin of this insanity
Y'all come back now, ya hear?

And now, once again, here is guest critic Paul Foth. He caught his boss stealing from the office coffee fund, so his boss ordered a coworker to "take care" of Paul. But, the coworker tore a nail slamming the trunk, and Paul was able to escape and send this in.

I don't know what to make of this, but I'm actually going to be in Los Angeles the evening of the season finale. Should I bring a Kevlar umbrella?

My my my, Bierko's last gasp--er, final contingency plan--is a submarine. This coda feels like they had the season all finished and were shaking hands when the intern piped up and said, "Uh, guys? This only adds up to twenty-one hours." They beat the intern up and promptly hot-glued another three hours onto the raggedy edges of Jack kissing Audrey's knee in Medical. Business as usual, in other words.

Did you see how fast the Sentox MaxKill VX-1/6 UberDeathCloud worked this time?! It must've been no more than twenty seconds from the time Team Bierko closed the hatch to the time the crew was pushing up daisies. And it seemed like Mr. B and Co. were traipsing along getting the missiles ready to launch awfully quickly after the sub crew was taken care of. Don't they have the slightest qualm that just gas masks might not be enough protection against such a lethal gas? Or are they assuming that an air handling system that distributes the gas throughout the sub in twenty seconds also gets rid of it in another five? Well, whatever.

So Henderson doesn't want immunity; he wants to disappear. He wants Jack to use his skills (and Hood of Infinite Disguises) to make that happen, so that the Clip-on Phone Squad won't be able to find him. But, but, but.... The Clip-on Phone Squad knew Jack was alive. What makes Henderson think Jack's skills (and Hood of Protection Against Gas Attack) can hide him if they couldn't hide Jack? Granted, the CoPS didn't know exactly WHERE Jack was, but it certainly didn't take them long to flush him out once they put their plan in motion.

And at last Henderson acknowledges his wife again, although he doesn't mention that she's still tied up in her house with a fresh bullet wound, and might need to get that looked at before hightailing it to Anonymityville.

Where's Wayne?

While watching the previously-on-24's, the shot of Jack putting his gun to the co-pilot's head and telling him to land the plane reminded me of this sort of situation (i.e., someone who's the only person with an important skill being threatened with death if they don't perform said skill in order to save the person with the gun) arising in countless other TV shows and movies. What if the pilot refuses? Is Jack really going to shoot him? Who's going to land the plane then?

The same sort of reasoning applies when Agent Stoneface is telling Aaron to get into the trunk of the car. Why does he even think Aaron will do this? "If you don't, I'll kill you. If you do, I'll kill you...just not so soon." He must realize that Aaron's going to make it as difficult as possible for him, and refuse to get in the trunk. Then again, Stoneface is something of a junior agent. Maybe he hasn't been to the Efficient Killing of a Fellow Agent seminar yet.

Aaron is one of the best characters on this series. His standing up to Logan is just great. He knows he hasn't got a chance of surviving, and yet he spits right in the guy's eye. It's just too bad CTU doesn't have a single employee like him (and Lord help us if he ends up there next season, because they'll corrupt him like a small town freshman at Macalester).

Looks like the finale is going to be quite loud. My prediction is that the first hour will be devoted to taking care of Bierko and the second will deal with Logan. I also have a sneaking suspicion that the CoPS will get away and somehow provide a lead-in for next season.

Number of times Jack says "Now!": 33
Number of times Jack says "No!": 8
Number of times a "protocol" is mentioned: 42
Number of times someone says a variation of "Go!": 30
Number of moles: 5
Approximate Body Count: 100 (plus three rats, plus one human nerve gas guinea pig, plus 11 in the mall food court (and no, not from food poisoning), plus one security camera, plus 56 in CTU, plus whoever else was on the Russian sub)

<-3:00 AM - 4:00 AM 5:00 AM - 7:00 AM ->

Monday, May 15, 2006

Battered and bloodied Africa

Democratic Republic of Congo

The Holy Roman Empire wasn't particularly holy, and it wasn't particularly Roman. Similarly, the Democratic Republic of Congo hasn't been particularly democratic and hasn't been much of a republic. Certainly not when Mobutu Sese Seko ruled the roost. Violence has marred the reigns of the Kabilas as well. With elections coming this summer, there is a glimmer of hope for the DRC. However, the country continues to experience convulsions and humanitarian disasters.

The humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo is being neglected by rich countries, warned aid agency Oxfam International today.

Donors have committed only $94m (14%) of the $682m needed for the Humanitarian Action Plan (HAP) developed by the UN, Red Cross and aid agencies, since the appeal was launched 13th February. In that three-month period, an estimated 100,000 people have died from conflicted related causes.
The Democratic Republic of Congo remains one of the world's forgotten disaster zones with an estimated 3.9m people that have died as a result of the conflict in the past 8 years.

100,000 dead in the past several months? 3.9 million dead in 8 years? Incredible.


Eight days of fighting in Mogadishu have left around 150 dead. Today, though, a shaky ceasefire is in place. Fighting erupted between an alliance of warlords called the "Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism", and the Islamic Courts' militia, which want to set up an Islamic rule of sharia law in Somalia.

Even in Somalia, where heaven only knows what there is to fight over, militant Islam wants to enslave people.

East Africa is experiencing a severe drought, and tens of thousands are at risk.

Rainfall has come too late to reverse the devastation from a six-month drought in East Africa, where thousands of weakened children could die without immediate assistance, the United Nations said on Monday.

The U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) said 8 million people in the Horn of Africa, a region spanning Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Eriteria and Djibouti, were in urgent need after the drought that killed livestock and crops.

They include 1.6 million children under the age of 5, UNICEF said in an appeal for money, water, sanitation, vaccines, protection, education and feeding programmes for drought-affected children.

Keith McKenzie, UNICEF's special advisor for the Horn of Africa, said about 40,000 children in the region were already acutely malnourished.

"These children are at great risk if we do not get at them with adequate programmes to meet their needs," he told a news conference at Geneva's U.N. headquarters.

UNICEF is short of about $54 million of the $81 million it asked for in 2006 for programmes across the Horn of Africa, which is reeling from its most severe drought in five years.

If only these militias would spend their energy building a better life for their people.


A peace deal was signed on May 5, but since it did not include all the main players, the future of the deal is cloudy. Already there have been violent protests over the deal.

Six people were killed when demonstrators opposed to a peace deal the Sudanese government signed with Darfur rebels clashed with police in the war-torn region.

An African Union peacekeeper patrols Argo refugee camp in Sudan’s northern Darfur province, May 14, 2006. (Reuters)The deadliest clashes occurred in and around camps for internally displaced persons in South Darfur state, where three civilians reportedly died in an exchange of gunfire between demonstrators and the police on Saturday.

The unrest began when protesters denouncing the peace agreement beat to death a military intelligence agent inside the Kass camp, the Al Rai al-Aam daily said Sunday.

A key SLM leader refuses to sign the peace deal.

A rebel leader from Sudan’s Darfur region will not bow to intense international pressure to sign a peace agreement by Monday’s deadline because the government has rejected his conditions, a close adviser said.

However, Abdelwahid Mohamed al-Nur of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) wanted to keep trying to make a deal with Khartoum and talks looked set to continue beyond the deadline because diplomats were desperate to gain wider support for the accord.

Nur rejected the peace settlement signed on May 5 by the Sudanese government and rival SLA factional leader Minni Arcua Minnawi to end a conflict that has killed tens of thousands.


In an editorial at the Seattle Times, Reneé Stearns writes about the war-torn region of northern Uganda.

Reading those words, I was immediately drawn back to what I had just seen during my time in Gulu on the northern border of Uganda, a place where for 20 years a brutal band of rebels called the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), under the control of cultic military leader Joseph Kony, has abducted children and terrorized, tortured and killed civilians it originally claimed to protect.

It's a place where a marauding band of child soldiers was forced to mutilate a pregnant mother of three while she worked in her garden. The mother, Margaret, and her baby managed to survive.

It's a place where young boys like Thomas are snatched away from their homes and forced to murder their friends and family. Knowing these children are too ashamed and afraid to return to their villages after their terrible deeds, Kony uses his boy army (most are between the ages of 8 and 14) to perpetuate his reign of terror.

It's a place where girls like Angela are kidnapped from their classrooms and taken to be used as sex slaves for army commanders. Gone from her mother for almost nine years before she escaped, she has returned to her home infected with AIDS, both her health and her childhood forever taken away.

And it's a place where Lilly, a beautiful 16-year-old girl, and her sisters Harriet, 10, and Nancy, 8, spend only an hour each day at home between school and a long walk from their village to the Noah's Ark Children's Center, in the center of the city of Gulu, where they can sleep in relative safety from abduction.

Most people have been forced to abandon their villages altogether. Burned out or forced to flee by the rebels, they now live in squalid displacement camps. These are farm families with no place to farm. They endure long days in cramped conditions, with poor sanitation, living on rations from the United Nations World Food Program. They are raising a generation of children who have never known anything but war.

Guinea Bissau

Famine is threatening in Guinea Bissau.

The government of tiny Guinea-Bissau this week appealed for US $2 million to stop tens of thousands of people from going hungry in its southern rice-bowl region, where both food and cash are running low.

The West African nation needed funds to buy seed vital for the next harvest as well as rice and cooking oil and sugar, Agriculture Minister Sola Inquilin na Bitchita told reporters.

But the aid would also be used to rebuild protective barriers around the region's rice-fields, washed away by unusually heavy rains last year. The flooding allowed saltwater to leak into irrigation channels, meaning that rice crops failed for a second year running.

A team of experts from the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) are currently in the area to assess the situation, officials said.

The food shortage due to last year's poor rice harvest is being compounded by problems on the cashew nut market. Cashews are Guinea-Bissau's top export, with four out of five farmers producing more than 80,000 tons a year, making it the world's fifth top producer.

But as cashew farmers sweat to complete the annual April-June harvest, traders are refusing to buy the nut on the grounds that the price set by the government - 350 CFA francs (US $0.70) a kilo - is too high. This year's price was raised by the government in line with promises made at elections last year aimed at giving farmers a better deal.
Meanwhile in the north of the country near the border with Senegal, fighting between Bissau troops and Senegalese separatists has displaced around 10,000 people and disrupted harvesting.

Bachmann v. Wetterling

Andy Aplikowski of Residual Forces has gotten a new political blog off the ground. This blog will closely watch one of the marquee US House races this year, the Minnesota 6th District race between Michele Bachmann and Patty Wetterling.

Bachmann v. Wetterling

I will be a contributor to this blog. Bookmark it and check it often.

Other contributors include GOP Wingman of Wind Beneath the Right Wing, and Gary and Jules of KvM.

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 Peace Like a River and Security Watchtower.

Top Topics

* President George W. Bush denied on Thursday the government was "trolling through" Americans' personal lives, despite a report that a domestic spy agency was collecting phone records of tens of millions of citizens. Defending his administration's espionage program, Bush said intelligence activities he had authorized were lawful and the government was not eavesdropping on domestic calls without court approval. But Democrats and Republicans alike demanded an explanation after USA Today reported the National Security Agency was secretly amassing phone records from phone companies to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist plots. In an article at NRO, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross examines the legal issues involved. The NY Times reported Sunday that Vice President Dick Cheney argued in the weeks after the September 11 attacks that the National Security Agency should intercept domestic telephone calls and e-mails without warrants as part of its war on terrorism.

* Two Saudi al Qaeda operatives were killed in Iraq according to an internet posting at the Mujaheddin Consultative Council website, a Sunni group with links to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The men have been identified as Manour Youssef Mohammed and Othman Mohammed Hassan, both Chad nationals who appear on the Saudi most wanted list issued on 28 June 2005.

* At least 50 rebels were killed and 17 Sri Lankan sailors missing after a sea battle Thursday instigated by the Tamil Tigers left the country on the brink of civil war. Tamil Tigers sank a navy patrol boat off the northern coast as it escorted a troop transport carrying 710 soldiers. In retaliation, the navy downed five rebel vessels and the air force launched airstrikes on guerrilla-held territory. In a Tamil rebel stronghold, hundreds of people stood in long lines over the weekend, stocking up on food and fuel and preparing for war.

* Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said they would not accept any offer from European countries, if it included a demand to halt nuclear work. Great Britain, France and Germany are drafting political, economic and security incentives for Iran in return for its consent to halt uranium enrichment work. "Any proposal that obliges us to stop peaceful (nuclear) activities would not have value and would not be valid," Ahmadinejad said.

Other topics today include: IAEA reports highly enriched uranium in Iran; Yemeni al Qaeda escapee captured; IDF raids in West Bank; Iran wants direct talks with US; Militants kill 12 in Iran; Turkish soldiers clash with Kurdish militants; Wanted Egyptian militants surrender; Saudi fires on US consulate guards; American killed in Israel; Hamas paramilitary force in Gaza; Iran's objectives; Jordan makes demands of Hamas; CIA reforms; Canada becoming terror haven; Counterterrorism in Russia; Attacks along Kyrgyz-Tajik border; US still pressures Uzbekistan; Russian withdrawal from Georgia; Raids in Pakistan; Killings continue in Waziristan; Hijack threat in India; Maoist attack in India; Fighting in Kashmir; Bangladesh fisherman held hostage; Bangladesh court sentences terrorists; Canada engages the Taliban; Violence in southern Afghanistan; Philippines a regional terror training ground; Terrorists confess to beheadings in Indonesia; MI5 under fire in UK; Germany a powder keg; Congo troops committing crimes; Fighting erupts in Mogadishu; Bombs explode in Ethiopia; CAIR worried about Flight 93; and more.

Iran & the Middle East

* According to reports that surfaced in Vienna, inspectors with the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) found traces of highly enriched uranium at the Iranian military Lavisan facility in February. According to reports, the IAEA "believes the uranium is dense enough to be close to, or beyond, weapons-grade quality." While trace elements of uranium have been discovered in the past on equipment Iran secretly purchased from Pakistan during the 1980s, it would not explain the presence of such material at the Lavisan facility, which is operated by Iran's military and had no prior disclosure of enrichment activities.

* Yemeni forces captured Abdullah Ahmad al-Raymi, an al Qaeda operative who escaped from a prison in Sanaa in February. Raymi is the ninth man to be taken back into custody out of a group of 23 who escaped from the prison.

* On Friday, Israeli Defense Forces shot and killed a man identified as a member of the al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigade, during a raid in the West Bank city of Nablus.

* A Dubai engineering consultancy is at the center of an international criminal investigation into a scheme to smuggle banned weapons technology from the US to Iran. The scheme aimed to ship 103 Honeywell pressure sensors, which can be used to trigger explosive devices, from an electronics company in Minneapolis, US, to a firm in Isfahan, Iran.

* The US rejected an appeal by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to talk directly to Iran about its disputed nuclear programme. The US said the issue was not bilateral but between Iran and the world. Mr Annan had said the US needed to talk directly as Iran would not properly negotiate unless the US was involved.

* The Hamas-led Palestinian government is suffering serious financial woes, with Prime Minister Ismail Haniya appealing for a regional effort to help. In an interview with the BBC Arabic Service, he said the Arab League had been given the names of 160,000 unpaid government employees. International pressure on the Palestinian government may be forcing them to reconsider their opposition to a two-state solution.

* Iranian police report that Sunni militants executed 12 people in southern Iran on Sunday, and say that Jundollah (God's soldiers), headed by Abdolmalek Rigi, claimed responsibility. According to Iranian officials, Rigi is a cell leader for Osama bin Laden.

* Four soldiers and a Kurdish rebel were killed on Saturday in an operation by the Turkish army against guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in southeastern Turkey. Later on Saturday a bomb exploded in a coffee shop in the Erzincan state, killing two children.

* Five Palestinians were killed in the West Bank town of Qatabiyah on Sunday after firing on Israeli troops carrying out operations. Among the dead was Elias al-Ashkar, a senior Islamic Jihad member in the Jenin area.

* An Israeli court has charged four Palestinians with the killing of an Israeli minister five years ago. The suspects were snatched by the Israeli army from a jail in the West Bank town of Jericho in March. They are alleged to have shot Rehavam Zeevi, a hardliner who advocated deporting Palestinians from the occupied territories.

* On Saturday, Israeli Border police sappers safely detonated on a bomb packing 10 kg of explosives, discovered during an IDF raid on the West Bank city of Nablus. Police sources said the explosives device was intended for use in a suicide attack an Israeli target.

* The Israel Navy on Sunday intercepted a Palestinian boat carrying a large amount of explosives near the Gaza Strip in an attempted smuggling operation, the army said. The boat contained about 450 kilograms (992 pounds) of TNT and parts of mines, and additional bags of explosives had been thrown overboard as the naval boat approached, Col. Yoram Lachs told Channel 2 TV. The military said it was an attempt to smuggle weapons-grade explosives into the Gaza Strip, the second such attempt this month.

* Four men wanted in connection with bombings that killed 20 people in the Sinai resort of Dahab last month have turned themselves in according to Egyptian security sources.

* A summit of eight large Muslim countries largely skirted a diplomatic nuclear crisis engulfing its member Iran but agreed that members should cooperate to develop atomic energy.

* According to Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, Hezbollah must stop using land disputes surrounding the Shebaa Farms as a pretext to continue arming itself and should cease bringing Israeli-Palestinian issues into play in the Lebanese arena.

* A man was arrested after shooting from his car on guards at the US consulate in the Saudi city of Jeddah this past weekend.

* Daniel Wultz, an American teenager visiting Israel from his home in Florida, died over the weekend from wounds received a month ago in a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv claimed by Islamic Jihad. According to the U.S. Embassy, more than 200 American citizens have been killed or wounded in terrorist attacks in Israel since 1992.

* Hamas is busy forming a paramilitary security force in the Gaza strip said to currently number 2,000 members, largely consisting of former militants, gang members and terrorists.

* Amir Taheri lays out Iran's three main objectives, and says the world should take Ahmadinejad seriously.

* Duraid Al Baik, Foreign Editor at Gulf News, Islamist MPs in Bahrain and Kuwait are stepping up their attacks against Muslim liberals as part of the continuous campaign by religious groups against a free press.

* Jordan is demanding that Hamas send a team to find weapons caches hidden by Hamas, after rejecting calls for discussions over the issue.

America Domestic Security & the Americas

* The Central Intelligence Agency will continue a shift toward developing networks of agents overseas while losing some of its role in analyzing intelligence, Bush administration officials said yesterday. Some CIA analytic units will be moved to other agencies, such as the new National Counterterrorism Center, as part of ongoing reforms and the appointment of Air Force Gen. Michael V. Hayden to succeed outgoing CIA Director Porter J. Goss.

* The fate of President Bush's CIA nominee could hinge on how he justifies domestic eavesdropping programs that some lawmakers contend are illegal and started without congressional approval. Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden should expect sharp questioning about programs he oversaw while directing the National Security Agency as the Senate Intelligence Committee begins hearings Thursday.

* Only one juror stood between the death penalty and Zacarias Moussaoui and that juror frustrated his colleagues because he never explained his vote, according to the foreman of the jury that sentenced the al-Qaeda operative to life in prison last week.

* The House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee on Thursday approved an fiscal 2007 spending bill for the Homeland Security Department that is $1.8 billion higher than current spending but withholds funds for several major department priorities and rejects for a second year in a row a proposed increase in airline passenger fees.

* The federal government has given more than $2.1 billion to states for interoperable communications since 2003, but many emergency responders still cannot communicate with each other, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff warned at a conference in Washington.

* The State Department is sending an icy blast to our northern neighbors, blaming Canada's liberal immigration and asylum policies for allowing terrorists to set up anti-U.S. operations north of the border. The State Department says in its annual report on global terrorism that Canada is becoming a haven for terrorists.

* Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has warned the US that any attack on Iran will have devastating consequences and send oil prices soaring. Mr Chavez, on a two-day trip to the UK, called for a socialist new world order and said nations were cowards for not standing up to the "American empire".

Russia, Caucasus & Central Asia

* Russian security forces have liquidated twelve terrorists during the May holidays in Russia according to local media reports. A total of eighty-six people involved in the terrorist activity have been identified, while seventy-four of them have been detained and twelve killed. Joint activities of the security agencies helped thwart terrorists’ conspiracy and prevent a series of terrorist acts during the May holidays.

* Kyrgyzstan's security forces said on Saturday Islamist international terrorists had launched a raid on its border that left 13 people dead. An interior ministry spokesman said the guerrillas, most of whom were killed after being surrounded by special forces on Friday, seemed to have been probing the defences of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

* The U.S. maintains that Uzbekistan still owes an explanation for the killing of civilians by soldiers in the city of Andijan on 13 May 2005. The State Department repeated calls for an international inquiry into what relatives said was the machine gunning of a crowd without warning. The Uzbek government says troops were eliminating a dangerous group of Islamic extremists.

* The annual address Russian President Vladimir Putin gave to the Federal Assembly on May 10 has already been billed by some as Russia's version of the New Deal. Igor Torbakov says that what is more remarkable "is that the long-term political course announced by the Russian leadership is markedly nationalist and non-liberal -- if not outright anti-liberal."

* Russia began to withdrawal heavy military equipment from a base in southern Georgia on May 13 when the first train was loaded with material. Under an agreement that Russia and Georgia signed on March 31, Russian troops are to leave Georgia's two Soviet-era military bases, Akhalkalaki and Batumi, by 2008.

* Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov says the threats Russia faces today makes the Cold War threats look like "child's play." Ivanov said Russia needs to do more to confront the threats of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

* Police have found a bunker full of ammunition in the troubled republic of Chechnya, belonging to a militant killed on 27 January 2006 in the village of Karabulak in the neighboring province of Ingushetia.

Afghanistan & Southern Asia

* Nepal's reclusive Maoist leader Prachanda is likely to lead rebel peace talks with the government to end a deadly decade-long insurgency, a top guerrilla chief said. "There's a high possibility our chairman, Prachanda, will head our team," Matrika Yadhav, former rebel commander for the central Terai region, told AFP on Friday. But other senior rebels may hold preliminary talks before Prachanda becomes personally involved," said Yadhav, who was freed from jail Thursday after the government dropped murder charges against him.

* Pakistani police detained close to 30 suspects in overnight raids following a series of land mine blasts that killed six fellow officers in the country's troubled southwest, officials said on Friday. Five landmines exploded in quick succession on Thursday as commandoes of police Anti-Terrorist Force were training at a school on the outskirts of Quetta, capital of the restive Balochistan province.

* Suspected Islamist militants shot dead a government official after breaking into his house on Sunday, the latest such killing in the troubled South Waziristan tribal region, officials said. The killings of pro-government tribesmen and officials have become common in Waziristan region, near the Afghan border, where security forces are fighting al Qaeda and Taliban remnants and their local sympathisers.

* A “human bomb” could attempt to hijack a plane in India, intelligence agencies have warned, prompting security forces to seek state-of-the-art body scanners, an official said on Friday. “There is a real possibility of a terrorist inserting RDX or plastic explosives or even a knife into his skin,” a top official of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), which protects 54 of India’s main airports, told Reuters.

* Four policemen were killed and three injured when at least 300 heavily-armed Maoist rebels attacked a state-run relief camp in India’s central Chhattisgarh state early Saturday, news reports said.

* In India, Police on Saturday seized arms and explosives from a fort in Manmad area of Nashik district, four days after three suspected terrorists were arrested along with arms in Aurangabad. Police suspect that the explosives were part of a cache of weapons being transported by the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) suspects who escaped on Tuesday morning from Aurangabad.

* At least two people were killed and 18 wounded in an explosion near a bus station on Saturday in restive Indian Kashmir, police and witnesses said. No militant group claimed responsibility for the blast but police suspected it to be the handiwork of Islamic rebels fighting Indian rule in Kashmir.

* In Kashmir, Islamic militants have threatened to mount suicide attacks on cable television stations who ignore a ban on "obscene" broadcasts, a report said. The warning from hardline groups al Badr Mujahedin, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Harkat-ul-Mujahedin and a small rebel outfit, the al Madina Regiment, came a day after some operators pulled entertainment channels off the air, but others did not.

* In Kashmir, two terrorists belonging to Lashkar-e-Toiba were killed in an encounter in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir today, a defence spokesman said. The terrorists have been identified as Abu Saqib and Bilal, he said. Troops of 62 Rashtria Rifles raided Narwan-Imam Sahib in Shopian area, 60 kms from here, in the wee hours and the terrorists hiding there opened fire on the troops.

* Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia reaffirmed her government's determination to crack down on Islamic militants who have killed at least 28 people in the past year. "We have mobilised all our forces and succeeded in arresting most of those who committed crime and violence in the name of religion," Zia told a meeting of South Asian home (interior) ministers in the Bangladesh capital Dhaka on Thursday.

* Some 70 Bangladeshi fishermen are being held hostage in the Bay of Bengal by pirates demanding thousands of dollars in ransom money, police said. The pirates hijacked eight trawlers at gunpoint on Wednesday. They then allowed a couple of fishermen to return to port in one of the boats with a ransom demand.

* A court has sentenced 10 Islamic militants to life imprisonment and three others to 20 years in jail for their roles in deadly blasts across Bangladesh last year. The militants were sentenced for involvement in attacks on August 17, when the banned Islamic group Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) set off 434 bombs nationwide, prosecutor Alhaj Ketabuddin told AFP Sunday.

* Here are the daily updates from the South Asia Terrorism Portal for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

* Canadian forces have arrested 10 suspected Taliban during a raid in southern Afghanistan and handed them over to Afghan authorities, the Canadian military said. The men were arrested in southern Kandahar province on May 8 in an area where four Canadian soldiers were killed in a bomb blast last month.

* Suspected Taliban militants fired two rockets at Canada's main base in Kandahar Saturday, military officials said. There were no casualties. It was the fifth such attack since Canadian troops began their latest tour of duty in Afghanistan earlier this year.

* A local driver and a doctor with a German-based group were killed in Afghanistan when suspected Taliban attacked their UNICEF vehicle with rockets, officials said. A project manager for the UN children's agency was also seriously wounded in the attack Friday just 40 kilometres (25 miles) outside Herat, the main city in western Afghanistan, UNICEF said.

* Taliban strength in Afghanistan is on the rise and even with a growing NATO security force, the country's defenses against explosive devices and suicide bombings are severely strained, the Afghan ambassador said Friday. Taliban, which controlled the South Asian country for five years until it was toppled in a U.S.-led invasion in 2001, is acquiring more sophisticated weapons and motorcycles from abroad and continues to receive training in neighboring Pakistan, Ambassador Said Tayeb Jawad said in an interview.

* Four Afghan policemen and at least 11 suspected Taliban were killed in fierce fighting in volatile southern Afghanistan, a provincial government spokesman said. The battle in southern Kandahar province's Panjwayi district erupted at midday and continued into the evening, officials said Sunday.

* Taliban fighters shot dead a provincial intelligence officer in southern Afghanistan while a roadside bomb blast in the northern region injured four civilians and three policemen, officials said on Sunday. This is the second officer of the provincial intelligence department falling victim to Taliban attack in Afghanistan's troubled Helmand province in a month.

* Newsweek has a story saying death threats from the Taliban aren't Mohammad Gulab's only worry. As reported in NEWSWEEK's April 17 issue, the Afghan villager has been pursued by Al Qaeda's local partners ever since June 2005, when he rescued a wounded U.S. Navy SEAL in the mountains of Kunar province, east of Kabul. Vengeful jihadists burned down his village lumber business and forced him and his family to flee for their lives, abandoning their home and possessions.

* Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels warned international truce monitors not to travel aboard navy ships as tensions on the island remained high on Friday after the worst clash since a 2002 truce. The government retaliated with air strikes on the rebels' northern heartland, but the island was quiet on Friday, the military said.

Far East & Southeast Asia

* Filipino authorities have announced the arrest of Asdzam Abidin, a suspected member of Jemaah Islamiyah who was captured last week at a checkpoint in Maguindanao.

* A top Chinese official on Friday accused the U.S. of hindering the global anti-terror struggle by refusing to hand over five Chinese Muslims released from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay. Parliament Vice Chairman Ismail Amat said China suspects the five men, who were captured during the U.S. assault on Afghanistan in 2001-2002, are members of a terror group. "I think America is implementing a double standard in fighting terrorism. This is unacceptable to us," said Amat, who is also a member of the Communist Party's Central Committee.

* The Times of India looks at the role sanctuaries of terror play in insurgency's, and notes that the weak state of the Philippines has become the central training grounds of southeast Asian terrorists and militants.

* United Nations Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari is finalizing plans to visit Myanmar, during which he will press the government to return to democratic rule and respect for human rights.

* Nine men suspected of preparing for a terrorist attack communicated by covert text message and referred to each other by women's names, an Australian court was told on Friday.

* Seven suspected Islamic terrorists have confessed to beheading three Christian schoolgirls on Indonesia's Sulawesi Island, police said on Wednesday.

* Australian police have filed a terror charge against a high school teacher who allegedly stockpiled bombs at his home in the east coast city of Brisbane. John Howard Amundsen is charged with preparing for a terrorist act and two counts of making a threat and making a hoax threat.

* Police suspect that two men who left an improvised explosive in front of the entrance of a mall last Thursday night might have been members of the Rajah Solaiman Revolutionary Movement, an Islamist group with links to Abu Sayyaf and the Indonesian-based Jemaah Islamiyah. Filipino authorities killed the two men responsible for placing the explosive in a firefight.


* For four decades until 1972, when Britain abolished the parliament at the height of the province's sectarian conflict, Stormont was home to governments led by Protestants committed to keeping Northern Ireland part of Britain. Monday, the Northern Ireland Assembly will convene for the first time since October 2002, when power-sharing between Protestants and Catholics broke down, to try to agree on a new executive representative of the two communities.

* British newspapers have renewed calls for a public inquiry into last year's deadly suicide bomb attacks in London, strongly condemning two official reports for exonerating security service failings. The domestic spy agency MI5 was largely cleared in the reports, despite revelations that three of the four Islamic extremist bombers appeared on the intelligence radar before the July 7 attacks but were not pursued.

* MI5 is being accused of a cover-up for failing to disclose to a parliamentary watchdog that it bugged the leader of the July 7 suicide bombers discussing the building of a bomb months before the London attacks. MI5 had secret tape recordings of Mohammad Sidique Khan, the gang leader, talking about how to build the device and then leave the country because there would be a lot of police activity.

* The suicide bombers who killed 52 passengers on London’s transit system had a string of contacts with someone in Pakistan just before striking, Britain’s top law enforcement official said Thursday. Meanwhile, Home Secretary John Reid told the House of Commons on Thursday that police and intelligence agencies had thwarted three attacks since the July 7 bombings, but did not say who was behind them or where and when they were to take place.

* There are now so many terror suspects in Britain that the police and security services are unable to monitor them all, counter-terrorist officials have warned. The Scotsman has learned that anti-terrorism police and MI5 have identified as many as 900 people in Britain whom they suspect could be linked to potential terrorist plots.

* One of the 29 people arrested in connection with Spain's worst-ever terrorist attack was released because the judge heading the injury did not extend his custody limit. Moroccan Saed El Harrak was arrested in May 2004 after his phone number was found among the papers of the Islamic radicals behind the train bombings that killed 191 people in Madrid. Judicial sources said the National Court judge directing the probe, Juan del Olmo, did not extend El Harrak's detention after two years in custody.

* The armed Basque group ETA has stated publicly for the first time since a ceasefire declaration in March that it still demands self-determination for the Basque Country. "The final agreement ... must be negotiated in terms of self-determination and territoriality, for these are the keys to overcoming the conflict," two leading ETA members told the Basque daily newspaper Gara in a rare interview, published Sunday.

* Germany is sitting on a "powder keg" as radicalised Islamic migrants, who might be plotting an attack, become harder to detect or apprehend, the country's chief prosecutor was quoted as saying on Saturday. Germany has stepped up security ahead of the World Cup soccer tournament in June, its biggest sporting event in three decades, and received strong international support for its plans to neutralise the risks of terrorism and hooligan violence. German authorities have been at pains to stress the country has no intelligence of any specific threats to the soccer tournament, which will feature teams from 32 countries.


* Militants threatened on Friday to destroy a $13 billion natural gas export plant in Nigeria. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) said in an email to Reuters they were conscious of the potential for an attack on the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas plant to hurt nearby communities, and would launch a warning raid on an oil facility beforehand.

* Six people have been killed after protesters in Darfur opposed to the recent peace deal between rebels and the Sudanese government clashed with police.

* The United Nations reported an upsurge of rapes, killings and torture by Congo's security forces and warned that U.N. peacekeepers overseeing the postwar transition in the country could end their cooperation with the police and army. Congolese troops and police committed some 1,200 of the 1,866 rapes investigated by the United Nations between April and December, the U.N. said in a report released Wednesday. Some 800 rapes were blamed on security forces during the same period in 2004, while the overall number of investigated cases was about the same.

* Hundreds of terrified people fled a barrage of rockets and mortars in Mogadishu on Friday as Islamic fighters and warlord militias fought pitched battles for control of the Somali capital. As the battle went into its sixth day, residents said at least 12 more people had died overnight and into Friday, pushing the death toll to at least 133. Close-quarter street battles spread beyond Mogadishu's battered northern shanty town of Siisii into the neighboring district of Yaqshid, in the worst violence in the lawless capital for more than a decade.

* A series of bombs exploded in Ethiopia's capital Friday, killing three people and wounding at least 26, a police spokesman and witnesses said. Federal police spokesman Commander Demsash Hailu said the blasts were the work of an organization trying to discredit the government but did not offer specifics.

The Global War

* A quarter century into the modern age of suicide terrorism, specialists say the grim tactic is being used more frequently than ever before. The State Department, in its latest annual report on global terrorism, said a surge in suicide attacks -- at sites ranging from the London subway to the Middle East to Afghanistan -- pushed the number of attacks to record heights last year.

* A man believed to be a top al Qaeda militant who escaped from a U.S. airbase in Afghanistan urged Muslims in an Internet video to launch attacks in Europe as revenge for cartoons that lampooned the Prophet Mohammad. A Web site often used by militants posted a video from a man identified as Abu Yahya al-Libi in which he called for Muslims to "send rivers of blood" down the streets of Denmark, Norway and France for publishing the cartoons that caused a global furor earlier this year.

* British and Pakistani investigators are focusing on nearly 200 phone calls made from Pakistan to one of the London bombers in a bid to uncover his links to Al-Qaeda, security officials here said. One of the bombers may have also travelled to Waziristan, a troubled Pakistani tribal region bordering Afghanistan where Pakistani forces are battling militants linked to the terror organsiation, they said on Thursday.

* The Council on American-Islamic Relations is reporting that several Muslims were verbally attacked by a couple who had just seen the movie Flight 93. CAIR, which has a pattern of trying to intimidate others through lawsuits, is expressing concerns that the movie is getting Americans worked up.

* Speculation of ties between insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq has resurfaced in the face of continuing attacks on military and other targets in Afghanistan. The fears are stoked by a growing number of suicide missions, videotaped testimonials, greater use of improvised weapons, and the neo-Taliban insurgency's claim of responsibility for the recent beheading of a hostage. Could the apparent shift in tactics in Afghanistan reflect what might be best described as "Iraqization"?

* Sgt. Joseph Lindsey has the story of Gary Sinise's recent trip to Jalalabad Airfield in eastern Afghanistan where he paid a visit to the troops who were deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Not surprisingly he was frequently called "Lieutenant Dan" after his character in the 1994 movie Forrest Gump.

* The U.N.’s supreme maritime body said it was reviewing new proposals to track suspect ships by satellite to fight terrorism and prevent the movement by sea of illicit material such as weapons of mass destruction. The U.N.’s International Maritime Organisation (IMO) said the draft proposal, drawn up to enhance marine security, would be one of the items discussed at a 10-day meeting that began this week at its headquarters in London.

* Britain's secret intelligence service, MI6, has established the first proof al-Qaida is playing a major role in the new Cold War between North and South America – with Osama bin Laden's terror network seeing itself in league with Mexican subversives in infiltrating the U.S. border. The evidence emerged as Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez swash-buckled into London after scoring a win in yet another venomous battle with Washington for influence and economic advantage across the Latin American continent.

* Pakistan's former army chief says Iranian officials came to him for advice on heading off an attack on their nuclear facilities, and he in effect advised them to take a hostage — Israel. He also claimed: Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto once told him the Iranians offered more than $4 billion for the technology.

* According to former CIA operative Mike Schuer, author of Imperial Hubris, the United States and Arab allies must be prepared for increased attacks against oil infrastructure as al Qaeda directs their next phase of the war against the U.S. economy.

* Attacks on U.S. computer networks could escalate from mere inconveniences to disasters that ruin companies or even kill people, according to the head of a cyber-security unit working with the U.S. government. Scott Borg, director of the Cyber Consequences Unit, or CCU, a Department of Homeland Security advisory group, said increasing intelligence "chatter" was pointing to possible criminal or terrorist schemes to destroy physical infrastructure such as power grids.

Thanks for reading! If you found something here you want to blog about yourself (and we hope you do), all we ask is that you do as we do and offer a Hat Tip hyperlink to today's "Winds of War". If you think we missed something important, use the Comments section to let us know. For ongoing tips, email "MondayWindsOfWar", over here

Friday, May 12, 2006

A weekend off amid pomp and circumstance

Well, I've completed my masters degree in software engineering. The two-year program at the University of Minnesota has been enjoyable, but I am quite happy to be done.

Trying to juggle studies with work, with church where I've been chairman of the deacon board the past two years, and above all keeping up with the kids has been a chore at times. I can't complain too much about keeping up with the world on the blog as that's self-inflicted.

Graduation is this afternoon at Northrup Auditorium, and in the evening the class is going on a dinner cruise on the Mississippi. My parents and John and Hanna will accompany me, as families are invited. (Rhonda is in Wahpeton where Ramsey is graduating as well.)

So, if you don't mind, as a present to myself, I'm going to give myself the weekend off from the blog, for a little rest and relaxation.

See you back here on Monday.

In Search Of... XII

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.)

-orphanage homes owners in philistine email contacts 2006
-watchtower house female single pals of 2006 americans
-when you say you need me like i need you and you can't be without me like i can't be without you
-highest paid obstetrician salary in us
-memorandum of understanding for restart of civil construction works in indian contracts
-pictures of all british men called martyn who served in the army in iraq between 1995 and 2006
-guestbook of fish dealers 2006 their email address
-oleg mitvol rosprirodnadzor environmental watchdog deputy head
-2006 email guestbook of rural farmers in wyoming (this came from Kenya)
-movie "they're killing me whitey"
-prices sand river pea gravel rock dust by the ton
-who is responsible for trimming trees, bloomsbury nj
-gestapo torture girl
-farmers daughters chicken farm guestbook 2006

Thursday, May 11, 2006

France and Tajikistan

Not normally two countries you would think of in the same breath, but since 9/11, France has a modest presence in Central Asia. France has had a military presence there to support Frence troops in Afghanistan, but diplomatic and economic interests are following.

France is increasing its military strength in Tajikistan, after reducing it last year.

Extra corps of French military and fighters is to be returned to Tajikistan, a REGNUM correspondent is told in the French embassy in Dushanbe. Within next few days three Mirage fighters and extra flight personnel over 100 people in number are to be deployed in Dushanbe.

At present time, several military transport aircrafts of French Air Forces and over 100 people of flight and service personnel are deployed in the Airport of Dushanbe.

Here is some of the political history between the two countries since 9/11, according to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Our political dialogue with Tajikistan has improved since 2001. An agreement signed on 8 December 2001 authorizing the stationing of French forces allowed for the immediate deployment of an air transport group of about a hundred men at Dushanbe airport in the context of Operation Herakles.

At the same time, a diplomatic office was opened in Tajikistan. Following President Rakhmonov’s official visit to Paris in December 2002, it was turned into a fully operating Embassy. Military and defence cooperation was initiated and formalized by a Defence cooperation agreement signed on 30 December 2002, during the visit of Ms. Michèle Alliot-Marie, Minister of Defence, to Dushanbe. An aeronautical engineering detachment took part in the study carried out on the Dushanbe airport runway.

President Rakhmonov made a working visit to Paris on 10 and 11 October 2005, on the sidelines of the Tajikistan Days at UNESCO. He was received by President Chirac and had meetings with the Minister of Defence, Ms. Michèle Alliot-Marie, and the Minister Delegate for Industry, Mr. François Loos.

France is not a major player in Central Asia, especially compared to Russia and China, but it seems to be getting a foot in the door.

Christopher Langton is an analyst at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies. He told RFE/RL that relations between France and the Central Asian countries have "accelerated" since the beginning of the U.S.-led war on terrorism, but are not something new. He said the French military presence in Central Asia also reflects France's economic interests in the region.

"France has always had a latent interest, a commercial interest, in Central Asia -- not just in Kyrgyzstan or Tajikistan, but also particularly in Turkmenistan. There are French commercial interests there, including oil and gas, [just as there are] with many other Western European nations, Russia, and the U.S.," Langton said. "In Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, France of course has played a key role in the military operations which are being mounted from those countries into Afghanistan."

He continued: "[France] is trying to develop its relationship with Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan for commercial reasons. I am not aware of particular reasons, but my work in the area of oil and gas suggests that French oil and gas companies do have interests in pipelines which may be constructed from the gas and oil fields of those countries in directions which have not been explored before, such as the east towards China and possibly towards the Indian Ocean, even possibly through Afghanistan."

The price of doing business

Our relationship with Pakistan is an odd duck. We need Pakistan's cooperation in going after terrorists on their soil, and sometimes that cooperation comes with a price.

The United States has agreed to provide Pakistan with the latest in conventional weapons systems, as well as F-16s, to fight against terror.

The Indian Express newspaper said Tuesday the United States has agreed to provide Pakistan's military with latest conventional weapons system, in addition to the promised F-16s, to fight terrorism.

The Pakistani military said the commitment to provide the weapons was made by the United States after the list of defense requirements provided to the United States by Pakistan at the recently concluded U.S.-Pakistan defense consultative group meeting was examined.

"The United States has agreed to sell conventional weapons and latest weapon system to Pakistan so that the fight against terrorism can effectively move forward," said Tariq Waseem Ghazi, Pakistani defense secretary, adding that it had also been decided at the meeting to hold joint U.S.-Pakistan military exercises in 2007.

Following the October 2005 earthquake that killed 70,000 and made millions homeless, Ghazi said, Pakistan scaled down its plans to buy 77 F-16s and instead sought about 25 used and second-hand planes.

Any bets as to whether these jets will be used in Balochistan?

And suuuuuuuure, this was a mistake.

Pakistan did not supply Stinger missiles to Iran and only 35 missiles reached Iran that too by mistake, said Lieutenant General (r) Hameed Gul, the former director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence. Talking to a private TV channel, Gul said the Inter-Services Intelligence had supplied 50 to 70 Stinger missiles to former Afghanistan prime minister Gulbadin Hekamtyar. He said most of the missiles should have been exhausted because of redundancy in their batteries, and only few of them might still be operational. “The number of attacks on United States aircraft in Afghanistan by the Taliban shows the militants might have acquired anti-aircraft missiles from elsewhere,” he said.

Never mind Iran, don't overlook the statement here that Pakistani intelligence gave dozens of Stingers to Hekamtyar. He is a warlord who actively supports the Taliban against the US. He was designated a terrorist by the US in 2003.

With friends like Pakistan, who needs friends.

Somalia the basket case

There has been more violence this week in Somalia involving Islamic militas.

Fierce fighting in the Somali capital subsided on Wednesday after dozens were killed in 72 hours of pitched battles between Islamic militiamen and gunmen loyal to a United States-backed warlord alliance.

With militia members observing a tentative truce called late on Tuesday, which the warlords have yet to formally endorse, a tense calm returned to Mogadishu's streets, but nervous residents said they feared new violence.

At least 40 people were killed and nearly 200 wounded in clashes that began on Sunday after an alleged assassination attempt on an alliance commander in the city's northern Sisi neighbourhood that became the epicentre of the battle.

Sisi had been rocked by heavy machine-gun, artillery, mortar and grenade fire for three days until the Islamic courts, which control the militia, declared a unilateral truce in response to appeals from elders for an end to the fighting.

But yeah, it's the fault of the United States. (A tongue-in-cheek comment, I might add.)

In recent months, Mogadishu, Somalia has become a deadly battleground between militias loyal to Islamic courts and a newly formed anti-terror coalition that is believed to have the support of the United States. The violence is renewing anti-American sentiment in the Somali capital. Man looks at remains of American Embassy in Mogadishu, which was destroyed after US troops left Mogadishu, in 1995 Last Thursday, a reporter asked a spokesman for the State Department, Sean McCormack, if the United States was funding and supporting a coalition of Mogadishu-based factional leaders who recently formed a group called the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism.

"We are working with individual members of the transitional government to try to create a better situation in Somalia," he answered. "Our other operating principle is to work with responsible individuals and certainly members of the transitional government in fighting terror."

McCormack provided no details. But Somalis say that answer was enough to confirm their suspicions that, as part of its global war on terror, the United States is giving active support to some of the most powerful factional leaders and their business allies in the Somali capital.

At least four ministers in Somalia's transitional government are factional leaders, who are members of the new anti-terror alliance. The group refuses to say whether it is receiving American help. But its members say they have the same objective as the United States, namely to curb the growing influence of Islamic extremism in Somalia and to keep potential terrorists from establishing a safe haven there.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A conference call with RNC Chair Ken Mehlman

I just participated in a conference call RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman held with bloggers.

The purpose of the call was to unveil a new tool for bloggers to set up their own web sites on and track the grassroots activity they have generated, including fundraising, volunteers recruited, and voters registered. MyGOP will have its official national launch on May 22, with house parties across America – and as a thank you, the top 5 parties that raise the most money through their MyGOP sites will receive a special Republican-edition iPod with Video.

To create a site:
To set up a party:

MyGOP Background

* MyGOP was launched in response to strong demand from bloggers and grassroots activists dating back to the last campaign

* MyGOP is your personal campaign headquarters on, with the ability to set up and track grassroots goals for volunteer recruitment, voter registration, and RNC fundraising.

* Each MyGOP user gets their own personalized URL at

* Bloggers are ideally suited to be successful MyGOP site hosts. MyGOP enables you to tap into your vast network of readers to support campaigns you create, specific to the issues that matter to you or the news of the day. Each MyGOP campaign also comes with a sidebar widget you can easily place in your blog.

* Rise in the rankings on the live Leaderboard at The Leaderboard tracks money raised, volunteers recruited, voters registered, and number of team members.

* Your MyGOP site will turn online success into votes in the ground. Everyone creating an event on can now tie specific MyGOP goals to their event, whether it’s recruiting 100 volunteers or raising $2,000. Through MyGOP Local, you will be able to track events near you with an easy-to-use Google Maps interface.

The call

Patrick Ruffini, RNC e-Campaign director, started us off and talked a little bit about MyGOP, and how something like this could be well suited to bloggers.

Then, Mr. Mehlman went on to describe how and why MyGOP could be useful.

He made a point that he brought up when he met with bloggers in March here in Minnesota. There has been a progression from mass communication to mass collaboration.

MyGOP is personalized, and turns online success into success on the ground. Users can use and build maps that attract volunteers in their area.

The future of politics is not the old networks (CBS, NBC, etc...) but rather the new networks, such as the communities built by bloggers.

Then, Mr. Mehlman took questions.

Lorie Byrd of Polipundit asked the first question. She asked about the message for the 2006 elections, and if there is a plan to get the message out to voters that Democrats said if they retook the House part of their agenda would be investigations.

Mr. Mehlman replied there is a plan to get that out there. He also pointed out we should watch a vote later today on tax cuts, and said to watch what Democrats do on that vote. He also pointed out that tax revenues are up, despite prior tax cuts.

The next question came from A. Schwartz, I believe. He also asked about message, and brought up Hugh Hewitt's book, Painting the Map Red.

Mr. Mehlman said the vote on tax cuts today is a sign of what Republicans would do. He brought up immigration reform, and said we intend to and will push the message of what Democrats would do. He said again this election is about a choice, and the plan seems to be to highlight the differences between Democrats and Republicans. He said in a time of war we need to secure our borders.

Next question was from Bernard Huggins. (I think.) He was concerned about immigration and border security. His question was a bit long-winded, but he thought we should move away from the compromise bill currently in Congress.

Mr. Mehlman replied we do need more people and technology at the border. He said we also need to hold employers of illegals accountable. He said one reason we have illegals is there a demand for them. There are more jobs than people willing to do them. He said we should have zero tolerance for illegal immigration, and part of that is a guest worker program. We shouldn't encourage illegal immigration, but rather legal immigration. We need to know who is coming into our country. We should not do what we did in 1986.

Last question was from Dan Rail (again, not sure of that.) He, too, brought up Republican dissatisfaction with things like spending. He asked about coordinating a message.

Mr. Mehlman said people most popular on Sunday talk shows are often those who don't want to coordinate messages. He said they do try to have a coordinated message. He said we can't just talk about what the Democrats would do, we need to be proactive and say what we would do. That's why the tax vote is so important today. He quickly talked about some of the positive elements of President Bush's record (tax cuts, judges, war on terror, etc..) We need to point out that record.

Patrick said thank you, and the call ended.

Filling in the remaining corner

I've mentioned unrest in Iran in three corners of Iran. In the southeast, the Balochs oppose Iran in Sistan-Balochistan. In the southwest, there is Arab unrest in Khuzestan. And in the northwest, Kurdish rebels have been sparring with Iranian forces lately.

I haven't mentioned any similar unrest in northeast Iran. However, a report this week might indicate all is not well there either.

A senior commander of the State Security Forces, Iran’s paramilitary police, in the northern province of Golestan was killed by unknown assailants, state media reported on Monday.

Hassan Mohammad-Pour, the deputy commander of the SSF in Golestan Province, was killed while driving in his car on Saturday.

The incident occurred on the road to Tapeh-Zibashahr in the province.

Prior to receiving his post in Golestan, Mohammad-Pour was a senior police commander in the southern Iranian city of Zahedan.

Golestan is in northeast Iran, at the southeast corner of the Caspian Sea.

The SMCCDI adds this:

No details about the attack, nor any information on the identity and fate of the 'assailants' have been communicated; but the attack confirms the increasing use of violence against the Islamic regime's symbols of power and agents by an increasing number of exasperated Iranians.

Who knows what this was about. It's interesting to note Mohammad-Pour was previously posted in Zahedan. This is the captial of Sistan-Balochistan province. Perhaps some Balochs went after him up in Golestan to settle a score.

Regardless, the Iranian regime's hold on the country is not an iron grip. Yesterday, for instance, there was a student protest in Tehran.

At least one thousand students demonstrated inside Tehran University’s Social Studies Faculty on Tuesday.

The students protested against the decision to ban a seminar they had planned on the issue of democracy. They chanted slogans against systematic crackdowns on campuses by authorities.

One of the students managed to address the demonstrators from the tribune of the main hall.

The protest had the support of many of the university professors.

There are opportunities in Iran to push against the regime. Military action does not have to be our first course of action, but there must be some action, and soon.

Energy in Central Asia

One of the lasting effects of 9/11 was to bring the importance of Central Asia to the fore. The great powers of the world, such as the US, Russia, India, and China, are vying for military bases there, and especially for the region's natural resources such as oil and gas. Iran is obviously part of the mix there as well.

In this post I mentioned the visit to Washington by Azerbaijan's President Aliyev, and in this post I mentioned Vice President Cheney's visit to Kazakhstan. What do the two have in common?

One answer is the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. This pipeline brings oil from Azerbaijan's oil fields in the Caspian Sea starting in Baku, to Tbilisi, Georgia, and ending in Ceyhan, Turkey, on the Mediterranean.

Plans have been in the works for some time to bring oil from Kazakhstan to Baku, so it can be piped through the BTC pipeline as well. The oil from Kazakhstan would originate around the Kashagan offshore field, and a pipeline under the Caspian Sea is envisioned, running from Aktau to Baku. To begin with, oil would be brought to Baku by tanker.

All of this was part of Cheney's visit to Kazakhstan, where he apparently conveyed US support for the project.

Moscow presses for better Caspian oil deal Following Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev's late April visit to Washington and U.S. Vice President Richard Cheney's early May visit to Kazakhstan, a breakthrough seems imminent on the project to connect Kazakhstan with the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline. Officials in Kazakhstan now anticipate that Presidents Nursultan Nazarbayev and Aliyev will sign a framework agreement on that project by late June.

Kazakhstan's Prime Minister Daniyal Akhmetov and KazMunayGaz Managing Director for Transport and Infrastructure Karygeldi Kabyldin have just discussed this issue in Baku with Aliyev and Azerbaijan's State Oil Company management. According to officials on both sides, no political or commercial differences arise between them regarding this project. Remaining technical issues, such as the mode and schedules of transportation, can be ironed out in time for the agreement's signing.
Following his Baku visit, Akhmetov expressed confident hope that the agreement to be signed by the two presidents would include a pipeline on the Caspian seabed from Aktau in Kazakhstan to Baku. Thus far, Russia's opposition (in tandem with Iran) has intimidated Astana into withholding its signature on the pipeline project. Cheney's visit to Kazakhstan seems to have encouraged Astana that it is Kazakhstan's national interests to join the project.

As mentioned, Russia and Iran are opposed to this Kazakhstan project, in part because it would lessen dependence on their oil. And, with an outlet in Turkey, Western nations could have access to oil that doesn't come from the Middle East. The BTC pipeline will never replace the Middle East, because the volumes are far too low, but it does provide an alternate supply.

If Kazakh oil was added to this pipeline, it would only increase the importance of this pipeline.

As part of the Great Game at work here, US access to this oil means continued good relations with Turkey. And that means walking a fine line between Turkey's and Azerbaijan's disputes with Armenia, Turkey's relationship with the Kurds, etc...

Governments take a lot of grief, and rightly so for a lot of things they do, but they also have great responsibility in navigating these large issues where much is at stake.

(Trivia: The pipeline in the James Bond movie The World Is Not Enough was a fictionalized version of the BTC pipeline.)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

A drop of blood in the bucket

India had a few successes in its own war on terror this week. On Monday, a top militant in Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) was killed. Abu Hamza was believed to be behind several attacks in India.

A suspected top Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militant was killed in an encounter near Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium with a Delhi Police’s special team on Monday around 9.20 pm.

Police believe the militant to be Abu Hamza, said to be the mastermind of several terror attacks in India.

The militant was taken to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), where he was declared “brought dead”.

The police also arrested two suspected terrorists from Nizamuddin Railway Station.

LeT has been responsible for many bloody attacks in Kashmir and India, including the one I mentioned in this post.

India apparently prevented planned attacks on film ceremonies by LeT by arresting the two terrorists mentioned above.

The two alleged Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militants arrested by the Special Cell of the Delhi police at Hazrat Nizamuddin railway station on Monday planned to target Kandla Port, a railway bridge and a market at Ahmedabad besides film awards ceremonies in Mumbai. A huge consignment of arms and explosives and a satellite phone have been recovered from the Ballabhgarh hideout of their Pakistani accomplice who was killed in an encounter with the police outside the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in South Delhi on Monday night.

Also this week, India killed a terrorist who was part of a deadly attack in March.

Indian police Tuesday shot dead one of the key conspirators believed to be behind the March twin blasts in the Hindu temple city of Varanasi that claimed 20 lives.

Abu Zubair, belonging to the Harkat-ul-Jehadi-Islamia (HuJI) militant outfit, was shot dead by the police in a gun-battle in India’s northern Jammu and Kashmir state. The militant was confronted by a police team when he was trying to cross to Pakistan at the Line of Control (LoC) - a defacto-border that divides Indian and Pakistan administered parts of Kashmir - from a village in the northern Kupwara district.

“We had a specific input about him at least a month back and we were trailing him ever since. He could have been trying to flee to Pakistan,” senior state police officer K Rajendra was quoted by the PTI news agency as saying.

We don't hear nearly enough about the terrorist threat India faces. Groups based primarily in Pakistan, or which receive support from Pakistan, are active in India and Kashmir, and attacks are steady. India is on the front lines of the war on terror and our ally experiences attacks that would receive wide media coverage if they occurred here.

A Michele Bachmann roundup

Plenty of postgame talk around the blogosphere in the wake of the 6th CD convention, which gave the endorsement to Michele Bachmann. Here's a sampling.

I'll start off with a couple of posts from Martin Andrade. Not to pick on him, because he has been reasonable, but he brings up some points that, frankly, confuse me about the opposition to Bachmann, points you'll see elsewhere if you read those who are not given to supporting Bachmann.

In this post, Andrade says:

There are between 100 and 200 GOP regulars who were completely trampled by Michele Bachmann in her pursuit of the GOP endorsement in the 6th district.

I replied in the comments, and I'll reprint it here.

This canard again. I'm not sure how "between 100 and 200 GOP regulars were completely trampled by Michele Bachmann."

Counting how? Because Bachmann got that many votes for endorsement, that means any delegate who voted for her trampled on a "regular" to get there?

And how did this trampling occur? Bachmann's delegates went to their caucus like everyone else, indicated their desire to be a delegate like everyone else, and put themselves forward as delegates at their BPOU like everyone else. How is that a trampling?

The danger in local politics is always that the local units turn into little fiefdoms, run by people for whom politics is a little club, a hobby.

So along come some new faces, and instead of welcoming this new, dynamic political force, instead of encouraging the participation of a whole new cadre of enthusiastic politcally active people, the hobbyists denigrate the new people, and invalidate their participation.

That the "regulars" believe they somehow have a divine right to be delegates, rather than celebrating true grassroots efforts that open the delegate process to everyone, is a sign that change might be in order.

In this post, Andrade wrote:

Y'all are going to love this, I heard it first from a friend of mine who works at the capital, then I got confirmation just now from some people at the convention. Bachmann had loaded other delegations with some of their people. So on the first ballot, Bachmann's people vote for Esmay or Krinkie or Knoblach, then on the second ballot they vote for Bachmann, creating the illusion of momentum. Thus, on the third ballot people decide to join the winning team and Bachmann gets the endorsement. Realpolitik? Machiavellian? Sure, but why not? (Okay, Realpolitik is probably the wrong word, but close enough.)

I made a couple of comments to this, but in another post. I'll reprint those here.

As for Statement A, can you provide any firm evidence of what you say, beyond just the fact "someone told you?" Who are the people you talked to? What are the names of the delegates who were part of this?

In politics, there ought to be a better standard of truth than just throwing things over the transom. I could say someone told me Krinkie eats live puppies for breakfast. What good is that statement in the absence of any supporting evidence?


I give you credit for not making your statements based on one source, but I just think it would help in general if we were able to judge the sources.

Who is your source in the "capitol"? The Governor? The night shift janitor? A Democrat? St. Paul is lousy with people who don't support Bachmann or her politics. How can we know if someone isn't ginning up a controversy?

And your sources at the convention, did they see someone being told to vote first for Esmay and then for Bachmann? Did a delegate say they were told to do so? Did they merely witness someone vote different ways on different ballots and assume that was evidence of a plot?

We've seen instances lately at the national level where single anonymous sources were less than rock solid. I just think it's best to be open and put names on things, otherwise let it be.

I also agree with Thorley. I don't see how the changes discussed Friday night were so wildly in favor of only Bachmann, let alone unethical.

To me, the discussion about completing the agenda before adjourning prevents an early endorsement, it doesn't railroad through one for Bachmann. Same for the length of speechs, how does shorter speeches benefit only her and no one else? If I'm the guy going first, by the time the last one goes my speech is 2 hours in the past. Who's going to remember me? If speeches are 15 minutes, I'm only an hour in the past, a little better.

Doug, at Bogus Gold, has some wise words.

And that seems as apt a metaphor as any for the reactions of so many experiencing heated Congressional District endorsing conventions in Minnesota this past weekend. Many Republicans in the 6th, and Democrats in the 5th came away rather shell shocked. Politics, like thunderstorms, seems neater and friendlier when you're not too close.

However, with just a bit of distance, I hope sensible people realize that they did not just witness some new corruption of a formerly pristine process. Rather, they witnessed an inherently messy process, and I hope they learned from the experience.

A personal anecdote in way of analogy: In the past I've freely admitted that, while I was an active Republican at the time, George W. Bush was not my first choice for the Republican nomination in 2000. He also wasn't my second choice. It was very hard for me to come to terms with supporting his candidacy when I had poured so much energy into supporting his rivals. But after all was said and done, I looked back on it and realized I had just experienced one of the more important civics lessons of my life.

Sure, I could have moped and refused to support the Republican Party's nominee. I wouldn't have been alone. I knew people who jumped to the Constitution, Libertarian & Reform Parties at the time. The thing that held me back was the realization that I had just learned a lot more than I knew previously about how this country is actually governed. I had learned about the blocking and tackling that separates a serious, winning candidacy from idealists running in parallel, but not truly competing. In short I had learned how our form of government actually works in the early 21st century.

And that left me with a choice: Would I join it and participate in order to bring about the kind of policies I believed in? Or would I drop out and sneer at its imperfections from the sidelines?

Obviously, I decided to stay. Along with that decision came the responsibility to learn how to engage myself in a more meaningful fashion, which I have been doing ever since.

Pscymeistr is contemplating his participation between now and November.

While the outcome of this convention was certainly a disappointment to me, I personally will move on. I may not work personally for the Bachmann campaign for the reasons stated here (at the very least, she has some serious fence mending to do with myself and a lot of the other delegates I talked with).
If Michelle Bachmann feels she needs to obfuscate and perform sleight-of-hand with republican delegates in order to win, then what is to keep her from performing sleight of hand and obfuscation with regard to her campaign promises? If she can't be above board with her own delegates, who's to say whether she will be above board and true to her conservative rhetoric?

As I mentioned in the my comments above, I don't clearly understand what was underhanded about the proposals made, and I have yet to hear any solid evidence that moves were made with delegate voting.

Andy at Residual Forces points out the DFL seems to be happy that Bachmann is the endorsed candidate.

No comment from this peanut gallery other than, see! This is exactly what they wanted.

I think the fervor cuts both ways, though. The same level of excitement and participation that brought Bachmann's supporters to the 6th CD convention will carry over into the general election. The same voters will be motivated to get her to Congress. The more the DFL demonizes Bachmann, the more motivated the GOP should be to support her.

The 6th District is the most Republican district in the state. Bachmann is at home in the district, and we shouldn't fear the usual DFL partisan attacks. Bachmann didn't get to this point by espousing positions wildly unpopular with Republican voters. Quite the opposite. We'll be fine.

24 Day 5 3:00 AM - 4:00 AM

A Jack-ku
The graphic violence
warning is among the clouds.
My mood is tender.

And I ask again, what was violent about this episode, let alone graphic?

When the recaps started, I thought I was watching the wrong episode, because it went back to Bierko blowing up the gas distribution plant. That happened hours ago. We see the assault on the plant. We see Jack hibauering the plane. And Logan wants Bauer. The copilot tells Jack they'll be on the ground in 15 minutes. Huh? The plane was flying for much longer than that. How is it faster going back to Van Nuys than going out? Maybe they're going downhill.

And now, we are go for main engine rant.

As we begin, we see a model of a plane hanging from a thread. I mean, we see the hijacked plane, and underneath it the credits say "Kiefer Sutherland". So, the plane is Kiefer Sutherland?

The copilot says to Jack "I think you broke my nose." But, he only has a small microdot of blood by his nose. If his nose was really broken, it would be like Old Faithful.

Now, the copilot says they'll be on the ground in 21 minutes. So, despite the fact several minutes have passed since the copilot first said they'd be down in 15, they've lost time and now it's 21 minutes? Are they going back uphill?

We see Bill being uncuffed. Apparently his interrogation with Karen went well.

Jack is having a long chat with Karen. He wants a safe escort back to CTU. Karen tells him Audrey is in CTU Medical, and that she'll be ok. She doesn't know CTU Medical very well yet, does she.

Curtis goes in to see Audrey and... va va voom! Audrey is in the hospital bed in a nice teddy! Rowwrrr! CTU does their female patients up right.

Holy hit the reset button, Batman! Curtis tells Audrey that SecDef Heller is alive! A team fished him out of the drink 30 minutes ago. (So Heller held his breath for 30 minutes?) Oh man. What a cheat.

I can imagine the scene with the rescue team at the top of the cliff where Heller went over. "Ok, you get one share for being a person in the ambulance, one share for being a person who pulled Heller out, and one share for being a person at the scene. You, you get one share for--" "Hey, wait, Now look! We've figured it seventeen different ways, and each time we figured it, it was no good, because no matter how we figured it, somebody don't like the way we figured it! So now, there's only one way to figure it. And that is, every man, including the old SecDef, for himself!"

Karen calls Curtis and orders him take a team and get Jack back before anyone else can get to him. I do give credit to CTU for matching Henderson team for team. I don't know where CTU is getting all their agents, since a good chunk of them must have been killed in the gas attack. Some are apparently out on meaningless tac teams near places like Bill's house. Yet, there are still enough left over to be sitting around the locker room ready to leave immediately with Curtis.

At the presidential retreat, Logan is standing in...a desert mirage? What's with all the wavy lights and Forbidden Planet music?

Graham is on the phone. He's figuring out a way to shoot down the plane. He'll gin up a VCI distress signal. Apparently this is a signal that a plane is being hibauered and that the baddies plan to use the plane as a weapon. (I'm not sure how a pilot would ascertain that a hijacker planned to use the plane as a weapon, yet still be in control of the plane to send the signal. Would the terrorist be banging on the cockpit door yelling "Hey, open up in there! I want to crash this thing into something on the ground!"

Logan is agreeable to this plan. But Graham asks "You sound reluctant." He's starting to sound like Logan's boyfriend. Logan just hangs up. People do that on this show a lot. Doesn't anyone have the courtesy to say "goodbye", as a signal that the conversation is complete?

Bill wants to bring Chloe in. At this point, I'm wondering if Jack has even listened to the tape yet. Is he sure he has what he thinks he has?

Miles is pouting, wondering why Bill is free. Miles is working on getting transfer orders for Bierko.

And now, Logan is talking to Admiral Kirkland of Point Mugu. Oh, oh, which way to go. Admiral Kirk versus Point Magoo. "I AM KIROK!" versus "Oh Magoo, you've done it again!" I think you know what you must do.

Admiral Kirk launches into a long diatribe about how 20 million in LA are now a target of this rogue plane hibauered by Jack. (I'm not sure how Admiral Kirk knows about Bauer being accused of killing David Palmer.) He says "These terrorists have been killing 3 million people a year. An actual attack won't kill any more people, but it would end their ability to make war. The fighting will be over permanently. But you didn't know it won't work. No. It will be a calculated risk. Corbomite! Yes, Corbomite. We'll tell Bauer that F-18 is packed to the gills with Corbomite."

Logan says "Admiral Kirk, my old friend. I want you to shoot down that plane."

Admiral Kirk says "Still 'old friend.' You've managed to kill just about everyone else. But like a poor marksman, you keep missing the target."

At CTU, an interagency sub-net is ringing off the hook, and Very Important Piece of Paper comes in. Karen tells Jack that Logan has ordered the plane removed from the skies with force.

Jack says they need 5000 feet of runway to put the plane down, and wants CTU to figure out a suitable freeway. Then, Jack cuffs the copilot to the controls. I guess he still has questions about the copilot's motivations.

I think Kiefer knows about our "Now!" counter, because he launches into a string of them that really sends the total up this episode. Thanks for the boost, Kiefer!

As we go into the first commercial break, the clocks are at :12 to :12. As we come back out, the clocks are at :16 to :15. I felt a great disturbance in the Force.

Miles sees Chloe coming in, and he about gives himself whiplash as his head snaps around.

Karen wants Chloe to open a socket to the ATC radar tracking plot. What, Chloe is the only one who can do this? In the future, the US had better hope a national emergency doesn't arise when Chloe isn't on her shift.

On the plane, Jack tells the stewardess they're going to do an emergency landing and that she should prepare the passengers. Then he says not to worry, it'll be fine. Now, being an experienced flier, I'm sure the stewardess will quite tempted to worry about why they need to do an emergency landing.

The stewardess then turns to the passengers and says "Assume crash positions." Instantly, pandemonium breaks out, and passengers start throwing themselves across the seats, punching each other, falling in the aisle, etc...

Bill has found a suitable runway. Except it isn't suitable. Jack distinctly said he needs 5000 feet. But, Bill comes up with a stretch only 4000 feet long, and it ends in an overpass. Good one, Bill. (The inadequate landing strip is the 118 freeway between mile markers 91 and 92.)

We see the F-18 roaring through the skies, and a glimpse of the pilot. I wondered if that was just a reuse of the footage from Season 4 as Mitch Anderson was trying to shoot down Air Farce One.

Now, if I read this map right, the 118 comes within three miles or so of the Van Nuys airport. Apparently they didn't have enough time to go even that short distance and just land at the airport.

The F-18 is preparing to shoot, so Jack tells the copilot to descend. NOW! As the plane tips down, the oxygen masks deploy in the cabin. Now I'm sure the stewardess is worrying.

Jack says he can see the freeway, but all we see out the window is a mess of lights.

There's a *whoop whoop* warning sounding in the cockpit. It's a ground proximity warning. I wonder when that thing is designed to go off. I mean, planes are designed to get near the ground. Frequently. It's called landing. It wouldn't make sense to sound a warning every time a plane lands.

The F-18 has missile lock. At this point, I can't remember if Jack knew that, or if CTU did. Do commercial jets have equipment to detect missile locks? Is this a big problem in commerical jets?

Experienced Pilot Jack wants the landing gear down. The copilot points out the dangers of lowering the landing gear too high and too fast. Experienced Pilot Jack barks "Lower it!"

Logan's bloodlust is at a fever pitch. He barks at Admiral Kirk "Order your man to fire, now!" So, Admiral Kirk says "Khhaaaaaaan! Shoot the plane down! Khhaaaaaaan!" (Apparently the F-18 pilot was named Khan. Erp.)

Novick is quite puzzled as to why Logan still wants to shoot down a plane that is already in the process of going down, and hence threat over. Somehow, this logic gets through to Logan, and he aborts the strike. But, he orders the Marines to go in and get Jack.

Admiral Kirk is busy setting the self-destruct on his base. "Code: Zero, zero, zero. Destruct. Zero." And then he says, "Anyone for a game of fizzbin?"

Curtis is driving along, singing a song, side by side with some anonymous CTU agent, and he sees the hibauered plane pass right in front of the windshield. Curtis orders some lights on the freeway, and a dump truck backs up and unloads a bunch of lamps.

The plane is down, and is a cacophony of screeching brakes and reverse thrusters. I guess they didn't need that extra 1000 feet after all. The plane comes to a stop right in front of the overpass. Jack tells CTU they're on the ground and tells them to send a second team for the copilot. Then, the krazy kaptions say "and EMTs for the pilot", but we don't hear anything.

Jack deplanes (deplane! deplane!) and he runs off.

Clocks are at :27 to :26.

Graham is mad that Logan didn't blow a bunch of international diplomats out of the sky. Logan says not to worry, two battalions of Marines are near the landing area. Wha...? Two battalions?! A Marine battalion can typically number between 800 and 1200. Logan sent 2000 Marines to the landing site? Wow, talk about overkill.

The 2000 Marines are setting up a perimeter, and do about as good a job as CTU, for Jack just trots across the freeway and over a fence and into the SUV with Team Curtis.

I wonder if Curtis is thinking of what happened at the beginning of this day when Jack and Curtis rode together in an SUV. Jack clobbered Curtis and left him on the boulevard like a sack of garbage.

They come up to a military roadblock, and Jack says Curtis will have to talk them through it. A Marine talks to Curtis, and Curtis gives him a song and dance about how they are all on the same team, time is a-wasting, blah blah. And, incredibly, even though he has orders to not let people through, the Marine lets him go. No no no. Marines follow orders, and let their superiors sort things out.

Curtis uses his Jedi mind tricks. "These are not the CTU agents you are looking for." The Marine says "these are not the CTU agents we're looking for." and he orders the roadblock to stand down. Curtis says they'll stick to back roads. They're somewhere north of the Santa Monica Mts. Are there any "back roads" that go over the mountains to downtown LA?

Back at CTU, Miles is demanding answers from Karen. Karen tells Bill she'll have to trust him, and she'll let him in to their little gang. Miles huffily says "I don't deserve this." So, Karen takes Miles back into CTU's miles (heh) of deserted concrete hallways. Karen tells him about Logan, and how they are trying to recover the tape. Miles says "Then what are you going to do?"

Some flunky (was that Valerie) suddenly appears and says Bierko is ready for transfer. And so, next we see some troops in full gear walking Bierko out in chains. He has a bandage on the side of his head. Looks like a Rorschach test. Hmm, I'd say it looks like a bunny.

They stuff Bierko into a van and.... what?!? Bierko nods at the driver who nods back?! What is this? Yet another mole? Argh. I'm not even going to try and figure out how the baddies arranged to have one of their moles driving this van.

Clocks are at :40 to :38.

Logan barks, "Where's Novick?" Mike walks in seconds later. Oh, never mind. Mike tells him the bad news. Bauer apparently got away. We get an ominous "Logan in shadows" shot. His Grahamphone rings and rings. Logan doesn't answer.

Jack arrives at CTU. Not bad. From the Valley to CTU, via back streets, in just a few minutes. He's told the Attorney General will be ready in 10 minutes. What? The AG got a pardon for Collette in 5 minutes.

Jack tells Chloe to clean up the recording and to add a digital signature for chain of custody. However, since this is the most important evidence on the planet, and the White House has already had one mole in CTU today in the person of Spenser Wolff-ff-ff, you'd think Jack would've had two battalions of Marines protect Chloe while she's working. But no. We still have three hours left in this season to fill.

Perhaps Jack was distracted by Audrey's gazongas, as he goes in to see her. Jack says he knows about the SecDef (aka Gill Man). How did Jack know? We didn't see Jack being told.

Audrey says "I'm so glad to see you." Jack says "Me too." Uh, so Jack is glad to see himself? It's always about Jack, isn't it. Then, ewww, Jack slides down the bed for a little massage action.

Back at the presidential retreat, Logan gets a case from the shelf. I can guess what's in here. He talks to Graham, again. Graham knows that the AG got a phone call from CTU. How does he know this? I know, never mind. Logan still believes they were doing the right thing. (I guess if by "right thing" you mean giving deadly nerve gas to terrorists, allowing mall shoppers to be gassed, leaving a trail of bodies around LA, trying to kill the Secretary of Defense, etc..)

Graham mentions how terrible a murder trial would be for the country, and all but says "I think you know what you must do." Logan agrees, and says he's taken steps so Graham won't be implicated. What steps could those be? I know, never mind. Then, Logan gets a pistol out of the case.

Now, how did that pistol get there? Did Logan carry it with him from DC? Does he always leave it there? Does the Secret Service now about this? You'd think they would get nervous about leaving loaded weapons around the President. So didn't their security sweeps find it?

Clocks are at :51 to :49.

The split screens show a news story that says "Earlier today: Mourners remember David Palmer." Well, nice to know that in spite of the terrorist attacks and curfew and martial law, some fans of David Palmer still found time today to have a little candle ceremony.

Martha is on a couch staring like a zombie. I guess those pills she wanted so badly, and the wine, didn't help her get to sleep.

Logan goes in to see Martha. At first I think he's going to shoot her. But, he just wants to apologize for hurting her. Martha is not in a receptive mood though. She says "I had no idea you were such a good liar. If I weren't so horrified by the fact I'm married to you, I might actually be impressed."

Ouch. Those two need a weekend getaway in Vermont or something. No, no, not Vermont as in the dribbly bin, Vermont as in bucolic lakes, forest hiking, Parcheesi on the patio, etc...

Logan goes back to his desert mirage and pours himself a drink. He pulls out the gun. The phone rings. Logan still feels duty bound to answer it. Hey, Miles is calling. That slimy rat fink.

Miles tattles about the recording and the AG. Miles says he feels compelled to intervene. Logan approves of such intervention, and says he won't forget this act of kindness. He'll give Miles his private number so Miles can keep Logan informed. Miles is drooling over the prospects of presidential favors.

Clocks are at :60 to :56. The split screens show Graham pouring himself a drink. What, is Graham going to shoot himself?

Miles goes in to see unprotected Chloe. He was some red blinky device concealed in his hand. That slimeball. He's going to erase the tape.

"The tape is climbing the ropes. He's up against the turnbuckle, raising his arms in triumph to the cheering crowd. He thinks the president is defeated! But, he doesn't see Miles behind him and... Oh, there is a foreign object in his hand! There is a foreign object in his hand! The tape is down! The tape is down! There's blood everywhere!"

This episode comes to an end. There's still three hours to go. Courage.

Guest critic Paul Foth won't be joining us this week. He had to check into the hospital for a quick nip and tuck, and the nurse dressed him in a red negligee, and he's too embarrassed to come out. Plus, he’s cursing the fact Blogger has been down all morning.

Number of times Jack says "Now!": 32
Number of times Jack says "No!": 8
Number of times a "protocol" is mentioned: 42
Number of times someone says a variation of "Go!": 29
Number of moles: 5
Approximate Body Count: 94 (plus three rats, plus one human nerve gas guinea pig, plus 11 in the mall food court (and no, not from food poisoning), plus one security camera, plus 56 in CTU)

<-2:00 AM - 3:00 AM 4:00 AM - 5:00 AM ->

Monday, May 08, 2006

Another update on Captain Furat

Yesterday Maya Alleruzzo had an update on Captain Furat in the Washington Times.

Capt. Furat is an Iraqi soldier who fought for his country, and who has fought along side US soldiers. (I know someone who fought with Capt. Furat and thinks highly of him.)

Capt. Furat was severely wounded, and received care in a US military hospital in Iraq. He is now in Georgia undergoing rehab. Ms. Alleruzzo writes:

Iraqi Army Capt. Furat surveys the therapy gym as he stands erect for the first time in nearly four months, every inch as tall as he was before insurgents' bullets left his legs lifeless on Christmas Day.
All around him, paralyzed patients are toiling, striving for their own personal victories.
"Where are you traveling to right now in your mind?" asks Basle Roberts, a therapy technician at the Shepherd Center.
"I wish that I could stand without this equipment," Capt. Furat says, resting on a frame used in physical therapy. The rigid metal device is a relief from sitting or lying down, restful positions that aren't always relaxing anymore.
Every 30 minutes, he must shift positions to prevent potentially fatal pressure sores from developing on his paralyzed lower body, one of the many daily battles the former platoon leader is learning to deal with solo.
"It is just me on this mission," says Capt. Furat, 28, whose family is 7,000 miles away and still at risk from insurgents for his decision to fight in the nascent Iraqi army.
On some days, it's nearly too much to bear.

With newfound hope, Capt. Furat begins to rebuild the muscles in his arms and chest that had not been used for months.
He learns -- by repetition -- to seamlessly move from his wheelchair to his bed or to a car seat and even the shower, and other skills he needs to master for independence.
His occupational therapist offers the chance to try cooking in Shepherd's specially modified kitchen. He chooses a dish from home: kubbeh, a fried dumpling stuffed with ground meat and onions.
The smell and taste of the food floods him with memories of his mother -- and the rice she made better than anyone else.
Downstairs in the garden, he reflects.
"Every day at this time, I think about my mother," he says. "I miss her cooking."

Do read all of it. (And see my previous two posts for the first part of the story.)

It's a story of a brave man, and of good people from the US of A who are helping him.

Previous posts

The future of Iraq
Update on Captain Furat

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 Peace Like a River and Security Watchtower.

Top Topics

* A CH-47 Chinook helicopter has crashed during a combat operation in Afghanistan, killing all 10 U.S. soldiers on board, a military spokeswoman said Saturday. "Additional aircraft and crews were also at the landing zone and confirmed that enemy forces did not cause the crash," a military statement said.

* In a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Iran threatened to withdrawal from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) if they continued to be pressured to cease enriching uranium and/or if Security Council measures are taken against Iran. The United States is prepared to bring the issue before the Security Council, with or without support from Russia, who along with China is at odds with the west on handling the situation with Iran.

* The al-Qaida terrorist network is training Arab militants in southern and southeastern Afghanistan in the use of roadside explosives and in ambush tactics, a senior Afghan general said Thursday. Lt. Gen. Sher Karimi, chief of operations for the Afghan National Army, said in a videoteleconference with reporters at the Pentagon that elements of al-Qaida also are working with Taliban militants and aiding narcotics smugglers.

* Militants fighting the Pakistani army in the Waziristan tribal region on Saturday distributed leaflets in the name of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, calling for the assassination of President Pervez Musharraf. "I also pray to the one and the only Almighty Allah to teach a telling lesson to Bush, Musharraf and their forces, and give a chance to the lions of Islam to kill the slave of Bush in Pakistan," read the leaflet.

Other topics today include: Saudi religious reeducation program; Iran's neighbors say no nukes; al Qaeda opening Egyptian front; Hamas plot to assassinate Abbas; Palestinian terrorists killed in airstrike; Ahmadinejad still defiant; Iran tries to divide UNSC; CIA Chief resigns; FBI officials leaving at fast pace; U.S. mass transit remains on alert; Tamil Tiger support in Canada; Brazil to enrich uranium; Terror warning in North Caucasus; Uzbekistan identifies terrorist; Russia sends Palestinians financial aid; Violence in southern Afghanistan; Taliban warn British troops in Afghanistan; US wants access to A.Q. Khan; Taliban leader killed in Balochistan; Riots and fighting in Kashmir; Maoist rebels and Nepal to engage in talks; Pro-Hamas demonstrations in Indonesia; Bombings in Thailand; Communist rebels kill three Filipino troops; Malaysia's cyber terrorism center; ETA ends activity in Spain; al Qaeda politics in Europe; Somalian militants to kill Islamic extremists; Sudan at risk; and more.

Iran & the Middle East

* In an effort to combat al Qaeda's ideology, Saudi authorities are carrying out an intense religious reeducation program with the assistance of clerics across the board and thus far some 500 young Saudi males have gone through the program.

* Leaders from six of Iran’s Persian Gulf neighbors are calling on Teheran to be transparent with them about its nuclear program. The leaders met privately for nearly three hours in Riyadh on Saturday in what was described as a “consultative” summit.

* Dr. Ely Karmon, ICT Senior Researcher, cites a number of sources in writing about al Qaeda's opening of a new front in Egypt, and points towards Saudi jihadists as the likely culprit, and not Zarqawi's Iraqi based group.

* Israeli authorities uncovered a Hamas plot to assassinate Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, the latest in a series of clashes and fighting that have highlighted the deep divisions between the rival Palestinian factions.

* Egyptian security forces have identified a suicide bomber who targeted a bus carrying peacekeeping forces near their base in the Sinai on 26 April. The nineteen-year-old bomber, who was a theology student at Al Azhar university, was the brother of Salman Selim, one of the suspects of the Dahab bombings who was killed by security forces Sunday.

* Syria has issued warrants to Lebanon for two Lebanese MP's, Druze leader Walid Jumblatt and telecoms minister Marwan Hamade have been, to appear before a military court in Syria. Both Jumblatt and Hamade have been outspoken critics of Syria.

* Eight Palestinians were killed over the weekend, including five Palestinian members of the Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza killed in an airstrike that targeted a training facility. The strike came on the heels of another Palestinian Qassam rocket attack from Gaza on Friday.

* Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a summit of regional leaders that adversaries of Iran must "begin respecting the people of Iran" and repeated his nation's assertion that its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes. President Bush spoke this weekend and said that when Ahmadinejad "says that he wants to destroy Israel, the world needs to take it seriously."

* Amir Taheri is highlighting Iran's attempts to turn the current crisis over their nuclear program into a U.S.-Iranian conflict. In some sense, Ahmadinejad is taking a page from the playbook of Saddam Hussein in trying to split the west over the issue.

* Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Friday that the international community would not tolerate the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

America Domestic Security & the Americas

* CIA Director Porter Goss resigned unexpectedly Friday. The decision was the latest in a series of moves by President Bush to shake up his team and reinvigorate his second term. A successor to Goss could come as early as Monday, a senior administration official said.

* U.S. Judge Leonie Brinkema sent Zacarias Moussaoui to prison for life Thursday, to "die with a whimper," for his role in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He declared: "God save Osama bin Laden, you will never get him." Zacarias Moussaoui will probably spend the rest of his life behind the walls of the federal Supermax prison in Colorado, home to several other convicted terrorists.

* Even with Zacarias Moussaoui's trial in federal court complete, legal experts don't expect to see top captured al-Qaida operatives brought into civilian courts soon, or perhaps ever.

* Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has approved the military's most ambitious plan yet to fight terrorism and to retaliate more rapidly and decisively in case of another major terrorist attack on the United States, according to defense officials. The long-awaited campaign plan for the global war on terrorism, as well as two subordinate plans also approved within the past month by Rumsfeld, are considered the Pentagon's highest priority, according to officials familiar with the three documents.

* Gary Bald was praised by his FBI bosses as an outstanding choice when he was named the bureau's top counterterrorism executive in 2005. Bald's replacement when he departs in June will be the sixth person to occupy the top post since Sept. 11, 2001, gave terrorism new meaning. His exit is part of a growing trend at the FBI, where top officials have been leaving at a pace that alarms members of Congress.

* U.S. mass transit systems should remain alert against possible terror attacks, the Homeland Security Department said in a new warning that highlighted suspicious activity at unnamed European subway stations last fall.

* As Sri Lanka teeters on the brink of civil war half a world away, Canada is cracking down on a rebel group that has long relied on expatriate funding to fuel its fight for an independent homeland there. With the largest concentration of Sri Lankan Tamils living abroad, Canada has been a key revenue source for the separatist Tamil Tigers. One of the first major acts of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's new Conservative government this spring was to declare the Tigers a terrorist organization, a move the previous Liberal government had resisted.

* Brazil has joined the select group of countries with the capability of enriching uranium as a means of generating energy. A new centrifuge facility was formally opened on Friday at the Resende nuclear plant in the state of Rio de Janeiro.

* In Trinidad, incarcerated Jamaat-al-Muslimeen leader Yasin Abu Bakr is expected to go on trial for a conspiracy to murder charge on October 2. The Muslimeen leader's request that he first be put on trial for other terrorism and sedition charges apparently failed, as no date was fixed up to yesterday for those cases.

Russia, Caucasus & Central Asia

* Sergei Markedonov, the head of the interethnic relations department at Moscow's Institute of Political and Military Analysis, is warning of the rise of radical Islam in the North Caucasus.

* Uzbek authorities have identified a man captured in March as Huseyn Jalil, an ethnic Uyghur and Canadian citizen wanted by both China and Kyrgyzstan for terrorist activity.

* Russian President Vladimir Putin has stepped into an increasingly bitter power struggle between the two most powerful officials installed by Moscow in the war-torn province of Chechnya.

* Russia sent €7.9m in financial aid to the Palestinian Authority on Friday, in support of their view that the Hamas-led Palestinian government should not be isolated. (H/T Threatswatch)

Afghanistan & Southern Asia

* A roadside bomb killed two Italian soldiers and wounded four while they were on patrol Friday south of Kabul, a military spokesman said, in a rare attack close to the capital. Two Italian military vehicles were patrolling together when one of them was hit around 5 p.m., said Maj. Luke Knittig, a Kabul-based spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force.

* The new British commander, Lieutenant General David Richards – who took over command of the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force from an Italian general – said Nato would focus on providing security for the fledgling Afghan government to boost reconstruction and economic growth in the south. He said Nato forces would not shy away from "the robust use of force" to defeat Taliban insurgents where it was called for.

* The Taliban has warned British troops newly arrived in Afghanistan that the militant group will turn the country "into a river of blood", in comments published in The Times. Mohammad Hanif Sherzad, spokesman for Taliban leader Mullah Omar, spoke to the newspaper as Britain took command Thursday of NATO-led forces in Afghanistan, which from July will assume control of international military operations in the restive south of the violence-wracked nation.

* A roadside bomb killed two members of a prominent provincial political family and a bodyguard in southern Afghanistan on Friday. Two police personnel also died in a separate attack. Lala, a tribal elder and the uncle of a former provincial governor, died in the roadside blast, as did his son and bodyguard in Helmand province, about 600 kms southwest of Kabul.

* Here is the CDI's Afghan update for the month of April. It is a roundup of events in Afghanistan throughout the month.

* Here are the daily updates from the South Asia Terrorism Portal for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

* Pakistani police have arrested two Islamist militants suspected of planning a suicide bomb attack that killed a US diplomat and three others outside the US consulate in Karachi in March, an official said on Thursday.

* Two Pakistani Islamist groups declared terrorist organisations by the US recently are gaining popularity in earthquake-devastated parts of northern Pakistan for their continuing relief activities, a news report said Saturday. Hundreds of residents of the Garhi Habibullah and Balakot districts, located in the North-Western Frontier Province (NWFP), held demonstrations Friday to protest Washington's designation of Jammat-ud-Dawa (JD) and its affiliate Idara Khidmat-e-Khalq as terrorist outfits.

* A leaflet urging Pakistanis to rise against military ruler Pervez Musharraf was distributed in the volatile tribal district near the Afghan bordery, residents said. It came a day after another leaflet, containing statements purportedly from Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, was distributed in the same region -- North Waziristan tribal district -- calling for Musharraf's assassination.

* The United States wants direct access to Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan and President Bush, in his recent visit to Pakistan, told President Pervez Musharraf that US experts want to question the detained scientist, said BBC security correspondent. Speaking at a television programme on Wednesday, BBC security correspondent Gordon Correra was commenting on a Pakistan Foreign Office statement, which said that the Dr AQ Khan case had been closed and that there would be no further investigation into the matter. He said that such a statement by the Pakistani Foreign Office was an attempt to sweep things under the rug.

* Unidentified gunmen today shot dead a former Taliban leader in Pakistan's southwestern Balochistan province, relatives of the deceased said. Mulla Samad Barakzai, former head of Taliban's department for promotion of virtue and prevention of vice in the southern Helmand province, was gunned down in Pushtoon Abad area of Quetta, the provincial capital, they said.

* Three people were killed and seven wounded in three landmine blasts in Pakistan’s restive southwestern Baluchistan province on Sunday, officials said. Two people were killed and three wounded when a passenger van hit a landmine in the town of Dera Bugti, a stronghold of renegade tribal elder Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti. Three policemen were injured in a similar explosion in the same town, Abdul Samad Lasi, a senior government official in Dera Bugti said.

* Demonstrators ran riot for a second day in revolt-hit Indian
Kashmir to demand punishment for people involved in an alleged prostitution ring. Police used batons and teargas to disperse hundreds of students who poured out of Kashmir's main university and engineering college in Srinagar shouting "Punish the culprits, expose them." Authorities last month unearthed the alleged racket involving over 40 women whose clients were reported to include politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen in the conservative Muslim-majority state.

* A top Kashmir separatist rebel was shot dead in a gunbattle with Indian troops, the army said. "Mushtaq Ahmed Bhat was killed during a gunbattle after the army had laid multiple ambushes for him near the southern Kashmir town of Tral," army spokesman Vijay Batra told AFP on Sunday.

* Despite attacks on its nationals by Taliban in Afghanistan, India today maintained that it will not send its troops to the war-torn country. "There is no such proposal," External Affairs Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna told reporters here when asked about a media report that Britain had asked India to send its troops to Afghanistan to be part of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

* A Japanese peace envoy was to arrive in Sri Lanka for talks as Scandinavian monitors said violence between government forces and Tamil Tiger rebels was out of control. Tokyo's special peace envoy Yasushi Akashi was to hold talks with President Mahinda Rajapakse and would also try to meet leaders of the Tamil Tigers during his four-day visit, the Japanese embassy said Saturday.

* Nepal's new government took a tentative step towards peace with the Maoist rebels after the militants agreed to take part in talks to end their decade-old insurgency. The rebels said they had given the new cabinet a "code of conduct" outlining the rules they want to see followed in the wake of ceasefires declared by the Maoists and the government in the Himalayan kingdom.

* Nepal's new government have scrapped all appointments made by King Gyanendra since October 2002, recalling hand-picked ambassadors to key countries such as Britain, India and the United States. "The cabinet meeting Sunday decided to revoke all the appointments made by the king since October 2002," Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat told AFP Sunday.

Far East & Southeast Asia

* Thousands of Indonesian supporters of the Justice and Welfare Party held large protests in Jakarta on Sunday in a show of support for the Hamas-led Palestinian government.

* Two internet cafes in the Chinese city of Hefei were bombed on Friday, with the explosions killing two people and wounding four others.

* On Saturday a bomb exploded in the southern Thai province of Narathiwat, wounding 7 soldiers and sparking a ten minute firefight with militants hiding nearby. Two other bombs were also detonated in the restive Muslim dominated province.

* Three Filipino security forces were killed this weekend in two seperate attacks launched by Communist rebels in the eastern Philippines.

* Malaysia has announced the setting up an international center to fight cyber-terrorism and provide an emergency response to such attacks on the economy or trading system of any country.

* According to the International Crisis Group, wanted Jemaah Islamiyah operative Noordin Mohammed Top has formed his own splinter group called al-Qa'ida for the Malay archipelago.

* Australia will send an additional 240 troops to Afghanistan in July, to work on reconstruction projects in the southern regions of the nation. The deployment will double Australia's military presence in the country.


* Serbian police on Friday arrested two more people on suspicion of helping war crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic, whose capture is a key precondition for Serbia boosting ties with the European Union. This brings to 10 the number of people arrested this year in the hunt for the genocide suspect. Speaking after a meeting in Vienna, Interior Minister Dragan Jocic said "the question of Mladic will be solved very soon."

* In the third report since the announcement of the March 24 ceasefire released by the Spanish Police, it was said that the separatist organization ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna - Basque for "Basque Homeland and Freedom") has ended all its activities in the country.

* Twelve terrorists are headed to Denmark to assassinate the artists behind the controversial caricatures of the prophet Mohammed published in newspaper Jyllands-Posten. According to Danish terrorism expert Lars Erslev Andersen, it is highly unlikely that the terrorists, if they are en route, will ever arrive in Denmark, though he conceded that the threat is certainly unpleasant for those concerned.

* At the Counterterrorism Blog, Lorenzo Vidino asks "Is al Qaeda playing politics in Europe again?" The posts says "attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan have been coordinated in order to put 'pressure on the new Italian government to withdraw its military contingents.'"

* Two suspected members of the renegade Northern Ireland paramilitary group Real IRA have been arrested in the southern Spanish town of Malaga, police in Spain said. The pair, identified only as 32-year-old Thomas Philip C. born in Dublin and Aaron William J, aged 42 and born in Lisburn, were raising funds for their organisation by running contraband cigarettes, a statement from the interior ministry said Sunday.


* Militia loyal to US-backed Somali warlords have launched a campaign to capture or kill Islamic extremists in lawless Somalia, according to officials and diplomats familiar with the covert operation. Washington is bankrolling the hunt as part of its war on terrorism to prevent new attacks in east Africa, halt training of foreign fighters in Somalia and curb "creeping Talibanisation" in the anarchic nation, they said.

* Sudan risks becoming a war zone once again if a peace treaty proposed by the African Union to end the three year conflict in Darfur is not fully implemented by Khartoum, analysts say. Regional observers argue that a lack of political will to implement the treaty by Khartoum, already accused of reneging on promises from a previous agreement between North and South, could prove "disastrous" for the country.

* Khartoum has indicated it may be ready to accept UN peacekeepers taking over from African Union troops in Darfur following a peace deal between the government and the main rebel movement. The announcement on Sunday coincided with a visit to Darfur by UN envoy Jan Egeland, who is the first high-ranking UN official to visit the war-torn region since a peace deal was signed Friday in Abuja. "The government will assess whether or not it will need the assistance of foreign troops and it may decide to ask for a UN deployment," foreign ministry spokesman Jamal Ibrahim said. "But such a decision is the prerogative of the government... What is sure is that no foreign forces will come to Sudan without the consent of the government.

* Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, may be thrown into chaos and instability if plans to extend the tenure of President Olusegun Obasanjo beyond 2007 succeed, politicians and analysts said. The Nigerian parliament, the National Assembly, this week began debating a package of constitutional reforms which would allow Obasanjo to run for a third term in office.

* A United Nations aid worker has been shot and wounded in eastern Chad. A man in military fatigues shot the 37-year-old Spanish woman, a Unicef employee, in the town of Abeche and made off with her jeep, witnesses said.

* Uganda's army has said it had killed at least 14 rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebel group in fresh clashes this week after a two-month lull. It said the fatalities, including three rebel commanders, came as the military stepped up operations against the LRA in northern Uganda, where the rebels have waged a nearly 20-year war against the government in Kampala.

The Global War

* The top legal adviser to Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state, has urged European Union governments to help Washington refute claims that hundreds of CIA flights used European airspace and airports to transport detainees to countries in which they may face torture. John Bellinger was reacting to claims by a European parliament investigation that hundreds of CIA flights have crossed the Continent – a process it linked to the practice of “rendition” or extra-legal abduction.

* A Pentagon research team monitors more than 5,000 jihadist Web sites, focusing daily on the 25 to 100 most hostile and active, defense officials say. The team includes 25 linguists, who cover multiple dialects of the Arabic language and provide reports on events sparking anger on extremist Web sites, Dan Devlin, a Pentagon public diplomacy specialist, said Thursday.

* The makers of combat video games have unwittingly become part of a global propaganda campaign by Islamic militants against the United States, US Defence officals say. Tech-savvy militants from al Qaeda and other groups have modified video war games so that US troops play the role of bad guys in running gunfights against heavily armed Islamic radical heroes, US Defence Department official and contractors told the US Congress.

* In an interview with, Dr. Walid Phares talks about his book Future Jihad.

* US Central Command chief General John Abizaid held talks with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf about the "war on terror" and also met senior military officials. Pakistani military spokesman Major General Shaukat Sultan said Abizaid was on a routine visit to Pakistan, a major US ally in the global fight against terrorism.

* A top U.S. counterterrorism official said Saturday that parts of Pakistan are a "safe haven" for militants and Osama bin Laden was more likely to be hiding there than in Afghanistan. Henry Crumpton, the U.S. ambassador in charge of counterterrorism, lauded Pakistan for arresting "hundreds and hundreds" of al Qaeda figures but said it needed to do more.

* Unrest in Africa. Mideast insurgency and terrorism. Iran's nuclear brinkmanship. Russian pressure politics. South American resource nationalism. Piece by piece, the global energy puzzle reveals a bleak horizon for a world frantically searching for secure oil and gas supplies. Concerns over Iran — the world's fourth-largest oil producer — have been the prime factor recently in driving crude prices to record levels and, combined with tight global refining capacity, for pushing U.S. gasoline pump prices above $3 a gallon in many places.

* Islamic scholars will meet in Qatar next week to draw up a fatwa, obliging the Muslim faithful to help the internationally isolated Palestinian government headed by Hamas.

Thanks for reading! If you found something here you want to blog about yourself (and we hope you do), all we ask is that you do as we do and offer a Hat Tip hyperlink to today's "Winds of War". If you think we missed something important, use the Comments section to let us know. For ongoing tips, email "MondayWindsOfWar", over here

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Terror networks

In his book Understanding Terror Networks, Marc Sagemen argues that the global jihad can be explained as arising out of social networks, and not as a movement spun purely out of ideology. Sagemen writes on page 171:

In conclusion, the final shape of the global Salafi jihad consists of four major clusters surrounded by innumerable islands consisting of cliques and singletons of potential candidates.

Family and friends provide the reinforcement that builds bonds between terrorists, not merely the desire to please one's god.

This fits with a document I linked to before, a report by Michael Taarnby which was funded by the Danish Ministry of Justice and published in January 2005. (It can be read here in PDF.)

This document looks at terrorist recruiting in Europe, and recruiting cells there operate by forming social networks.

Instead of a top-down process where the terrorist organisation actively and aggressively searches for new members, it was a bottom-up process of young people volunteering to join the organisation. Many wanted to join but didn’t know how to get in touch with the right people. Joining a terrorist organisation was often a chance phenomenon (Sageman 2004). Formal affiliation with the Jihad appears to have been a group phenomenon, with friends deciding to join the Jihad together rather than as isolated individuals. On a global scale this self-organising structure resulted in a profusion of multiple parallel networks, all of them loosely connected. These networks were defined by the characteristics of its members, certain important localities, and specific procedures.

Taarnby cites Sageman's book, and says "there is no evidence of a top-down recruitment programme in the global Jihad." Rather, terrorists find themselves alienated from civil society and begin to group together in similarly minded clusters.

This example of a recruitment process contained the following elements:

* Individual alienation and marginalisation
* Spiritual quest
* Process of radicalisation
* Meeting and associating with likeminded people
8 Gradual seclusion and cell formation
* Acceptance of violence as legitimate political means
* Connection with a gatekeeper in the know
* Going operational

The amorphous nature of these networks makes them difficult to penetrate. How do you get between two closely bound nodes?

Michele Bachmann wins the 6th CD endorsement

I wasn't able to be in Monticello, but accounts of the proceedings can be found at Residual Forces, Psycmeistr and SCSU Scholars.

As the Strib mentioned in its account of the convention, the convincing win is a sign of the power religious conservatives are capable of wielding in the Republican party, and it's also a sign of how these same religious conservatives often feel marginalized and taken for granted by their own party.

Bachmann's supporters have been so committed to the process of winning this endorsement because they feel that at last, here is one of us, one who understands us, who doesn't mock what we believe, who doesn't hold their nose when asking for our vote. They went to their caucus, they put themselves forward as delegates because they were excited. Bachmann was someone they were thrilled to support. Period. Not, as they have so insultingly been called, because they were robots. Because they had a candidate who could unleash their potential.

Already the cries of foul and unfairness have been raised. Some by good people, some by people who still don't understand a core component of the Republican Party.

The Strib also got something else right about Bachmann's campaign.

In the end, Bachmann simply out-organized her adversaries and showed up with the most troops.

"She ran a perfect endorsement contest," said Knoblach delegate Joel Carlson, a lobbyist and former legislator. "At my caucus, there were fewer party regulars and a huge turnout of church-based social conservatives" who came out for Bachmann.

Michele Bachmann is now running for the US Congress.


Saturday, May 06, 2006

Gloom, despair, and agony on me

Deep, dark depression, excessive misery...

Today is Birthday Number...

To celebrate my remaining minutes before they put me in the cold ground, I'll put the blog aside till Sunday.

(A very Happy Birthday to Dad and Kris, as well!)

Friday, May 05, 2006


Uruguayan president Tabare Vazquez met with President Bush yesterday. Vazquez is part of the left-ward shift in South America. The talks yesterday involved free-trade discussions. The US is Uruguay's biggest trade partner.

The topic will be one of increasing importance, as leftist governments continue to push policies not always in line with US goals.

For instance, Bolivia recently announced it was nationalizing its natural gas industry.

Uruguay is a founding member of Mercosur, a free-trade alliance that includes Argentina and Brazil. However, Uruguay is in a bitter dispute with Argentina over pulp mills, and Uruguay is contemplating leaving the alliance.

As a side note, I noticed an interesting dichotomy in the State Dept's information on Uruguay. On its background page about Uruguay, the State Dept says this about Uruguay's coooperation in the war on terrorism:

Uruguay cooperates with the U.S. on law enforcement matters such as regional efforts to fight drug trafficking and terrorism. It has also been very active in human rights issues.

However, in the recently released 2005 Report on Terrorism (PDF), the State Dept said this:

The Government of Uruguay allocates insufficient resources and lacks the political will to play a more significant role in the global war on terrorism.

Most Uruguayans, including officials responsible for counterterrorism and emergency
preparedness, do not believe terrorism will ever directly affect Uruguay. Newly inaugurated President Tabare Vazquez resumed diplomatic relations with Cuba -- a U.S. - designated state sponsor of terrorism -- that the previous government had severed. Uruguay maintains diplomatic and commercial relations with Iran -- another state sponsor of terrorism -- and reacted slowly to the Iranian president’s statements calling for Israel's destruction.

DPW eyes Gwadar

I wrote about the port of Gwadar here. This port is in Balochistan (SW Pakistan), and is in a strategic location, right where the Gulf of Oman opens up into the Arabian Sea. Pakistan hopes to develop this port into very profitable enterprise. Oil coming out of the Persian Gulf could be shipped here, and then transported overland to places like China. Also, oil and gas coming out of Central Asia could be brought here and exported.

China is putting hundreds of millions of dollars into Gwadar, part of China's effort to develop a string of ports around SE Asia.

Dubai Ports World, now famous in this country as part of the political flap that arose when DPW was to be given management control of six ports in the US, is competing to manage the Gwadar port.

Chairman of Dubai Ports World, Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, who met President Pervez Musharraf on Thursday, expressed a strong hope for management of facilities at the strategic Gwadar deep sea port and development of infrastructure in the southern port city and elsewhere in the country. "Gwadar deep sea port is a viable project as it has a major role in serving as a corridor for energy, cargo and services between Central Asia, the Gulf and other surrounding regions," he told reporters.

Sulayem described the President's response to DP World's interest as very encouraging and hoped for conclusion of a deal in this respect "very soon."

"Gwadar has all the natural advantages that you will not have anywhere else," he stated.

During the meeting, Musharraf informed the UAE business leader that the government would facilitate foreign investment in the country and assured that their business would enjoy legal protection. "An enabling environment has been put in place to attract both foreign and local investment, which will enjoy an equal playing field," he said.

The Pakistani leader vowed to make Pakistan a hub of regional trade and added that the country is set to serve as a commerce and energy corridor between the Middle East, Central Asia, South Asia and the fast-growing Western parts of China.

President Musharraf spoke of the pivotal location of Gwadar as a gateway among these regions and said Pakistan is resolved to run the deep sea port on modern lines.

The Chairman of DP World saw tremendous economic opportunities in Pakistan at the back of a vibrant growth in industrial and other sectors. "The international investors have great confidence in Pakistan's economic prospects and investment environment and we want to participate in the economic growth of Pakistan," he said.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Courting friends and allies

Vice President Cheney was in Vilnius today and addressed the Vilnius Conference 2006. Part of the goal of the conference was to discuss the relationship between Eastern Europe, and Russia and the rest of Europe. For instance, the fact the Russian-German pipeline bypasses Eastern Europe causes concern that Russia may try to increase its leverage over the Eastern European nations. In diplospeak,

The enlarged EU and NATO -- the third element of the current European architecture -- took a proactive stance by offering various partnership instruments to their eastern neighbors. Nonetheless, it seems that developing an outreaching ‘eastern’ policy remains our common challenge. It is already obvious that democracies emerging in a vast region from Eastern Europe to South Caucasus need much more than one-size-fits-all European Neighborhood Policy. The EU and NATO approach towards this region has to facilitate and, eventually, consolidate its democratic transformation. On the other hand, while paving the ways for new forms of interaction, the EU and NATO cannot ignore their internal dynamics and must respond to their domestic needs.

This new post-enlargement situation in Europe has raised a number of questions which need to be answered if concerted action outside Europe’s current borders is a real target. To have these answers Europe needs today an in-depth discussion about the principles of European coexistence. Therefore, Lithuania and Poland willco-host a conference in Vilnius on May 4-5, 2006, which will bring together Heads of State from around 15 countries, as well as the EU and NATO leadership.

Cheney went there to express solidarity with our friends in Eastern Europe. Cheney was somewhat blunt in his message to Russia.

During his speech Vice President Cheney said Russia was backsliding on democracy and urged it to stop using energy supplies for "blackmail."

(The entire text of his speech can be found here.)

From there, Cheney is off to Kazakhstan. Here, too, there are strategic goals. The US will continue to seek ways to counter the growing influence of alliances such as the SCO, which I wrote about here.

The PINR puts it this way:

Cheney's visit is additionally significant because he will also be traveling to Kazakhstan; he will then move to meet the leaders of Adriatic countries Croatia, Albania and Macedonia. In fact, the three stops of his journey are part of a single geostrategic plan.

The U.S. is working to accelerate Eastern Europe's integration into the E.U. as a tool to enhance Euro-Atlantic political and financial integration. Washington is also courting Astana, pushing for an enhanced cooperation between Kazakhstan and N.A.T.O.

These U.S. initiatives will increase Russian-American geopolitical rivalry. In Central Asia, U.S. moves in Kazakhstan aim at containing the influence of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (S.C.O.) and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (C.S.T.O.), thus countering the growing Russian-Chinese regional cooperation. In Eastern Europe, Washington's interests are both geostrategic and political since the U.S. needs a strong and extended Euro-Atlantic alliance to keep its status of the world's main power.

One wonders what preparations are taking place

According to Regnum, on April 25, Iranian National Security Secretary Larijani said US recon teams are conducting surveillance of Iran, using Azerbaijan and Turkmen territories

"Reconnaissance units are acting in Azerbaijan, their activity is aimed against the Islamic Republic of Iran," Secretary of Iranian Supreme National Security Council Ali Larijani has said in an interview to Egyptian Al Ahram newspaper, reports APA news agency. Larijani noted that US special services use Azerbaijani and Turkmen territories against Iran. According to him, in case a military operation is launched, Iran can strike in response the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline and oil facilities in Azerbaijan.

Iran has already spoken with Azerbaijan about not letting its territory be used for attacks against Iran.

Last week, the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliev, was in Washington for meetings with President Bush. One wonders what was discussed behind closed doors. The Washington Post reported:

President Bush told the president of Azerbaijan on Friday that his oil-rich country has "a very important role to play" in guaranteeing energy security around the world. The two leaders also discussed Iran, an area of potential difference.

Bush said he assured President Ilham Aliev that the United States wants to resolve a crisis over Iran's nuclear program through diplomacy. Aliev has made it clear that he would not allow his country to be used for any operations against its neighbor.

Azerbaijan is understandably reluctant to publicly antagonize Iran, as they share a border, and as threatened above, Iran could strike back. However, there is a significant Azeri population in Iran, and not all happily support the mullahs. Again from Regnum in February,

The US representatives in Baku believe that Azerbaijan may help the United States in overthrowing the Iranian regime. “Azerbaijan considers the militarist political Islam as a threat to itself,” an American diplomat says in an interview to Jerusalem Post. Another US official says that ethnic Azeris may lead a coup d’etat in Iran. There are as many as 20 mln Azeris in Iran — over ¼ of the country’s population. The American diplomats say that the US is on excellent terms with Azeri President Ilham Aliyev. Azerbaijan provided its air space for American aircraft during the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I'll see your Great Prophet...

...and raise you an Eagle Resolve.

At the beginning of April, Iran held military exercises called "Great Prophet", which was mostly designed to rattle sabres and show off weapons and make the West think twice about attacking Iran.

This week saw the beginning of military exercises, called "Eagle Resolve", involving the US and Gulf Cooperation Council states.

A military exercise, with the participation of multinational forces, was launched in Qatar. Code-named ‘Eagle Resolve 2006’, the exercise will continue until May 18.

Besides the Qatari Armed Forces, military units from the US, Pakistan, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and GCC countries will take part in the campaign.

Brig Gen Abdullah Jamaan al-Hamad told reporters yesterday that there would be military movements on Doha streets during May 8-12.

"There will be troop movements in most of the Doha areas and the city’s residents may hear some strange sounds," Brig Gen al-Hamad said.

Regarding the nature and objective of the exercise, he indicated that it would include a mock drill on how to deal with a catastrophe, which may be either natural or man-made.

"Participating forces will be requested to help in dealing with such a catastrophe," the official said.

Asked about the role of the American forces, he said the US Army has a wide experience in dealing with such emergencies "and we hope that we can benefit from it".

This is a little sabre rattling too. The Gulf States have to live in Iran's shadow, and would suffer if the flow of oil through the Persian Gulf was disrupted. So, in part, this is just to let Iran know that the mostly Arab states in this exercise are taking notice of Iran's belligerence. (Just in case Iran failed to note the message in the name itself.)

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

An interview with Mir Azaad Khan Baloch

I conducted an online interview with Mir Azaad Khan Baloch, who graciously answered my questions. My questions and the answers are presented here unedited.

Mir Azaad Khan Baloch is with the Government of Balochistan in Exile, and is known there as the Secretary General. The blog has insightful posts on the Baloch independence movement, and has links to other informative sites.

For those unfamiliar with Balochistan, it is a province in southwest Pakistan. It shares a border with Afghanistan and Iran, and its coast is on the Arabian Sea. It is a dry, mountainous region that comprises about 42% of Pakistan's land area, but has only about 5% of the population. It is rich in natural resources, and Balochs say the rest of Pakistan is benefiting from these resources more than the Baloch people.

Pakistan has existed as a country in more or less its present form only since the British Partition in the 1940s. Balochistan was not historically associated with other provinces as a nation, and has retained an independent stance. In fact, the Baloch people also live in Iran and Afghanistan. There has been conflict between Balochistan and Pakistan over the years, and the current independence movement has flared up again starting in December 2005.

Here, Mir Azaad Khan Baloch sheds some light on the Baloch point of view, and what is behind the independence movement.

Q: What is the Government of Balochistan (GOB) in Exile, and what are you doing to bring about an independent Balochistan?

GOB (Exile) is composed of a loose group of Baloch nationalists from around the world who are structuring a skeleton for a sovereign Balochistan state so we can have a functional government right off the bat when we are liberated. Also, we are positioning GOB (Exile) to interact with member countries of the United Nations. Our temporary office is located in the Jewish quarters of Jerusalem, and Jewish Baloch nationals financially support us. We are incorporating the Balochi culture, and are basing our system of government on "Democracy, Liberalism and Secularism". (This is a unique combination in a region where Islamic fundamentalism is gaining a strong foothold.)

Our goal is to utilize the power of the Internet to liberate Balochistan. As our first step online, we started a blog ( ). Our next move is to establish a fully functional website, which is presently under construction. Furthermore, we would like to gain grass root support from the global community similar to the support Darfur is currently receiving.

Q: Has Pakistan acknowledged the existence of the Government of Balochistan in Exile in any way?

A: We launched GOB (Exile) on April 18, 2005. There is no official acknowledgment from either the Government of Iran or Pakistan. However, Senator Sanaullah Baloch has heard of us, and we believe that once he knows of our objectives, he'll be very supportive.

Q: How does the Government of Balochistan in Exile view the Balochistan National Party and Senator Sanullah Baloch? Do they play a role in the independence movement?

A: We admire the courage of all Baloch nationalist parties in Iran and Pakistan. We are proud to have sincere politicians like Senator Sanullah Baloch who, against all odds, voices the genuine concerns of the Baloch people to the rulers of Pakistan. Anyone who participates in any type of activity that supports the Baloch concerns is playing a very important role in the independence movement of Balochistan. We welcome people from any ethnicity, country, and religion to get involved in liberating Balochistan.

Q: There are a number of different tribes in Balochistan. How do they relate to each other?

A: The tribal Sardar (chieftain) is a hereditary position, and a Sardar heads each tribe in Balochistan. The Sardar and heads of clans within the tribe constitute a council that settles all type of issues, including those of war and peace. Inter tribal and clan disputes can sometimes escalate into arms conflict. The Pakistani intelligence agencies are known for creating such disputes between Baloch tribes and clans to keep them engaged in blood feuds (Pakistani government's divide and rule policy).

Q: Does Government of Balochistan in Exile interact with the tribes in Balochistan, and if so, how?

A: We have interacted with individuals from different Baloch tribes via email.

Q: Three of the main tribes in Balochistan are Marri, Bugti and Mengal.
Are these tribes united in the independence movement, and does the Government of Balochistan in Exile interact with their Sardars?

A: The Baloch independence movement is evolving. At the beginning, the three tribes were not united. But, the movement has picked up momentum and not only the three main tribes have formed a united front, but Baloch from all social and economic strata are joining the movement in droves to fight the "Baloch War of Independence". To date, the GOB (Exile) has not interacted with any of the tribal Sardars.

Q: There is a Pashtun population in Balochistan. How do Balochs and Pashtuns in Balochistan relate to each other?

A: The Baloch and Pashtun culture compliment each other. They have amicably interacted with each other for centuries and have learned to live peacefully. Occasional disputes are subdued through intervention by the elders and chieftains of each group. In fact, inter-marriages between the Pashtun and Baloch are quite common.

Q: Do the Taliban operate in Balochistan, and how do Balochs view the Taliban in general?

A: Yes, the Taliban are supported by the Pakistani intelligence agencies to operate in Balochistan. The Baloch views the Taliban presence in Balochistan negatively as they consider it encroachment of Baloch territory and marginalizing of Baloch political standing.

Q: How do Balochs view the unrest in Waziristan? Do Balochs support the tribes there against the Pakistani government?

A: Waziristan is topographically separated from the Baloch population centers. There is no interaction between the Baloch and the Pashtuns of Waziristan. The unrest in Waziristan has nothing to do with Balochistan.

The Baloch are already engaged in a war against the Pakistani government forces, and they are not in a position to support the tribes in Waziristan.

The facts are that after the fall of Tora Bora, Osama bin Laden, Ayman al Zawahiri, and the Taliban remnants escaped Afghanistan with the help of the Pakistani intelligence agencies. The Pakistani authorities provided safe haven to these people within Pakistan in the Waziristan region; and to this day, they are still under Pakistani government protection.

The military controlled dictatorship in Pakistan is deceiving the United States into believing that the Pakistanis are the "key ally in the fight against terrorism". The truth is that that the Pakistani government is committing "State Terrorism" against it's own people by bombing villages and killing innocent civilians in Waziristan, and then claiming that they have killed terrorists to appease the Americans. The present government in Pakistan is well aware that if they eliminate the real terrorists, then their days to rule Pakistan are numbered. Hence, to prolong their military rule, the Pakistani military has waged a proxy war against the United States and is providing refuge to known terrorists.

Evidence shows that the world's most dangerous terrorist organization is the Pakistani armed forces and it's intelligence agencies.

Q: Could you describe how Pakistan's government has mistreated Balochistan and the people there?

In 1948, Pakistan used military force to invade and occupy Balochistan.
Ever since then, numerous Baloch insurgencies have erupted, but they were ruthlessly crushed by the well-equipped Pakistani armed forces resulting in deaths of thousands of Baloch freedom fighters and non-combatants. Balochistan is governed as a colony, and its people are treated with suspicion by the Pakistani government. Currently, there are over 6,000 Baloch activists lingering in Pakistani prisons for simply voicing their concern about the state of affairs in Balochistan.

During 58 years of Pakistani occupation, Balochistan was neglected and faced extreme under-development. Lack of infrastructure and basic necessities turned Balochistan into one of the least developed regions in the world! Natural resources are mined from Balochistan, but the proceeds are reinvested in other parts of Pakistan. Employment opportunities within Balochistan are being offered to non-Baloch people.

Q: The Baloch insurgents have targeted bridges, mined roads, and attacked pipelines and water facilities. Is the goal to hurt Pakistan's economy? Is there a concern that Balochistan might also suffer if economic activity is hindered because of the unrest?

A: The Baloch insurgents are Freedom Fighters like the Forces Françaises de l'Intérieur (French Resistance Army) during World War II. We are waged a “Guerilla Military Action” to liberate Balochistan by attacking military forces, blowing up supply lines, destroying infrastructure, and damaging anything and everything that will incapacitate the Pakistani government and its armed forces. One of our objectives is certainly to hurt Pakistan's economy. And, we do realize that our actions affect the economy of Balochistan too. But, the beneficiaries of Balochistan’s economic activities are mostly non-Baloch people. So, in essence, the Baloch are not losing much; it's the colonizers of Balochistan who are hurting the most.

Q: Can the independence movement succeed without outside assistance? Is the movement strong enough to force Pakistan to give Balochistan its freedom?

A: This question is debatable. In the past, various Baloch insurgencies didn't succeed because the Baloch didn't receive outside assistance.

This time around, it's different. Expatriate Baloch are vocal and they are internationalizing the Baloch independence movement. Baloch from all over the world are providing moral and/or financial support to their brethrens on the battlefield.

The American Special Forces are working alongside with the Baloch to destabilize the Iranian government in order to neutralize their nuclear threat to global peace. Pakistan is also a rogue country that has proliferated nuclear technology to Iran, Libya, and North Korea. The Baloch are positioned to destabilize Pakistan so the Americans can dismantle the Pakistani nuclear arms.

In 1998, Pakistan conducted six nuclear tests in the Chaghi district of Balochistan. The Baloch nationalists were the only people in Pakistan who opposed the nuclear armaments and nuclear tests in Balochistan.

Q: What support would the Balochs like from the United States?

A: United States is already doing a lot for the Baloch. I've personally met congresswomen Shelly Barkley (Nevada) and Sheila Jackson-Lee (Texas) and informed them of the crisis in Balochistan. Prior to President Rice's visit to Pakistan, Congressman Thomas G. Tancredo (Colorado) wrote a letter to Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, to inform her of the crisis in Balochistan and to brief the President of the situation.

And recently, the US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Richard Boucher, declined General Pervez Musharraf request to declare the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) as a terrorist organization.

We would like the United States government to declare and enforce a "No-Fly Zone" over Balochistan, similar to the one imposed on Saddam-controlled Iraq over Kurdish areas. Furthermore, we want the American public to support the Baloch independence movement by meeting with their State’s political representative in Congress and convincing them to pass legislature to assist the Balochistan to become a democratic, liberal and secular country in the Middle East.

Previous Posts

More unrest in SE Iran
The growing civil war in Baluchistan
Roundup of events in Balochistan
Iran hits back
The Port of Gwadar
Roundup of events in Balochistan
The Government of Balochistan in Exile
The toll in Balochistan
Why Balochistan is up in arms
Why Pakistan wants to hold on to Balochistan
Roundup of events in Balochistan

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Roundup of events in Balochistan

As before, these updates are from the South Asia Terrorism Portal.

April 18

Insurgents are reported to have blown up a pipeline of the Pir Koh gas plant in Balochistan, causing suspension of gas supply for some time on April 17. According to Dawn, the tribesmen tied explosives around the main pipeline head and ignited it by firing rockets.

Separately, at least 19 rockets were fired on Frontier Corps check-posts at Sangsilla, Chashma and Goltrakri in the Dera Bugti district on the same day. Official sources said that nobody was hurt in the attacks.

Further, a heavy exchange of fire between security forces (SFs) and armed insurgents was reported from Dera Bugti and adjoining areas on April 17. Chief of the Jamhoori Watan Party, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, said that SFs had fired scores of rockets and mortar shells in different areas of Dera Bugti town and its outskirts, resulting in a large number of casualties. "At least four ambulances were seen taking the injured to Sui from Dera Bugti on Monday morning," he told reporters on the phone.

April 19

According to Dawn, gas supply to vast areas of the Mastung and Kalat districts in Balochistan province was suspended after a gas pipeline was blown up near Mastung on April 18. Official sources informed that a powerful explosive device had been planted under the pipeline supplying gas to the two districts, two kilometers away from Mastung Cadet Collage. They said that after the blast, the pipeline caught fire and was later controlled after stopping supply from main pipeline.

Meanwhile, a Frontier Corps soldier, Mohammad Israel, was injured when he stepped on a landmine in the Pir Koh area near Sui in the Dera Bugti district.

Further, insurgents are reported to have fired two rockets targeting a Frontier Constabulary check-post in Kohlu town. However, no casualty was reported. Rockets were also fired at a telecommunication microwave station near Nushki town on April 18-night, official sources said. The rockets hit a solar energy unit at the station and destroyed it.

Elsewhere in the province, gun-battles between security forces and armed insurgents were reported from the Karmo Wadh area of Kohlu district and the Sangsila and Chashma areas of Dera Bugti district. However, no casualty or other damage was reported.

April 20

Unidentified men on April 19 killed two soldiers, identified as Fraz and Muhammad Murad, in the Awran area of Quetta, capital of Balochistan province, according to Daily Times.

Meanwhile, suspected insurgents fired eight rockets on security check posts in Dera Bugti and Sui. However, no loss of life or injuries was reported.

April 21

Insurgents reportedly fired rockets targeting paramilitary check-posts in the Sangsela Chashma and Ghori Nullah areas of Dera Bugti district in Balochistan on April 20. According to Daily Times, unidentified people also fired at check-posts in the Kahan Karmode area of Kohlu district. However, there was no loss of life or property.

Meanwhile, a soldier was injured in a landmine blast in the Talango area of Kohlu district.

Elsewhere in the province, troops seized three anti-tank landmines from the Pir Koh gas field.

April 22

Insurgents blew up a big railway bridge on the Sibi-Harnai section and destroyed a gas pipeline at Pir Koh in the Balochistan province on April 21. Official sources said armed men had planted powerful bombs under the bridge No 5 in Babar-Kach area and blew it up in the early hours, according to Dawn. It was the second large bridge on Sibi-Harnai section which had been blown up during the last one week.

In another incident, a pipeline supplying gas to the Pir Koh gas plant was blown up in the Mir Hasan area. "It was an 18-inch diameter pipeline supplying gas from wells to the plant," official sources said and added that the gas supply to Pir Koh gas plant had been suspended after the explosion.

Meanwhile, armed insurgents fired an unspecified number of rockets at a check post of the Frontier Corps in the Dera Bugti area. However, no damage was reported. Official sources added that firing was reported from the Karmo-Wadh area of Kahan where a solider was wounded when a landmine exploded.

April 23

Insurgents reportedly blew up a railway bridge near Kari-Dor in Balochistan on April 22, halting train services from the provincial capital Quetta. “Unidentified people have blown up an old bridge near Kari-Dor damaging 10 feet of the track,” said Irfan Gauhar, the Divisional Railway Superintendent in Multan. He said trains from Quetta to Punjab, the Chiltan Express, Balochistan Express, Jaffar Express and Bolan Mail had stopped at various stations. Two bridges at Sibi-Harani section have been blown up in the last three days and railway installations on this section have been attacked 12 times during the last couple of months, according to Daily Times.

April 24

The main pipeline supplying gas to the Loti plant was blown up on April 23 while security forces (SFs) foiled a missile attack at the Sui plant recovering 11 Russian-made missiles, according to Dawn. Official sources said armed insurgents blew up the pipeline suspending supply to the main plant in the Loti area of Dera Bugti district. The 18-inch pipeline reportedly supplies gas to the plant from well No 1. It was the second pipeline in the area that had been blown up in the last 48 hours.

Three people, including an alleged terrorist, were injured in a bomb blast at a bus stand in Quetta, the provincial capital, on April 23. Police said the blast occurred as the accused, identified as Mohammad Saeed Khilji, tried to enter a bus. "The accused is an Afghan national and belongs to the Babul area in Afghanistan," Balochistan Inspector-General Police Choudhury Mohammad Yaqoob said.

In another incident, two Frontier Corps (FC) personnel were wounded when their vehicle hit a landmine in Sangsilla on April 22-night. On the same night, a bomb exploded at the Harnai railway station, destroying the portion of a wall and damaging windowpanes of the building.

Further, insurgents fired five rockets at FC check-posts in the Sangsilla and Dera Bugti areas. However, all devices landed away from the intended targets. Separately, an exchange of fire between SF personnel and the insurgents was reported from the Ghori Nullah, Pahtar Nullah and Chashma areas of Dera Bugti district. However, no loss of life or injuries was reported.

Elsewhere in the province, SFs seized 11 missiles fitted with batteries and timers from a mountain in Tegh. "Militants wanted to target the Sui gas plant and cantonment area through these Russian-made surface-to-surface missiles," an official of the Sui administration said.

April 26

A suspected Afghan bomb-maker and four members of his family were killed when an explosive device he was building blew up in their home on the outskirts of Quetta, capital of the Balochistan province, on April 25, according to Daily Times. The man’s wife, mother-in-law, brother and three-year-old son died in the blast, province police chief Chaudhry Mohammad Yaqoob said. His second wife and another son aged 13 were injured and the roof of the house collapsed after the blast, he added. The suspect, Afghan national identified as Kamaluddin, was wanted by police following intelligence reports that some saboteurs had entered Pakistan for subversive activities, Yaqoob said.

Meanwhile, suspected insurgents blew up railway bridge No 31 in the Babarkatch area of Harnai destroying a 136-feet section of the rail track.

Further, the insurgents also fired seven rockets at security check posts in the Kohlu area on April 25, but no loss of life or property was reported. Separately, a landmine blast in Pir Koh damaged a water tank.

April 28

A heavy exchange of fire was reported between security forces and insurgents in the Lop area, while a convoy of Frontier Corps (FC) escaped a powerful bomb explosion in the Chamasha area of Dera Bugti district in Balochistan province on April 27. According to Dawn, tribesmen opened indiscriminate fire at a security forces checkpoint in the Lop area. They also fired five rockets at two checkpoints in the Chamasha and Sangsilla areas. However, no casualty was reported in these incidents. Further, a powerful bomb planted on the roadside exploded as an FC convoy was passing through the Chamasha area. No damage was reported. Separately, the troops defused four anti-tank mines planted at different places in Dera Bugti.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) stopped access to four Baloch websites carrying material about Baloch nationalists, BBC reported on April 27. The PTA cited "misinformation" as the reason for banning the websites. The banned sites are:,, and

April 29

Two security force personnel were reportedly wounded in a landmine explosion at Sangsilla in the Dera Bugti district of Balochistan province, while insurgents blew up a pipeline suspending gas supply to the Pir Koh plant on April 28. According to Dawn, a vehicle on patrol in Sangsilla was blown up by the landmine, injuring Frontier Corps (FC) personnel Zeeshan and Fahim. However, tribal sources claimed that two FC men had been killed in the blast. They also claimed that four FC personnel were injured in a clash with tribesmen in the Qambar Lango area.

Insurgents are also reported to have fired rockets at FC checkpoints in the Loti, Ghori Nullah, Gundoi, Chamasha and Sui areas. However, no casualty or damage was reported.

In another incident, a bomb explosion was reported from Shahi Bazaar in the Kalat township. However, it caused no casualty.

May 1

Police in Quetta, capital of Balochistan province, have arrested two Afghans suspected of planning to carry out suicide bombings, reported Aaj television. The two men were arrested on the basis of information secured from another suspected suicide bomber, Syed Muhammad, the channel quoted Quetta’s Senior Superintendent of Police (Operations) Ghulam Muhammad Dogar as saying. Muhammad was arrested while attempting to blow himself up on Quetta’s Circular Road a few days ago.

Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry has placed five Baloch leaders on the Exit Control List (ECL), said Baloch leader Amanullah Kinrani on April 30. Dera Bugti District Nazim Kazim Bugti, Kohlu District Nazim Ali Gul Mari, Member of the National Assembly Abdur Rauf Mengal, Nawab Akbar Bugti’s nephew Sher Ali and Amanullah Kinrani, the Jamhoori Watan Party’s information secretary, have been put on the ECL.

May 2

Two paramilitary soldiers were injured when insurgents opened fire on security forces from the mountains near the Sangsila area in Dera Bugti district on April 30-night, according to The News.

Insurgents also fired three rockets from the mountains targeting a Frontier Corps (FC) check-post at Jandran in the Kohlu district of Balochistan province on May 1. However, the rockets missed the target and no one was hurt.

In another incident, the Quetta-Zehdan rail service was suspended after insurgents blew up the railway line near Naushki. However, no loss of life or injuries was reported. The outlawed Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) claimed responsibility for the attack.

Meanwhile, eight-year-old Syed Muhammad was injured in a landmine explosion in Bakadh. Troops also found and defused three landmines planted near a natural gas field in the Pirkoh area on May 1, according to Daily Times.

Also, Pakistan's government has put in place punishments for officers who refuse to serve in Balochistan.

The government has decided that officers who refuse to serve in Balochistan, after the approval of an incentive package by the prime minister, will be penalised. Sources told Daily Times that the prime minister had also approved the recommendation of the Establishment Division that officers of the All Pakistan Unified Group face disciplinary action if they refuse to serve in Balochistan. Sources said that the major punishment these defiant officials might face would be demotion. The Establishment Division has also recommended they be made officers on special duty for a certain duration. Sources said that the government had decided that a refusal to serve in Balochistan might lead to suspension of the officer and a departmental inquiry. Sources said that 25 officers who had refused to serve in Balochistan were later transferred to the province last month. These officers told the Establishment Division that they would not serve in Balochistan because “there is hatred against the centre and non-Baloch in the province”.

Previous Posts

More unrest in SE Iran
The growing civil war in Baluchistan
Roundup of events in Balochistan
Iran hits back
The Port of Gwadar
Roundup of events in Balochistan
The Government of Balochistan in Exile
The toll in Balochistan
Why Balochistan is up in arms
Why Pakistan wants to hold on to Balochistan

Troubled Kashmir

The Religion of Pieces continues to astonish for its sheer brutality.

Unidentified gunmen shot dead 22 Hindus, including a nine-year old girl, in two villages of Doda district in Jammu and Kashmir late Sunday night. In a separate incident, 12 Hindus kidnapped on Sunday were found dead.

The gunmen killed the Hindus after dragging them out of their houses. The injured included a women and her daughter.

Local journalist Haq Nawaz Nehru, who alerted journalists in Srinagar and Jammu late Sunday night, told Daily Times from Doda on the phone that gunmen wearing combat fatigues had reached the remote hamlets of Panjdobi and Thava and ordered villagers to come out of their houses. “They were herded to the house of a local village head, where the gunmen opened fire at them, killing 22 people on the spot,” he said.

Senior police officials have rushed to the twin villages. SP Vaid, the inspector general of police (Jammu), said that Lashkar-e-Taiba (LT) militants were responsible for the massacre. VK Duggal, the union home secretary, told reporters that leads suggested the involvement of a “particular outfit”, but refused to name the outfit. A senior security official said that Lashkar had over 350 militants operating in Doda district and 90 percent of them were foreigners.

Apparently Germany has paid another ransom

And ransom money in Iraq often goes to funding terrorist activities. (You may also recall the Susanne Osthoff story.)

From this account:

Two German engineers held hostage in Iraq since January have been released and are safe, the foreign minister said Tuesday.

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the men — Thomas Nitzschke and Rene Braeunlich, of Leipzig — were in a safe place in Iraq and were being cared for by German officials there. They were expected to return to Germany sometime Wednesday, Steinmeier said.

"Based on initial information, both men are unharmed and in stable condition," Steinmeier said in a statement.

Nitzschke and Braeunlich were kidnapped Jan. 24 from an Iraqi government-owned detergent plant in Beiji, 155 miles north of Baghdad. Their employer, Leipzig-based Cryotec Anlagenbau AG, has a commercial relationship with that company.

24 Day 5 2:00 AM - 3:00 AM

Oh, how gauche. Can you believe the graphic violence warning is wearing that mauve strapless gown with that lime green handbag? (And was this warning really necessary this week? What was violent, let alone graphic?)

The recaps return us to the pleasant company of the Bickersons. Martha blusters this day has been one giant lie and Logan makes her SICK! Henderson driving around, because we can never get enough of that. Jack and his Elven Hood of Baggage Handling (+2 to Disguise rolls) getting into the plane.

As this episode teeters on the edge of night, Chloe is busy packing up, not quite understanding what's going on.

Miles will set up for a remote debrief, but Karen wants the interrogation to be in the Situation Room. Miles almost looks crestfallen.

Karen chats with Bill. She wants Chloe to call her on a "dry channel", 15427. She wants Chloe to call her on an arroyo? A wadi? A wash?

As she's going out the door, Chloe asks "What about the curfew?" What is she worried about? The curfew/roadblocks combo hasn't stopped a flippin' thing so far.

Bill will stay behind and run interference. At this point, we must stop and ask, what in the bloody blue blazes happened to Wayne? He was at Bill's house. Where'd he go? Is he down in Bill's den playing Madden 2005? Surely the writers wouldn't just forget about a main character, would they?

(Speaking of lost characters, Audrey is not in this episode. Nor is Curtis, who has suddenly been turned into an ambulance service, ferrying the wounded back to CTU. And no one seems concerned that the SecDef went over a cliff. And of course, the bank manager is still dead in the cop car, and his poor wife is still tied up in her bedroom. Forgotten and abandoned by this show. And shockingly, no Henderson in this episode. Even though Bierko is now conscious, he's apparently not important to interrogate this hour.)

The "tac team" arrives at Bill's house. They're in suits and ties, and they just walk up to the front door and knock. What kind of tac team is this? All other tac teams have been in full combat gear and set up perimeters and bust down doors and shoot things.

Bill answers the door in a T-shirt, to fake like he's been sound asleep, even though every light in the house is on at 2 in the morning. Bill asks if they have a warrant, but the team barges right in. (Yeah, isn't Bill right? Don't they need some kind of warrant to bust in like that?) They search for all of about 10 seconds before declaring Chloe is gone. One of them looks at the shelves, as if Chloe would be hiding in a cutout pocket in a Nancy Drew mystery. This is obviously the tac team junior varsity. They even fail to notice the guy playing video games in Bill's den.

Bill will only talk to Karen, so Agent Ed will bring him in.

Miles is almost crying he wants a remote interrogation so bad. These voyeuristic leanings hint at something far darker in Miles' soul.

Chloe is hiding somewhere, a parking garage?, as the one and only cop car in LA on curfew patrol drives by. Ah, Chloe is at the hotel where she was supposed to go hang out. She sits down in the bar and pulls out her laptop, which still has the network cable plugged in.

Chloe informs Karen of her new locale, and asks Karen to look up info the diplomatic flight. Karen says it is Flight 520 to Frankfurt.

And then, stock footage of said flight, which is already in the air. Wow, that was fast. Must have vertical takeoff capability.

Back at the hotel bar, Drunky the Guy is hitting on some dame, who says "I don't think so" and walks away. Drunky says "you don't have to go all feminist on me."

Chloe is talking to Jack, whose cell phone works way up there in the middle of Airplane Land. Chloe has found the air marshal, he's sitting in 7A, and his name is George Avila. Chloe will work on figuring out who might have a connection to Henderson.

Jack opens the hatch from the baggage hold, slips up into the cabin, and plunks down in the middle seat right next to Avila. Avila must be thinking "Idiot, the aisle seat is open." And Jack turns into every passenger's worst nightmare, the chatty neighbor. But, Jack is something far worse. He clobbers Avila, apparently with no one noticing, and knocks him out cold. I'm sure Avila would rather have had Jack just knock his seat tray, or pull the back of his seat to get up to go to the bathroom and release it like a slingshot. Jack takes Avila's badge and gun.

They'll study this one at the Air Marshal Academy. Lesson One: Don't tell complete strangers the seat next to you is open.

Going into the first commercial break, the clocks are at :10 to :10. But coming back, the clocks are at :15 to :13. Suddenly, Chloe is a captain's woman, Audrey is sporting a goatee, and Jack is eliminating bad guys with his Tantalus device.

Chloe rings up Jack again (who must be over Alberta by now, and still has good cell coverage) She's found a connection to Henderson. Hans Meyer is in 12D. Chloe's screen says he was a German trade rep, and has a US defense contractors license, whatever that is.

Jack goes back to Hans, pretends to be Avila, and asks Hans to come back with to identify something or other. Casting choices are always interesting. When we needed a good guy German, we got gorgeous Hunky Guy. But when we need a German who we're supposed to think is evil at first, we get this scrawny Teutonic guy who looks like the Nazi in Raiders of the Lost Ark whose head melted when the Ark was opened.

Jack takes Hans to the rear galley, and then decks him with a crushing blow to the solar plexus. Hans goes down like a sack of strudel. Jack looks down the aisle and sees the stewardess approaching with a cart. (Every overnight overseas flight I've been on, the lights are out at 2am, and there aren't any carts going around.)

This is all more than a little eerie, considering the movie United 93 is out now, with all the memories that brings back.

So, Jack throws Hans down in the baggage hold and hops down after him, closing the hatch just before the stewardess gets back there.

At the presidential retreat, Martha is in an especially bttt-bttbbtt-bbtttbtt state. She really needs some meds. She talks to Agent Justin Adams, who seems unmoved by the First Lady's plight. Martha says "You don't have much of a personality."

So, Martha calls Mike. Why does Martha have a phone? They made sure there weren't working phones in the room they first locked her in. Why give her access to a phone now? Aren't they worried she might call the press? She is a bit unstable after all.

Mike says the doctor thinks Martha has had enough drugs for now. Martha says she can't say what needs to be said. She just wants a couple of pills to sleep. Too bad Jack isn't around to just knock her out.

Graham is talking to Logan now. He asks if they've found Bauer. Logan must report no, Bauer is still at large. I've never understood what at large means. Maybe way back some wife went looking for her husband in a bar, some drunk guy said "he's at the lodge" but his voice was slurred and it came out sounding "he's at large", and since then it's become a general expression for somewhere else.

After this conversation is over, Mike comes in. Logan, obviously not wanting to deal with him, snaps "What is it, Mike?" Mike tells him Martha needs a hit. Logan says "That's all I need right now is to deal with her. No! No! No more pills."

Mike asks if something is going on. Logan says "This isn't national security. It's our marriage. It's a facade." For once, Logan's lies are somewhat grounded in truth. Logan finally caves in to Mike's persistent badgering and says Martha can go running for the shelter of her mother's little helper.

In the baggage hold, Jack is putting on his tough guy act and asks Hans where it is. Hans says he doesn't know what Jack is talking about. Jack begins to wonder if Hans really is the mule, and has Hans start looking for his luggage.

At the bar, Drunky the Guy comes over to Chloe. "What are you doing? Homework?" Heh. Then he says "I didn't know they had Wi-Fi in here." Not sure what that was supposed to mean. If the hotel really didn't have Wi-Fi, and Chloe was using super duper CTU technology to get on the net.

Chloe calls somebody and claims to have super CTU clearance 99A-12. On the plane, there is turbulence, so everyone is to remain seated, until tossed around the cabin like rag dolls. The stewardess figures out 12D is missing (Hans, not the actual seat) and then Avila keels over, sending the diploweenies around 7A into a panic.

The stewardess tells the pilot their marshal is down (Gary Cooper he ain't), and the pilot says "Call LA Center, get vectors for an emergency return." That tears it, next season I'm doing a count of vector references.

LA Center says "You have clearance, Clarence." The pilot says "Roger, Roger."

Clocks are at :30 to :27.

Mike the pusher shows up at Martha's door and gives her some pills. He tries to engage her in friendly conversation, but Martha abruptly says "Thank you, Mike" and *gulp*. The pills disappear down her gullet along with some wine. I think. I'm guessing that's not a good combination. Mike says "You're both covering something up", and Martha says "I'm supposed to be the one who's paranoid."

Now, Chloe calls up Jack again, who must be over Hudson Bay by now, and still has fabulous cell coverage. Chloe says she might have screwed up, and doesn't think Hans is their guy. Jack manages to avoid reaching through the phone and throttling Chloe for messing up something so important. Chloe said Hans was in customs for three hours. That's a long time, especially for a charter flight, and a diplomatic one at that. Was he trying to smuggle back some meat and fruit? Perhaps his feet were caked with manure from a mad cow?

At this moment, the plane starts to turn, and Jack realizes they know he's on board. Avila has come around by this point, and he is sure Jack is down in the baggage hold. (Which, I might add, is thankfully pressurized.) Avila wants the captain to "begin" something.

In the hold, there is a "loud hissing", as the krazy kaptions say. Hans thinks air is coming in, but Jack says they are letting the air out. Have you ever tried driving a plane with a flat baggage hold? It just goes *flump* *flump* *flump*, and really pulls to the left.

Jack calls Chloe and says he needs her to patch him through to the pilot. Chloe quick calls Karen, who instantaneously arranges it on a CTU sub-channel. Somebody says "44", but the krazy kaptions say "404". Jack is patched through and explains the situation to the pilot. He points out he would not have been able to get ahold of the pilot with CTU's help if he wasn't a real agent. (Note that again Jack is claiming to be a federal agent. He is an agent when it comes in handy, and he isn't when Jack wants to torture someone or break the law. Pretty convenient.)

At the bar, Drunky is still bothering Chloe. He says "I can get you some free bandwidth." Chloe says "Great, sit down!" Drunky says "cool!" and asks what her laptop is. Chloe immediately tasers him. Woohoo! Drunky is out cold. Or probably somewhat warm, actually, considering the 1.21 gigawatts that just coursed through his body. Chloe says she's using a CTU series 4 laptop.

Up in the plane, the co-pilot says they should just knock Jack out. The pilot tells Jack he won't let him out. So, Jack cuts into the ceiling, loops his belt around some cables and pulls. The plane careens all over the sky. Do jets still fly by wire these days? I would think newer ones are computer controlled now.

That gets the pilot's attention, and has the stewardess let Jack out. I'm not clear on why she had to open the hatch for Jack, but before Jack opened the hatch without any help. Jack pops up already pointing the gun. He puts Avila down in the hold.

Jack talks to the captain and wants more time to search the passengers. The captain says no, his job is to land the plane.

Clocks are at :43 to :40.

Now Logan is asking about Flight 520. Someone has told him Jack has hi-jacked (or is it hi-bauered?) the plane. Logan calls Graham and they commiserate.

Bill is doing the perp walk into CTU. Looks like Agent Ed let him put a shirt back on. Miles stops him. Bill says a rather tired cliché, "You have no idea what you're dealing with" but adds a twist on the end, and says "you little #$!-kisser."

Karen will handle Bill, and Miles just can't take it anymore. He has an operator connect him to Mike, using his special code of 2166. When Mike answers, Miles proceeds to whine and moan and throw a hissyfit. Mike tells Miles to go suck eggs.

Miles tries to look in on the interrogation, but Karen puts them off line. Poor Miles.

Logan calls up and asks Karen about Flight 520. He says "We need to take him dead or alive." Obviously, Chuckles would prefer the former option. Logan asks "Is that clear?" And Karen says "Yes, Mr. President." And then she just hangs up. Uh, shouldn't she wait and see if Logan had anything else to discuss?

Clocks are at :54 to :50.

Drunky wakes up, and Chloe promptly tasers him again. Despite the obvious attempt at humor, it's darn funny.

Chloe has finally figured out who the real mule on the plane is. Scott Evans, the co-pilot who was a last minute replacement. Gee, Chloe, nice job missing that 30 minutes ago. Chloe's screen says he is employed by Omicron's exclusive charter.

Ya know, of all the things Henderson has had to make up on the fly today, this was probably something planned awhile ago. (Meaning more than ten minutes ago.) Henderson knew he wanted to get the tape from Evelyn, and wanted to preserve it for his safety. So, he probably arranged awhile ago to have Evans take it. However, Henderson could not have planned to be captured a dozen times, and he's lucky he was able to escape and meet Evans just before the flight left. While we're at it though, why did Henderson go through all this trouble to preserve the tape? Couldn't he have given it to someone to drive to Utah with? Couldn't he have got a safety deposit box? But it under a tree in the park?

And what happened to the real co-pilot? He must have already been at the airport. So how did Evans get rid of him without anyone noticing?

Chloe calls Jack, who must be over Iceland by now, and still with great cell coverage! Chloe tells him it must be the copilot, so Jack calls up the pilot on a discrete channel. (Must be the one the pilot can use to whisper sweet nothings to the stewardess.) The pilot does a good job of pretending to be having an entirely different conversation. He realizes God is not his Co-pilot.

The pilot says nervously "I picked a bad day to stop smoking crack."

The pilot then uses the old triangulation device in the french bread trick. No, I mean, he uses the old cramp in the leg trick. The copilot is getting suspicious. The pilot makes a sudden move to open the door, and succeeds, but Evans clonks him and puts him down. Nobody was killed this week, but there sure are a lot of people rendered unconscious.

Jack gets into the cockpit. Evans protests "I'm the only one who can fly this plane". Jack is apparently unimpressed, or doesn't realize the logical implications, because he immediately decks Evans.

Jack says "You don't strike me as the type who would die for Christopher Henderson." What? Then he'd be the only one. Henderson has rounded up multiple teams in the last few hours, and just about every one of them is now dead.

Jack calls Chloe and says she should advise CTU he has the recording. Does he really want Chloe to do that? CTU is now in the hands of Homeland Security, put there by the evil President.

Now, even though we see a montage with no sound, the krazy kaptions have something that makes no sense in this context. It says "NEWSCASTER: At this hour there are still unanswered questions surrounding David Palmer's death. During the emergency press conference the president announced the terrorist threat was over." What is that all about?

At the presidential retreat, Martha is really on a hippie trail, head full of zombie, and her speech is slurred. She's a strange lady, and she makes me nervous. If she keeps mixing the wine and pills, she's really going to chunder.

She calls Logan. Logan says "For the past 3 years you have been one click away from a nervous breakdown, and I'm going to come to you for advice?!" Whoa, Charles! Bringing the sarcasm!

Graham calls yet again. He already knows Jack has the tape. And how does he know this? He monitored a call between Chloe and Karen. What happened to the dry channel? Graham must have wet it somehow.

Graham tells Logan he'll have to shoot down the plane. Eek.

The episode ends with the clocks at :60 to :56.

And now, once again, here is guest critic Paul Foth. He was trapped in the baggage hold of a plane after he crawled down there to give his pet poodle Fifi a chew toy. It was bitterly cold, though, so he sliced open the belly of a Taun Taun and crawled in to keep warm, and was able to finish this review.

Klink: Report!

Schultz: H-herr kommandant, I b-beg to report that, that--

Klink: What is it, Schultz? Speak up!

Schultz: Herr kommnadant, I beg to report that several of the characters are missing.

Klink: Whaaaaatt!?

Schultz is right. During last night's roll call, quite a few of the folks we've grown to love and berate seem to have been forgotten. Even though she's just a bit player, Crazy Shari II was a no show. Curtis, who's usually flitting about Los Angeles with his tac team and can be anywhere within minutes, apparently hasn't arrived at Gestapo Headquarters with Henderson yet, something that should've raised at least one red flag. (Then again, since pretty much no one working there now was working there five hours ago, most people don't even know who Curtis is. Those who do may be thinking he got let go when Homeland Insecurity took over.) And Audrey's in that little convoy as well, in fairly desperate need of medical attention. (Of course, since she'll be heading to CTU Medical as soon as she arrives, maybe it's a good thing she's not there yet. She'll live longer.) Bierko, who we were told two episodes ago was regaining consciousness in the cooler, didn't even warrant a mention, despite the fact that he may very well have known who Henderson's stooge on the plane was. And where's Wayne? I just hope Bilbo provided him with food and water, because it may be a while before he's let out of the bunker.

One more word on Audrey. It may be a spoiler, so skip to the next paragraph if you don't want to know. Kim Raver has apparently signed on to another show. Bully for her--she's a fine actor--but now Audrey's going to have to leave 24 somehow. Will she die at the end of this season (Teri)? The beginning of the next one (David Palmer)? Will she have a twenty-second phone conversation with Jack at the beginning of next season, just long enough for him to say he'll be by to pick up his stuff later (Kate Warner)? Or are they going to come up with some new form of departure?

Back to the episode. Were there two hatches on the plane? The top of the first one had textured flooring on it and a small latch. The top of the second one seemed to be covered by a piece of carpet and had a big red and green locking mechanism that would do Fort Knox proud. With all of the running around knees bent behavior, I couldn't tell if there was supposed to have been two hatches at opposite ends of the plane or there was some kind of continuity error. (I know, I know, it's hard to believe a continuity error could slip by on this show, but it does happen. I've also got some bad news about Santa Claus: he used to run guns for the IRA.)

Did you catch the celebrity lookalikes? The air marshal who got a taste of Jack's elbow fu looked like David Blaine. Next Monday, Blaine will be sleeping with the fishes on ABC, but first he has to escape from a baggage compartment on FOX. Unless, of course, he becomes one of the forgotten characters, in which case there's no telling where we'll see him next. This is starting to sound like quantum mechanics--he doesn't exist unless someone's looking at him--so I'll move on.

I halfway expected the pilot to turn to the copilot and say, "Have you ever been inside a Turkish prison?" And so it all comes full circle: The pilot looked a like Peter Graves. I made the comment a few rants back that this show can be seen as an early-21st century terrorist analog of the commie hysteria science fiction films of the 50s. Roger Corman made many of those films. And who starred in Corman's 1956 It Conquered The World? Peter Graves.

It's nice to see Mike Novick again, but it's been so long that it seemed like the writers weren't quite sure what to do with him. I guess it's a sign of his standing in the Logan administration that he's been reduced to being Martha's supplier. (And those antipsychotics work especially well when they're washed down with wine.)

One kinda neat thing the writers did happened during one of Mike's talks with Logan, when Logan was going on about how everything Jack had done that day only seemed right, but that now the real Jack was coming out, that he'd really been lying all day long. All Logan was doing was talking about himself, but changing his name to Jack Bauer. That's a neat trick for a dirty politician: just talk about yourself, but do so as if it's about your worst enemy. That way, you don't have to worry about making stuff up and keeping it all straight.

Wonder of wonders, it seems no one got killed in that hour! We may need to lube the death-o-meter in order to keep up with all the carnage that'll have to happen to make up for it.

Last night's hero was Chloe. The way she handled that toner salesman from Wichita was a thing of beauty. It's nice to see the writers are realizing she doesn't have to handle every schlub with deadly sarcasm. A vapid "Wow, free bandwith?" and a taser work just as well. It makes me wonder if she'll zap Miles when she gets back to Gestapo HQ.

From the previews for next week, it seems like Jack is convinced that if the plane lands, the fighter jets won't be able to shoot at it. Maybe he's planning to release neunundneunzig luftballoons to confuse them.

Number of times Jack says "Now!": 24
Number of times Jack says "No!": 8
Number of times a "protocol" is mentioned: 38
Number of times someone says a variation of "Go!": 29
Number of moles: 4
Approximate Body Count: 94 (plus three rats, plus one human nerve gas guinea pig, plus 11 in the mall food court (and no, not from food poisoning), plus one security camera, plus 56 in CTU)

<-1:00 AM - 2:00 AM 3:00 AM - 4:00 AM ->

Monday, May 01, 2006

Double, double toil and Iran's trouble

Yesterday there were reports hinting at the continuing tensions in Iran. Iran actually fired across the border into Iraq.

Iraq has accused Iranian forces of entering Iraqi territory and shelling Kurdish rebel positions in the north.

Iranian troops bombed border areas near the town of Hajj Umran before crossing into Iraq, the defence ministry in Baghdad said on Sunday.

It said the Iranians targeted the PKK, a Kurdish group that has waged a 15-year insurgency against Turkey.

The PKK is believed to have links with anti-Iranian Kurdish fighters. There are no details on casualties.

The Iraqi defence ministry also says Iran launched a similar attack on Kurdish rebel positions in the same area on 21 April.

Persians account for only about 51% of the population in Iran. The rest are various ethnic groups such as Azeris (24%), Kurds (7%), Arabs (3%), Balochs (2%) and others.

All of the ones I've mentioned have been responsible for some measure of opposition against the Iranian regime, and remain a prime opportunity for fomenting regime change in Iran.

John Robb wrote of this at Global Guerrillas in a post entitled "Collapsing Iran."

In addition, there is unrest among the Iranian population as a whole, as Iran's economy is not a powerhouse, and unemployment and labor troubles bubble away beneath the surface.

Today, in fact, May Day, there were large demonstrations in Iran.

Cliff May has posted some photos at The Corner.

CNN reports:

Thousands of Iranian workers on Monday protested the growing use of short-term employment contracts. It was the most vociferous May Day demonstration the Islamic state has seen in years.

The protest came as a reminder to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that, although embroiled in an international dispute over his country's atomic ambitions, he was elected to improve living conditions for the poorest members of society.

Short-term contracts, while better paid than regular staff contracts, allow bosses to fire workers more easily and cheaply.

"The contract worker is a slave as he lives in fear of being sacked," said Aliasghar Ghaliaf, 37, who has worked in a textile factory on a permanent contract for 19 years.

"Employers set us up against the contract workers, accusing us of not working hard enough," he added.

Paper-factory worker Masoud Cheraghi, 40, said, "Some employers even make contract workers sign a resignation form without a date on it."

The demonstrators, numbering some 10,000, called for Labor Minister Mohammad Jahromi to resign and brandished placards with bread stuck on them to symbolize their hand-to-mouth existence.

Regime Change Iran has translations of Iranian accounts describing some of the labor trouble. (See here and here and here and here.).

More than 120 service workers of district 2, sectors 11 of Tehran’s city hall have not been paid in 2 months. The regime-run news agency, ULNA reports that these workers who work in two backbreaking 10-hour shifts only receive the equivalent of $90. to $130. Per month and now they are not even receiving that.

According to the regime-run news agency FARS from Ghazveen, at 10 A.M. on Monday, April 24th, workers from the Farnakh Textile factory gathered to protest their working condition by blocking the Tehran-Ghazveen and Ghazveen-Zanjon freeways.

One of the workers interviewed by the Fars reporter said: “We have not been paid for 6 months and nothing we have done seems to get the attention of the management; all they tell us is that they’re looking into it and that it will resolve itself! So at this juncture, we will take the action necessary in order to bring attention to our concerns.”

Another worker said: “How much are we meant to put up with; if it was just us, it wouldn’t have mattered… we could die of hunger but what have our wives, children and hungry family members done to deserve this abuse from the management?”

Sporadic clashes have happened following the celebration of the International Workers Day in several Iranian cities and especially in Tehran where workers were attacked by anti-riot and plainclothes agents.

The workers along with teachers, collective bus drivers and students were shouting slogans protesting against their conditions in the Taleghani avenue and in front of several official premises, such as, the Ministry of Employment, the Office of Social Security and the occupied Office of Bus Drivers when attacked.

Some slogans were calling for the resignation of the Minister of Employment and other for the immediate release of arrested workers and bus drivers.

Several protesters have been injured or arrested.

Based on received reports from Tehran, on International Workers Day, Monday, May 1st, 2006, at 11:30 A.M. the bus drivers of the greater Tehran bus company and their families will gather in front of the bus company’s headquarters to protest their conditions.

Member of their union, who as a result of going on strike, were fired, will take part in this protest in order to condemn the denial of their rights and to demand the immediate and unconditional release of their imprisoned leader Mansour Osanlou.

At the higher levels of Iran's government, it is not crystal clear how much of the crisis over Iran's nuclear program is due to President Ahmadinejad's belligerence, and how much is actually supported by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

Expediency Council Chairman Rafsanjani is also a rival of Ahmadinejad, and it isn't clear just how much he is in line with the current approach. On April 11, Rafsanjani announced that Iranian was a nuclear nation before Ahmadinejad made his speech, perhaps an impertinent usurpation of the President's privilege.

In this post, I speculated that because Rafsanjani's visit to Syria coincided with a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, just as Ahmadinejad's visit in January did, that this might be a direct message from Iran warning Israel what might happen if Israel attacks Iran.

If there is a power struggle going in Iran, perhaps Rafsanjani was not a party to the terrorist attack. Perhaps factions in Teheran loyal to Ahmadinejad, if not Ahmadinejad himself, arranged to have the suicide attack to take place while Rafsanjani was in Syria in order to discredit Rafsanjani, by tying him to the attack and making it look as if Rafsanjani was a willing supporter of terrorism, thereby tarnishing his "moderate" image.

That is speculation, of course, but the labor and ethnic unrest in Iran is not. There are as yet alternatives to military action. But, these openings must be exploited. The world community must act, whether through sanctions or supporting opposition groups directly, but there must be action. If nothing happens, Iran will continue its march to nuclear weapons.

Tick tick tick...

A primer on Iran

If you're looking for a good primer on Iran, the Foreign Policy Centre has provided one. This UK think tank describes Iran's system of government, examines its economy and foreign policy, and analyzes internal political forces.

The report is available here in PDF. (HT: Foreign Policy Passport)

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 Peace Like a River and Security Watchtower.

Top Topics

* The U.S. State Department's annual report on terrorism was released, and cited Iran as the most active state sponsor of terrorism in the world. The report notes that Iran's Revolutionary Guards and intelligence ministry are directly involved in planning and supporting terrorist acts. (Full Report)

* Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad remains defiant over "Iran's right" to enrich uranium, saying it was their "red line". Ahmadinejad spoke as the 30-day IAEA timeline for Iranian compliance came and went. Mohammad Saeedi, deputy head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, said Iran was researching advanced designs of centrifuges. The IAEA said on April 28 that Iran had flouted a U.N. Security Council call to suspend uranium enrichment.

* Afghan troops backed by coalition forces killed 11 Taliban militants and detained a dozen, including top commanders, in separate raids across volatile southern Afghanistan while insurgents ambushed and shot dead three policemen, officials said Saturday. Taliban militants also threatened Saturday to execute Indian hostage K. Suryanarayana if all Indians didn't leave Afghanistan within 24 hours, according to the insurgent group's purported spokesman. Suryanarayana was abducted Friday when driving through another dangerous southern province, Zabul.

Other topics today include: Iran wants case sent back to IAEA; Iran summons terror coalition; More Gaza rocket attacks; Bombing in West Bank; al Qaeda sympathizer rally in Bahrain; Egypt kills terrorists tied to Dahab; IDF kills IJ terrorists; McCain warns Russia & China; Olmert wants barrier sped up; al Qaeda in Gaza; Lodi trial update; Gitmo release planned; Canada a terror safehaven; al-Arian case; Terror raids in Utah & California; Militants killed in Russia; Chechen PM disbands anti-terror center; SCO to draw up terror list; Militants arrested in Chechnya; Russia worries about NATO expansion; Hizb-ut-Tahrir members arrested in Pakistan; Maoist rebels killed in India; Bus attack in northern India; Indonesian security forces kill terrorists; Philippines on high alert; Abu Sayyaf member captured; Macedonia denies CIA terror links; Car bombing in Nigeria; Counterterrorism in African Failed States; al Qaeda's retreat from Iraq; and more.

Iran & the Middle East

* According to the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iranian troops have attacked Kurdish rebel positions inside of Iraq. The report said Iranian troops bombed border areas near the town of Hajj Umran, before crossing into Iraq.

* Iran on Sunday said it would be willing to discuss Moscow’s proposal to move uranium enrichment to Russia and would allow snap inspections of its facilities if the UN Security Council were to send its case back to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

* Asharqq Alawsat is reporting that "eight fundamentalist Islamist organizations have received large sums of money in the last month from the Iranian intelligence services, as part of a project to strike U.S military and economic installations across the Middle East" in the event of military action against Iran, with the plan being called "Judgement Day." Steve Emerson says Iran is capable of terrorist attacks in the U.S. at any time.

* Former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Arens says that Israeli forces should retake part of the Gaza to prevent rocket attacks against Israel, but are reluctant to do so as it would be a tactical admission that retreat from Gaza was a mistake in the first place.

* The Israeli army says Palestinian militants have smuggled some Katyusha rockets into the Gaza Strip, potentially threatening towns well inside Israel. Military sources say the rockets have been smuggled into Gaza through tunnels in the Rafah area, running under the border with Egypt.

* Hezbollah has scoffed at being named a terrorist organization once again by the United States, and responded by saying that "the right move to place on a terrorism list is the one who supports Israeli terrorism against the Palestinian people and the Zionist occupation and aggression on Arab states."

* A bomb exploded next to an Israeli bus near the West Bank village of Beit Fourik on Saturday night, fortunately not wounding anyone. The Aksa Martyrs' Brigade organization of the Fatah claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement to the press.

* Time Magazine takes a look at the situation in Egypt, where response to recent bombings and civil unrest has regime watchers concerned.

* Sunni Muslims in Bahrain staged a small but noisy demonstration in support of Palestinian and Iraqi insurgents on Friday, but their underlying aim appeared to be a bid to raise their community's profile against the Shi'ite Muslim majority, which has dominated protest politics in Bahrain. Shouting "Death to America," the 150 protesters called on Arab governments to support Iraqi insurgents and the Hamas government in the Palestinian Authority. They demanded that the United States withdraw from Iraq and handed out T-shirts bearing the image of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

* Egyptian security forces killed three terrorists suspected of involvement in last week's attack in Dahab. The suspects were also wanted in connection with bombings in the Sinai resorts of Taba and Ras Sahtan in October 2004 and in Sharm el-Sheik in July 2005. Two other suspects, captured two days earlier, have also been detained.

* Israeli defense forces captured 11 wanted terror suspects Friday morning, a night after arresting seven others near Shechem and Hebron. Five wanted Islamic Jihad members were caught west of Jenin and another six were arrested in the village of Arabeh, a little further south.

* Senator John McCain warned Russia and China of damaging their relationship with the United States by failing to hold Iran accountable. McCain told a Brussels conference that Iran’s nuclear program posed the greatest security threat to the world alongside terrorism. The U.N. Security Council should impose sanctions including an investment ban, a travel ban and asset freezes on government leaders and nuclear scientists.

* Ahmed Jibril, the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) warned the United States and Israel on Friday that if they attacked Syria or Iran, members of his militant organization would fight them, saying "we will not allow any aggression against Syria or the Islamic Republic of Iran."

* Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is ordering a rapid completion of the West Bank barrier as minister meet to discuss amendments in the route of the barrier. "We must go forward as quickly as possible," Olmert said Sunday, adding that "the decisions which we are taking will enable us to complete the security barrier as quickly as possible so that we can best prevent terrorist attacks."

* Two Kassam rockets were launched out of the Gaza Strip on Friday night landing in open areas in Israel. Earlier in the day, two other rockets were also fired. There were no reported injuries or damage in any of the attacks.

* Terrorism expert Olivier Guitta highlights al Qaeda's expansion into Gaza and the newly released fatwa of Al Tawhid and Jihad in Syria and Palestine, which calls for the slaughter of Fatah leaders.

America Domestic Security & the Americas

* Two men charged last week in a terrorism case traveled to Washington D.C. to shoot "casing videos" of the Capitol building and other potential targets, a prosecutor alleged during a bail hearing. Prosecutors leveled the new allegations against Ehsanul Islam Sadequee and Syed Haris Ahmed while challenging a New York judge's earlier decision to release Sadequee to house arrest at his mother's residence in Roswell, Georgia on $250,000 bail.

* The U.S. attorney on Friday said he was confident the conviction of a Lodi man on terrorism-related charges will be upheld despite a signed statement from a juror saying she was improperly pressured into casting a guilty vote. "Hamid Hayat remains convicted of providing material support to terrorists and of lying to the FBI about that conduct. It is a long settled principle of law that second thoughts about a verdict by a juror are not enough to overturn that verdict," U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott said in a statement.

* The Pentagon plans to release nearly a third of those held at Guantanamo Bay for terrorism suspects here because they pose no threat to U.S. security, an official of the war crimes tribunal said Monday. Charges are pending against about two dozen of the remaining prisoners, the chief prosecutor said. But he left unclear why the rest face neither imminent freedom nor a day in court after as many as four years in custody.

* The U.S. on Friday said Canada has become a "safe haven" for Islamic terrorists who exploit lax immigration laws and weak counterterrorism enforcement to raise money and plan attacks.

* The president of Colombia flew to this mountain-ringed city Friday to personally oversee an investigation into the murder of a former president's younger sister. Authorities said they did not know whether Liliana Gaviria's slaying was the act of common criminals or intended as a message, a month ahead of presidential elections, that the law-and-order government cannot guarantee Colombians' safety.

* The long terrorism conspiracy case of Sami Al-Arian is drawing to a close and the former Tampa college professor could soon walk out of his jail cell and into the hands of immigration officers to be deported. Al-Arian, 48, a former University of South Florida computer engineering professor, is expected to be sentenced Monday morning after pleading guilty April 14 to providing support to members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a terrorist group responsible for hundreds of deaths in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

* Five relatives of a U.S. citizen suspected of being a senior al-Qaida operative were arrested in California and Utah on charges of defrauding banks of hundreds of thousands of dollars. The FBI said it was investigating whether any of the money was used to finance Middle East terrorism. Four of the five defendants - all U.S. citizens or legal residents from Jordan where the family of al-Qaida suspect Shawqi Omar has extensive ties - were arraigned Thursday. The fifth was excused for medical reasons.

Russia, Caucasus & Central Asia

* Three militants were killed in a special operation in Nalchik, the capital city of the Russian North Caucasus republic of Kabardino-Balkaria. The sweep was carried out jointly by the local department of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) and the local Interior Ministry. "The militants were hiding in an apartment in a five-story house on 2nd Tamanskoi Divizii Street in Nalchik," a source in Kabardino-Balkar law enforcement told Interfax on Saturday.

* Chechen prime minister Ramzan Kadyrov said Saturday he had disbanded an anti-terrorism center and the "Kadyrov security service." He said last month that over 7,000 militants had surrendered and returned to a peaceful life in the past few years.

* Chechen separatists' information service claims that Russian secret services control real estate purchases and renting by the Chechens and other Caucasian natives, Kavkaz Center reports. There is an order to report of any transactions with real estate – especially in Moscow, to the FSB, the service claims. The Russian Real Estate Agency is said to be reporting to the secret services of any "suspicious" buyers or renters.

* A regional security alliance of five ex-Soviet states and China will draw up a comprehensive list of terrorists and groups operating in Eurasia to boost the efficiency of their counter-terrorism efforts. Vyacheslav Kasymov, managing director of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization's anti-terror unit, said the list would be compiled using databases provided by the security forces of individual member countries - Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and China.

* Four suspected militants were arrested in the southern Russian region of Chechnya on suspicion of involvement in bomb attacks on federal interior troops.

* Commenting on recent base deals between the U.S. and Bulgaria and Romania, Andrei Kokoshin, chairman of the Russian Duma’s CIS Affairs Committee, said "the action undertaken by the U.S. would destabilize the situation in East Europe and would not promote truly joint efforts in fighting both terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction."

* Abkhaz and South Ossetian leaders Sergey Bagapsh and Eduard Kokoity, respectively, said on April 28 in Sukhumi that cooperation between the two regions is aimed at peace and is not directed against Georgia. Kokoity and Bagapsh signed a protocol on exchange of notes on ratification of an “Agreement on Friendship and Cooperation between Abkhaz and South Ossetian Republics” in Sukhumi.

* "The existence of secret jails on the territory of Azerbaijan is out of the question," said Samed Seidov, head of the Azerbaijani delegation at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Seidov said Azerbaijan had presented an official reply to a CE query about the possibility of secret prisons being run by the CIA in the country, adding that reports about the existence of such prisons in Azerbaijan were designed to tarnish the country's international image.

Afghanistan & Southern Asia

* Pakistan arrested four members of Hizb-ut-Tahrir -- an international Islamic group -- for allegedly publishing hate material, police said. Authorities in Karachi seized pamphlets, sealed a printing press and arrested its owner, suspected group member Arshad Salim, police officer Mohammad Boota told AFP on Friday.

* Thousands of Nepalis surrounded the gates of the country's revived parliament on Friday, waving party flags and chanting slogans to keep up pressure for a new constitution after weeks of street protests. But with 84-year-old prime minister-designate Girija Prasad Koirala too sick to attend his swearing-in ceremony in the morning, the legislature was unlikely to take any major decisions to immediately satisfy the crowd, politicians said. "Parliament will sit, but it will only be a formal sitting," said Krishna Prasad Situala, spokesman for Koirala's Nepali Congress party, the country's largest.

* Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said in a British newspaper interview that he was not fighting terrorists in his country purely on behalf of the United States. Covert American air strikes against Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network in Pakistan were an infringement of national sovereignty, the general told the Guardian newspaper in Rawalpindi.

* Pakistan must help prevent the spread of the resurgent Taliban militia in Afghanistan and within its own borders, the United Nations Special Representative to Afghanistan said. The two countries must also cooperate instead of constantly accusing each other publicly of failing to act against the Islamic fighters, Tom Koenigs told reporters in Kabul on Thursday.

* Police shot and killed nine Maoist rebels, including six women, when the guerrillas attacked a patrol in southern India, officials said. Police said it was the largest number of Maoist rebels killed in a single incident this year and said the dead may include some senior Maoist leaders. The gunbattle took place in the forests of Kadapa district, some 500 kilometers (300 miles) south-east of Hyderabad, the capital of Andhra Pradesh state.

* A senior Afghan police official narrowly escaped an assassination attempt Friday but his two guards were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near his vehicle in southern Afghanistan.

* Afghan President Hamid Karzai marked the 14th anniversary of the defeat of a communist government on Friday with a call to the Taliban to give up their insurgency and rejoin society. Mujahideen holy warrior forces captured Kabul on April 28, 1992, ending the rule of a pro-Soviet government but ushering in a civil war that only ended when the Taliban seized power in 1996.

* Mine attacks killed five military personnel and wounded five Thursday in northern Sri Lanka, the latest bout of violence that threatens to return the island nation to all-out civil war. Separately, police found five headless corpses near the capital, Colombo, and said they were investigating whether the deaths were linked to the recent surge in fighting with Tamil rebels.

* Here are the daily updates from the South Asia Terrorism Portal for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

* A US government study released on Friday reports an increase in terrorist activities in South Asia during 2005 but acknowledges that Pakistan has ‘significantly increased’ its effort to fight terrorists. The report notes that terrorism remained a major problem in the region, with increases in activity by terrorist groups in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. “Pakistan captured or killed hundreds of terrorists, significantly increasing the effectiveness of its counter-terrorism operation,” says the report, noting that in July, President Pervez Musharraf declared a ‘jihad on extremism’ and promised to close down extremist institutions.

* A body found in Afghanistan has been identified as that of an Indian telecommunications engineer who was kidnapped earlier in the week by Taliban members, a regional police chief said.

* An explosion ripped through a bus in the northern Indian state of Punjab on Friday, injuring 15 passengers, police said. Twelve of those hurt were hospitalized in Jullundur, a key city in Punjab, in serious condition, said Ishwar Singh, senior superintendent of police. Eight other passengers escaped without injury, he told The Associated Press.

* A Qaeda has claimed a March suicide bomb attack which killed five, including an American diplomat and a US consulate employee in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi just before US President George W. Bush visited. In the statement, whose authenticity could not be immediately verified, the organisation promised a "summer of hell" for US troops in Afghanistan.

Far East & Southeast Asia

* Indonesian security forces killed two terrorists in a raid on Saturday in Java, that target wanted Jemaah Islamiyah leader Noordin Mohammed Top. The two men killed were explosives experts and had been accused of involvement in the September 2004 Australian embassy attack in which nine people were killed.

* Security forces are on heightened alert in the southern Philippines following intelligence reports of a possible bomb attack by the Southeast Asian terror network Jemaah Islamiya (JI). According to Filipino Army spokesman Francisco Simbajon, "There are reports that JI is planning an attack on civilian targets. Security forces are in red alert and we appeal to citizens to report to authorities any suspicious person or abandoned package or bag in public places."

* Abu Sayyaf member Abdusalih Dimah was captured in Sumisip town in the rebel stronghold of Basilan island, according to military intelligence officials said. Dimah helped support Abu Sayyaf members who kidnapped three American tourists and 17 Filipinos from a resort in May 2001.

* The political party of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi on Saturday rejected allegations by Myanmar’s military government of ties to terrorist groups.

* China and Vietnam are conducting joint military patrols off the Gulf of Tonkin, the first-time the Chinese navy has taken part in military exercises with another country. The countries signed an agreement in October to begin the joint patrols when Vietnamese Defense Minister Pham Van Tra met with his counterpart Cao Gangchuan in Beijing.

* According to the Filipino government, Jemaah Islamiyah and Abu Sayyaf are attempting to torpedo peace talks between the government in Manila and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).


* Five men pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from an alleged failed attempt to mimic the deadly July 7 suicide bombings in London last year. During a 90-minute hearing at the Old Bailey criminal court, they denied charges of conspiring to attack London's transport network and murder passengers on July 21 -- exactly two weeks after the bombings.

* One of the leading figures indicted in the March 11, 2004, train bombings in Madrid used a simple trick that allowed him to communicate with his confederates on ordinary e-mail accounts but still avoid government detection, according to the judge investigating the case. Instead of sending the messages, the man, Hassan el Haski, saved them as drafts on accounts he shared with other militants, said papers issued by the judge, Juan del Olmo.

* Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is to resign on Tuesday - more than three weeks after his narrow election defeat. His announcement came after his centre-right alliance failed to get its candidate elected as Senate speaker.

* Macedonian Interior Minister Ljubomir Mihajlovski denied any involvement of Macedonia in the alleged transfer of the German citizen Khaled Al-Masri to Afghanistan by US secret agents. "There are no indications that foreign intelligence officers, i.e. CIA, were involved in this case", said Mihajlovski after the meting with the European Parliament's delegation, which arrived in Macedonia to investigate the case.


* There has been a car bomb attack near an oil refinery in Nigeria's Delta region, reports say. State officials told the AFP news agency there were no casualties when the car blew up near the port town of Warri, but several cars were damaged. The car was parked at a truck stop used by oil tankers which service the town's refinery, a military official said.

* A post at Threats Watch says "the US Army’s Strategic Studies Institute has published a new monograph by Colonel Thomas Dempsey that is well worth your time: Counterterrorism in African Failed States: Challenges and Potential Solutions. The monograph focuses on Sub-Saharan Africa, principally the failed states of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Somalia."

* The U.S. government has decided to repatriate 10 of 12 Somalis who fired upon two U.S. Navy vessels in an incident that occurred on March 18. The U.S. government worked with the International Committee of the Red Cross to make arrangements for today's repatriation. The two remaining Somalis continue to receive follow-on medical care aboard USS Peleliu for injuries sustained during the initial incident.

* Mediators from the African Union (AU) agreed in the early hours of Monday to give the warring parties from Sudan's Darfur region an extra 48 hours to strike a peace deal after a midnight deadline expired. International pressure on the government of Sudan and three Darfur rebel factions intensified in the build-up to the deadline, but only the government said it would sign an 85-page settlement drafted by the AU. The rebels insisted they wanted more of their demands to be met.

The Global War

* Tigerhawk has a comprehensive post up at the Belmont Club about reconsidering victory conditions in the wider war.

* Some believe that the rift between al Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist organizations is growing wider, symbolized by the condemnation from Hamas of the terror attacks in Egypt last week. The AP article says the rift has "largely has not been acknowledged among Western powers, who tend to lump Islamic radicals together."

* The judge in the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui has admonished one of the jurors for consulting an online dictionary for the definition of the term "aggravating."

* The most intractable safe havens for terrorists tend to exist along international borders in Asia, Africa and South America where there is ineffective governance, according to a fact sheet issued by the State Department.

* According to former CIA operative turned critic/author Mike Scheuer, is saying the Bush administration passed on killing Zarqawi because they were catering to diplomatic efforts.

* According to some analysts, the prison escape by 23 suspected Al Qaeda terrorists three months ago has raised questions about Yemen’s ability to contain militancy and cast a chill over US-Yemen relations.

* The Strategy Page explains why al Qaeda is retreating from Iraq.

Thanks for reading! If you found something here you want to blog about yourself (and we hope you do), all we ask is that you do as we do and offer a Hat Tip hyperlink to today's "Winds of War". If you think we missed something important, use the Comments section to let us know. For ongoing tips, email "MondayWindsOfWar", over here