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

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Update (6/19/2007): I've opened this blog, Peace Like A River, back up again at a new url, in order to focus on foreign affairs and international matters there. I'm still at TvM, but this blog is better suited for focusing on these topics. See you there! Here's the url:

Update (1/19/2007): I've settled into a new blog at Truth v. the Machine. See you over there!

Update (1/10/2007): The domain name for Security Watchtower seems to have expired, and so the blog is unreachable. I'm not sure if it will be revived.

I have a change to tell you about, gentle readers.

I've decided to step away from Peace Like A River, put the old blog out to pasture, and do my blogging full-time at Security Watchtower. Here's the URL:

Security Watchtower:

C.S. Scott, of SWT, is the person I do the Monday briefings with, and this is a terrific opportunity to get into a group blog, and be a part of a great blog.

My responsibilities at work are changing, some other responsibilities are changing, and I have less and less time to devote to blogging. I'd like to do more in-depth, analytical posts like I typically do, but I can't always do enough new material for you. At SWT, with other bloggers there, I'll have less pressure to constantly come up with something.

I think I'll be a good complement to SWT. I tend to look at areas of the world not widely covered in our media, and SWT does a top notch job of covering the war on terrorism and other issues. Between us, I think we'll give a good view of what's going on in the world.

So, I thank you, all of you who stop by here. I'm grateful you've granted me your time and attention. I hope you'll follow me over to SWT. I'm not really going anywhere, I'll just be at a new URL.

To my fellow MOBsters, I'll still be hanging around your blogs as I normally do.

I'll see you over at Security Watchtower.

Iran's Central Asian tour

Iran's president Mahmud Ahmadinejad is visiting some Central Asian countries this week.


Mohammad Reza Djalili, a professor of international politics at the Geneva-based Graduate Institute of International Studies, says Ashgabat and Tehran have enjoyed good relations since Turkmenistan emerged from the collapsed Soviet empire a decade and a half ago.

"There is no problem between the two countries," Djalili tells RFE/RL. "Turkmenistan and Iran have built good relations. And the policy of Turkmenbashi about the neutrality and limitations of [the] influence of the Unites States in Turkmenistan is something seen [as] very good through Tehran's eyes."

Djalili says the two countries have also enjoyed good trade and economic ties.

"In the economic field, there is a good exchange between the two countries. And there is a good collaboration about [natural] gas," Djalili says. "Iran has imported for internal consumption gas from Turkmenistan. I think it's good neighbors' relations."

Iranians are the second-largest buyers of Turkmen commodities -- primarily natural gas -- after Russians.

An opposition Turkmen website,, quoted an Iranian Embassy source in Ashgabat as saying there was $1 billion in trade between the two countries in 2005.

Mutual relations are guided by some 150 agreements on a wide range of issues.

Turkmenistan ranks among the world's top 15 gas producers. It sells Iran natural and liquefied gas, as well as polypropylene (a thermoplastic polymer) and electricity.

In 2005, Iran bought 5.8 billion cubic meters of Turkmen gas. Tehran has suggested it would like to more than double that figure -- to 13 billion cubic meters a year.

The terms of Turkmen gas exports were expected to arise during the visit -- particularly since the two countries share an interest in developing new transit routes for gas and other goods.


President Ahmadinejad of Iran is due to launch his three-day Tajik visit with his arrival later today in the capital, Dushanbe.

It is Ahmadinejad's first visit to Dushanbe since taking office in August and is part of his two-country Central Asian tour that began in Turkmenistan.

Two major projects to bolster Tajikistan's infrastructure highlight Iranian-Tajik cooperation. President Ahmadinejad is expected to attend a ceremony to open a 5-kilometer tunnel through the Anzob Pass, connecting the capital with the northern Tajik city of Khojand, that was constructed with Iranian assistance.

Tehran has also pledged to invest up to $180 million in a Tajik hydroelectric power plant. Construction of the Sangtuda-2 facility was officially launched in February, although Iran is reportedly seeking additional financial guarantees from the Tajik side.

In Dushanbe, political analyst Ismoil Rahmatov told RFE/RL's Tajik Service that cooperation between the two countries is considerable -- and it is gaining momentum.

"Cooperation between Tajikistan and the Islamic Republic of Iran has been increasing lately. [Iran] has built the Anzob tunnel. The Iranian side has also committed itself to building a number of roads [and] the Sangtuda hydroelectric power plant, and to set up a number of small companies that will put out locally produced [Tajik] goods. At the present stage, Iran is playing a greater [economic] role than any other country in the region."

Tehran has shown an interest in Tajikistan since that post-Soviet republic's first days of independence. When many other countries scaled back embassy staffing as Tajikistan's civil war broke out in the early 1990s, Iran increased its diplomatic presence.

The Iranian government provided financial aid to the Tajik government during some of its darkest days of civil war (1992-97).But it also provided safe haven to some of the Islamic leaders from the United Tajik Opposition that was battling Tajik government forces.

In Search Of... XV

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.)

-backyard torture room
-different guestbook of peoples in the usa village 2007
-2006 demark citizens email guestbook with age 38 above
-her bladder beer
-free b - 17 bomber ground strike shooting games
-suspicious deaths in clackmannanshire

Monday, July 24, 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 & Friday. Monday's Winds of War briefings are given by Security Watchtower and Peace Like a River.

Top Topics

* Suicide bombers killed two coalition soldiers and six Afghan civilians in two near-simultaneous blasts Saturday in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, officials said. A purported Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the attacks, which came as NATO prepares to take command of the volatile region. Eight more soldiers were wounded when a suicide bomber rammed an explosive-laden car into a coalition vehicle, said Maj. Scott Lundy, the spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition forces. He refused to disclose the nationality of troops killed and wounded.

* The Sunday Times is reporting on the existence of a fifth suspect in the 2005 London bombings, who was talked out of participating in the attacks on that morning. Gateway Pundit has additional commentary and analysis.

* Somalia's Islamist militia briefly fought government forces on Saturday -- the first clash between the two sides and one that many Somalis fear may signal a slide to war in the Horn of Africa country. Government militia seized and set on fire two "technicals" -- heavily armed pickup trucks that are Somalia's version of tanks -- in fighting in the remote Qoryooley district, an Islamist source told Reuters.

* A Hezbollah rocket attack on Sunday killed 2 Israeli citizens and wounded twelve others in the Haifa area. Hezbollah has reportedly fired 2,200 rockets into Israel during the latest fighting. The attacks on Haifa are reported to be originating from Hezbollah units in the southern Lebanese city of Tyre.

Other topics today include: Bahrain anti-terror legislation; Ahmadinejad warns Israel; Terror plot thwarted in Tel Aviv; Hezbollah sleeper cells; Saudi reaction to Hezbollah; More on fighting between Israel and Hezbollah; IAF strikes Gaza rocket factory; Clashes between Turkey and PKK; IAF airstrikes in Lebanon; Miami suspect pledged oath to al Qaeda; Canadian citizen named al Qaeda conspirator; Paracha gets 30 years; U.S. Congressional support for Israel; Tensions between Georgia and South Ossetia; Russia opposing resolution on Iran; Attack in Kandahar; Fighting in southern Afghanistan; Dutch commandos kill 18 Taliban; Building the Afghan police force; Violence in Kashmir; Developments in Mumbai terror attacks; The communist insurgency in Philippines; Terror suspects to appear in Australian court; Bulgaria intercepts Iranian bound shipment; Ethiopian troops move into Somalia; and more.

Iran & the Middle East

* In Bahrain, the Shura Council approve new anti-terror legislation after the law was passed last week in parliament at the prompting of the nation's leadership. Councillor Ahmed Buallay said terrorism was a plague, adding that the "government has come up with this law to protect the people and the nation from any harm."

* Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is calling for an emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) in order to seek a solution to end Israel's offensive against Hezbollah. In a separate speech, the Iranian leader warned Israel to pack up and go.

* On Friday, Israeli police arrested three terror suspects who were plotting a suicide terror attack in the city of Tel Aviv.

* Hizbullah "sleeper" terror cells set up outside Lebanon with Iranian assistance have been put on standby and are likely planning attacks against Jewish and Israeli targets throughout the world. Daveed Gartenstein-Ross has additional commentary on the report.

* As a result of Iran's growing influence in the region, Saudi Arabia is expanding their military inventory and capabilities. John Burgess at Crossroads Arabia has more commentary on the Saudi reaction and why they didn't leap to support Hezbollah.

* Michael Slackman reports on the resentment in Iran over support the government sends outside to Hezbollah. "Of course I am angry," says Hamid Akbari, a deliveryman, "All our income is going to Palestine and Hezbollah." According to the Israeli Intelligence Chief, Iran has invested $ 100 million in the current Hezbollah operation.

* Israel continues to insist that Hezbollah be disarmed as outlined in UN Security Council resolution 1559, and said they would be open to the possibility of an EU peacekeeping force in Lebanon.

* Bill Roggio has commentary and analysis on the IDF move into southern Lebanon. On Saturday, IDF forces seized the Lebanese border village of Maroun al-Ras from Hezbollah forces.

* According to reports, the United States is utilizing several diplomatic tools in an attempt to peal Syria away from Iran, including the use of Saudi and Egypt officials to convince Syria to turn on Hezbollah. There are reports Syria has softened its stance and may be willing to offer locations of al Qaeda cells in Lebanon, but that remains questionable.

* An explosion in Gaza on Sunday left four dead, after Israeli forces reportedly shelled the residence of a Hamas operative in the Shajaiyeh district. The IDF says the residence was a missile and rocket storage facility. On Sunday, nine more Qassam rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel.

* On Friday, Israel activated thousands of IDF reservists for emergency duty as the fight against Hezbollah wages on. Israel's standing army of about 186,500 troops can jump to 631,500 with rapid mobilization, according to figures from the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies. Daniel McKivergan highlights some of the challenges confronting the IDF.

* The United States is urging Turkey to be patient in dealing with Kurdish terrorists that operate on both sides of the Turkish-Iraqi border, and says there will be "more concrete results shortly" while vowing to "move against the PPK." Meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President Bush pledged his support to help Turkey in the face of attacks by Kurdish rebels.

* Turkish troops on Friday killed five militants of the banned separatist Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) in a clash near Turkey's border with Iran. Four Turkish soldiers were wounded in the fighting.

* On Saturday, the Israeli Air Force struck 90 targets linked to Hezbollah in Lebanon, including buildings, tunnels, rocket launchers and communication systems.

* According to Israeli military sources, Hamas has developed and fired a Grad rocket, a variant of the Katyusha with a longer range. Last week one of the rockets was reported to have hit and exploded 14 miles inside of Israel.

* Hezbollah continues to insist on a prisoner exchange with Israel, and according to at least one Lebanese lawmaker, the Shi'ite terrorist organization is seeking third party support to negotiate the deal. Israel refuses to accept any prisoner swap and calls for the unconditional release of the two IDF soldiers.

America Domestic Security & the Americas

* One of seven men accused of plotting terrorist attacks against Chicago's Sears Tower and government buildings in major cities pleaded not guilty Friday despite his own admission in writing that he took an oath of loyalty to al-Qaida. Lyglenson Lemorin, 31, entered the plea during a brief hearing in federal court after he was transferred to Miami from Atlanta, where he was arrested in June. Another hearing is set for Aug. 8 to determine if he should be released on bail.

* The Bush administration on Thursday named a Canadian citizen with high-level ties to al Qaida, Abousofian Abdelrazik, as a "specially designated global terrorist" and launched action to seize his U.S. financial assets. Abdelrazik, who also holds Sudanese citizenship, "is known to have been a member of an extremist cell in Montreal" and had close associations with Ahmed Ressam, the convicted millennium bomber, the U.S. Treasury Department said in a statement.

* A Pakistani convicted of supporting an al Qaeda plot to blow up U.S. gas stations was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Thursday in a case Washington has called a victory in its war on terror. Uzair Paracha, 26, has said he falsely confessed under the pressure of three days of interrogation by the FBI, but U.S. District Court Judge Sidney Stein said Paracha "knew what he was doing" in lending support to al Qaeda.

* Russia has signed a contract on supplies of military planes and helicopters to Venezuela worth over $1 billion.

* On Thursday the US House voted 410-8 to agree to the resolution in support of Israel.

Russia, Caucasus & Central Asia

* Russian humanitarian shipments will begin arriving in Lebanon on Monday, and officials are calling on Israel to allow the aid shipments to reach their destination safely.

* Security service in the South Ossetian republic arrested a man in Tskhinvali, who reportedly acknowledged he was preparing a number of acts of terror against the officials of the Ministry of Defense. South Ossetian authorities are claiming the man was acting on behalf of the Georgian secret service.

* According to UN diplomats, Russia is opposing key parts of a U.S.-backed Security Council draft resolution on Iran’s nuclear program, threatening international unity on how to handle Tehran’s defiance.

* This weekend, Russia proposed holding a meeting of foreign ministers of the world’s leading nations and regional states in Beirut or Rome, in an attempt to stop the bloodshed in the Middle East.

Afghanistan & Southern Asia

* At least five Afghans were killed in the southern city of Kandahar on Saturday in a suicide attack, which took place shortly after a car bomber hit U.S.-led coalition troops, a police official said. Another police official said he saw five foreign casualties caused by the first attack. One local civilian was also killed in the initial attack, he said.

* Afghan and coalition forces have kept up a hunt for rebels who briefly captured two southern districts last week, killing 13 Taliban in the latest strikes. Another 15 were wounded in the operations, including air strikes, around Helmand province's Garmser and Naway-i-Barakzayi districts, provincial spokesman Moheedin Khan told AFP Saturday.

* The commander of Dutch armed forces says Dutch commandos in southern Afghanistan have killed 18 militants in the hills overlooking a Dutch military camp. General Dick Berlijn says there were no Dutch casualties in the 10-day operation around Camp Holland, which is under construction near the town of Tarin Kot in Oruzgan Province.

* A soldier from the US-led coalition was killed in eastern Afghanistan when a reconstruction team base was hit by mortars and rockets, the coalition said. The soldier, whose nationality was not released, died before he could be medically evacuated from the base in Paktika province, a coalition spokeswoman said. "A group of extremists fired several mortars and rockets at the base in Sharan," Lieutenant Tamara Lawrence said. It not immediately clear how much damage the base had suffered, she said.

* Afghan forces killed 19 suspected Taliban rebels as they traded rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire Sunday with insurgents in volatile southern Afghanistan. The fighting in the southern province of Helmand took place nine miles south of Lashkar Gah, as police hunted Taliban militants, said Mullah Amir Mohammed Akhundza, the provincial deputy governor who led the operation.

* In other violence reported Sunday, police said three policemen were killed and three others kidnapped in a Taliban attack on a police checkpoint in southeastern Ghazni province. And a bomb blast on a highway in Khost province near the border with Pakistan killed one Afghan and wounded three others, police said. Two coalition troops and an Afghan troop were meanwhile wounded when a remote-controlled bomb struck a patrol in neighbouring Paktia province.

* Two Canadian soldiers and six Afghan civilians have died in a double attack by suicide bombers in the city of Kandahar in southern Afghanistan. The soldiers died, and eight others were hurt, when a car laden with explosives rammed into their convoy. Soon afterwards near the scene, a second bomber killed six Afghans.

* Security forces said they found a small bomb on the main road to the international airport in the Afghan capital after a similar device exploded close to the nearby US embassy overnight. The blast late Saturday, about 100 metres (yards) from concrete security barriers leading to the embassy, caused no injuries or damage, a spokesman for the NATO-led force that patrols the city told AFP on Sunday.

* British troops in southern Afghanistan are winning the fight against the Taliban but there is still work to do until the "tide turns", their commander, Brigadier Ed Butler, said. Butler, back in Britain on a brief tour to update colleagues on the operation, said officers in Helmand province were now comfortable with the number of soldiers available to them.

* In Afghanistan, anger over the slow pace of reconstruction is palpable nearly five years since a U.S.-led invasion force toppled the Taliban. Signs of progress are everywhere — rising wages, girls attending school, spreading cell phone networks, a new cross-country highway. But then there's the reality of a raging insurgency, weak governance and the extreme poverty faced by millions.

* An article by Vance Serchuk in the July 11 issues of The Weekly Standard looked at why Afghanistan is having trouble building up an effective police force.

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

* A suspected rebel commander accused of staging over two dozen deadly attacks on tourists and other targets in Indian Kashmir has been arrested, police said. Police called the arrest a setback for militancy in Indian Kashmir, racked by an insurgency against New Delhi's rule since 1989.

* Soldiers and police clashed Friday with Islamic militants in Kashmir, killing three insurgents, police said, as a separate gunbattle raged elsewhere in the divided Himalayan region. The three militants were found dead in the village of Sursan, 70 kilometers (44 miles) south of Srinagar, the main city in Indian Kashmir, said the area’s police chief, S. P. Pani.

* Four people have been killed in three separate incidents in revolt-hit Indian Kashmir. An Indian soldier was killed Sunday when militants opened fire on an army patrol in the Gurez sector of the divided Himalayan region, about 100 kilometres (60 miles) from the summer capital Srinagar, army spokesman V.K. Batra said.

* The JK police today officially announced the arrest of one of Lashkar-e-Toiba’s key functionaries — Mudasir Gujri alias Raju — who is linked to the Lashkar’s Pakistan-based operational chief Abu al Qama. Police said Raju was the mastermind of the series of grenade attacks on tourists that killed nine people and the strike at a Congress rally in Srinagar.

* India dismissed Pakistan's offer to aid in the investigation of the Bombay train bombings with an official saying Friday that Islamabad has done nothing in the past when presented with evidence of terror networks on its soil. If Pakistanis "really want to convince the people of India that they are willing to work together with India against terrorism than they have to take some action immediately — and they can," Foreign Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna told reporters.

* Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf says India should not blame Pakistan for last week's bombings in Mumbai in which more than 180 people were killed. In a televised address, Gen Musharraf warned against unsubstantiated comments and hoped peace moves would continue.

* Three men have been detained in India along with a suspected senior militant in Kenya in the first arrests in connection with the Mumbai trains blasts that killed 183 people. Kenyan police said they detained Abdul Karim Tunda, one of India's most wanted men and a suspected organiser for banned Islamic militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba.

* The Pakistani authorities on Thursday ordered the evacuation of a northern area of the country, near the border with China, of tourists and foreigners after receiving intelligence reports of the possible presence of Osama bin Laden in the area. According to Arab daily al-Hayat, the presence of the al-Qaeda leader was reported in the extreme north of Pakistan in an area that borders China and Afghanistan. For this reason hundreds of tourists - most of them European - were made to leave the Chalinji Pass and the Wakhan corridor and the security forces closed all access to the area.

* Two days after India asked it to deport Dawood Ibrahim, Pakistan has maintained that the international terrorist is not on its soil and said he would be arrested straightaway if any proof of his presence is given.

* Despite repeated warnings by Central Intelligence agencies regarding intrusion of ISI agents in Bihar via Nepal, their influence has only widened in the districts bordering Nepal. Some organisations based in the Himalayan Kingdom have managed to sneak into the territories of Bihar to poison the minds of educated, but unemployed, Muslims so as to lure them into subversive activities.

Far East & Southeast Asia

* Australian Federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said that legislation introduced in the wake of the 2005 London bombings had been weakened because the ACT had not introduced complementary legislation on preventive detention of terror suspects.

* Defense Minister Brendan Nelson said Australia is considering sending 120 additional troops to Afghanistan, to join 300 already deployed there.

* A former Filipino Armed Forces chief on Sunday praised plans to split the Zamboanga City-based Southern Command headquarters into two to make it more effective in fighting communist insurgency and terrorism in Mindanao. "That’s beneficial because the military will now be more effective in handling the threats in Mindanao. That’s good at least the Southern Command will be more focus in addressing whatever problems as far as security is concerned," retired Gen. Narciso Abaya, a former Armed Force chief, told The Manila Times.

* Michael Richardson editorializes about North Korea's growing trade in terror and R.A. Allen looks at the Pyongyang-Tehran Missile Connection.

* Thirteen men accused of being part of a terrorist organization will appear in an Australian court on Monday, where prosecutors will outline their case against the group.

* Japan is looking towards playing a more active role in the Philippines, by funding infrastructure and other projects in the conflict torn southern region. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has already welcomed the move, expected to include construction of medical facilities, health care centers and schools.

* Communist rebels attacked a Filipino police station in Sorsogon Province on Saturday, killing one Coast Guard officer. Five rebels were killed in the engagement, and Filipino officials responded by vowing to crush the insurgency.

* The Association of Southeast Asian Nations met this weekend at a regional security meeting to discuss the situations in North Korea, Lebanon and Myanmar, and are expected to release a consensus statement on Monday.


* British intelligence continues to remain concerned that Hezbollah could target Israeli locations in the United Kingdom with terror attacks. In July 1994, Hezbollah drove a car bomb into the Israeli embassy in London, wounding 14.

* The leaders of Romania’s three main intelligence agencies resigned late last week after being summoned to a meeting with President Basescu to discuss the disappearance of Romanian businessman Omar Hayssam, who was accused of organizing the kidnapping of three Romanian journalists in Iraq, shortly before he was to be re-imprisoned.

* According to Berliner Zeitung newspaper, Russian and German intelligence services are using long-standing links to both Hamas and Hezbollah in a bid to win the freedom of three Israeli soldiers being held by terrorists.

* Bulgarian officials intercepted a shipment of ten boxes bound for the Iranian Ministry of Defense, containing radioactive material.

* The Albanian Finance Ministry has frozen the financial assets of Abdul Latif Saleh, a Jordanian businessman accused of receiving al Qaeda funds to establish a network in the Balkans.


* A Somali Islamist leader has ordered a "holy war" to drive out Ethiopian troops, after they entered the country to protect the weak interim government. "I am calling on the Somali people to wage a holy war against Ethiopians in Somalia," said Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys of the Union of Islamic Courts. Ethiopia denies that its forces are in the government's base of Baidoa, but a BBC reporter has seen them patrolling.

* Ethiopian troops moved into a second Somali town on Saturday to protect the country's weak, U.N.-backed government, angering the Islamic militia that controls most of Somalia and causing peace talks to collapse. About 200 Ethiopian troops, driving in pickup trucks mounted with machine guns, moved into Wajid and took control of the airport, meeting no resistance, witnesses said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they feared reprisals.

* Gunmen have killed 682 civilians, including a foreign journalist, in executions over the past year in Somalia, a local rights group said Sunday. The killings took place largely in the Somali capital, Mogadishu. Some came during battles for control of the city, others were due to clan differences, a few were kidnappings and some were for unknown motives, according to the report by the Dr. Ismael Jumale Human Rights Center.

* Africa continues to be afflicted with all sorts of scourges - and terrorism is at the top of the hit parade in a number of countries - Sudan, Somalia. Olivier Guitta has a piece in the Weekly Standard which he previews at the Counterterrorism Blog on the forgotten war in Algeria - with its own brand of Islamic fascist terrorists akin to al-Qaeda called the GPSC.

* Mark Mazzetti quotes unnamed Pentagon officials saying that the effort to combat terrorism in Africa and offset Chinese influence has been hampered by the slashing of funds to nations like Kenya.

* With Indian law enforcement agents en route to Kenya to pick up an alleged terrorist, Kenyan police said the man in custody might be someone else. Syed Abdul Karim, also known as Tunda, is one of the most wanted men in India and is reported to be the founder of Laskher-e-Taiba and the man behind a series of bombings in the 1990s.

The Global War

* It is only a "question of time" before Palestinian terror groups and other Islamic organizations in the Middle East target the United States both abroad and on the home front, Abu Nasser, second-in-command of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, told WorldNetDaily in an exclusive interview.

* The Bush administration has approved the sale of more than $6 billion worth of military platforms and equipment to Saudi Arabia. The Defense Department has notified Congress that the administration plans to sell helicopters, armored vehicles, communications systems and other equipment to Saudi Arabia. Officials said this would mark the largest Saudi arms purchase from the United States in more than a decade.

* The Bush administration and Congress have slashed millions of dollars of military aid to African nations in recent years, moves that Pentagon officials and senior military commanders say have undermined U.S. efforts to combat terrorist threats in Africa and to counter expanding Chinese influence there. Since 2003, Washington has shut down Pentagon programs to train and equip militaries in a handful of African nations because they have declined to sign agreements exempting U.S. troops from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

* UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour criticized Israel over civilian casualties in Lebanon and indicated there could be "war crimes" taking place. According to Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, the country has "been torn to shreds."

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

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Somalia: slip sliding away

On Saturday, Islamic militias and government forces clashed for the first time, a worrisome step in a situation that has the potential to get worse.

Government militia seized and set on fire two "technicals" -- heavily armed pickup trucks that are Somalia's version of tanks -- in fighting in the remote Qoryooley district, an Islamist source told Reuters.

There was no word on any casualties in the clash, the first since Islamists captured Mogadishu from warlords on June 5, challenging the slim authority of President Abdullahi Yusuf's Western-backed government.

One of the sheikhs in the Islamic Courts has declared a "holy war" to drive out Ethiopian troops, which have entered Somalia in an effort to prevent the unrest in Somalia from spilling across the porous border into Ethiopia.

"I am calling on the Somali people to wage a holy war against Ethiopians in Somalia," said Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys of the Union of Islamic Courts.

Ethiopia denies that its forces are in the government's base of Baidoa, but a BBC reporter has seen them patrolling.

The UIC took control of the capital, Mogadishu, last month.

Since then it has consolidated its power over much of southern Somalia.

But Ethiopia is strongly opposed to the Islamists and has repeatedly warned that it will send its army into Somalia if the interim government is attacked.

On Wednesday, Islamist militiamen were reported to have advanced to within 60km (37 miles) of Baidoa. They have since withdrawn and deny planning to attack the town.

Ethiopian soldiers have in fact entered a second Somalian town.

Ethiopian troops moved into a second Somali town on Saturday to protect the country's weak, U.N.-backed government, angering the Islamic militia that controls most of Somalia and causing peace talks to collapse.

About 200 Ethiopian troops, driving in pickup trucks mounted with machine guns, moved into Wajid and took control of the airport, meeting no resistance, witnesses said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they feared reprisals.

Wajid is a U.N. aid base 46 miles southeast of the Somali-Ethiopian border. It is run by a clan-based administration not allied with either the government or the Islamists.

In response to the sheikh's threat, Ethiopia responded in kind.

Ethiopia has vowed to "crush" the powerful Somali Islamic courts, a day after they threatened a holy war against Addis Ababa, which they accuse of sending troops to protect Somalia’s weak interim government.

The warning came as witnesses reported an incursion of Ethiopian troops into a second Somali town close to Baidoa, the seat of the country’s toothless government, ostensibly to protect it from any advance by the Islamists.

The BBC has a page giving some background to the history of enmity between Ethiopia and Somalia.

Somalia has always maintained that Ethiopia occupies a part of its territory - the Ogaden region - ceded by British colonialists to Ethiopia.

Ethiopia disagrees and the failure of the Organisation of African Union (now the AU) to resolve the dispute led Somalia to declare war on Ethiopia in 1964. It also sponsored an Ethiopian rebel movement against the then-government of Emperor Haile Selassie.

But it is the 1977 Ethiopia-Somalia war that lingers more prominently in the minds of the people of the Horn of Africa.

The conflict was not only bloody but also costly to both nations and it did not in any way alter the situation in Somalia's favour.

It is also worth noting that as Somalia slipped into anarchy, the neighbours were sponsoring each other's rebel movements.

You know the nearer you are to Islamofascism, the more you're slip sliding away.

Friday, July 21, 2006

The stalwart Democrats

On Thursday the House voted 410-8 to agree to the resolution in support of Israel. One Republican (Paul) voted No. Seven Democrats (Abercrombie, Conyers, Dingell, Kilpatrick (MI), McDermott, Rahall, Stark) voted No. Also, four Democrats (Kaptur, Kucinich, Lee, Waters) voted Present.

As Forbes points out, it was a remarkable display of unity on foreign policy.

The House, displaying a foreign affairs solidarity lacking on issues like Iraq, voted overwhelmingly Thursday to support Israel in its confrontation with Hezbollah guerrillas.

The resolution, which was passed on a 410-8 vote, also condemns enemies of the Jewish state.

House Republican leader John Boehner cited Israel's "unique relationship" with the United States as a reason for his colleagues to swiftly go on record supporting Israel in the latest flare-up of violence in the Mideast.

Little of the political divisiveness in Congress on other national security issues was evident as lawmakers embraced the Bush administration's position.

So strong was the momentum for the resolution that it was steamrolling efforts by a small group of House members who argued that Congress's pro-Israel stance goes too far.

On Tuesday, Nancy Pelosi released a statement that was downright shocking in its tough talk.

I will support this resolution and urge my colleagues to do so as well. At a difficult time for the state of Israel, this resolution reaffirms our unwavering support and commitment to Israel and condemns the attacks by Hezbollah. The seizure of Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah terrorists was an unprovoked attack and Israel has a right and an obligation to respond.

As the fighting rages, it is imperative that the combatants take whatever steps they can to lessen risk to innocent civilians. The world knows too well the horrors of war. But there are ways to offer some degree of protection to civilians, and it is right to insist that those ways be chosen. Using civilians as shields by concealing weapons in civilian areas, as done by Hezbollah, is inconsistent with affording them protection, and this resolution properly condemns that action. Protecting civilians also means getting our citizens out of harm's way as quickly as possible. I urge the Bush Administration to expedite its efforts to bring to safety those Americans who want to leave Lebanon.

This attack would likely not have been possible without the explicit authorization of Hezbollah's main supporters, namely Iran and Syria. Hamas and Hezbollah are committed to the destruction of Israel, and Iran and Syria aid and abet efforts to achieve that goal. We must ensure that Iran and Syria understand the depth of the commitment of the United States to the state of Israel by using every diplomatic tool at our disposal.

Syria has repeatedly demonstrated it is a rogue state, which is why we passed the Syria Accountability Act more than two years ago. However, we must now fully implement all the sanctions spelled out in the legislation. In order to address the Iranian support of terrorists, I urge the passage of the Iran Freedom Support Act.

Although, careful inspection might reveal why the Democrats were so supportive of the measure, and why Pelosi acknowledged that *gasp* Syria and Iran are behind Hezbollah's terrorism.

First of all, it is Israel currently engaged in military action, not the US. So, the Democrats can easily say "Let Israel fight the terrorists." God forbid we fight terrorists in Iraq and elsewhere, but Israel has "a right and an obligation to respond" to acts of aggression against it. Israel is a freebie, an opportunity to look tough on foreign policy without having to commit the US to anything.

Second, Pelosi refers to the Syria Accountability Act. The penalties outlined in that Act were nonmilitary options, such as sanctions, and restrictions on exports and travel.

Also, Pelosi refers to the Iran Freedom Support Act, which I agree should be passed. That Act also calls for sanctions, and calls for support of democracy in Iran. No military options are outlined in that Act.

So, Pelosi refers to two good Acts, but neither involve the threat of military action on the part of the US.

The Democrats can be commended for supporting this resolution, but oh, if only they were just as supportive of US efforts to fight terrorism.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

India to put pressure on Pakistan

This comes in the wake of the train bombings in Bombay, which India believes was tied to support, in some fashion, to Pakistan.

From the Daily Times:

After declaring a tough stance against Pakistan in the wake of the Mumbai serial blasts, the Indian establishment is now in a dilemma over what “punitive steps” to take against Pakistan.

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has made the job more complex after his return from the G-8 meeting. Although Dr Singh has said that there is a need to reflect on relations with Pakistan, he has made it amply clear to his officials that he does not want permanent hostility, a source told Daily Times on Wednesday. Therefore, while a repeat of Operation Parakaram in 2001, when India deployed thousands of troops along the LoC and western border, is being ruled out, Indian officials are considering a series of diplomatic and political responses to convey an anti-terrorism message “with full force and full determination”, the source added.

The source said the first step being deliberated is to review the policy of supporting President General Pervez Musharraf, who was seen as the best bet for peace by a sizable section within the government. Security advisers are now asking the government to pay attention towards the exiled political leadership of Pakistan, the source said, adding that the advisers are betting more on PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif than the vocal pro-India leader Benazir Bhutto.

The source said the most important “punitive step” India could take against Pakistan is increasing engagement in Afghanistan and Central Asian countries. India is thinking not only of increasing its military strength to neutralise Pakistan’s strategic depth in the region, but also increasing financial assistance and indulge in other social activities in countries surrounding Pakistan. A move is also being made to increase the staff strength at the Indian consulate in Jalalabad, the source added. Islamabad has accused the consulate in Jalalabad of “subversive activities” in Balochistan and “undue” interference in the political affairs of the Northern Areas. The source said that this step would force Pakistan to retain and increase its military presence along the 2,500-kilometre Afghan border. He added that Indian officials believed that Pakistan had earlier decided to withdraw troops from the border to press them into action in Balochistan.

Pop quiz

Whether or not it's true, who says such things? Our friends or enemies? See if you can guess the correct answer.

From Reuters:

Iran's Hizbollah, which claims links to the Lebanese group of the same name, said on Tuesday it stood ready to attack Israeli and U.S. interests worldwide.

"We have 2,000 volunteers who have registered since last year," said Iranian Hizbollah's spokesman Mojtaba Bigdeli, speaking by telephone from the central seminary city of Qom.

"They have been trained and they can become fully armed. We are ready to dispatch them to every corner of the world to jeopardise Israel and America's interests. We are only waiting for the Supreme Leader's green light to take action. If America wants to ignite World War Three ... we welcome it," he said.

Iranian religious organisations have made great public show of recruiting volunteers for "martyrdom-seeking operations" in recent years, usually threatening U.S. interests in case of any attack against the Islamic Republic's nuclear programme.

But there is no record of an Iranian volunteer from these recruitment campaigns taking part in an attack.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Russia, Japan and the East Siberia pipeline

MosNews reported yesterday that Russia and Japan had come to an agreement over the building of the East Siberia-Pacific oil pipeline. Japan will help fund the construction.

Russia and Japan agreed on the project to build the East Siberia-Pacific Ocean oil pipeline, the Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said at a final press-conference at the end of G8 summit in St. Petersburg.

“Russia and Japan agreed to cooperate on the pipeline from East Siberia to the Pacific,” Junichiro Koizumi said, quoted by RIA Novosti. “It will be a mutually advantageous project.”

The pipeline is slated to pump up to 80 million metric tons of crude a year (1.6 million barrels per day) from Siberia to Russia’s Far East. The oil will then be exported to the Asia-Pacific region with a branch going to energy-hungry China.
Japanese Prime Minister’s words were supported by the Russian Industry and Energy Minister Viktor Khristenko who said Japan has offered to invest in oil production in Siberia in exchange for the speeding up of the construction of the Siberia-Pacific pipeline. “The decision has been taken to build the first part of the pipeline and the terminal,” Khristenko said, quoted by AFX. The Russian minister added, however, that the decision on the second part of the pipeline will be taken “when we have more information on the (oil) resources available in East Siberia”.

There's quite a bit of history to this announcement, which I talked about in this post.

In January, Putin announced that construction on the pipeline would begin this summer. Early on, the pipeline was seen as benefiting Japan, which made China nervous. China is oil-hungry too, and seeing all that oil sail by to its rival, Japan, irked China.

After much discussion (see my aforementioned previous post) Putin announced at the G8 summit last year that a rail branch would go from Skovorodino to China, and that it would be the first priority.

(A map of the proposed route can be seen here. Skovorodino is just above the shaded red area, the name, in Russian, looks like it starts with "CKOBOp".)

Obviously, that didn't sit well with Japan, who thought they were the first priority. Japan began to worry if the pipeline would ever reach the Pacific, and if the pipeline would instead end in China, or if China would get most of the oil.

In November, Putin tried to reassure Japan when he said the pipeline would indeed go to the Pacific.

Shortly thereafter, in an apparent quid pro quo, Japan said it would support Russia's entry into the WTO.

Russia hoped to receive support for entry into the WTO at the recently concluded G8 summit, but the US blocked it. Those talks are still ongoing, but note it wasn't Japan blocking the deal.

In March, Russia and China held a summit, and it was apparent Russia was still hesitant about fully supplying China's oil needs. Russia wants the business, but is still wary about providing the engine for a dominant China. At that summit, Putin did not clearly commit to building a pipeline to China itself.

Earlier this month, Transneft, the Russian pipeline company, said that China still had a strong interest in a branch off the East Siberia pipeline.

China's Ambassador to Russia Liu Guchang confirmed his country's strong interest in seeing a branch of Eastern Siberia - Pacific Ocean (ESPO) oil pipeline built to reach China.

"Cooperation between Russia and China in building an ESPO oil pipeline branch to China is of strategic importance. We are committed to this project and intend to cooperate fully with Russia in this matter," Liu Guchang said last Friday to the Interfax-China agency.

"The companies of the two countries are undertaking in-depth research and a TEO feasibility study to build an ESPO oil pipeline branch from Skovorodino to the Russian-Chinese border. Once the findings of the research are in, we will look into every possible option to partner up with Russia on that project," Liu Guchang said.

Part of the discussion surrounding the branch was if it would remain a rail branch, or if a pipeline would be built. Rail is a more expensive way to transport oil, so China would prefer a pipeline, if possible. The Chinese ambassador quoted above certainly mentioned a pipeline, not a rail branch.

And that is what is missing in this news about the Russia-Japan deal. What about this branch into China? Will a rail branch, or branch pipeline, still be built first? If Japan is kicking in a lot of money, has Japan now "bought" first priority? You'll notice the announcement only mentioned Skovorodino, which was where the rail branch was going to start from in the first place. Something to keep an eye on.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Britain: The BLA is a terrorist organization

In Britain, the Home Secretary has added the Balochistan Liberation Army to the list of banned organizations under new anti-terrorism laws. From The Times:

Two Islamist militant groups were banned by the Government yesterday. However, ministers failed to proscribe Hizb-ut-Tahrir despite a promise by Tony Blair a year ago.

Al-Ghurabaa and the Saved Sect are the first two organisations to be banned under new laws outlawing the glorification of terrorism.

John Reid, the Home Secretary, laid an order in Parliament making it a criminal offence for a person to belong to or encourage support for either group.

It will also be illegal to arrange meetings in their support or to wear clothes or carry articles in public indicating support for either group.

Last August the Prime Minister announced a hastily prepared package of anti-terror measures, saying: “We will proscribe Hizb-ut-Tahrir and the successor organisation of Al Mujahiroun.”

The banned groups are believed to be offshoots of Al-Mujahiroun, the militant organisation founded by Omar Bakri Mohammad. They were involved in protests this year against the publication of cartoons of the prophet Muhammad in a Danish newspaper.

Mr Reid is also banning two foreign groups, the Baluchistan Liberation Army and Teyrebaz Azadiya Kurdistan.

The GoB Exile blog reacted here:

In a major setback to the Baloch freedom struggle, Britain on Monday banned the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), invoking for the first time a new law against glorifying terrorism.

John Reid, the Home Secretary of U.K. issued an order in Parliament to make it a criminal offense for a person to belong to or encourage support for BLA. It will be illegal to arrange meetings in their support or to wear clothes or carry articles in public indicating support for BLA.

“I am determined to act against those who, while not directly involved in committing acts of terrorism, provide support for and make statements that glorify, celebrate and exalt the atrocities of terrorist groups,” Reid said.

“I am also committed to ensuring that those organizations that change their name do not avoid the consequences of proscription,” he said.

Government of Balochistan (GOB) in Exile protested the new law invoked by Britain, and insists that BLA is not a terrorist organization, but a resistance force, which is engaged in guerilla warfare with the Islamic Republics of Iran and Pakistan to liberate Balochistan. Freedom is a basic human right, and BLA is batting the oppressors of the Baloch nation to secure the freedom of the Baloch people.

A letter, which can be read in that post, was sent to the Home Secretary urging him to see the difference between "freedom fighters" and terrorism. An excerpt:

GOB (Exile) denounces all forms of terrorism, including state terrorism. As you know that Balochistan was forcibly occupied by Iran and Pakistan, and the Baloch people were oppressed ever since. They have struggled for their basic right of self-determination by fighting the Iranian and Pakistani forces to liberate Balochistan.

The Baloch are one of the oppressed nations of the world like the Kurds. Foreign forces, the Iranians and Pakistanis, occupy the Baloch territories. Balochistan is marginalized in every sense by its colonizers who are unwilling to resolve problems through political dialogue. Hence, like many other oppressed nations, the Baloch have revolted and are now demanding total autonomy. Such rebellion usually turns into an arms conflict between the "Goliath and the Giant".

Strong-arms tactics of the occupying forces usually results into a genocide-like condition for the oppressed people. This is what is currently happening in Iran-occupied and Pakistan-occupied Balochistan. Both the Iranian and Pakistani governments are systematically conducting "ethnic cleansing" to rid the Baloch race from their ancestral land, Balochistan. The Baloch have voiced their concern through political dialogue, but to no avail.

To the outside world, it is not always easy to see black and white. The rebel fighters in Balochistan do attack infrastructure such as bridges, railroads, and pipelines. And, Pakistani soldiers have been killed.

But, the rebel fighters do not attack civilians indiscriminately. They are nothing like the suicide bombers who routinely kill dozens in Iraq.

In April, Richard A. Boucher, Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs, was asked directly if he thought the Baloch fighters were terrorists. Boucher declined to go that far. Here is the transcript:

MIR: Ambassador, when they talk about the war against terrorism, many people in Pakistan say that is why the U.S. is ignorant about the situation in Balochistan, where the Baloch nationalists are involved in terrorism. So what is your view about that?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: I don’t think we are ignorant of the situation. We’re certainly following it closely. As you know this has been violence that has occurred periodically throughout Pakistan’s history. We do think it needs to be solved, both, you know, with whatever military means are necessary but also in terms of the politics and economics of the region. And we are watching closely and encouraging the Government to find solutions.

MIR: Do you believe that the Baloch militants, that they are terrorists?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: I think that anybody that starts exploding bombs and shooting innocent people is a terrorist, but I don’t have any more detailed analysis for you than that.

MIR: Because some people ask the question why the Baloch [inaudible] National Army is not included in the terrorist list of the State Department?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: That’s sort of a formal process that requires a particular examination of evidence over time. That’s not been done at this point. Whether it might at some point in the future I don’t, really can’t say now.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Murky Balochistan

Over the weekend there was this report from Balochistan:

Some 600 rebel tribesmen have surrendered to the authorities in Pakistan's southwestern province of Baluchistan, a government spokesman said on Sunday.

The fighters, led by three commanders, agreed to lay down their weapons at a parley with Baluchistan's Home Minister Shoaib Nausherwani in Dera Bugti district on Saturday.

Khan Mohammad Masoori, one of the commanders, pledged to halt attacks on government installations as his men handed over AK-47 rifles, machineguns, rocket launchers and mortars in Baker town, 400 km northeast of Quetta, officials said.

Baluch government officials hoped the fighters' decision to stop fighting would sound the death knell for a revolt led by tribal chieftain Nawab Akbar Bugti.

"It is a big success for the government and setback for the rebels," Raziq Bugti, a spokesman for the Baluch government in Quetta, told Reuters. "The Bugti chapter has almost been closed now and militancy won't come back."

The Bugti tribe is one of the main tribes in Balochistan, and it would be a significant development if hundreds of fighters turned in their weapons.

However, this is being disputed.

Armed tribesmen fighting the government in Dera Bugti have spurned official claims that tribal leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti and his allies have deserted their positions and taken refuge elsewhere.

“The Nawab is still there and bravely fighting against forces engaged in constant bombing and shelling,” said Wadera Alam Khan, spokesman of the tribal fighters, while calling from an unknown place via satellite phone. He said the government was losing its war against the tribesmen and had thus been driven to “baseless propaganda”. He said that not more than 35 people had surrendered before the government in an official ceremony at Bakad area. Khan said that helicopters had continued shelling and bombarding Paylawag and Kanza on Sunday. “They also destroyed some 40 empty houses belonging to local people,” he said.

The spokesman said that the militants’ were getting stronger and gaining more popularity among the Baloch youths. As many as 40 young men had decided to join the armed struggle and fight for the “Baloch national struggle”, he said.

It is certainly in Pakistan's interest to give the impression that the independence movement is sputtering out. That's why such reports should be verified before being taken at face value. Also, Balochs that work with the Pakistani government are not especially appreciated by those in the independence movement. From the GoB Exile blog:

On June 6th, 2006, during a political speech at Meezaan Chowk in Quetta, Mehmood Khan Achakzai, an ethnic Pashtun politician, called upon the Baloch people and said, “Any Baloch who does not support His Greatnesses Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti Sahib and Nawab Khair Buksh Marri Sahib – especially during the present crisis in Balochistan – is a ‘Bay Ghairat’ (one without any honor).”

The Pakistani military dictatorship of General Pervez Musharraf has systematically used the names of Baloch (those who are loyal to the occupying forces) in their media assault on the Baloch nation. These loyalists appear out of nowhere and start making ridiculous statements against the “Baloch War of Independence”, Baloch freedom fighters, and Baloch nationalist leaders. However, there are also notable “Baloch Loyalists” such as Jam Mohammad Yousaf, Zubaida Jalal and many more who continue to batter the Baloch struggle for freedom.

The ongoing “Baloch War of Independence” is a very important moment in the history of Balochistan. This is an event that has drawn a clear-cut line between those who support the sovereignty of Balochistan as a country, and those who want the Baloch nation to continue to live as slaves of the occupying forces of Iran and Pakistan. In other words, this division is between “Baloch Nationalist” and “Baloch Loyalist”.

As a sign of what the Pakistani government (or intelligence service) may be capable of, over the weekend there was also a report of an assassination attempt against Senator Sana Baloch.

Unconfirmed reports from London and US say that there was an attempt on Baloch leader Senator Sanaullah Baloch in London . When IntelliBriefs contacted Dr.Wahid Baloch , President of Baloch Society of North America , said that he spoke with Mr.Sana Baloch and confirmed the news . According to Dr.Wahid " some people of Pakistani origin threw a home made bomb on Mr.Sana Baloch and Mr.Mumtaz Bhutto as they were leaving the Third world Solidarity conference in London, to assassinate him in the daylight."

The Senator has been a voice for independent-minded Balochs in Pakistan's government, and perhaps he is becoming too much of a thorn in Pakistan's side. Senator Baloch participated (from afar) in the panel discussion I blogged about here.

No less serious, there were also reports that two of the Senator's brothers were picked up in Quetta. The Daily Times says (same link as above):

Meanwhile, a Balochistan National Party (BNP) spokesman said on Sunday that two brothers of BNP Information Secretary Senator Sanaullah Baloch, Haji Abdullah and Sami Baloch, had been “picked up by secret agency personnel” from Quetta airport. “It’s regrettable that more than 4,000 people are currently being held by intelligence agencies. The courts must taken action against this phenomenon and bring an end to the trend of mysterious disappearances,” the spokesperson said.

If element in Pakistan are putting such extreme pressure on the Senator, I am inclined to believe they are concerned about the ongoing independence movement, and reports of mass surrenders are probably not true.

Two Baloch leaders were put under house arrest.

The law enforcement agencies put two prominent members of the Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP), which is headed by Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, under house arrest on Sunday.

Security forces have been deployed at the residences of Senator Agha Shahid Bugti, JWP secretary general, and Humayun Khan Marri, JWP provincial president.

“I have been kept under house arrest since this morning,” Senator Bugti told Daily Times via telephone. He said that Hamayun Khan Marri was also under house arrest.

“Our house arrest comes only two days after the kidnapping of my brother Bilal Bugti and another JWP activist Murtaza Bugti in Karachi. This is an illegal and unconstitutional action which we strongly condemn,” he added. Law enforcement personnel deployed at the residences of the JWP members said they had orders to restrict the movement of the two Baloch leaders. “We will stay here until we are ordered to leave,” one guard said.

As for why Bugti tribesmen might want to keep fighting, consider this story from Dawn:

Fifty-something Fateh Ali says he is too proud a Baloch to cry over the death of a child in public. Yet he struggles to hold back his tears as he recalls how his young daughter was killed when army helicopter gunships strafed the suburbs of Dera Bugti one chilly night last December in an operation that was ostensibly meant to target militants engaged in anti-state guerilla warfare.

“My girl had just had her evening meal when she was hit by shrapnel from one of the many bombs dropped by the army helicopters that hovered over our mud-brick huts near Haft Wali for hours that night. The troops who took part in the operation must have known full well that they were attacking a civilian settlement unable to return fire,” he says, clenching his fists in helpless anger. “I wish I had the means to take revenge.”

Ali now lives with hundred-odd Bugti tribesmen on desolate farmland irrigated by the Pat Feeder canal, lined with eucalyptus and acacia trees, in Jafarabad.

With womenfolk confined to an improvised thatched hut, the men, with long-barreled rifles slung over their shoulders, lazily take turns to graze whatever cattle they are left with.

“The army helicopters destroyed our standing wheat crops. They also destroyed the grain stored from last year’s crop.

We fled the area in such haste that we left behind the bodies of our near and dear ones unburied. Our children are not going to school anymore and young, able-bodied members of our tribe, who were previously employed, are constantly harried by law-enforcement agencies,” says Ali Nawaz.

Showing remarkable courage in the face of adversity, these displaced tribesmen say they still look up to Nawab Akbar Bugti with unimpaired loyalty.

Asked how they would have felt if the Nawab had mended fences with the establishment through negotiations and they would not have been dislodged from their ancestral towns, they give incensed looks and a curt reply: “No, the Nawab is a fighter.

“Like us, he is also suffering. And we will go back to Dera Bugti only when he returns to his house. We will win our war,” says Nawaz with the resolution of an armed warrior, although, by his own admission, his only worldly possession is a worn-out sheepskin water-container, known as the “khalli” in the vernacular.

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 & Friday. Monday's Winds of War briefings are given by Security Watchtower and Peace Like a River.

Top Topics

* On Sunday, Hezbollah rockets struck the northern Israeli city of Haifa, killing nine and wounding dozens others. In response, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned there will be long-term consequences, while Hezbollah is threatening to destroy the city. Israel has moved three Patriot missile batteries to Haifa as well.

* The bombers who targeted Bombay's rail system had support from inside Pakistan, India's prime minister said Friday, warning that the nuclear-armed rivals' peace process could be derailed unless Islamabad reins in terrorists. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's unusually blunt comments appeared to signal a major shift in relations between India and Pakistan, whose ties had warmed over the past two years.

* Coalition and Afghan forces killed more than 40 militants across southern Afghanistan on Saturday, including 10 in a large-scale air assault aimed at wresting a desert town from Taliban control. More than 300 British paratroopers, backed by U.S. and Canadian forces, launched an early morning raid on Helmand province's insurgent stronghold of Sangin, where hundreds of Taliban had massed in preparation for launching attacks, coalition spokesman Maj. Scott Lundy said.

* Iran has reiterated their support for Damascus, and warned Israel of "unimaginable losses" if they took military action against Syria. Amir Taheri has commentary in Asharq Alawsat on the proxy war transpiring.

Other topics today include: Israel introduces cease-fire conditions; Syria given 72-hour ultimatum; reports Nasrallah wounded; Hezbollah rockets hit northern Israel; IDF moves into Gaza; stampede at Rafah; IAF pound Hezbollah positions; Preparing for ground war; Tourists & foreigners flee Lebanon; Hezbollah strikes Israeli ship; Israelis huddled in bomb shelters; Emergency Arab summit in Cairo; Iran banking on Russia & China; Turkey prepares response against Kurd militants; al Jazeera crew arrested in Haifa; Padilla examines terror documents; Stepped up security in Manhattan; Behind the killing of Basayev; Bombing in Tskhinvali; US secures lease for Manas; Russian amnesty offer to Chechen rebels; Indian bombers trained in Bangladesh; India names suspects & conduct interrogations; al Qaeda in Kashmir; Bombing in Karachi targets Shi'ite cleric; Bombings in southern Afghanistan; Taliban suffer heavy losses in fighting; Violent protests in Karachi; Baluch tribesmen surrender; Fierce firefight in Sri Lanka; Sanctions on North Korea; Arroyo declares all-out war against communists in the Philippines; Protests in Indonesia; Indian bombing financiers in Britain; European press condemns Israel; Peace talks in Somalia breakdown; and more.

Iran & the Middle East

* Israeli authorities have laid out the conditions for a cease-fire with Hezbollah, calling on the return of two kidnapped IDF soldiers and withdrawal of Hezbollah forces from southern Lebanon.

* According to al-Hayat newspaper out of London, the Israeli government has given Syria a 72-hour ultimatum to cease Hezbollah activity and release the two detained Israeli soldiers. The article cites a source in the Pentagon as saying the Israeli offensive will not stop until there is a "new situation created that will prevent Syria and Iran from using terror organizations to threaten its security." The source further added that "the US cannot rule out the possibility of an Israeli strike in Syria."

* According to reports airing on Israeli Channel 2 TV, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, has been wounded in an airstrike in southern Beirut. Hezbollah is denying the charges and Nasrallah appeared on a video broadcast on Sunday.

* On Monday morning, Hezbollah rockets landed in the Israeli towns of Afula and Upper Nazareth, about 40 km south of the Lebanon border.

* Israeli ground forces rolled back into northern Gaza on Sunday morning, a week after leaving the territory, and exchanged fire with groups of armed Palestinian militants as they advanced towards Beit Hanoun. An Israeli airstrike on Friday targeted the Palestinian Economy Ministry in Gaza, in the latest strike against government offices in Gaza city.

* Egyptian medical and security teams have been sent to the Rafah border crossing after some 2,000 Palestinians forced their way back into the Gaza Strip on Saturday. "North Sinai governor Ahmed Abdel Hamid gave instructions to all the state's services to be prepared for emergencies."

* Israeli aircraft have pounded Hezbollah positions and infrastructure throughout Lebanon for days now, striking the Jiyeh power plant in southern Beirut on Sunday. Other targets hit included a Lebanese coastal radar positions and sixty different Hezbollah targets in the Dahiya quarter. The IAF also destroyed five long-range rocket launchers.

* The IAF Chief Maj.-Gen. Elyezer Shkedy, warned Hezbollah that more attacks were to come. In the five-days of fighting, Israel has carried out 1,000 air raids and 350 helicopter gunship sorties, striking targets as far north as Abdeh. The IDF reports that 25 percent of Hezbollah's capabilities have been hit.

* In a move that could signal a pending ground assault in southern Lebanon, an IDF reserve infantry division was called up on Sunday and armored Israel vehicles were reportedly moving north, but the Israeli government maintains at this time there are no plans for a broad ground-offensive into Lebanon. John at Op-For believes we are currently witnessing the classic battlefield preparation for a ground invasion.

* Hundreds of tourists began fleeing Lebanon on Friday, many headed for Syria. More than 100 Lebanese civilians are reported to have been killed in the recent fighting between Hezbollah and Israel, including 7 Canadians. The United States and European and Arab nations moved on Saturday to evacuate their nationals from Lebanon. An estimated 25,000 Americans live and work in the country.

* On Friday, initial reports indicated that Hezbollah flew a Mirsad-1 UAV into an Israeli warship, setting the vessel afire. Later reports indicated the vessel was instead struck by an Iranian-made C-802 missile (also see more info on the missiles from Gateway Pundit). Four Israeli sailors went missing in the attack, which Israel says was orchestrated by Iran.

* An estimated 220,000 Israelis are now staying in bomb shelters throughout northern Israel, where martial law has been imposed by the government and a state of emergency remains in effect in areas of northern Israel.

* Arab Ministers squabbled during an emergency summit in Cairo on Saturday, with some nations very critical of Hezbollah in the latest conflict with Israel. Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal called Hezbollah's acts "unexpected, inappropriate and irresponsible (also see more on the Saudi reaction from Crossroads Arabia). King Abdullah of Jordan is among many calling for U.N. intervention to end the fighting.

* Iran has announced that they are still counting on Russia and China to protect their nuclear ambitions in the Security Council, and warned the G8 against sending their case back before the council.

* Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has signalled that his government was planning a tough response to mounting violence by Kurdish rebels after 13 members of the security forces were killed in the southeast over the past week.

* An Aljazeera TV crew was arrested outside of Haifa after filming their report with an Israeli seaside oil refinery as backdrop.

America Domestic Security & the Americas

* With a federal marshal standing guard just feet away, alleged al-Qaida operative Jose Padilla is being allowed to sift through U.S. government secrets as he prepares his defence with his lawyers. Padilla, charged with conspiring to wage and support international terrorism, is being allowed under a federal judge's order to examine the documents and videotapes detailing his statements during 3 1/2 years in Defence Department custody as an unlawful "enemy combatant." That designation was dropped last fall when he was charged in a Miami terrorism case.

* A wall that suspects in a terrorist plot hoped to destroy to unleash a catastrophic flood in lower Manhattan was quietly put under 24-hour protection in recent weeks once details of the plot began to emerge, two law enforcement officials said. The suspects hoped to bring down the so-called slurry wall, which keeps the water from the Hudson River out of the World Trade Center site, the officials told the AP Thursday.

* A stalled FBI investigation of seven terror suspects was salvaged when two informants persuaded the alleged ringleader to trust them because they had al Qaeda connections.

* The Bush administration and Congress are struggling to resolve three election-year issues that color U.S. and international perceptions of the war on terror: detainee treatment, military tribunals and government eavesdropping. The biggest progress Thursday came with word that President Bush agreed, conditionally, to support legislation that would open a special court review of the administration's most controversial terrorist surveillance program.

* The former imam of a Cleveland mosque is being called a "man without a country," stuck in jail because U.S. authorities cannot find a place to deport him. Fawaz Damra, who was born on the West Bank, was convicted in 2004 of lying about ties to terrorist groups when he came to the United States about 20 years earlier. The evidence included a 1991 videotape in which Damra called Jews "pigs and monkeys" in Arabic and urged his listeners to contribute to Islamic Jihad.

* Mubin Shaikh, a well-known and sometimes controversial figure in Toronto's Muslim community, says he decided to become an undercover police agent and infiltrate an alleged terrorism cell to protect Canada, the country of his birth.

* A youth charged in what's been billed as this country's largest counterterrorism operation since 9-11 was back home with family Friday after becoming the first of 17 terror suspects to be granted bail. The boy, who cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was released under very strict conditions, said his lawyer Gary Grill.

* Colombian leftist rebels, after fierce combat with rightist militiamen who spurned their comrades' demobilization, have massacred 10 people and taken some 170 others, mostly woodcutters, hostage and are using them as "human shields," a provincial governor said Friday.

Russia, Caucasus & Central Asia

* Government special forces in Kyrgyzstan have carried out an operation in the city of Jalalabad, killing five armed members of the Islamic movement of Turkestan and Hizb ut-Tahrir. According to Major-General Busurmankul Tabaldiyev, the terrorist organizations in the country have been decapitated.

* C.J. Chivers writes about the transformation of Ramzan Kadyrov, warlord turned Chechen president, in the Saturday edition of the New York Times.

* According to Russian intelligence sources, Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev was betrayed by a mole who was paid by Russian security forces to plant a powerful mine in the convoy he was travelling in.

* A bombing in the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali killed two civilians and wounded four others on Friday, in attacks that Georgia is blaming on the Russian secret services.

* On Friday the United States reached terms with Kyrgyzstan, for continued use of Manas airbase, primarily used by the U.S. military for ongoing operations in Afghanistan since late 2001. Approximately 1,700 U.S. troops and millions of gallons of fuel passes through Manas each month, primarily on the way to Afghanistan. In exchange for use of the base in the coming year, the United States is reported to be paying $ 150 million in assistance and compensation (also see U.S. Interests in Central Asia: Policy Priorities & Military Roles).

* Nikolai Patrushev, the Director of the Federal Security Service of Russia (FSB) and the head of the National Antiterrorist Committee, is calling on militants in the northern Caucasus to disarm and begin negotiations.

* Chechen rebels are ready to drop their independence bid in exchange for peace, a senior representative said, in response to an offer of amnesty from Russia. However the radical wing of the guerrilla movement showed no sign of agreeing.

* According to Igor Drizhchany, the Chairman of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), they are prepared for more active cooperation with NATO countries in the global fight against terror. To date bilateral relationships with with 29 members of NATO and their partners are established by the SBU. This cooperation includes non-proliferation of the weapons of mass destruction, illegal circulation of drugs, money-laundering and illegal migration.

Afghanistan & Southern Asia

* Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri warned against "knee-jerk" reactions saddling his country with blame for the bomb blasts which killed at least 200 people in Mumbai. In an interview with CNN broadcast on Wednesday, Kasuri said India should be careful about ant attempt to attribute the attacks to Pakistan-based militants.

* All the seven bombers involved in engineering blasts on Mumbai’s suburban trains on Tuesday were either trained in Bangladesh or had spent considerable time there after receiving training in ISI-controlled training camps in Pakistan. The Anti-Terrorist Squad is now quite certain that the seven bombers, and the others who helped them carry out the blasts, had a strong Bangladeshi connection.

* Indian authorities named two suspects Thursday in this week's train bombings, an apparent breakthrough in the frenetic investigations into the well-coordinated attacks that killed at least 200 people. The government's Anti-Terror Squad released photos of young, lightly bearded men identified as Sayyad Zabiuddin and Zulfeqar Fayyaz, said Sunil Mane, an anti-terror official.

* Indian authorities on Friday named a third suspect in this week's train bombings in Bombay, as the local media said the well-coordinated attacks that killed 200 people were planned by Pakistan's main intelligence agency.

* Police in Bombay detained and interrogated hundreds of people in the probe of the coordinated bomb blasts that devastated commuter trains in this city Tuesday, killing 183 people and wounding 770, officials said Thursday.

* Indian authorities detained 11 people, mostly Muslims, on Saturday as the hunt for the Mumbai bombers produced several leads, but police warned about drawing premature conclusions. Panic gripped the city anew on Saturday evening when trains were stopped for over an hour and commuters evacuated after a bomb threat at a northern Mumbai suburban station. The threat was declared a hoax after a search, police said.

* India’s political leaders risked antagonising Pakistan last night. D. K. Shankaran, a senior figure in the Maharashtra state government, blamed Pakistan for allowing Kashmiri militants to orchestrate the plot. “There was substantial involvement of Lashkar-e-Taiba with local support,” he said, pointing the finger at the banned Students Islamic Movement of India for providing the manpower to carry the explosives on to seven trains. The Indian Cabinet was briefed by the national security adviser yesterday about possible cross-border links.

* Pakistan could jeopardise peace in South Asia by clinging to a "jihadi option" despite a high-profile crackdown on Islamic militants by President Pervez Musharraf, analysts say. Military ruler Musharraf, a major US ally in the "war on terror", has also failed to tackle the so-called holy warriors because he needs Pakistan's hardline Muslim parties on-side, they say. The result is worsening ties with India -- which says Tuesday's Mumbai bombings were carried out with "cross-border" help -- while Afghanistan is urging him to purge Taliban rebels allegedly based on Pakistani soil.

* As Indian investigators sift through the wreckage of Tuesday's deadly railway blasts in Mumbai, which killed at least 200 and wounded 700, suspicions are beginning to point to Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, or the Army of the Righteous, a Pakistani-based militant outfit with a long history of terrorist attacks inside India. It is too early to say whether the group was directly responsible for masterminding the violence. A Lashkar-e-Tayyaba spokesperson, Abdullah Ghaznavi, denied that the group was involved in the attack.

* The Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) is a banned Islamic fundamentalist organization, which advocates the ‘liberation of India’ by converting it to an Islamic land. SIMI has declared Jehad against India, the aim of which is to establish Dar-ul-Islam (land of Islam) by either forcefully converting everyone to Islam or by violence.

* Here are some links to background reading on some of the groups suspected of involvement in the Bombay train attacks.

* Police in Nepal are probing possible links between two Pakistani men arrested here on explosives charges and the serial train blasts in Mumbai that killed 179 people, an official said. The men were arrested at a downtown hotel Wednesday in connection with the 2001 discovery in a Kathmandu flat of 16 kilograms (33 pounds) of powerful RDX explosive.

* Kashmir authorities were tightlipped about a report that Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda may have set up a wing in the revolt-hit region, except to say they were probing the claims. A Kashmiri news agency took a call on Thursday from a man who said a group called "Al-Qaeda Jammu and Kashmir" had been launched that day in Indian Kashmir where an Islamic separatist insurgency against New Delhi's rule has raged since 1989.

* Police in Jammu and Kashmir have traced the PCO booth from where a man claming to be Al Qaeda spokesperson Abu-al-Hadeed had phoned a local news agency in Srinagar to declare that the organisation had set up its unit in the state. Preliminary investigations indicate that the man was a Kashmiri.

* A suspected suicide bomber blew himself up outside a key Shiite leader's house in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi Friday, injuring the cleric and killing a male relative, police said. The religious leader targeted in the attack, Hassan Turabi, escaped a similar assassination attempt in April.

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

* Here is the CDI's Afghan update for the month of June. It is a roundup of events in Afghanistan throughout the month.

* It will take three more years for the U.S.-trained Afghan army, intended to assume security responsibilities now shouldered by foreign forces in Afghanistan, to reach the planned goal of 70,000 soldiers, a U.S. commander said on Thursday.

* A suicide bomb blast wounded a policeman in southern Afghanistan Friday while nine Taliban were killed in a clash with Afghan and coalition troops, officials said.

* A suicide bomber drove a taxi into a convoy of US-led troops in Afghanistan, killing himself and a child, officials say. Officials say that the attack happened in the Yaqubay district of Khost province, and that two US soldiers and three other children were injured.

* At least 19 suspected Taleban militants have been killed in clashes in southern Afghanistan, officials say. A Helmand province government spokesman said Taleban fighters attacked the village of Nawzad, targeting a garrison of Afghan and coalition troops.

* At least 37 Taliban rebels were killed in fighting with Afghan and US-led coalition troops in southern Afghanistan on Saturday, an official has said. "Twenty seven Taliban were killed during a joint Afghan and coalition operation in Sangin district of Helmand province," said Mohammad Nabi Mullahkhil, the police chief in Helmand, Sunday. Another eight were killed in a separate clash with troops in the same region, said Mullahkhil. Two more Taliban fighters were killed when they attacked an Afghan security patrol in neighbouring Uruzgan province, provincial official Mohammad Zahir said. Mullahkhil said 22 rebels were also captured in the three clashes.

* Hundreds of youths set fire to a Pizza Hut restaurant, two gas stations and a dozen vehicles in Pakistan's biggest city, Karachi, after Saturday's funeral for an Islamic Shiite cleric killed in a suicide attack. Rioters rampaged through a busy commercial area a day after a suicide bomber killed cleric Allama Hassan Turabi, his cousin and a police guard.

* Some 600 rebel tribesmen have surrendered to the authorities in Pakistan's southwestern province of Baluchistan, a government spokesman said on Sunday. The fighters, led by three commanders, agreed to lay down their weapons at a parley with Baluchistan's Home Minister Shoaib Nausherwani in Dera Bugti district on Saturday. Khan Mohammad Masoori, one of the commanders, pledged to halt attacks on government installations as his men handed over AK-47 rifles, machineguns, rocket launchers and mortars in Baker town, 400 km northeast of Quetta, officials said. Baluch government officials hoped the fighters' decision to stop fighting would sound the death knell for a revolt led by tribal chieftain Nawab Akbar Bugti.

* At least 12 Sri Lankan soldiers and four Tamil Tiger rebels were killed in a firefight in the island's restive east on Friday, truce monitors said, in one of the worst military clashes since a 2002 ceasefire. The Tigers insisted they had shot dead 22 people in the firefight, and said the balance likely belonged to a breakaway faction of former comrades led by renegade commander Karuna, whom they accuse the military of helping to mount attacks.

Far East & Southeast Asia

* The U.N. Security Council unanimously passed a resolution against North Korea, imposing military related sanctions against Pyongyang. The move was welcomed in Japan, which described it as a "resolute message", but was expectedly rejected in North Korea.

* The Philippine military is not overlooking the threat from Jemaah Islamiyah terrorists, despite their shrinking presence in the country. According to Armed Forces assistant deputy chief for intelligence Brig. Gen. Nathaniel Legaspi, there are about 30 JI operatives in the country and they are all capable of launching attacks in the metropolis.

* Islamic extremists have been using Australian internet sites in order to recruit and rally support for international terrorism. The statement attacked moderate Muslims for condemning "the activities of Muslims abroad".

* Filipino President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has signed an executive order officially sealing the partnership between the military and the police in the all-out war against the communist insurgency.

* More than 5,000 Indonesian Muslims rallied peacefully to denounce Israel's military strikes on Gaza and Lebanon and to raise funds for the beleaguered Palestinians.


* As part of Tony Blair's 12-point plan to fight terrorism, British authorities are set to unveil a list of radical Islamic groups it wants to ban under the 2006 Terrorism Act. The list is expected to include Hizb ut-Tahrir and The Strangers (aka al-Ghurabaa').

* According to Indian intelligence officials, some of the primary financiers of Lashkar-e-Taiba, which remains the main suspect for orchestrating the latest bombings in India, are from Britain.

* Seven former Bosnian Serb officers have gone on trial at The Hague war crimes tribunal for alleged involvement in the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica. The men are pleading not guilty to a range of charges including murder, persecution and genocide.

* The European newspapers have almost unanimously condemned Israel's response against Hezbollah as out of proportion, with some calling it an "act of war" and others saying it was a violation of international law.

* Unconfirmed reports from Britain and US say that there was an attempt on the life of Baloch leader Senator Sanaullah Baloch in London recently, when "people of Pakistani origin threw a home made bomb" at the official.


* Bandits shot dead an aid worker in northern Darfur, a relief agency said, highlighting the difficulty of conducting the world's largest aid operation in the midst of one of its worst humanitarian crises. In a statement late on Wednesday, Relief International said armed robbers stopped Sudanese agricultural officer Hassan Ahmad Idris' vehicle, then shot him. He died instantly. Idris' driver survived the attack.

* Somalia's weak, UN-backed government has refused to travel to Sudan for Saturday's peace talks with Islamists who control the capital, Mogadishu. The president accused the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) of breaking a truce agreed at the last Sudan talks.

* Somalia’s interim government and the Islamists who now control Mogadishu can never share power because they have conflicting ideologies, a recently defeated top warlord said on Saturday. Fired National Security Minister Mohamed Qanyare Afrah — until last month one of Mogadishu’s biggest warlords — said Somalia’s future looks very bleak as a result. "The government wants to govern by the charter while the Islamic Sharia courts want to rule by the Koran. There is no way they will ever agree," Qanyare told Reuters in an exclusive telephone interview.

* Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys, the executive leader of the Islamists in Mogadishu has condemned the U.N. Security Council for considering lifting the ban on weapons in Somalia (H/T: ThreatsWatch).

The Global War

* Despite progress on security, tons of nuclear material are "dangerously vulnerable" to theft by terrorists across the globe, a private group contends. As leaders of the Group of Eight industrial powers, including President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin, meet this weekend, NIT reports note that only a fraction of the $20 billion those leaders pledged four years ago to secure nuclear materials has been spent.

* The videotaped rants of a 27-year-old American terrorist named Adam Gadahn that offer the most intriguing clues about the mechanics of al-Qaida’s propaganda machine and the sort of individual the shadowy terror organization is seeking to recruit.

* India will press leaders of the powerful Group of Eight nations meeting in St. Petersburg for greater cooperation in fighting terrorism in South Asia, India's foreign ministry said on Saturday. "The message which should come out from the G8 is that the world accepts that there cannot be a segmented response to terrorism," Indian foreign secretary Shyam Saran said Saturday.

* Vladimir Putin and George Bush announced the global initiative to combat nuclear terrorism after their Saturday meeting, in a move that drew immediate support from Japan. Through the initiative, "Russia and the U.S. pledge to take joint measures to counter the threat of nuclear terrorism, including the acquisition, transport, or use of nuclear and radioactive materials by terrorists."

* Cliff Kincaid at Accuracy in Media explains how the al-Jazeera media network stokes the fires of extremism and terrorism in the Middle East.

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Sunday, July 16, 2006

What's next

Stratfor accurately states that the current operations ongoing in Lebanon are designed to prepare the environment for ground forces. However, the danger lurking is Syria. If Israel cannot prevent Syria from providing supplies and support to Hezbollah through the Syrian frontier, Israel will probably not accomplish its security goals.

The Israeli strategy appears to be designed to do two things. First, the Israelis are trying to prevent any supplies from entering Lebanon, including reinforcements. That is why they are attacking all coastal maritime facilities. Second, they are degrading the roads in Lebanon. That will keep reinforcements from reaching Hezbollah fighters engaged in the south. As important, it will prevent the withdrawal and redeployment of heavy equipment deployed by Hezbollah in the south, particularly their rockets, missiles and launchers. The Israelis are preparing the battlefield to prevent a Hezbollah retreat or maneuver.

Hezbollah's strategy has been imposed on it. It seems committed to standing and fighting. The rate of fire they are maintaining into Israel is clearly based on an expectation that Israel will be attacking. The rocketry guarantees the Israelis will attack. Hezbollah has been reported to have anti-tank and anti-air weapons. The Israelis will use airmobile tactics to surround and isolate Hezbollah concentrations, but in the end, they will have to go in, engage and defeat Hezbollah tactically. Hezbollah obviously knows this, but there is no sign of disintegration on its part. At the very least, Hezbollah is projecting an appetite for combat. Sources in Beirut, who have been reliable to this point, say Hezbollah has weapons that have not yet been seen, such as anti-aircraft missiles, and that these will be used shortly. Whatever the truth of this, Hezbollah does not seem to think its situation is hopeless.

The uncertain question is Syria. No matter how effectively Israel seals the Lebanese coast, so long as the Syrian frontier is open, Hezbollah might get supplies from there, and might be able to retreat there. So far, there has been only one reported airstrike on a Syrian target. Both Israel and Syria were quick to deny this.

What is interesting is that it was the Syrians who insisted very publicly that no such attack took place. The Syrians are clearly trying to avoid a situation in which they are locked into a confrontation with Israel. Israel might well think this is the time to have it out with Syria as well, but Syria is trying very hard not to give Israel casus belli. In addition, Syria is facilitating the movement of Westerners out of Lebanon, allowing them free transit. They are trying to signal that they are being cooperative and nonaggressive.

The problem is this: While Syria does not want to get hit and will not make overt moves, so long as the Syrians cannot guarantee supplies will not reach Hezbollah or that Hezbollah won't be given sanctuary in Syria, Israel cannot complete its mission of shattering Hezbollah and withdrawing. They could be drawn into an Iraq-like situation that they absolutely don't want. Israel is torn. On the one hand, it wants to crush Hezbollah, and that requires total isolation. On the other hand, it does not want the Syrian regime to fall. What comes after would be much worse from Israel's point of view.

This is the inherent problem built into Israel's strategy, and what gives Hezbollah some hope. If Israel does not attack Syria, Hezbollah could well survive Israel's attack by moving across the border. No matter how many roads are destroyed, Israel won't be able to prevent major Hezbollah formations moving across the border. If they do attack Syria and crush al Assad's government, Hezbollah could come out of this stronger than ever.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

No surprise

The Jerusalem Post has reported that the guided missile which struck an Israeli ship was fired with the assistance of Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

As of Saturday night, one body had been recovered and identified and three were still missing after elite Iranian troops assisted Hizbullah in firing a radar-guided missile at the INS Hanit (Spear) stationed off the Lebanese coast on Friday. The C-802 missile struck the ship, part of a larger Israeli naval force laying siege to Lebanon, causing severe damage.
The C-802 missiles, a senior Military Intelligence officer said Saturday, were made in China but upgraded by Iran, which had made improvements to the radar-guided system and delivered it to Hizbullah. Senior naval officers admitted Saturday night that they were taken completely by surprise by the missile attack, claiming that they did not know that Hizbullah possessed such advanced capabilities. The missile has a 100-kilometer range.
Senior IDF intelligence officials said that Iran had approximately 100 soldiers in Lebanon and that they were assisting Hizbullah in its attacks on Israel.

It should not come as a surprise that Iran is involved on the ground in Lebanon. In this post, I laid out signs that Iran has been planning this. And as such, we should expect Iran to be involved because Iran started this.

An interesting note. Ari Larijani, who is Iran's top national security offical, and their nuclear negotiator, flew to Damascus earlier this week. Debka says it is part of the Iran-Syria defense pact. Perhaps. But it is interesting to note the Larijani was also a commander in the Revolutionary Guards, and I believe was once acting head.

Soon after he arrives in Damascus, the Revolutionary Guard is firing an Iranian missile at an Israeli ship. Are the two related? Is Larijani in Damascus to provide command support?

One question I've had is how far Iran is willing to go now that this is started. It seems unlikely that Iran could go to such length to provoke this, and then step back.

The news that Iran is firing at Israeli suggests this is only the beginning of something that could grow. However, I said this in a comment over at SWT:

Iran might be making the mistake Saddam did, in that he went into Kuwait without nuclear weapons. Iran may have played its hand too early, and might end up costing them their nuclear program, if not their regime.

Both sides must calculate how far are they willing to go. Israel must gauge how far to go into Lebanon, do they put in ground forces, and do they eventually hit Syria. Iran must judge their response if Israel does those things.

Iran is opening itself up for action that could cost it dearly. It may have calculated that the US is too tied down in Iraq (and too politically wounded by the feckless Democrats and media back home) to pose a serious threat to Iran.

But, World War I started in a similar vein. An act of violence in relatively minor Serbia sparked allies to act, and long-simmering tensions erupted.

There has been much violence in Gaza, Israel, and Lebanon over the last 20 years or so. But it hasn't led to open warfare throughout the region.

This is different. If Iran is acting openly against Israel, Iran may be willing to risk a wider conflict.

Why? Perhaps several reasons. Iran views itself as a regional power, one that deserves respect. Iran views itself as a torchbearer for Islam, even though Islam originated with the Arabs. In the excellent book I've mentioned before, Eternal Iran, Rubin and Clawson write about how Iran believes the golden age of Islam came when Islamic dynasties and rules were following Iranian principles of government.

There is still time to pull back from this. If we see Israeli ground forces go into Lebanon in force, particularly if they head for the Bekaa Valley, you'll know we are in for a serious fight. If Iran feels it has no choice but to meet such a development with more force, there is a chance Syria and will become a target. If so, Iran will certain react, and that could bring the US in.

Frankly, the US is reaping the consequences of not dealing with Syria and Iran two years ago. It's been known for a long time that Syria was allowing insurgents into Iraq, and it's been well know that Iran has been working against US interests in Iraq. And yet, we did nothing to, shall we say, strongly discourage such actions.

Others who are far smarter than I have said it many times before. This trouble in the Middle East will not truly come to an end until the regimes in Syria and Iran are removed. (One might also toss Saudi Arabia into the mix.)

Iran may have unwittingly kicked the world down a path that will lead to just that.

Friday, July 14, 2006

In Search Of... XIV

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.)

-can i kick my teenager out?
-somalian teenager discussed what would be like go backing their country
-putin summit july 2006 st petersburg weather seeds
-gestapo torture devices
-i used to have a friend
-world's ugliest face
-moscow working girls
-photographs of african children playing in the river
-whats the difference between a lake and ocean
-pictures of young , hot,shirtless,pantless,army men

US to stay in Kyrgyzstan

The United States and Kyrgyzstan have reached an agreement over rent for the air base the US currently uses in Kyrgyzstan. The president of Kyrgyzstan had previously made noises that he would ask for $200 million from the US, a ten-fold increase. Well, the US got a bargain, only $150 million.

The United States and Kyrgyzstan resolved a payment dispute that had threatened the future of the U.S. military base in this ex-Soviet republic, the U.S. Embassy and the Kyrgyz government said Friday.

Both sides signed a protocol of intentions affirming that Washington will "compensate equitably the Kyrgyz government and Kyrgyz business for goods, services and support of U.S. operations," a joint statement released by the U.S. Embassy said.

"The U.S. base is staying in Kyrgyzstan. We've agreed on long-term, strategic cooperation with the United States," Kyrgyz Security Council secretary Miroslav Niyazov, who signed the protocol, told The Associated Press.

Neither Niyazov nor the statement specified how much the United States would pay the impoverished nation of 5 million people for continued use of the base, set up in 2001 to support operations in Afghanistan. The statement stressed the issue "should be viewed in the context of the larger, robust relationship."

The United States expects to provide Kyrgyzstan with $150 million "in total assistance and compensation over the next year," subject to approval from Congress, the statement said. The U.S. has given Kyrgyzstan more than $850 million in aid since its independence following the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, it said.

Kyrgyzstan had proposed that Washington pay $200 million a year - a tenfold increase - for use of the Manas Air Base, but talks had dragged on. In May, President Kurmanbek Bakiyev threatened to expel U.S. forces altogether.

After being pushed out of Uzbekistan, this base is the one remaining base for the US in Central Asia, a key area considering all the turmoil in the region.

Still, all is not smiles and hugs in Kyrgyzstan.

A diplomatic row is developing in Kyrgyzstan, where the US Embassy is resisting Bishkek’s effort to expel two American diplomats for supposedly having "inappropriate" contacts with local non-governmental organizations. The dispute has potentially far-reaching geopolitical implications given that Kyrgyzstan is home to the sole remaining US military base in Central Asia.

On July 11, Kyrgyz officials announced that the two US diplomats were no longer welcome in Bishkek. A Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry statement said the diplomats had engaged in "repetitive [acts of] interference in the interior affairs of the state, incompatible with their diplomatic status and recognized norms of international law." It added that the expulsion order was "based on established fact."

The US Embassy in Bishkek is vigorously contesting the allegations as "simply not true." An embassy statement asserted that the Kyrgyz action was designed "to intimidate embassies and silence the voice of civil society."

Thursday, July 13, 2006

A road to war, not a leap

Israel finds itself in a widening conflict, and at these early stages it is difficult to predict when and where it will end. Hamas has provoked Israel from Gaza, and Hezbollah is attacking Israel from Lebanon.

It's always useful to keep in mind the following equation: Hezbollah = Iran. Hezbollah was established by Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Lebanon, and Iran provides funds and weapons to Hezbollah. Hezbollah is Iran's proxy along the eastern Mediterranean.

For instance you may recall in early 2002 a ship, the Karine-A, was intercepted by Israeli forces. It was bringing weapons in for Arafat's PLO. Reports say Hezbollah was involved in the transaction, and the ship was initially loaded off the coast of Iran.

The operations that started the recent violence were not off the cuff larks. They were planned, especially Hezbollah's incursion. And if Hezbollah is involved, if Hezbollah has carried out planned attacks on Israel, one must ask why Iran would want to spark such a confrontation, for Iran surely is involved.

One can look back and see dots that beg to be connected. Consider.

October 26, 2005 - At the "World without Zionism" conference, Iranian President Ahmadinejad says Israel should be "wiped off the map". This is the beginning of pointed public comments threatening Israel. Was Ahmadinejad contemplating provoking a conflict with Israel?

November 15, 2006 - Iran's foreign minister meets in Damascus with representatives of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah. Seven days later, Hezbollah fires rockets and mortars at Israel from Lebanon.

January 19, 2006 - A suicide bomber from Islamic Jihad attacks a Tel Aviv restaurant, and thankfully kills only himself. At least 20 are wounded.

January 20, 2006 - Ahmadinejad goes to Damascus, and while there meets with representatives of terrorist groups. Was it a war council? RFE/RL says (empahisis mine):

Among the individuals he met, Lebanon's Al-Manar television reported on 20 January, were Hizballah's Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) leader Ramadan Abdallah Shallah, and Hamas Political Bureau chief Khalid Mishaal. These three visited Tehran in August, September, and December 2005, respectively. Ahmadinejad also met Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine -- General Command (PFLP-GC) Secretary-General Ahmad Jibril.

The fact that Islamic Jihad carried out a terrorist attack in Israel the day before Ahmadinejad met with terrorist groups, including Islamic Jihad, could not have been an accident. It was a message for Israel.

Michael Ledeen reported that Imad Mugniyah was among those seen with Ahmadinejad in Damascus. Mugniyah is Hezbollah's chief of military operations, and is believed to be very much involved with the current violence.

February 11, 2006 - In a speech to a large crowd commemorating the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, Ahmadinejad again said Israel will be removed.

February 28, 2006 - Iran agrees to provide at least $50 million in aid to Hamas to make up for any cuts in foreign aid.

April 14-17, 2006 - Teheran hosts a three day forum on Palestinian solidarity. Ayatollah Khamenei says Muslims should help the Palestinian people. Ahmadinejad says Israel was "a rotten, dried tree that will be eliminated by one storm".

April 14, 2006 - Iran's Rafsanjani, head of the Expediency Council, goes to Damascus and while there meets with representativs of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah.

April 17, 2006 - A suicide bomber from Islamic Jihad attacks the very same restaurant in Tel Aviv that was attacked in January, and this time kills nine people. Again, the close proximity to another Iranian visit to Syria, and the target, cannot be a coincidence.

May 11, 2006 - Speaking in Indonesia, Ahmadinejad says Israel "one day will vanish".

May 28, 2006 - Rockets are fired into Israel from Lebanon, and a Hezbollah sniper kills an Israeli soldier.

June 17, 2006 - Iran and Syria sign a defense cooperation agreement. They say it is aimed at Israel and the United States.

July 7, 2006 - At an anti-Israel rally in Teheran, Ahmadinejad says "They should not let things reach a point where an explosion occurs in the Islamic world. If an explosion occurs, then it will not be limited to geographical boundaries. It will also burn all those who created [Israel] over the past 60 years."

This is not an exhaustive list, but it should give you reason to believe that Iran has been working towards a confrontation with Israel. If this is so, it may get worse before it gets better, for Iran would not invest so much merely to annoy and harrass Israel.

IranFocus has this report (emphasis mine):

Israeli military commanders have become increasingly concerned about Hizbollah's activities in southern Lebanon since Syria was forced to withdraw its forces last year. In recent months, Hizbollah has built a network of sophisticated control towers and monitoring stations along the length of the border with Israel.

The new equipment, which has cost tens of millions of pounds, was paid for by Iran. Israeli officers have reported frequent sightings of Iranian military officials inspecting the new facilities and advising local Hizbollah commanders.

Although Hizbollah claims to be a Lebanese political party, it continues to function as an independent, armed militia in southern Lebanon where it was originally established in the 1980s by Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

Hizbollah continues to enjoy close links with Iran to the extent that Israeli commanders regard the northern border as their "front line" with Iran.

In the past few months, Hizbollah militiamen have made several abortive attempts to kidnap Israeli soldiers. In one incident earlier this year 20 Hizbollah militiamen stormed a farm house close to the border in the mistaken belief that a group of Israeli soldiers had taken shelter inside. They were victims of an elaborate trap set by the Israeli army and most of the Hizbollah attackers were killed in the ensuing shoot-out.

Vital Perspective points out this troubling news:

Israel has concrete evidence that Hezbollah plans to transfer the two Israel Defense Forces soldiers abducted Wednesday to Iran, Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said Thursday.

"We have concrete evidence that Hezbollah plans to transfer the kidnapped soldiers to Iran. As a result, Israel views Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran as the main players in the axis of terror and hate that endangers not only Israel, but the entire world," AFP quoted Deputy Director General of the Foreign Ministry Gideon Meir as saying.

Today, there are reports that Hezbollah has launched rockets at Haifa.

And today, Michael Ledeen writes:

Iran has been at war with us all along, because that’s what the world’s leading terror state does. The scariest thing about this moment is that the Iranians have convinced themselves that they are winning, and we are powerless to reverse the tide. As I reported here several months ago, Khamenei told his top people late last year that the Americans and Israelis are both politically paralyzed. Neither can take decisive action against Iran, neither can sustain prolonged conflict and significant casualties. Meanwhile, the Supreme Leader said, the terrorists are all working for Iran, and we will expand the terror war.

Don’t think for a moment that they worry about victims in Gaza or Lebanon. They are delighted to see Israel fighting on two fronts, because they will use the pictures from the battlefield to consolidate their hold over the fascist forces in the region. After a few days of fighting, I would not be surprised to see some new kind of terrorist attack against Israel, or against an American facility in the region. An escalation to chemical weapons, for example, or even the fulfillment of the longstanding Iranian promise to launch something nuclear at Israel. They meant it when they said it, don’t you know?

The only way we are going to win this war is to bring down those regimes in Tehran and Damascus, and they are not going to fall as a result of fighting between their terrorist proxies in Gaza and Lebanon on the one hand, and Israel on the other. Only the United States can accomplish it.

Indeed. Are we up to it, this, the challenge of our generation?

Transdniester to hold referendum on independence


On Wednesday, July 12, the Supreme Council of the Transdnestr Moldavian Republic has passed a resolution that defines wording of questions to a republican referendum concerning relations with the Russian Federation and the Republic of Moldova.

As a REGNUM correspondent is told in the press office of the Transdnestr parliament, the final wording of the referendum questions is:

“1. Do you support a policy for independence of the Transdnestr Moldavian Republic and further free Transdnestr joining the Russian Federation?

2. Do you think it possible to abandon independence of the Transdnestr Moldavian Republic with further Transdnestr joining the Republic of Moldova?”

It is worth mentioning, the referendum in Transdnestr is to be held on September 17.

Previous posts

The Transdniester region
Russian meddling
New customs rules in the Transdniester region
Could Russian troops leave the Transdniester region?
Sticky Transdniester
Terror in Tiraspol?

Turning on the spigot

From RFE/RL:

July 13 marks the official inauguration of the $4 billion Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline at the Turkish port of Ceyhan. The pipeline -- which pumps Caspian Sea oil to the Turkish Mediterranean, bypassing Russia and Iran -- should supply 1 million barrels per day by 2009. One of the pipeline's main beneficiaries will be oil-rich Azerbaijan. The country's skyrocketing oil revenues -- and the vicissitudes of geopolitics -- have led to a growing self-confidence in Azerbaijan's foreign policy. Is Baku setting itself up to be a new regional powerhouse?
It's a measure of Azerbaijan's growing regional importance that in April Washington put aside its reservation's about Baku's human rights record to invite Aliyev to the White House. On the agenda, among other things, the United States's nuclear standoff with Iran.

In Washington, Aliyev trod a careful path, saying Azerbaijan was an ally in the war on terror, but stressed that if the United States decided to attack Iran, Azerbaijan would not help.

This apparent desire for a balanced foreign policy -- between Russia, Iran, and the West -- seems to be shared by many members of the Azerbaijani political elite.

Ilqar Memmedov, a former member of the Azerbaijani opposition, says that Azerbaijan's position is different to Georgia's pro-Western orientation and Armenia's close ties with Russia.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Some background to the Mumbai bombings

Here are some links to some good reading on India, the terrorist threat it faces daily, and past acts.

B.Raman of the South Asia Analysis Group has a paper listing 21 points of consideration in trying fit the Bombay attacks into context. For example,

8. This is the second instance of multiple explosions in trains. The first was carried out by the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) in December, 1993, coinciding with the first anniversary of the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh by a Hindu mob. Those were random explosions and not well-co-ordinated serial explosions. The casualties were small.

9. Jihadi terrorism in Indian territory outside Jammu & Kashmir is a post-1992 phenomenon and is attributable to the feelings of hurt and anger caused in the Muslim community---particularly the Muslim youth---by the demolition of the Babri Masjid. The feelings of hurt over the demolition of the masjid are aggravated from time to time by feelings of anger over alleged police atrocities against Muslims and over alleged Police failure to protect Muslims. A third cause for anger since July last year has been the growing close relations with the US and the perceived failure or reluctance of the Government of India to express itself openly and in strong language against the violations of the human rights of the Muslims by the US.

10. Such feelings of anger have resulted in a series of acts of reprisal terrorism since 1993. These acts have been carried out by angry Indian Muslims manipulated by Dawood Ibrahim and the ISI; indigenous Muslim organisations with proved links to the ISI such as the SIMI; and indigenous Muslim organisations such as the Al Ummah of Tamil Nadu with no proved links to the ISI.

At IntelliBriefs, Praveen Swami has an article explaining the role of the Students Islamic Movement of India in India's militant Islam.

Whichever terror group executed Tuesday's bombing is likely to have drawn at least some of its operatives from the large pool of former Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) members in Maharashtra — an organisation that has survived a ban imposed in 2001 by operating under a variety of cover names. Several of the 11 Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives arrested from the Aurangabad area in May, while attempting to move a shipment of explosives, assault rifles, and grenades into Gujarat, had worked for SIMI before it was proscribed.

Zainuddin Ansari, the still-untraced head of the cell, had also worked as a SIMI ansar, or full-time activist, for several years. Another member of the cell, Shakeel Ahmad Shaikh, had been known to Indian intelligence since at least 1999, when he delivered an incendiary speech at a SIMI convention in Aurangabad. The Lashkar's then commander for its operations in Hyderabad, Azam Ghauri, was among those present at the convention, where the institutional links between SIMI and the terror group became evident for the first time.

Finally, David Frum has rounded up some links worth taking a look at.

Was RDX used in the Bombay terrorist attacks?

From this report from The Hindu News:

Duggal said 183 people were killed and 714 were injured. Of the dead, 123 bodies had been identified, he said. However, police officials in Mumbai put the death toll at 190.

Officials at the Sion, Cooper and KEM Hospitals said over 40 of the injured are in a serious condition.

Police officials said they suspected RDX explosive may have been used in the blasts. They said this possibility is being explored in the backdrop of the Anti Terrorist Squad's seizure of 43 kg of RDX from Aurangabad and other parts of the State in the past few months.

RDX was used in wedding bombings in Jordan last November. Traces of RDX was found after the London train bombings, and I believe traces of RDX were found after the Madrid train bombings.

Last October explosions in Delhi killed 61 people. It is believed RDX was used in those attacks.

As mentioned in this WoW briefing, in May some explosives were seized from LeT terrorists in India near Aurangabad. As mentioned above, RDX was among the weapons seized.

So, was LeT involved in the Bombay attacks? Was this an Al Qaeda attack?

According to this report from the The Times of India, LeT was denied responsibility.

Leading terrorist groups operating in Jammu and Kashmir denied on Wednesday any role in the bomb blasts in Mumbai and described the attacks as "barbaric" and "outrageous".

The security sources were quoted as naming Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) as the prime suspect for the seven bomb blasts on Mumbai's rail network on Tuesday that killed at over 190 people and wounded close to 700.

But Lashkar denied any role.

"These are inhuman and barbaric acts. Islam does not permit the killing of innocent people," a man who identified himself as "Doctor Ghaznavi", spokesman of the Lashkar-e-Taiba said.

"Blaming LeT for such inhuman acts is an attempt by the Indian security forces to defame Kashmiri mujahideens," he said in telephone calls made to newspaper offices in Srinagar.

Given the similarities to the London and Madrid train bombings, was Al Qaeda involved, or a group with ties to AQ?

As Austin Bay points out, the date of the attack seems related to past attacks.

Americans will immediate think of Al Qaeda and point to the hideous numerology as a clue: 9/11 (New York and Washington), 3/11 (Madrid), 7/7 (London), and now 7/11 (Mumbai).

Authorities will be looking hard for answers to these questions.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The politics of pipelines

Writing in the Washington Post, Steven Mufson has an excellent summary of the issues surrounding Russia and the way it uses its energy resources as a tool of foreign policy. You'll recognize some themes I touch on from time to time here, and other things I don't often get to. Here's an excerpt:

Because much of the Russian gas bound for Europe flowed through the Ukraine route, people in European capitals took notice. "This sharpened the attitudes of Europeans even more than the Americans," said a senior European diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity because talks are ongoing. "This was very much an important thing for us."

Europe relies on Russia for about a third of its natural gas supplies. Those supplies arrive via two major pipeline routes constructed in the 1980s over the objections of the Reagan administration. Today the United States realizes that Russian gas will remain vital to Europe, but it is pushing nations to diversify supplies so that Russia cannot exploit Europe's energy dependence for political purposes.

"What does it mean to achieve energy security when you're reliant on one country?" Karen Harbert, assistant secretary for policy and international affairs at the Energy Department, asked at a meeting at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

At the same time, however, Russia sells 80 percent of its natural gas to Europe and is worried about European plans to increase gas purchases from Algeria and Libya, as well as about liquefied natural gas from Qatar, which plans to triple its exports.

Bryza and more senior U.S. officials have been promoting pipeline routes that would bring gas from fields in Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan near the Caspian Sea through Turkey to Europe. One such pipeline, from Azerbaijan through Georgia to Turkey, opens Oct. 1. U.S. officials have been saying that reserves in Azerbaijan alone could justify bigger pipelines even if territorial disputes over the Caspian Sea are not resolved. (Missing from the U.S. vision: supplies from Iran, whose natural gas reserves are second to only Russia's.)

Terror in India

Here in the US I don't think we are nearly mindful enough of what India faces on a day to day basis. There is violence daily in India or Kashmir, involving terrorists, Maoists, or other radicals.

Today there is news of a serious terrorist attack in Bombay (Mumbai).

Seven explosions hit Bombay's commuter rail network Tuesday evening during rush hour, ripping apart train compartments, officials said. Police said at least 20 people were killed.

Chaos engulfed the crowded rail network in India's financial capital following the blasts, and authorities struggled to determine the number of casualties.

Indian television reported the death toll could be in the dozens. News channels broadcast video of the wounded sprawled on train tracks and being carried through stations to ambulances, past twisted and torn train compartments.


All of India's major cities were reportedly on high alert following the attacks, which came hours after a series of grenade attacks by Islamic extremists killed eight people in the main city of India's part of Kashmir.

Update: Death toll at 135.

Seven bomb explosions rocked rail stations and trains in India’s financial hub Tuesday, killing 135 people and injuring 300, officials said. India’s major cities were put on high alert after the blasts.

Police Chief A.N. Roy said 135 people were killed and more than 250 injured, according to Reuters.

The terrorist group LeT has to be a prime suspect.

Monday, July 10, 2006

The NYTimes, a friend of America from way back

I'm reading Guests of the Ayatollah by Mark Bowden. It's a riveting book about the Iranian hostage crisis that began in November 1979. The book also covers the failed rescue mission.

I came across this passage on page 246. It seemed relevant, given the NY Times's near seditious acts lately.

A student would be allowed to make an opening and closing statement. Nilufar Ebtekar was choses by the council, because of her fluent English and because the council liked the idea of having their arguments presented by a woman. At first, Ebtekar was reluctant to appear on camera, but she agreed when it was decided to identify her only as "Mary."

She and the other hostage takers had been mystified by the lack of American support for their action, particularly the lack of sympathy from American blacks and other "oppressed minorities," and had concluded that their problem was media censorship in the United States. The American government was blocking and distorting their message. One effort to break through this supposed censorship was a half page ad in the New York Times (the Washington Post refused to run it) calling on Americans to "Rise Up Against Oppression," referring to the hostages as "spies" and placing Carter in "the vanguard of the world's oppressors."

Behold the face of evil

Esquire Magazine has a gripping article by C.J. Chivers on the Beslan hostage tragedy. It is based on eyewitness accounts of people caught up in the horrific events.

Not always easy to read, it is a vivd portrayal of the nature of terrorists.

As mentioned in the previous posts, one of the planners of this, Shamil Basayev, was killed by Russian forces.

But can there ever truly be justice for such an act?

(HT: Threats Watch)

Stunning news out of Russia

News today that Shamil Basayev has been killed. Basayev was a very bad man. Recently named as "vice president" of the Chechen rebels, he was involved with carrying out the horrific tragedy in Beslan. From MosNews:

Russia’s most wanted man, Chechen rebel leader Shamil Basayev, has been killed, the country’s state security chief has told President Vladimir Putin, Itar-Tass news agency said on Monday.

Basayev, who claimed responsibility for the 2004 Beslan school attack in which more than 330 died, half of them children, and a string of other attacks, was killed together with other Chechen fighters, Nikolai Patrushev told Putin.

The announcement came only a couple of weeks after Shamil Basayev, wanted by Russia for a string of shocking terrorist attacks, was named by Doku Umarov, president of the self-styled Ichkeria (Chechnya) as his vice president in a move seen as a signal towards radicalization of the Chechen rebel movement.

Doku Umarov Umarov took over as Chechnya’s new separatist leader earlier this month after police killed Abdul-Khalim Sadulayev during a raid in an eastern Chechen town. In his first public statement in June Umarov vowed to widen attacks to the rest of Russia, saying rebel forces would focus on military and police targets but would avoid attacks against most civilians.

That statement appeared to signal an effort to avoid terrorist attacks such as the September 2004 Beslan school hostage taking, in which 331 people died, more than half of them children. Basayev claimed responsibility for that attack, which shocked Russia and divided the rebel movement, since civilians, including women and children, were among those primarily taken hostage.

When Russian troops pulled out of Chechnya in 1996 and Chechnya prepared to elect a president to lead it to de facto independence, Basayev ran for the job. He lost to the late rebel commander Aslan Maskhadov and became his deputy. He and Maskhadov — a relative moderate who was Sadulayev’s predecessor as Chechen rebel president — later became rivals.

Russian forces and their local Chechen allies have been battling separatist militants for most of the past 12 years. The rebel movement has become increasingly drawn to radical Islam, but insists it is only fighting for independence. Most large-scale fighting has ended in Chechnya, but rebels continue to stage regular hit-and-run raids and detonate land mines and explosives, and the insurgency has spread to other parts of the mainly Muslim North Caucasus region.

Quite a success for Russia in their own battle against terrorism.

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 & Friday. Monday's Winds of War briefings are given by Peace Like a River and Security Watchtower.

Top Topics

* The FBI has uncovered what officials consider a serious plot by jihadists to bomb the Holland Tunnel in hopes of causing a torrent of water to deluge lower Manhattan, the Daily News has learned. The terrorists sought to drown the Financial District as New Orleans was by Hurricane Katrina, sources said. They also wanted to attack subways and other tunnels. Three of the eight men are in some form of custody, and the rest have been at least partially identified, FBI Assistant Director Mark Mershon told reporters

* The Sunday Times of London is reporting that Mohammad Sidique Khan, the leader of the cell that carried out the 7 July 2005 bombings in London, collaborated with two other British suicide bombers to recruit Muslims for al Qaeda terror training camps in Afghanistan as far back as the summer of 2001. New evidence also connects Khan with a pair of British-Muslims that went to Israel to carry out suicide bombings, which one suspect did. The other suspect remains at large.

* Seven members of Afghanistan's U.S.-led coalition force have been wounded and six Taliban killed in the latest clashes in the bloodiest phase of Afghan violence since the Taliban were ousted nearly five years ago. A joint coalition-Afghan operation was launched in the Panjwai district of the southern province of Kandahar early on Saturday. Roberge said intelligence showed that the Taliban had massed in the area, which is 35 kilometres (22 miles) southwest of Kandahar, the biggest city in southern Afghanistan.

* Israel has rejected a Hamas call for a ceasefire, vowing to continue their offensive until Cpl Shilat is freed. Since the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, Palestinian terrorists have fired over 700 rockets into southern Israel.

Other topics today include: Terror arrest in Lebanon; Israeli offensive in Gaza continues; al Qaeda suspects escape Saudi prison; West awaits Iranian response; Ahmadinejad says Israel root problem; The Islamic conflict in the Saud kingdom; al Qaeda suspects acquitted in Yemen; Jordanian prosecutor wants death for Iraqi bomber; Terror law held up in Bahrain parliament; Abbas sends envoys to Syria; Palestinians support kidnapping IDF soldier; IDF forces kill terrorist in Nablus; Inside the Assad regime; More on the New York tunnels plot; al Qaeda's American voice; Preventing money transfers; Canada deports terrorist; Tensions between Georgia and South Ossetia; Inside Beslan attacks; Karzai wants more help; Pakistani-Afghan border remains a major concern; Fighting continues in southern Afghanistan; Afghan officials destroy narcotics; bombings in Kabul; Pakistan's madrassas; Arrest in Pakistani plots; More on Balochistan; Grenade attack in Kashmir; 33 terror arrests in Kashmir; Maoists shot in Nepal; North Korean crisis; Lebanon to extradite terrorist to Australia; 9/11 suspect arrested in Germany; London bombers and ties to al Qaeda; New British threat system; EU demands to know more about U.S. finance tracking; Anniversary of the 7/7 London attacks; Anniversary of Srebrenica; Kidnapping in Nigeria; Violence continues in Mogadishu; Journalist killed in Congo; G8 Conference; and more.

Iran & the Middle East

* Lebanese authorities searched the computer of Assem Hammoud, wanted in connection with plots to bomb New York city, and discovered the plans for the bomb attack.

* UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is demanding that Israel take action to prevent a humanitarian disaster in the Gaza strip. As Israeli efforts to liberate the kidnapped IDF soldier continue, outside pressure from Europe is growing.

* On Saturday Israeli forces in northern Gaza withdrew after heavy fighting left 30 Palestinians dead. Following fresh fighting, the death toll in Gaza has been raised to 41.

* Seven terror suspects linked to al Qaeda have escaped from Malaz prison in Riyadh according to the Saudi Interior Ministry. Among the escapees are six Saudis and one Yemeni. John Burgess at Crossroads Arabia has commentary and a list of those who escaped.

* According to the EU, positive discussions with Iran over their nuclear program has resulted in a second meeting scheduled for this Tuesday, at which time Iran will give a "substantial response" to the international incentive package.

* Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused the United States of provoking the Iraqi insurgency and called for foreign terrorists to be prevented from entering Iraq, because it gave coalition troops an excuse to stay. He also complained that "the root of the problems of the Islamic world is the existence of the Zionist regime [Israel]."

* Saudi Debate has an excellent essay on the history of Islamist conflict with the Al-Saud government. Written by Madawi Al-Rasheed, the piece notes that the Bin Laden phenomenon isn't new.

* An article by Chris Zambelis at the Jamestown Foundation highlights the current unrest in Iranian Balochistan. The troubles inside Iran are certainly related to the independence movement next door in Pakistan's Balochistan province, as Balochs live in Iran and Afghanistan. The article refers to Abdulmalak Rigi as the leader of Jundallah. Peace Like A River notes that an Iranian report in April said Rigi was killed, perhaps a bit of false propaganda from the Iranians.

* Nineteen suspected al-Qaida members accused of plotting to assassinate Westerners and blow up a hotel used by Americans were acquitted by a Yemeni judge on Saturday.

* On Sunday, Israeli airstrikes hit targets across the Gaza strip, wounding at least three Palestinian terrorists and destroying a bridge in northern Gaza. Later in the day, additional strikes struck a group of Palestinians in Gaza city from various factions, killing one.

* The Jordanian public prosecutor is calling for the death penalty for an Iraqi woman charged for her involvement in suicide attacks in Amman last November.

* The Bahrain parliament has become a roadblock in the nations proposed counterinsurgency law, opposing the definition of terrorism used and objecting to the use of capital punishment.

* In an interview in the local Jerusalem weekly Kol Hazman, Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu said his party is putting together a plan that would endorse the creation of a "demilitarized Palestinian entity" with contiguity in the West Bank. The move would reflect a softening of the Likud position.

* Palestinian President Minister Mahmoud Abbas has sent two envoys to Damascus to meet with Hamas leader Kahled Mashaal, in the hopes of solving the case of the kidnapped Israeli soldier. Hamas has said they would release the soldier in exchange for the release of 130 Palestinian prisoners.

* An overwhelming majority of Palestinians support the abduction of IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit and the firing of rockets at Israel, according to a public opinion poll published on Sunday by the Jerusalem Media Communications Center.

* Israeli Defense Forces killed Samer Kandil in the Askar refugee camp in Nablus on Friday. The wanted Palestinian terrorist was involved in several attacks against Israeli targets and collaborated with a number of Palestinian terrorist groups, most predominantly the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.

* Daniel McKivergan has commentary on Syrian dissident Ammar Abdulhamid, who says that "after a period of lying low, the Assads are re-emerging as one of the Middle East's chief backers of radical groups - Islamist or ultra-nationalist."

America Domestic Security & the Americas

* Authorities believe a Canadian co-conspirator was involved in the alleged plot to blow up New York tunnels and submerge lower Manhattan under a torrent of flood waters. Canadian police questioned a man they suspect of active involvement in the conspiracy, but he was released because there wasn't enough evidence to hold him beyond the period of interrogation, the Canadian Press has learned.

* Before Assem Hammoud and his associates decided to try to bomb commuter train tunnels beneath New York's Hudson River, they had considered several other targets: the Golden Gate Bridge and the forests of California, and the Brooklyn Bridge, where they would set a huge fire, Lebanese security officials told Newsday.

* Lawmakers on Thursday called the Transportation Security Administration's baggage screening and bomb detection systems inadequate and said failure rates of some programs indicate the potential for dire consequences.

* For the first time, a former Orange County, Calif. teenage rock music fan has revealed his role as a top al Qaeda leader. Adam Gadahn, who disappeared from California seven years ago, appeared unmasked on an al Qaeda tape made public on the internet Friday. As previously reported by ABC News, the FBI had concluded that the masked man was Gadahn based on voice analysis of previous al Qaeda tapes. On Friday's tape, Gadahn is bearded, wearing a turban

* Money transfer companies have delayed or blocked thousands of cash deliveries on suspicion of terrorist connections simply because senders or recipients have names like Mohammed or Ahmed, company officials have said. Dubai-based representatives from Western Union Financial Services, an American company based in Colorado, and Minnesota-based MoneyGram International said their clerks are simply following U.S. Treasury Department guidelines that scrutinize cash flows for terrorist links.

* Canada has said it deported suspected Babbar Khalsa terrorist Bachan Singh Sogi, accused of plotting to assassinate former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, as he was a ‘serious security risk’.

* A 2003 immigration case that raised questions about Canada's ability to weed out terrorists was hampered by a lack of communication and caused a rift between federal departments, documents obtained by the Toronto Star show.

* Finance Minister Jim Flaherty promised a "relentless" fight against terror financing and money laundering yesterday as he announced new measures to combat the crimes. At a pier overlooking Canada's financial centre, Mr. Flaherty said Toronto had been chosen to host the headquarters of the world anti-money laundering organization known as the Egmont Group.

Russia, Caucasus & Central Asia

* Oleg Alborov, the secretary of the South Ossetia security council, was assassinated in a bombing at his house on Sunday. In response, South Ossetia had sealed off approaches to the Georgian-Ossetian border and was tightening entry into the self-proclaimed Republic. Tensions are running high between Georgia and pro-Moscow separatists.

* Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov vowed to eliminate the militants responsible for ambushing a Russian military convoy last week in an attack that killed six soldiers, and indicated that 50 more militants were prepared to lay down their arms.

* Threatswatch takes a closer look inside of the Beslan attacks that took the lives of 344 citizens, including 186 children.

Afghanistan & Southern Asia

* Afghan President Hamid Karzai has called for more international support to bolster his nation's police force in an effort to curb a recent upsurge in violence. "I'm concerned about the rise in violence in Afghanistan," Karzai told reporters in Tokyo Friday. "We should be looking at two problem areas as reasons for the rise of violence in Afghanistan. One is the weakness of the government institutions, especially the police and particularly in the rural areas," he said.

* Foreign Minister Rangin Spanta called on Pakistan to redouble efforts to prevent terrorist groups from infiltrating into his country through their common border. Speaking at a Washington forum on Thursday, he said Pakistan "can do more" to combat the problem. Asked how Pakistan could help, Spanta said some 80,000 Pakistani soldiers, deployed beyond the so-called Durand line which supposedly separated the two countries, should be more vigilant.

* A soldier from the US-led coalition and eight rebels died in new violence in Afghanistan, officials have said, as Britain mulled sending extra troops after six were killed in a month. The coalition soldier was killed and another wounded on Thursday when rebels attacked a convoy in Helmand province, the US-led coalition said in a statement. It did not give the nationality of either service member. "Coalition forces returned fire, and at least five extremists were killed," it said. The attack was in Baghran Valley in the north of the province.

* On Thursday, gunmen attacked a patrol of U.S.-led soldiers in eastern Afghanistan killing one member of the force. The Afghan Defense Ministry said 12 Taliban and two government soldiers were killed in other clashes in the south and east on Wednesday. Twenty-one insurgents were captured, it said.

* A Canadian soldier has been killed during an assault on a Taliban stronghold in southern Afghanistan as a Peruvian soldier and 21 rebels died in other weekend violence. Most of the rebels were killed in an attack by foreign and Afghan troops on an insurgent stronghold around the Panjwayi area of Kandahar province that began early Saturday and continued into Sunday, a coalition spokeswoman said.

* A coalition officer died Sunday of wounds suffered in fighting near an opium-rich insurgent stronghold, the military said. A coalition patrol found the bodies of 10 militants killed in a coalition airstrike in the same area of Kandahar province's Panjwayi district.

* The deployment of British troops to the restive southern province of Helmand in Afghanistan has "energised" the Taliban, Britain's Defence Secretary Des Browne admitted in an interview. "It is certainly the case that the very act of deployment into the south has energised the opposition, and the scale of the opposition and the nature of that opposition became apparent when we were deploying," he told The Guardian. Six British soldiers have been killed since the troops began moving into Helmand in April and commanders have warned that the Taliban resistance is stronger than expected.

* Suicide bombings appear to be taking root as a form of militant warfare in Afghanistan, with a group of women at the forefront of the expansion of the use in the country of the bloody, largely Iraq-imported technique. The women - numbering around 70 - include widows of Arab and Uzbek fighters killed in clashes with the US military in Afghanistan or with Pakistani forces, sources in Pakistan's North Waziristan region have told Adnkronos International (AKI).

* Afghan officials destroyed more than 40 tons of confiscated narcotics worth an estimated $500 million on Wednesday in a giant bonfire on the outskirts of Kabul.

* Coming after bloody anti-Western riots in May, blasts in Kabul have intensified unease in the city, where many people increasingly worry that the insurgency in the countryside is creeping into what has been a relative oasis since the Taliban's ouster more than four years ago.

* Pakistan's madrassas still host hundreds of foreign students one year after the London bombings sparked a major crackdown, but the pupils insist they are not being schooled in jihad. President Pervez Musharraf pledged to expel all 1,400 non-Pakistanis from the Islamic schools following the revelation that one or more of the suicide attackers attended a seminary before the blasts on July 7, 2005.

* Pakistan has arrested six Islamic militants suspected of planning attacks on an elite polo festival in the Hindu Kush foothills attended by Western diplomats, security officials said. The arrests were made at Shandur in Gilgit district on Thursday, a day before the opening of the three-day festival where Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is also expected to appear.

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

* An article in the Guardian looks at the question of why Balochistan matters. Also, the GoB in Exile blog has an informative article on the port of Gwadar in Balochistan, and why it matters to Pakistan and China.

* A politician and two civilians died and at least 20 others were hurt when suspected Islamic rebels hurled a grenade outside a Muslim shrine in Indian Kashmir, police said. The group had just emerged from visiting the shrine when the rebels lobbed the grenade at them, police said. "Three people were killed and more than 20 others were injured," a police spokesman told AFP by telephone from Kulgam in the south of Indian Kashmir where a revolt has raged against New Delhi's rule since 1989.

* Busting a network of overground modules of Lashker-e-Toiba and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen in Jammu and Kashmir, police uncovered six top terror networks and arrested 33 militants associated with them in the first six months of this year, top intelligence sources said today.

* Two Maoist cadres were shot and killed in southeast Nepal by gunmen believed to be from a rebel faction, police said. "An armed group of people shot dead two Maoist activists while they were returning from a feast at one of the local resident's houses in Saptari district on Wednesday night," a police officer said on Friday.

Far East & Southeast Asia

* East Timor named a new Prime Minister on Saturday, appointing Nobel Peace Prize winner Jose Ramos-Horta to the position, following months of instability and violence.

* North Korea is demanding that sanctions be lifted against the nation as a precondition for returning to talks aimed at a resolution on Pyongyang's nuclear program. In response, the United States rejected the idea and believes they have the votes in the UN Security Council to pass sanctions, which may come on Monday.

* South Korea has suspended food aid to North Korea in protest over the multiple missile launches carried out by the communist nation last week, and Japan is requesting a U.N. resolution of condemnation. Chinese officials are scheduled to fly this week to Pyongyang for discussions.

* On Saturday the USS Mustin guided-missile destroyer sailed into the port of Yokosuka, home to the Navy's 7th Fleet, with a crew of 300 for permanent assignment to the region. The move comes as Kim Jong Il claims to be bracing for "all out war."

* North Korea's ambassador to Australia, Chon Jae Hong, warned that attempts to halt their missile tests could lead to war, and called the launches "routine military exercises."

* Dan Blumenthal has commentary on North Korea and says it's time to defuse Kim Jong Il, and calls for containment and isolation to bring down the regime in Pyongyang over time.

* Lebanon has agreed to extradite Saleh Jamal to Australia, a member of a group that plotted terror attacks in Sydney on New Years Eve 2003.


* A Moroccan born, German citizen accused of being an al-Qaeda agent has been arrested in Hamburg. The man, named only as Redouane EH, is accused of having ties to a suspected key 9/11 planner who fled Germany a week before the attacks.

* The Terrorism Research Center has released its commentary on the anniversary of the 7 July 2005 bombings in London, that were certainly carried out at the directive of al Qaeda elements in Pakistan or Afghanistan, despite earlier reports from British authorities and the media.

* John Reid, the British Home Secretary, is set to launch a new warning system designed to inform the public about the official assessment of current threats from terrorist groups. According to the Telegraph, the new system will have five stages and will be posted on the Home Office and MI5 websites with advice to the public on what action to take.

* In a 302-219 vote in the European Union parliament, a resolution passed demanding that European banks and governments disclose what they know about the U.S. program to track and monitor the transfer of funds by terrorists. Several weeks ago some of the details of the program appeared in a New York Times article.

* Sergio Chiamparino, the Mayor of the Italian city of Turin, received a package bomb in the mail from an anarchist group at his office on Friday.

* Friday marked the one year anniversary of the London subway bombings that killed 52 people and injured 800 more, as a somber nation remembered the victims. Also see commentary from James Robbins on the video al Qaeda released to mark the day, and commentary from Amir Taheri at Asharq Alawsat.

* A speech by an extremist Muslim cleric praising the London bombers and mocking victims of the attacks has been posted on the internet to mark the anniversary of the July 7 attacks.

* Bosnian Muslims will mark the 11th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre on Tuesday, when the remains of 505 people killed by Serb forces arrive for burial.

* Baron Bodissey at Gates of Vienna is highlighting comments made by Danish foreign minister Per Stig Møller, who warns against radical Islam and says we "must never underestimate a totalitarian movement in the making."


* A Dutchman abducted on Thursday in Nigeria's violent oil-producing Niger Delta is in good health but his kidnappers' demands are not yet known, a spokesperson for Bayelsa state in the delta said on Friday.

* A leading Mogadishu sheikh said on Friday Muslims who do not pray five times a day should be put to death -- the latest sign of a fast-emerging hardline face to Somalia's newly-powerful Islamists. The sheikh's statement -- which he confirmed to Reuters after it was broadcast on local media -- caused consternation among residents and will fuel foreign fears the Islamists are planning a hardline Taliban-style rule.

* An article from the PINR looks at the increasingly polarized situation in Somalia.

* Gunmen killed a journalist in Democratic Republic of Congo early on Saturday, a day after foreign donors called on the government to guarantee press freedoms ahead of historic elections this month. A local media watchdog said independent journalist Mwamba Bapuwa, who had recently criticized the government and survived a previous attack several months ago, was shot at his home by unidentified intruders who took his mobile phone. The killing comes amid growing fears of a crackdown on the media as Democratic Republic of Congo prepares to hold its first free elections in four decades on July 30.

* Islamist militia fighters ambushed fighters loyal to defeated Somali warlords in Mogadishu early on Sunday in a heavy firefight that killed at least 12 people. Gulf News places the number killed at 20.

* The Islamic militiamen controlling the Somali capital broke up a wedding celebration because a band was playing and women and men were socializing together, witnesses said Saturday, describing the latest crackdown by a group feared to be installing Taliban-style rule in this African nation.

The Global War

* On Friday, President Bush said the hunt for Osama bin Laden was still on, denying the pursuit of the al Qaeda leader was less important after the CIA disbanded its bin Laden unit.

* India test-fired its nuclear-capable Agni III missile Sunday for the first time, the Defense Ministry said. The launch took place at India's main missile testing center in the eastern state of Orissa, Defense Ministry spokesman Sitanshu Kar told the Associated Press.

* Regime Change Iran is carrying the story of UN weapons inspector Chris Charlier, a Belgian scientist who apparently was taken off the Iranian file at the request of Iran. Curt at Flopping Aces notes that the Washington Post is also reporting on the story.

* Kim Priestap at Wizbang has commentary on an article in the UK Sunday Times by Michael Portillo, who says "we must call it Islamic terrorism."

* This week Russia will host their first G8 conference in Moscow, with the agenda expected to include discussions on energy issues, North Korea's missile launches, and Iran's nuclear defiance. Meanwhile, Iran is warning the G-8 against making any decisions on Iran's nuclear program without consulting Teheran first.

* The Saddam-Osama Connection: The Terrorist Testimony

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Saturday, July 08, 2006

A sign of how much has changed in Nepal

The agreement came last month, but I did want to mention it here. The Maoists rebels in Nepal have been invited to participate in the government. After years of bloody rebellion, the rebels will now have a role in the government. What will come if it? Who can tell. From the Baltimore Sun:

For 10 years, Nepal's Maoist rebels were beyond the pale - hunted, shunned and feared as they waged a brutal war against the government. Now they have been welcomed into the establishment.

A quiet euphoria swept the nation when the government signed a deal with the rebels to give them a share of power for the first time and end the conflict.

But as the elation ebbs, stark questions arise: What is the rebels' agenda? Can they adapt to mainstream politics? Will they disarm?

"It is not clear which direction they want to take," said Yubaraj Ghimire, editor of the Nepalese weekly Samay. "They are sending conflicting messages."

For a decade, that message was straightforward. The rebels took up arms in 1996 demanding a "people's republic" to replace the monarchy and championing Nepal's poor. They plunged the Himalayan kingdom into a conflict that killed 13,000 people and devastated the tourism-based economy.

All that ended June 16 with an agreement to establish an interim government to replace the current national parliament as well as the "people's government" that rules territory under rebel control.

The Maoists say they will abide by the decisions of a yet-to-be-formed constituent assembly, which will decide what type of government Nepal will have.

But after so many years of living as guerrillas, fighting the government and demanding goals steeped in a Marxist ideology that much of the world has long forgotten, the big question is what their leader, known to all as Prachanda, wants for the nation.

There are factions with the Maoists. Yesterday there was some violence.

Two Maoist cadres were shot and killed in southeast Nepal by gunmen believed to be from a rebel faction, police said.

"An armed group of people shot dead two Maoist activists while they were returning from a feast at one of the local resident's houses in Saptari district on Wednesday night," a police officer said on Friday.

"The Maoists believe that their cadres were killed by the Janatantric Terai Mukti Morcha, a breakaway faction the Maoists formed two years ago, but we are investigating the incident," the officer said from the district 400 kilometres (250 miles) southeast of Kathmandu.

And what is taking place in Nepal is separate from India, which has its own serious problem with Maoists. Today seven Maoist rebels were killed in Chhattisgarh, a state with an active Maoist presence.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Why Balochistan matters

An article by Alex Bigham at the Guardian answers that question. Read through the comments as well. Here is an excerpt from the article.

These facts and claims make a compelling case that Baluchistan should at the very least be on the radar of the international community, and some countries should even reconsider their stance towards the Pakistani government, due to hold elections in 2007. This should stem not just from empathy toward the Baluchs, but out of a self-interested security dilemma. It is now up to Baluchi leaders to express what that stance should be.

Speaking of the international stance towards the Pakistani government, the GOB Exile blog has a post pointing to an article from Foreign Policy in Focus entitled Dropping Musharraf?.

One can hardly blame Pakistan for feeling as though they are in the U.S. crosshairs. But why the sudden thumb's down from Washington? Musharraf has basically done everything the White House wanted him to do, including breaking with the Taliban and sending 90,000 troops to seal the border with Afghanistan.

The answer is not that Pakistan has fallen out of favor, but that it is a pawn that has outlived its usefulness in a global chess match aimed at China.
The law of unintended consequences may be playing itself out with Indian and Pakistan as well. India's central strategy has always been to insure control of Kashmir and to weaken the Pakistani Army, two goals that the Bush administration seems to share.

According to the Asia Times, a CIA official told the Indians that weakening the Pakistani army was central to the U.S. goal of bringing “democracy” to Pakistan, though the lack of it never bothered Washington in the past. The Times also reports that the CIA has been meeting with exiled former prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, who recently formed the Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy.

General Hamid Gul, former head of the Pakistani InterService Intelligence organization, told the PakTribune that he thought the United States was aiming to replace Musharraf.

If the United States sides with India on Kashmir, Pakistan could be looking at a strategic defeat in a long-running dispute that would not only weaken the army but possibly destabilize the entire country.

So could a stalemate in Pakistan's counterinsurgency war in Baluchistan.

Terror in Tiraspol?

Yesterday an explosion on a bus in Tiraspol killed 8 people and seriously wounded many more. Tiraspol is the main city in Transdniester, the breakaway region of Moldova that remains close to Russia.

At least eight people were killed and 26 injured when a bomb went off in a taxi in what a senior local official suspected was a "terrorist" attack.

The blast occurred at 7:00 am (0400 GMT) in the breakaway territory of Trandnestr, which has been de facto independent from the rest of Moldova since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Eyewitnesses said the taxi, a Mercedes minibus, was waiting at a red light in Transdnestr's main city, Tiraspol, when the powerful explosion occurred.

Vladimir Voronin, the president of Moldova, offered his condolences and promised to cooperate with local authorities in tracking down the culprits.

Transdnestr, stretching 460 kilometers (285 miles) along the border of southwest Ukraine, has not been recognized as independent by any other country. Peace talks with the government of Moldova have all but collapsed.

MosNews reports:

According to Russia’s Foreign Ministry, two Russian peacekeepers received injuries in the explosion, and a nurse of the military Russian hospital was killed, RIA Novosti said.

It is not clear who was behind this, nor is the motive clear. Despite the tensions between Moldova and Russia, Transdniester has not been a particularly violent place.

There is speculation this bombing was done to put pressure on Russia at the upcoming G8 summit. The US would like to talk about Transdniester at the summit, and perhaps someone wanted to remind the world of Russia's presence. (Russian troops are stationed there.)

Perhaps someone was upset with Russia's heavyhanded approach to Moldova and its gas supply. (Earlier this year, when Russia shut off the gas to Ukraine, it shut off the gas to Moldova as well.) There was this news on Monday.

The government said today that under the deal, Moldova would pay $160 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas starting on July 1.

For the first six months of 2006, Moldova paid $110 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas.

Last year Moldova paid $80 per kcm. So, Russia has doubled Moldova's energy bill.

Previous posts

The Transdniester region
Russian meddling
New customs rules in the Transdniester region
Could Russian troops leave the Transdniester region?
Sticky Transdniester

Thursday, July 06, 2006


The Government of Balochistan in Exile blog has a terrific post on the port of Gwadar in Balochistan, and its importance to Pakistan and China. Here is an excerpt, but read it all, it's quite informative.

With its strategy of cooperation with the Americans, the Pakistani military regime bought itself some time to fortify its position against future threats from U.S. Just four months after the U.S.-led coalition forces liberated Afghanistan from the Talibans, the Pakistanis courted China to counter U.S. hegemony in the region, and broke ground with the Chinese in building a Deep Sea Port on the Arabian Sea. The project was sited in an obscure fishing village of Gwadar in Pakistani-occupied Balochistan, bordering Afghanistan to the northwest and Iran to the southwest. Gwadar is nautically bounded by the Persian Gulf in the west and the Gulf of Oman in the southwest.

Although the Gwadar Port project has been under study since May 2001, the U.S. entrée into Kabul provided an added impetus for its speedy execution. Having set up its bases in Central, South, and West Asian countries, the U.S. virtually brought its military forces at the doorstep of China. Beijing was already wary of the strong U.S. military presence in the Persian Gulf, which supplies 60% of its energy needs. It was now alarmed to see the U.S. extend its reach into Asian nations that ring western China. Having no blue water navy to speak of, China feels defenseless in the Persian Gulf against any hostile action to choke off its energy supplies. This vulnerability set Beijing scrambling for alternative safe supply routes for its energy shipments. The planned Gwadar Deep Sea Port was one such alternative for which China had flown its Vice Premier, Wu Bangguo, to Gwadar to lay its foundation on March 22, 2002.

The Religion of Pieces

From Breitbart:

Radical Islamic militia fighters in Somalia shot and killed two people who were watching a banned World Cup soccer broadcast, a radio station reported Wednesday.

The hard-line Muslim fighters, who have banned watching television, opened fire after a crowd of teenagers defied their orders to leave a hall where a businessman was showing Tuesday's Germany-Italy match on satellite television, according to Shabelle Radio, an independent local station. It said the businessman and a teenage girl were killed.

Hard-line Muslim fighters, who wrested control of the Somali capital from warlords in June, have forbidden people from watching television or movies in line with their strict interpretation of Islam.

Whew, cross that country off the list

From Regnum:

Osama bin Laden is not in Kazakhstan, says Kazakhstani MP, member of the Parliamentary Committee on International Affairs, Defense and Security Tokhtarkhan Nurakhmetov.

While commenting to REGNUM on the statement by former US National Coordinator for Counterterrorism Richard Clarke that the terrorist #1 is in one of the Central Asian states, Nurakhmetov said that bin Laden is certainly not in Kazakhstan.

“I hear this for the first time. Still, I am absolutely sure of what I am saying,” he said.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Iranian Balochistan

An article by Chris Zambelis at the Jamestown Foundation highlights the current unrest in Iranian Balochistan. The troubles inside Iran are certainly related to the independence movement next door in Pakistan's Balochistan province, as Balochs live in Iran and Afghanistan.

Baloch nationalist websites frequently post graphic photographs and video footage of alleged Iranian security operations and atrocities committed against Iranian Baloch civilians ( The official website of the Balochistan People's Party (BPP), a movement advocating the federalization of Iran and what it describes as Baloch sovereignty within a democratic Iran, describes a recent Iranian military operation that allegedly commenced on May 15 as the "Islamic clerical regime's atrocities towards Sunni Baloch" and included helicopter gunships and airstrikes against civilian centers in Sistan-Balochistan. The website also includes visual evidence of what it claims are innocent victims of Tehran's crackdown and the recent killing of Sunni Baloch clerics by Iranian security forces (

It is unclear whether a group operating under the name Jundallah in Pakistani Balochistan is affiliated with its Iranian counterpart, although Tehran and Islamabad claim that Baloch militants on both sides of the border cooperate in the area of arms and narcotics trafficking and financing (The News International, January 8; Asia Times, June 8). Given the lawless and porous border region dividing Iranian and Pakistani Balochistan, it is difficult to determine whether this cross-border activity is linked to Jundallah's campaign or everyday crime typical in the region.

Historically, Tehran and Islamabad have collaborated in suppressing Baloch nationalism, often through brutal military crackdowns. Both countries see Baloch nationalism as a serious threat to regional stability and the territorial integrity of both states. Ongoing negotiations over the construction of a proposed pipeline that would deliver Iranian natural gas to Pakistan and India, much of which would traverse large swaths of Iranian and Pakistani Balochistan, is another point of concern that brings both sides together on the threat posed by Baloch nationalism and the emergence of groups such as Jundallah (Dawn, June 10).

Zambelis refers to Abdulmalak Rigi as the leader of Jundallah, a Baloch resistance organziation in Iran. In April, I mentioned this Iranian report saying Rigi had been killed.

Zambelis refers to this interview from Rooz Online dated May 14 in which Rigi appears to be quite alive.

Perhaps that earlier Iranian report was a bit of propaganda, to make the Iranian people think Iranian forces were having some success putting down this revolt?

Troubled Chechnya

This AP report from Chechnya:

Gunmen attacked a Russian military convoy in the Chechnya region Tuesday, killing at least five troops and wounding as many as 25 others, officials said. Pro-rebel Web sites claimed more than 20 Russian soldiers were killed.

The convoy was traveling near the town of Avtury, southeast of the Chechen capital of Grozny, when it came under fire from three or four areas, according to the Interior Ministry in the mostly Muslim republic in southern Russia. It said preliminary information indicated seven servicemen were killed and 25 wounded.

Defense Ministry spokesman Vyacheslav Sedov, also citing preliminary information, said five servicemen were killed and 11 wounded.

The Web sites and, citing unidentified sources, said that more than 20 "Russian occupiers" were killed and many others wounded, and that four military vehicles were destroyed or badly damaged in the attack, which they called revenge for the killing of Chechen rebel leader Abdul-Khalim Sadulayev by police last month. said the attack was a "meticulously planned act of revenge" for Sadulayev's death.

With Sadulayev's death, Doku Umarov became chief of the Chechan rebels, and last week he named Shamil Basayev as his vice president.

Basayev was involved in planning the horrific tragedy in Beslan. That he is in a senior leadership among the Chechen rebels does not bode well for the future in Chechnya. Attacks like this one against Russian troops will increase.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy 4th!

Hope y'all are having a nice 4th of July. Posting has been light, as I've been enjoying some glorious weather.

May we always remember what this day is about...

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

Monday, July 03, 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 & Friday. Monday's Winds of War briefings are given by Peace Like a River and Security Watchtower.

Top Topics

* The Supreme Court declared 5-3 that the president's attempt to resurrect a type of military trial last used in the aftermath of World War II violates U.S. military law and the Geneva conventions that set international standards for dealing with people captured in armed conflicts. Lots of commentary and reaction from Bench Memos, Mark Levin, SCOTUSBlog, Michelle Malkin, and Bainbridge.

* During a hunt for kidnappers police detained six men for suspected involvement in the kidnapping. The Taliban have threatened to target Afghan nationals working for the foreign military or civilian companies. Meanwhile, two suspected Taliban fighters were killed and four others were injured, also on Thursday, after they attacked a police building in neighbouring Zabul province, police chief Noor Mohammad Paktin said.

* Hamas is threatening to attack targets inside of Israel if the IDF does not end their Gaza offensive. Syrian government officials say they will pressure Hamas only if the Israeli operations in Gaza are halted. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is ratcheting up the pressure as strikes continue.

Other topics today include: Iranian militias; Kuwaiti elections; Turkey expands anti-terror laws; Kurds attack Turkish troops; Israeli offensive in Gaza; Foreign fighters in Iraq; FBI raid in Pittsburg; More on Guantanamo; Updates on Florida terror suspects; Canada increases military expenditures; Putin offers reward for Iraq killers; Russian anti-terror exercises; Russia to improve security at embassies; Heavy fighting in southern Afghanistan; Executions in Pakistani tribal land; Bombings in Baluchistan; Violence in Kashmir; Terror convictions in India; Islamic charity tied to terror; Clashes in Bangladesh; Tamil Tigers attack Sri Lankan naval vessel; Police station in southern Thailand attacked; Five JL suspects arrested in Singapore; Australia-Philippine cooperation against terror; Fighting intensifies in southern Philippines; Detained Iraqis were to attack UK; British reports on the war on terror; Janjaweed continue attacks in Sudan; Somalia Islamic group tied to al Qaeda; Ethiopian troops enter Somalia; Somalian terror camps; terror support network in Europe before 9/11; Osama bin Laden audio messages; Zarqawi buried in Baghdad; and more.

Iran & the Middle East

* Iran continues to support efforts to squash internal dissent, arming two brigades of the Baseej militia with heavy weapons according to Rooz Online. Both the Ashoora and Al-Zahra brigades have also been trained in urban combat and frequently disguise themselves as ordinary citizens.

* None of the twenty-eight Kuwaiti women running for office for the first time in parliamentary elections won seats, despite females making up 57 percent of the electorate. Two of the women received more than 1,000 votes each.

* Saudi ambassador to the U.S. Prince Turki al-Faisal, is calling on the United States to release all Saudi nationals held at Guantanamo and a return of them to the kingdom in order to face trial.

* The Turkish Grand National Assembly has broadened the country's anti-terror laws by adopting new legislation that delays a suspect's guaranteed access to a lawyer for the first 24 hours of detention and expands the definition of offenses classified as terrorism.

* Kurdish militants killed two Turkish soldiers and injured five others during an attack on a police station in the Bingol province. Some reports indicate that Turkey is trying to cover up bombings in an effort to safeguard their tourism industry.

* Israeli airstrikes targeted the terror infrastructure in Gaza strip again on Friday, striking the Palestinian Interior Ministry in Gaza city and setting the structure ablaze. Artillery and naval assets also pounded Hamas and Fatah training camps along the Gaza.

* The US military said it has several hundred foreign fighters in custody in Iraq and that most of them come from Egypt, followed by Syria, Sudan and Saudi Arabia. "We have several hundred foreign fighters in captivity at this point of time and the greatest number come out of Egypt," said Major General William Caldwell.

* According to Lebanese politician Walid Jumblatt, Syria is "trying to turn Lebanon into another Iraq by exporting Al-Qaeda fighters into the country."

* Seymour Hersh reports in the New Yorker that top unidentified Pentagon officials don't believe airstrikes would destroy Iran's nuclear program. Last year Hersh reported U.S. special forces were operating on the ground inside of Iran.

* Thousands of Iranian exiles held protests in Paris, calling on western powers to prevent Teheran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

* Fighting broke out between Palestinian gunmen and Israeli troops on Saturday, near Khan Younis in the Gaza strip. A three man Hamas suicide squad was killed by Israeli forces near the Dahaniya airport. In the West Bank, IDF troops searched the hospital in Nablus for a terrorist wounded earlier.

* Michael Totten has an interesting read at his Middle East Journal on interaction with Kurdish Islamists, whom he generally regarded as more moderate than the Egyptian Brotherhood, or Hezbollah whom he described as "psychotic."

* A Saturday editorial in the Washington Post titled "Hamas's War" is critical of Hamas and endorses the Israeli offensive in Gaza as justified in the face of the kidnapping of the IDF soldier last week (Hat tip: Vital Perspectives).

America Domestic Security & the Americas

* The Supreme Court decision striking down military commissions for detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has renewed calls for the government to close the facility that has held terrorism suspects for four years. The problem facing U.S. officials is how to shut down Guantanamo and what to do with the 450 men who are still there -- in particular, about 100 they consider too dangerous to ever release.

* FBI agents Friday raided a North Side residence known to many in the neighborhood and the Pittsburgh Islamic community as both an Islamic school and mosque. The agency would say only that the search was in connection with a "criminal investigation" and wouldn't elaborate.

* The leader of a group accused of plotting to destroy the Sears Tower in Chicago and other buildings viewed the attacks as a prelude to the overthrow of the U.S. government and its replacement by an Islamic regime, prosecutors said at a hearing Thursday. Prosecutors also said they have video of the group's members swearing allegiance to Osama bin Laden in a March meeting, and that they had pledged to support a plan to bomb FBI buildings in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and Washington. The plan came from an FBI informant posing as an al-Qaida operative.

* A mystery man has emerged in the Miami terror case involving seven men allegedly plotting against Chicago's Sears Tower and sites in Florida. The man known as Sultan Khanbey, 51, for a time mentor for Narseal Batiste, leader of the group, is reportedly providing prosecutors with an inside view of the alleged terror organization, the Miami Herald says.

* The White House has given federal agencies 45 days to beef up safeguards to prevent citizen identities from being lost or stolen, the latest reaction to the numerous data disclosures suffered by the government in May and June. The government has been embarrassed by several prominent data breaches, including the massive May VA incident, the loss of two Federal Trade Commission (FTC) notebooks, a large disclosure of U.S. Navy personnel identities, and a breach at the Department of Agriculture.

* To understand the promise biometrics and radio frequency identification technology hold for the Homeland Security Department, look no further than two Coast Guard facilities—one in the District of Columbia and one in Washington state. At Coast Guard headquarters in D.C., a voluntary program—which both campuses use—called RapidGate lets vendors gain easier access to the facility by voluntarily registering for a biometric identification card.

* Willie T. Hulon has been tapped to head the FBI’s new National Security Branch, making him the seventh official to run the bureau’s counterterrorism operations since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

* Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government has announced the most aggressive upgrade of Canada's military equipment in decades, laying out new expenditures of $15.3 billion to improve transportation capacities.

Russia, Caucasus & Central Asia

* Russian President Vladmir Putin announced a $ 10 million reward for information leading to the capture of those responsible for the execution of 4 Russian diplomats in Iraq.

* The president of Chechen Republic, Alu Alkhanov, has expressed his full support for Vladamir Putin's announcement of his intent to hunt down the killers of four Russian diplomats in Iraq.

* Russian forces conducted an anti-terror exercises in the Dagestan capital of Makhachkala on Saturday. The drill, aimed at preventing terror attacks, featured hostage release scenario.

* Russia test-fired a ballistic missile Friday from a submarine in the Barents Sea to the Kamchatka peninsula in the country's far east, 3,000 miles away.

* On Saturday, Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said that Russia would allocate extra funds to tighten security at its embassies abroad.

* Russia is denying U.S. reports that top Iranian missile specialists were trained at a facility in southern Russia.

* Gateway Pundit has commentary on the terror attacks in Nalchik last summer and notes one of the terrorists involved was a former detainee at Guantanamo Bay.

Afghanistan & Southern Asia

* Coalition soldiers tracked a group of militants to an eastern Afghanistan safe house and killed 14 in an attack on the compound, the military said. The insurgents were seen carrying AK-47 submachine guns and rocket-propelled grenades to a compound in the Kamdesh district of Nuristan province, a coalition statement said.

* Afghan officials claimed on Thursday that they had captured two Pakistani nationals who were part of a 20-member team that entered southern Afghanistan to carry out suicide attacks. Two other men from the same group were killed on Wednesday when they detonated a car bomb near a US-led coalition convoy in Zabul province, while 16 other Pakistani nationals were still at large, a police official said.

* Two suicide car bombers killed only themselves in an attack on U.S. forces Wednesday, while a U.S.-led coalition soldier died in a land mine explosion and 12 Taliban militants were killed in a raid on their compound, officials said.

* Two rockets fired by insurgents slammed into the main coalition military base in southern Afghanistan, wounding seven foreign soldiers and three civilian contract workers, military officials said Saturday.

* The two special forces soldiers killed during an hour-long gunfight in southern Afghanistan were part of a daring raid on a Taleban stronghold in which four key commanders on the “Most Wanted” list were seized. The details of the “snatch” operation emerged as the next of kin were told of their deaths.

* Two British soldiers were killed in Afghanistan in an attack on their base in the south of the country, the latest clash in the bloodiest phase of violence since the militants were ousted in 2001. The two were killed in the volatile Sangin district of Helmand province, where more than 3,000 British troops are based.

* Coalition air strikes have killed eight Taliban in southern
Afghanistan after two soldiers, an interpreter and 12 other rebels died in a major battle.

* Pro-Taliban rebels held a public execution in northwest Pakistan, allowing relatives of two murdered men to shoot the alleged killer with a Kalashnikov, witnesses and officials said. Around 200 villagers watched the blindfolded man executed under Islamic Sharia law, residents said, in one of the first incidents of its kind in Pakistan's restive tribal belt bordering Afghanistan.

* Federal Minister for Interior Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao has said that there is no need to deploy 10 thousand more army troops on Pak-Afghan border justifying that over 78 thousand troops already deployed on the border were enough to monitor.

* Suspected tribal militants, fighting for greater political and economic autonomy, blew up a railway line linking southwestern Pakistan to Iran early on Saturday, a railway official said. Four bombs exploded at the railway track near the town of Noshki in southern Baluchistan province several hours before the train bound for the Iranian border town of Zahedan was due to pass. Noshki is 60 miles (100 km) southwest of Quetta, capital of Baluchistan.

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

* An army officer and 10 suspected militants have been killed in two separate clashes in Indian-administered Kashmir, officials say. The officer was killed in a clash in which two militants were also killed, officials say. Eight suspected militants who tried to cross the Line of Control which divides Kashmir are also said to have been killed in a separate clash.

* Indian troops shot dead four suspected Muslim guerrillas on Sunday as they tried to cross into Indian Kashmir from Pakistan, the second infiltration attempt to be foiled in past three days, the army said.

* A court Saturday convicted three men of involvement in a 2002 terrorist attack on a Hindu shrine in western India that killed 33 people, and it sentenced them to death, a news report said. The court, at a high-security jail in Ahmadabad, convicted and sentenced three others in the attack — one to life in prison, one to five years, and one to 10 years, the Press Trust of India reported.

* Four officials of a Kuwaiti non-governmental organisation, Revival of Islamic Heritage Society, widely suspected to have channeled funds to militant organisations, have been asked to leave Bangladesh by 31 July, according to sources. The sources said intelligence agencies found evidence that Heritage had sent over 716,000 dollars to extremist organisations at home and abroad.

* In Bangladesh, a Jessore court yesterday acquitted all 23 accused in the sensational case for bomb attacks on an Udichi conference seven years ago in the district that killed 10 people and injured over 150. While pronouncing the judgment, the court observed that the prosecution has failed to prove the charges against the accused beyond doubt.

* Two people were killed and nearly 200 injured in clashes in Bangladesh on Sunday as opposition parties enforced a countrywide transport shutdown, police and witnesses said. A policeman was killed after being pelted with stones and hit by stick-wielding activists in Sonargaon, 30 km from Dhaka. A 45-year-old man was killed in the capital and 100 people were hurt. The opposition Awami League said the man had been hit by a rubber bullet but police said he was killed in a stampede.

* Sri Lankan forces sank a Tamil rebel boat as it approached a strategic harbor in the island's north, rebuffed an attack on an army patrol, and killed a suspected guerrilla in the east, the military said Saturday.

Far East & Southeast Asia

* Islamic militants gunned down two Muslims in southern Thailand and attacked a police station in Yala on Saturday.

* A day after releasing five terror suspects, authorities in Singapore have arrested five other men, suspected of being Jemaah Islamiyah operatives.

* Indonesian authorities have recovered a 34-page computer file titled "The Bali Document" that outlines the plotting of the 2005 Bali bombings that killed 20 people.

* Australia is playing an active role in cooperating with the Philippines on anti-terrorism measures, including the donation of equipment and information, and joint training operations in the future. The two share a common security threat in Jemaah Islamiyah, al Qaeda's southeast Asian branch.

* An editorial in the Bangkok Post discusses cyber terrorism and some of the counter measures that have been implemented in southeast Asia.

* Hundreds of people fled four villages in Mindanao as Muslim militant separatists exchanged mortar and gunfire with Filipino paramilitary forces, and at least twenty people have been killed. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has been negotiating with Manila since 1997 to end a nearly 40-year conflict that has killed more than 120,000 people.

* Filipino military forces fired howitzer rounds on MILF positions in the southern Philippines on Friday, as the separatist group denied involvement in a recent bombing.

* East Timor's former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri has urged thousands of supporters to take their fight to the ballot box amid hopes of an end to the political crisis paralyzing the country. At least 21 people have died in recent fighting.

* Filipino troops battled communist militants over the weekend in several clashes that left seven insurgents and two police officers dead. The New People's Army (NPA) is listed by the United States as a terrorist organization.


* MI6 has warned that Iran could direct terrorist attacks on British interests, if diplomacy over its nuclear programme fail. The assessment was revealed in a report by MPs and peers who were given access to the confidential work of Britain's intelligence agencies. The agency is also warning that a significant number of white Brits have been lured into Islamic terrorism.

* Six Iraqis sent to Britain to allegedly carry out attacks are at the heart of the growing "constitutional battle" over the government's anti-terrorism laws. According to the Times Online, the men were to carryout mass casualty bombings.

* The Italian government has vowed to maintain Italian troops deployed in Afghanistan, despite opposition from pacifists who are threatening to vote against the mission in parliament.

* Authorities in the Czech Republic are investigating an explosion in Prague on Sunday, that fortunately didn't cause any casualties.

* A high tech body scanner has been unveiled at Paddington station in London ahead of a four week trial. Subway passengers will be randomly selected to pass through the device at the Heathrow express platforms.

* According to a government report, Britain could scale back its nuclear arsenal now that the Cold War is over, a revelation that will set the tone for months of debate over the fate of Britain’s nuclear weapons. Prime Minister Tony Blair has said he will decide later this year whether or how to replace the fleet of Trident missile-carrying submarines that form Britain’s nuclear arsenal.

* The British foreign affairs selected committee completed a report on the war on terrorism and among other findings stated that "Al-Qaeda continues to pose an extremely serious and brutal threat to the United Kingdom and its interests."

* The British Home Affairs committee have indicated that the 28-day limit for police to hold terror suspects will likely need to be extended.


* Nearly two months after the signing of a peace accord between Sudan and a rebel group in Darfur, the humanitarian situation there appears to have worsened, while Khartoum-backed Janjaweed militia continue to attack towns and villages in neighbouring Chad.

* At the end of July, the people of Congo will participate in free and democratic elections for the first time since 1965. It will be the most expensive election ever held in Africa, costing international donors more than $400 million. Millions of ballots and tens of thousands of ballot boxes must be distributed across a country the size of Western Europe but with only 300 miles of paved roads.

* Somalia's interim government has vowed to prevent Islamic militias from asserting authority across the Horn of Africa. Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, head of the Council of Islamic Courts, denies he has ties to al Qaeda or terrorist activity.

* According to a U.S. State Department official, funds are flowing into Somalia from Saudi Arabia and Yemen to support the Islamic Courts movement that seized the capital Mogadishu this month.

* About 100 Ethiopian troops crossed the border into Somalia on Saturday, witnesses said, the latest sign that Ethiopia might try to bolster this country's weak interim government as an Islamic militia gains power.

* Dan Darling writes the "individuals that now control much of southern Somalia can be directly linked to al Qaeda, as well as the murders of a number of U.S. servicemen." Bill Roggio has an excellent look at Somalia's Terror camps.

* Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were both in attendance at an African summit in Gambia, and used the forum as an opportunity to attack the west and the United States. Ahmadinejad reiterated Iran's refusal to surrender uranium enrichment.

The Global War

* The September 11 attacks precipitated the uncovering of extensive al-Takfir wa al-Hijra (Excommunication and Exile) networks across Europe specialized in logistical support to terrorist groups. While the obscure group had been previously encountered by law enforcement, many were surprised at the extent and reach of its networks. Once thought of as nothing more than a fringe group in Egypt, in the last 15 years the ideology has undergone a surprising internationalization and evolution with Takfir groups involved in terrorist attacks, criminal activities and cooperating with the al-Qaeda network in its jihad against the West.

* A Canadian Muslim activist faces possible execution as Uzbek authorities confirmed Friday the man was deported to his native China. Huseyincan Celil, a 37-year-old naturalized Canadian citizen, was sentenced to death in China for human rights work he did on behalf of the Uyghur Muslim minority in Xinjiang province.

* According to Russian Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov, the Ukrainian firm Progress supplied Iran and China with two dozen X-55 (AS-15) long-range, nuclear capable cruise missiles in 2000 and 2001. Ukranian officials have strongly responded by declaring the claims untrue, and said the only nation they've sold missiles of this nature to is Russia.

* Osama bin Laden endorsed the new leader of al-Qaida in Iraq in an Internet posting Saturday, and he warned Shiites there against collaborating with the United States in its fight against Sunni insurgents. In his fifth audio message this year and his second in two days, bin Laden also warned nations not to send troops to Somalia. James Robbins asks if this is the best Osama can do while Dr. Walid Phares offers additional analysis.

* According to an unidentified top Iraqi official, the body of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was buried in Iraq at an undisclosed location in Baghdad. Um Mohamed, the wife of the former al Qaeda leader, is claiming that al Qaeda asked the U.S. to kill Zarqawi because he had become "too powerful."

* Michael Freund writes in the Jerusalem Post about the ambiguous nature of a website run by the U.S. State Department when it comes to identifying Palestinian terrorism.

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Saturday, July 01, 2006

The Iran-Iraq War

I mentioned before I was reading an excellent book, Eternal Iran by Patrick Clawson and Michael Rubin. It provides an excellent overview of Iranian history from centuries back to the present.

Here are some snippets from the book on the Iran-Iraq war. It was a horrendous war, and memories of the tremendous losses motivate Iran still.

The same year that the Iran-contra scandal was unfolding saw Iran's war effort flag. In April 1986, frustrated at the continuing stalemate, Khomeini publicly ordered Iranian forces to win the war before the end of the Iranian year, which had just started. Determined to carry out this order, the political leadership overruled military commanders in a series of ill-advised attacks. In September, of 2,000 Revolutionary Guards who set out to sieze an Iraqi offshore oil platform, only 130 even made it to the platform, which the Iraqis easily held. A December assault across the Shatt cost 10,000 Iranians their lives to little avail while Iraq suffered only about 1,000-2,000 dead. The January-February 1987 battle for Basra cost Iran 20,000-30,000 dead for gain of 40 square miles of marsh and flooded date palm fields; the renewed effort in April did even worse. The fighting from December 1986 through April 1987 cost Iran 50,000 dead.
In the end, the border dispute was little affected by the war. The conflict cost Iran some 450,000-730,000 dead and another 600,000-1,200,000 wounded; Iraq suffered 150,000-400,000 dead and 400,000-700,000 wounded.