Sunday, March 28, 2010


Sunday March 28,2010
By David Jarvis
A PLOT by Al Qaeda to blow up a sports stadium was foiled when a British-based courier was arrested.

The man was held in Chicago as he prepared to board a flight for England carrying cash to buy explosives.

The money, ultimately bound for ¬Pakistan, was intercepted after an ¬elaborate sting by FBI agents who had penetrated the terror cell. Last week taxi driver Raja Lahrasib Khan, 56, a naturalised US citizen of Pakistani ¬origin, was charged with financing ¬terror.

He had handed the cash to his unwitting son, who lives in England, to take on a London-bound flight.

Khan originally intended to fly to England with the money himself before heading for Pakistan and handing it to terrorist leader Ilyas Kashmiri, who receives orders from Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden at his base in the tribal areas of western Pakistan.

But he never realised the $1,000 (£672) had been handed to him by an undercover FBI agent, who last week told a court how Khan had claimed he could blow up an unnamed sports arena.

FBI agents who arrested Khan’s son last Tuesday discovered he was carrying seven of the ten $100 bills the undercover agent had given to Khan.

Last Friday Khan was ordered to be held in custody after the US District Court in Chicago heard how he told the undercover agent that remote controlled bombs could be placed in a packed stadium and then: “Boom, boom, boom.” Khan’s son, who has not been named, was ¬unaware that he was being used as a terrorist courier and has not been detained.

Khan’s Pakistani contact Kashmiri has also been accused of helping organise an attack against a Danish newspaper that published cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed.

The attack was never carried out.

He is the leader of Harakat-ul Jihad Islami, a group the US Justice Department said has trained terrorists and carried out attacks in the north Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.

According to court papers Khan claims to have known Kashmiri for approximately 15 years and had unwittingly told agents about meeting him when they had discussed plans to train terrorists to carry out attacks in the US. 

Tape undoubted from Iran.

Osama tape has intelligence officials fuming

U.S. counterterrorism officials seemed to have a hard time making up their minds on how to respond to Osama bin Laden’s latest tape.

On the one hand, the Qaeda leader’s threat to kill American captives was “so ridiculous” that it hardly merited a response, one official said.

“They started doing that 10, 12, 15 years ago,” he virtually sputtered to CNN’s national security producer Pam Benson -- anonymously, of course.

On the other, another official told Reuters, bin Laden’s threat to retaliate if the 9/11 plot organizer Khalid Sheik Mohammed, now in Guantanamo, were executed, was so absurd it demanded a response.

"The United States Senate has the responsibility to approve or disapprove of my nominees. But if, in the interest of scoring political points, Republicans in the Senate refuse to exercise that responsibility, I must act in the interest of the American people and exercise my authority to fill these positions on an interim basis," he said in a written statement.

If Obama gave a sh*t about the American people at all, he would never have used Marxist tactics to crush the American people and ignore their concerns - he never would've pushed his Socialist agenda for medical care - and included a codicle to fine anyone and everyone who refused to accept incompetent medical care from government minions (for that's what doctor's will become) whose careers will be solely dictated by the criminals in Washington.

Not to forget the intolerable tax increases we're facing to pay for this theft of our freedoms in order to pay for medical coverage of 30 million additional people - more than half of whom are illegal immigrants who pay no taxes, and never have, but still get free medical and dental care on our dime while we will increasingly foot the bill for this scum.

Obama Makes Labor Board Appointment During Recess Over GOP Objections 

Despite intense Republican objections, President Obama on Saturday used recess appointments to fill some administration posts, including Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board.

Despite intense Republican objections, President Obama on Saturday used recess appointments to fill 15 administration posts without Senate confirmation, including Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board.

By filling the jobs while Congress is in recess, Obama gets around Senate confirmation. Obama justified the move by charging Republicans with playing politics with his administration nominees.

"The United States Senate has the responsibility to approve or disapprove of my nominees. But if, in the interest of scoring political points, Republicans in the Senate refuse to exercise that responsibility, I must act in the interest of the American people and exercise my authority to fill these positions on an interim basis," he said in a written statement.

All 41 Senate Republicans wrote Obama this week urging him not to use a recess appointment for Becker, a former top lawyer with Service Employees International Union and the AFL-CIO, whose nomination was rejected by the Senate last month, 52-43.

Appeasing Pakistan likely to be US miscalculation

28 Mar 2010, 0127 hrs IST, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: As part of the appeasement policy towards Pakistan, the Obama

administration, which hopes for action against the Taliban and al-Qaeda,

has pledged millions in aid, held out the promise of a civilian nuclear

deal, promised to facilitate the transfer of military hardware and assured

Pakistan that it is on par with India. There is no doubt that appeasing

Pakistan for results in Afghanistan is the top foreign policy priority of US

President Barack Obama, who finds little domestic acceptability for a

continued US presence in Afghanistan. In a recent Congressional testimony,

US secretary of state Hillary Clinton said the US has made a "strategic

priority" to strengthen its partnership with Pakistan and further noted that

the efforts towards Pakistan were important to US success in Afghanistan.

But many experts see this as a miscalculation on Washington's part. "The

American will is waning and obviously they are looking for a way to secure

an exit (from Afghanistan) and the only way they think they can do that -

which is a complete miscalculation - is by somehow trying to win Pakistan

over by concession - aid and weapons. It will only be like the past," said

counter-terrorism expert Ajai Sahni.

US once again thinks Hikmatyar is a good Taliban

The US has changed its mind on Hikmatyar many times. During the 90s he was a good guy. Then he was a bad guy. Now he is a good guy again.

The Taliban claim they don’t care what Hekmatyar does. “His overall strength is equal to that of one of our smaller provincial commanders,” says a Taliban intelligence officer, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Now he’s presenting himself on a plate to the Americans for money.” They’ve never trusted him anyway, considering him an unprincipled opportunist who’s interested in nothing but personal power.

But while they won’t admit it, they’re worried. With an estimated 15 to 25 percent of the Afghan insurgency’s total armed strength, Hekmatyar’s fighters could pose serious problems for the Taliban in northeastern Afghanistan. Until recently the two armed groups coexisted relatively well, even staging occasional joint operations such as the Nuristan attacks and ambushes against French troops east of Kabul. Still, hostility is growing within the insurgent alliance: some 60 fighters died in open fighting between the two groups in Baghlan province this past February.

And something else may be driving Hekmatyar as well. “Everyone from Karzai to the Americans has been talking about talking to the Taliban,” says Rahimullah Yusufzai, a noted Pakistani journalist and expert on the insurgency. “I think Hekmatyar was feeling left out in the cold and desperate.” The warlord wanted to make himself relevant again. Former ISI chief Hamid Gul agrees. “He’s trying to create a political space for himself,” says Gul, who has known him well for many years. “So when Karzai and the Americans begin talking to the Taliban, he won’t be totally ignored.”

Nevertheless, Hekmatyar will have to step cautiously. “He has always presented himself as this great Afghan freedom fighter, struggling to drive foreign armies and foreign influence out of Afghanistan,” says Yusufzai. “This offer will damage him because he has been talking so big and for so long about the jihad.” That might keep a deal from happening at all. “I don’t see him cutting a separate peace,” says Gul. “He would be hugely discredited, and all his efforts over 30 years to build himself into an Afghan leader would be wasted.”

All the same, Hekmatyar has been known to make surprising moves when it suits his purposes, suddenly allying himself with old enemies he had sworn to kill. Whatever else people may say about him, he can always be trusted to do what he thinks is best for Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

Escaped terror suspect still at large

Written By:Catherine Achienga , Posted: Fri, Mar 26, 2010

Hussein Hashi Farah a suspected terrorist who vanished while in Kenyan police custody 13 days ago is still at large.

The man of Australian origin who had been declared a persona non-grata by the Kenyan government was nabbed by immigration officials at the Busia border, and handed over to the police where he later disappeared in dubious circumstances.

It was alleged that he colluded with police to secure his freedom.

Immigration minister Otieno Kajwang' while applauding his officers for their vigilance however faulted the security lapse on the part of the police who let Farah, a man on the terrorist watch list walk free.

Farah is wanted on suspicion of his association with terrorist activities.

He was found in possession of an Australian passport and is linked to the Al Shabab terrorist group in Somalia.

Foreign affairs minister Moses Wetangula is now calling on the security agents to tighten the rope and nab the suspect.

"Our security agents should hunt down the suspected terrorist within and without our borders. The consequences of not arresting him could be very grave," Wetangula said.

Australian authorities are believed to be looking for Farah over his alleged role on a terrorist attempt in Sydney Australia and wants Kenya to surrender him once nabbed.

The disappearance of the suspect believed to have made his way into Uganda has left security agents on high alert with queries over his intended destination. Ugandan authorities have however denied that the suspect is in the country

'Obama resigned to nuclear Iran'


28/03/2010 05:31

Bolton says Washington pressuring Israel not to strike nuke facilities.

Talkbacks (58)

Former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton expressed concern Sunday that Washington was coming to terms with a nuclear Iran.

“I very much worry the Obama administration is willing to accept a nuclear Iran, that's why there's this extraordinary pressure on Israel not to attack in Iran,” Bolton told Army Radio.

The former envoy claimed that this pressure was the focus of last week's meetings in Washington between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyhau and US officials, including President Barack Obama.

Bolton said that the Obama administration had embraced the view, prevalent in Europe, that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the key to the resolution of all other conflicts throughout the Middle East, including the Iranian conflict.

He added that the rift in US-Israel relations stemmed from a fundamental difference in the understanding of the Middle East and Israel's role in the Middle East, and is not really about east Jerusalem at all.

Bolton said that the treatment Netanyahu received during his visit "should tell the people of Israel how difficult it's going to be dealing with Washington for the next couple of years."

On Saturday, meanwhile, The New York Times reported that international inspectors and Western intelligence agencies suspect that Teheran is preparing to build more sites in defiance of United Nations demands.

According to the report, half a year after the revelation of a secret Iranian nuclear enrichment site northeast of Qom, the UN inspectors assigned to monitor Iran’s nuclear program are now searching for evidence of two additional sites, prompted by Israeli assessments as well as by recent comments by a top Iranian official that drew little attention in the West.

The paper said that the inspectors were looking into the mysterious whereabouts of recently manufactured uranium enrichment equipment.

In an interview with the Iranian Student News Agency, the official, Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had ordered work to begin soon on two new plants. The plants, he said, “will be built inside mountains,” presumably to protect them from attacks.

“God willing,” Mr. Salehi was quoted as saying, “we may start the construction of two new enrichment sites” in the Iranian new year, which began March 21.

One European official noted to the Times that “while we have some evidence,” Iran’s heavy restrictions on where inspectors can travel and the existence of numerous tunneling projects were making the detection of any new enrichment plants especially difficult.

The paper went on to quote American officials as saying that Israel had "pressed the case" with their American counterparts that evidence points to what one senior administration official called “Qom lookalikes.”

The revelation that inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, now believe that there may be two new sites comes at a crucial moment in the White House’s attempts to impose tough new sanctions against Iran, the Times report added

British forces to withdraw from Helmand under new US plan for Afghanistan

British forces are to be withdrawn from Helmand and replaced by United States Marines under controversial new plans being drawn up by American commanders.

By Toby Harnden in Kabul

Published: 2:00AM BST 28 Mar 2010

The proposal, which would have to be approved by a new British government, is facing stiff resistance. Whitehall officials fear that a pull-out from Helmand, where nearly 250 British troops have been killed since 2006, would be portrayed as an admission of defeat.

Under the plans, British forces would hand over their remaining bases in Helmand to the US Marines as early as this year.

Such a move could bring back unhappy memories of the 2007 withdrawal from Basra in southern Iraq, which provoked jibes about British forces being bailed out by the Americans.

The proposal is linked to a reorganisation of Nato's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) forces that will split the current Regional Command (South) in two after an American-led offensive against the Taliban in Kandahar this summer.

A senior American officer in ISAF said that "the Marines will be the primary force in Helmand and Nimruz" while "British forces will go to a combination of Kandahar and Uruzgan and Zabul".

British officials opposed to the move argue that the ground-level expertise and knowledge of local power brokers in Helmand, which they have built up over many years, would be squandered in apparent contradiction of the "know the people" counter-insurgency doctrine put in place by the Nato commander in Afghanistan, Gen Stanley McChrystal.

But while acknowledging the political sensitivities, a senior British officer in ISAF said that a new role outside Helmand would be central to Gen McChrystal's campaign strategy, which is based on protecting the main Pashtun population centres.

"Through the microcosm of the UK media lens, a lot of people will say, 'We fought, we've spilt British blood in Helmand and now we're withdrawing'," the official said.

"Completely wrong. We're going to where the main effort is."

Under Gen McChrystal's plan, Helmand and Nimruz will come under a new Regional Command (South West) while Kandahar, Uruzgan and Kabul will constitute Regional Command (South East).

The US Marines have a strong tradition of independence and a determined preference for operating alone in a single area, as they did in Iraq's Anbar province. Nato has agreed that Major General Richard Mills of the US Marines – who for 18 months commanded ground forces in Iraq's Anbar province – will take command of the new south-western area of Afghanistan.

In a recent interview with The Daily Telegraph, Gen McChrystal stressed that Kandahar was of "tremendous moral importance" to the Taliban because it was their former capital and the birthplace of their leader the one-eyed Mullah Omar.

Asked whether British forces would move to Kandahar, he responded carefully: "There's a lot of politics involved in where forces go, so rather than start a political debate about where forces are what I'd rather do is just move on with where things are now and let things develop."

Canadian forces, 2,500 of which are currently based in Kandahar – where British forces won a decisive battle in 1880 that brought the Second Afghan War to an end – are due to withdraw from Afghanistan next year. Some 2,000 Dutch forces in Uruzgan are due to be pulled out by August.

British forces first deployed to Helmand in significant numbers in spring 2006, when 3,300 members of 16 Air Assault Brigade arrived. Their mission was to restore security so that reconsstruction could begin and the illegal opium trade be disrupted.

But they faced an immediate upsurge in Taliban activity and this has continued ever since, leading to regular calls for greater troop numbers. There are currently around 10,000 from the UK in the region, and 248 soldiers have been killed there.

This would leave a vacuum in south-eastern Afghanistan at a time when US Marines are pouring into Helmand as part of President Barack Obama's surge of 30,000 troops, which will soon bring American forces to a level of 100,000, double what they were a year ago. About 20,000 US Marines will be in Helmand by this summer, more than twice the number of British troops there.

Some senior American officers believe the British have become too attached to "Helmandshire" and have developed tunnel vision.

Although British troops have been praised for their valour, the consensus within the American military is that control of the province has slipped away because of inadequate numbers, poor equipment and thin logistical support.

Senior American officers also believe the British became distracted by defending bases in outlying areas like Musa Qala, Kajaki and Sangin when they should have concentrated on the more-populated central Helmand.

A Washington defence source said that, under the new plan, "Helmandshire will become Marine-istan."

The main British logistics base in Afghanistan is already at Kandahar airfield – a factor that makes a shift from Helmand more feasible. Nato forces in southern Afghanistan are currently commanded by Maj Gen Nick Carter from his Regional Command (South) headquarters at the airfield.

Mark Sedwill, formerly British ambassador in Afghanistan and now Nato's Senior Civilian Representative, acknowledged that withdrawal of British forces from Helmand would make "a lot of sense" when viewed from a "purely military perspective".

This was because "the challenges in Kandahar are very well suited to the resources we can bring and the capabilities" British troops have.

"Could we end up with the Brits in Kandahar?" he said. "I guess theoretically we could and certainly I wouldn't rule it out because from the ISAF perspective we need to look at what is the sensible force deployment as the Canadians draw down after 2011 and given how central Kandahar is to the entire campaign.

"But any shift of that kind is not just an ISAF decision, it would have to be agreed with the British government of the day. There would be enormous political sensitivities to manage just because of the amount of investment of blood and treasure that has gone into central Helmand."

Maj Gen Gordon Messenger, senior British military spokesman, said that there was "no thought at the moment of doing anything other" than "a job which is utterly, utterly needed as part of the coalition force in central Helmand".

He added: "How that function changes over time is clearly being looked at ... and there are any number of options. But it would be unwise to view moving and conducting ground-holding in Kandahar as one of them."


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