Trying To Make Sense: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq. Iran, Israel, Palestine, War, War Crimes, War Criminal News Of The Day
In the midst of the superheated debate over the course of the war in Afghanistan, two men, one an American, the other an Afghan citizen, release this provocative look at the underside of an insurgency. In a country with 40% unemployment, they talk to those whose voices have been missing: ordinary Afghans. See and hear them up close in the squares where they gather by the thousands looking for work, as they struggle to feed their families, working for $4 a day if they are lucky. Ranked as the fourth poorest nation in the world, many have never even heard of 9/11, nor the Twin Towers. But someone is always hiring at a good daily wage: the Taliban. The documentary reveals that a civilian solution to stability would cost but a small fraction of the present occupation.
Pegmedia download for broadcast by public access TV stations (free):
Poll: Most Say War in Afghanistan Going Badly 17 Nov 2009 More Americans than ever believe the war in Afghanistan is going badly for the United States, a new CBS News poll finds. Sixty-nine percent now say things are going badly for the U.S. in Afghanistan, a sharp increase from the 53 percent who said so in September. Just 23 percent say things are going well, down 12 points from September. The findings reflect the most negative assessment of the war ever measured in CBS News polls.
Taliban to play role in Afghan govt: UK 18 Nov 2009 Ending the war in Afghanistan would include senior Taliban commanders sitting in Afghan government, Britain’s foreign secretary said on Tuesday. David Miliband also told a meeting of Nato’s parliamentary assembly that military action must be accompanied by a political surge to restore Afghans’ faith in their corruption-scarred [US-installed] government. He said the vast majority of Taliban fighters were not committed to a global jihad and could be persuaded to stop fighting.
Army tells its soldiers to bribe the Taleban 16 Nov 2009 British forces should buy off potential Taleban recruits with "bags of gold", according to a new army field manual published yesterday. Army commanders should also talk to 'insurgent' leaders with "blood on their hands" in order to hasten the end of the conflict in Afghanistan. The edicts, which are contained in rewritten counter-insurgency guidelines, will be taught to all new army officers.
Pakistan Taliban: Explosions linked to Blackwater activities in the country 16 Nov 2009 Attacks that have continued across Pakistani towns and cities are being blamed on Tehreek e-Taliban, Pakistan's Taliban. However, the group has issued its first video statement denying involvement in targeting civilians and has blamed external forces for at least two recent blasts. Azam Tariq, a spokesman of the Tehreek e-Taliban, posted the video statement on YouTube on Monday... Tariq said Taliban attacks never aimed to target civilians, but that the explosions were linked to Blackwater activities in the country. Kamal Hyder, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Islamabad, said: "Even when those bomb blasts did happen, the Taliban denied they had anything to do it... There is a growing anger among Pakistanis. If one looks at the type of attacks that have been taking place - indiscriminate attacks – the first thing that came out, even reported by local media, was the blaming of Blackwater and other American agencies.
'Blackwater behind Peshawar blast' --Mehsud: US security firm Blackwater, in collaboration with local agencies, was involved in attack 30 Oct 2009 Pakistan's pro-Taliban militants blame private US security firm Blackwater for a Wednesday bomb blast in Peshawar which killed over 100 people. Hakimullah Mehsud, head of the Tehrik-e-Taliban, said Blackwater and some Pakistani agencies were involved in the bomb explosion at a crowded market in Peshawar. According to the latest reports, the death toll has mounted to 106 with over 150 injured while rescue workers say that more people could still be buried under the debris. Most of the dead were women and children. Mehsud has rejected the claim, saying the US security firm Blackwater, in collaboration with some local agencies, were involved in the attack. On Sunday, about 200 supporters of the Tehrik-e-Taliban party held an anti-US demonstration in Dera Ismail Khan, denouncing Blackwater and chanting anti-US slogans.
U.S. Quietly Speeds Hundreds of Millions of Dollars in Military Aid to Pakistan --The number of American Special Forces soldiers and support personnel who are training and 'advising' Pakistani Army and paramilitary troops has doubled in the past eight months to 150 29 Oct 2009 The United States has quietly rushed hundreds of millions of dollars in arms, equipment and sophisticated sensors to Pakistani forces in recent months, said senior American and Pakistani officials. During preparations this spring for the Pakistani campaigns in Swat and South Waziristan, President Obama personally intervened at the request of Pakistan’s top army general to speed the delivery of 10 Mi-17 troop transport helicopters... American military surveillance drones are feeding video images and target information to Pakistani ground commanders, and the Pentagon has quietly provided the Pakistani Air Force with high-resolution, infrared sensors for F-16 warplanes, which Pakistan is using to guide bomb attacks on militants’ strongholds in South Waziristan.
Oh, my God. US to Give $125 Million to Upgrade Pakistan's Power Sector 29 Oct 2009 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, seeking to bolster Islamabad's fight against Islamic extremists US corporaterrorists' profits, initiated a crash U.S. assistance program for Pakistan's power sector aimed at rolling back electricity shortages that threaten to cripple the South Asian nation's economy. Mrs. Clinton, on the first of a three-day diplomatic mission to Pakistan, said that Washington will disburse $125 million to Islamabad for the upgrading of key power stations and transmission lines. U.S. experts [!] are also beginning to work with Pakistani utility companies to reduce power outages and lost revenue caused by outmoded technologies and systemic non-payment by customers, which costs Pakistan hundreds of millions of dollars each year.
Taliban and Al-Qaeda refuse blame on Pakistan blast 29 Oct 2009 The Taliban and al-Qaeda have said they did not explode the bombs that caused 105 deaths in Peshawar on Wednesday. Pakistani paper The News has quoted an al-Qaeda source as saying the group was not involved in the killing of innocent women and children. The sources instead placed the blame on "elements who want to defame jihad." The banned Taliban group, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, in an e-mail sent to the media, also denied its involvement in the blast. [Right, it was likely the terrorist group Blackwater/Xe, which *is* involved in the killing of innocent women and children.]
Pakistani journalist claims life under threat following U.S agency expose 27 Oct 2009 A Pakistani journalist claims to have been receiving life threats from a U.S agency for critically writing against the Obama administration and for reporting its secret operations in the country. Fears of being harassed has him to use a pseudo name, S.F.A. Shah, who now fears for his life after breaking the story of the presence of Blackwater (now Xe Worldwide) in Peshawar along with Creative Associates International Inc (CAII). He had published names of the investigation and operational heads of the agency and had unmasked the nexus of BW, FBI and CIA. He had also investigated the activities of the US Consulate in Peshawar... The Nation reports. Now a report has revealed how he was hounded out of his home and was later approached by the CIA.
Blackwater running covert recruitment drive in Pak through its website 16 Sep 2009 The controversial US private security company, Blackwater, is reportedly running a covert recruitment drive through its website in Pakistan. The hidden pages of the company's website, www.BlackwaterUSA.com, can only be accessed through four company executives' references, The Nation reports. It is in these hidden pages one can find application form for job applicants. It is here that one can see the effort by this company to hire Pakistanis who speak Punjabi and Urdu - to add to their earlier requirements of Arabic, Farsi and Dari.
Blackwater Recruiting Agents Fluent In Urdu and Punjabi For Pakistan --Report suggests Pakistani envoy in Washington issued 360 visas to Americans in one month without consulting Islamabad By Ahmed Quraishi 15 Sep 2009 Blackwater USA is looking for mercenaries fluent in Urdu, Pakistan's national language, and Punjabi, the language spoken by natives of Pakistan's largest populated province. The US military already deploys officers and commando units manned by people fluent in Pashto, spoken in most of western Pakistan and southern Afghanistan... A petition has been submitted to the Supreme Court of Pakistan today requesting that the government of Pakistan be ordered to explain why the US embassy in Islamabad is building a fortified embassy the size of an international airport, spread over 52 to 54 acres. The petitioner, who is a private Pakistani citizen, has accused the United States of constructing a military base in the heart of the Pakistani capital in the guise of an embassy.
Xe Worldwide (Blackwater) spreads tentacles to Karachi 15 Sep 2009 US private security outfit Blackwater has begun to expand its presence in Karachi port city in the backdrop of the Peshawar debacle last month... Well-placed sources told The Nation on Monday that Blackwater, which has been operating in the region including in Afghanistan and Pakistan under different names, is believed to have hired on rent at least seven private houses in posh Defence area of Karachi port city. It was further learnt from knowledgeable sources that Blackwater had acquired hundreds of acres of land near Pataro in Sindh in order to launch a supposedly Agriculture Research Institute.
Death squads, disappearances and torture in Pakistan By Bill Van Auken 16 Sep 2009 As the Obama administration prepares a major escalation of the so-called AfPak war, reports from Pakistan’s Swat Valley, near Afghanistan’s eastern border, provide a gruesome indication of the kind of war that the Pentagon and its local allies are waging. While touted by Obama and his supporters as the "good war," there is mounting evidence that the Pentagon and the CIA are engaged in a war against the population of the region involving death squads, disappearances and torture.
Blackwater involved in Bhutto and Hariri hits: former Pakistani army chief 14 Sep 2009 Pakistan’s former chief of army staff, General Mirza Aslam Beg (ret.), has said the U.S. private security company Blackwater was directly involved in the assassinations of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto and former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. Blackwater later changed its name and is now known as Xe. General Beg recently told the Saudi Arabian daily Al Watan that former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf had given Blackwater the green light to carry out terrorist operations in the cities of Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, and Quetta.
'Commanding officer Jorge Mendonca threatened to blow Iraqi prisoner's head off' 17 Nov 2009 The only British soldier convicted of a war crime in Iraq alleged yesterday that his former commanding officer held a gun to a prisoner’s head and threatened "to blow his face off". Former Corporal Donald Payne, of the 1st Battalion The Queen’s Lancashire Regiment, was giving evidence for the first time at the public inquiry into the death of Baha Musa. Mr Musa, 26, an hotel receptionist in Basra, died after suffering 93 injuries while held in custody at a British military centre in the southern Iraqi city in September 2003. Payne claimed that all the soldiers in his unit enjoyed an "open season" of punching and kicking Mr Musa and other detainees.
Army officers threatened to kill Iraqi prisoners, former soldier claims 17 Nov 2009 A British Army Colonel threatened to shoot an Iraqi prisoner in the face, according to a former soldier who claimed British troops routinely abused and threatened detainees. Former Army corporal Donald Payne, Britain’s only convicted war criminal, said that his commanding officer, Col Jorge Mendonca cocked a pistol and threatened to shoot an Iraqi unless information was given. He also said the commander of the Queens Lancashire in Iraq in 2003, was "gung ho" and "trigger happy".
CIA has given hundreds of millions to Pakistan spy agency --CIA says gets its money's worth from ISI 15 Nov 2009 The CIA has funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to Pakistan's intelligence service since the Sept. 11 attacks, accounting for as much as one-third of the foreign spy agency's annual budget, current and former U.S. officials say. The Inter-Services Intelligence agency also has collected tens of millions of dollars through a classified CIA program that pays for the capture or killing backing of wanted militants, a clandestine counterpart to the rewards publicly offered by the State Department, officials said. The payments have triggered intense debate within the U.S. government, officials said, because of long-standing suspicions that the ISI continues to help Taliban extremists who undermine U.S. efforts in Afghanistan and provide sanctuary to Al Qaeda members in Pakistan.
The best kept secret of the Bush's war crimes is that thousands of children have been imprisoned, tortured, and otherwise denied rights under the Geneva Conventions and related international agreements. Yet both Congress and the media have strangely failed to identify the very existence of child prisoners as a war crime. In the Islamic world, however, there is no such silence. Indeed, the prophet Mohammed was the first to counsel warriors not to harm innocent children. From jailing children together with adults in prisons where they were raped to failing to notify their parents of their arrest, the U.S. committed numerous war crimes against children in Afghanistan and Iraq, a new book on President Bush states. "American guards videotaped Iraqi male prisoners raping young boys but took no action to stop the offenses (and) children in Abu Ghraib were deliberately frightened by dogs," writes political scientist Michael Haas in his new book, "George W. Bush, War Criminal?"(Praeger), a question he answers in the affirmative.
The case for abusing children, however, is more difficult to support. The best kept secret of the Bush's war crimes is that thousands of children have been imprisoned, tortured, and otherwise denied rights under the Geneva Conventions and related international agreements. Yet both Congress and the media have strangely failed to identify the very existence of child prisoners as a war crime. In the Islamic world, however, there is no such silence. Indeed, the prophet Mohammed was the first to counsel warriors not to harm innocent children.
From jailing children together with adults in prisons where they were raped to failing to notify their parents of their arrest, the U.S. committed numerous war crimes against children in Afghanistan and Iraq, a new book on President Bush states.
"American guards videotaped Iraqi male prisoners raping young boys but took no action to stop the offenses (and) children in Abu Ghraib were deliberately frightened by dogs," writes political scientist Michael Haas in his new book, "George W. Bush, War Criminal?"(Praeger), a question he answers in the affirmative.
"In most cases, weeks or even years elapsed before parents were informed of the imprisonment of their children," says Haas, noting that in Afghanistan alone during 2002 "at least 800 boys, aged 10 to 15 were captured", 64 of whom were sent to Guantanamo, Cuba, where some were flung into solitary confinement. Haas notes that Protocol 1 of the 1977 Geneva Convention states "No Party to the conflict shall arrange for the evacuation of children, other than its own nationals, to a foreign country" unless written consent of the parents is obtained.
In a wide-ranging 389-page volume that documents 269 different classes of war crimes perpetrated by the Bush administration, some of them repeated hundreds or thousands of times, Haas systematically exposes the former president's reckless disregard for child welfare.
To begin with, Bush's legal advisors disputed the very definition of "child" as a person under 18 years of age who needs special protection. That's the definition spelled out in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The U.S. defined "child" as someone age 16 or younger. The U.S. last year told the UN's Committee on the Rights of the Child(CRC) since 2002 it had detained 2,400 children in Iraq and 100 in Afghanistan although other sources state the latter figure was 800. (Irrespective of the number, it is a war crime to detain any person indefinitely, which was the case here.) Also, as of May, 2008, there were 21 children incarcerated in Guantanamo. The CRC has "upbraided the United States for charging minors with war crimes instead of treating underage persons as victims of war," Haas writes..
Contrary to the CRC's Article 9, which states that a captured child shall be allowed to "maintain personal relations and direct contact with both parents on a regular basis," some children were not allowed to write or telephone home for as long as five years.
And where CRC's Article 13 guarantees "The child shall have the right to freedom to...seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print," Haas points out "Most children were held incommunicado at Guantanamo until April, 2003" and that one child, Mohammed Jawad "remains in solitary confinement." Jawad received promises of books to study that have not been kept, Haas adds.
Other violations of international covenants pertaining to children include:
# The failure to stop mistreatment of children,
# The failure to investigate the abuse of children.
# The failure to prosecute prison personnel allegedly guilty of such abuse.
# The failure to allow parents to visit children.
# The failure to allow children to have legal counsel.
# The failure to provide children with speedy trials.
# The failure to promptly inform children of the crimes against them.
# The failure to allow witnesses to testify in behalf of children.
# The failure to provide children with social programs.
And although CRC Article 31 requires that children have the right "to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child," Haas writes, "There is no record of recreation for the hundreds of children detained at Bagram or at Abu Ghraib."
The CRC's Article 37 requires that "No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" yet at Abu Ghraib a girl of about 12 was stripped naked and beaten, according to Iraqi journalist Suhaib Badr-Addin al-Baz, who heard her screams. He also witnessed a 15-year-old boy forced to run up and down the prison carrying two heavy cans of water who was beaten whenever he stopped.
On yet another occasion, authorities arrested the 16-year-old son of Iraqi General Hamid Zabar and tortured him before presenting him to his father, whom they wanted to confess. These and several hundred other war crimes are detailed in the new book.
Professor Haas is the author or editor of 33 books on government and world politics. He has taught at a number of outstanding schools, including the University of London and Northwestern University. To receive his book, send check in the amount of $32 to Haas at P.O. Box 46127, Los Angeles, CA 90046. Haas may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Further Information and to arrange for interviews with Professor Haas, contact Sherwood Ross at email@example.com
By Raza Khan THE WASHINGTON TIMES
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan | Both go by the name "Taliban," but militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan are increasingly diverging in their ultimate goal. The Pakistanis have joined al Qaeda's campaign to attack Western targets and spread radical Islam while the Afghans want to rid their country of foreign troops but harbor no global ambitions, according to a number of prominent analysts.
The split potentially complicates U.S. strategy in the region while opening a route toward negotiations in Afghanistan. U.S. forces are battling a nationalistic Taliban in Afghanistan, but the internationally more ambitious Taliban, as well as al Qaeda, are located across the border in Pakistan, where the U.S. operates only with drones.
In a recent interview with a Pashto-language TV channel, Afghan Taliban commander Abdul Manan (also known as the Mullah Toor) condemned the Pakistani Taliban for targeting innocent civilians as "un-Islamic and wrong."
He also denied that al Qaeda influences the Afghan Taliban, a stark change from the 1990s when the Afghan group hosted Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda training camps and became the base for the Sept. 11 attacks.
White House National Security Adviser James L. Jones said last month that fewer than 100 al Qaeda members are left in Afghanistan and that most of al Qaeda is now based in Pakistan.
A U.S. drawdown from Afghanistan might make it easier for al Qaeda to re-establish itself in Afghanistan, but some analysts question whether al Qaeda would be welcome.
Ashraf Ali, a specialist on the Afghan Taliban movement, told The Washington Times that some former Taliban leaders, such as Afghanistan's former foreign minister, have been allowed to live freely in the Afghan capital, Kabul, to represent the Taliban in negotiations with other Afghan factions and potentially the U.S.
Mr. Ali noted that Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil, the former foreign minister, also has stated that the Afghan Taliban does not share al Qaedas global agenda of terrorism and that his Taliban was not a threat to the world peace.
"Afghan Taliban know well that it would be very difficult for the Americans to negotiate with them unless they clearly distance themselves from al Qaeda and its new allies, the Pakistani Taliban," Mr. Ali said.
Indeed, one of the key distinguishing factors between the two Talibans is that the Afghans insist they have a strictly local agenda of "liberating" their homeland, many analysts say. Beyond that, they would prefer to be left alone.
In contrast, the Pakistani Taliban has embraced al Qaeda's vision of pan-Islamic rule, and it has increasingly targeted the Pakistani state instead of helping its Afghan brethren.
A Pakistani Taliban spokesman, Muslim Khan, has said that his organization aims to establish a strict fundamentalist Islamic system, not only in Pakistan, but also throughout the world starting from South Asia.
Rifatullah Orakzai, a Peshawar-based analyst, said the Afghan Taliban is trying to create good will by showing its differences with al Qaeda. For example, Mr. Muttawakil recently stated "that if the Taliban came into power, girls would be allowed to pursue education in segregated institutions," Mr. Orakzai said.
The Afghan Taliban, he said, wants to show "that the religious militia is no longer as radical-minded as it had been during its rule [from 1996 to 2001]. Moreover, such a statement is also an attempt to distance Afghan Taliban from Pakistani Taliban," which destroyed more than 400 girls schools when militants controlled Pakistan's Swat valley earlier this year.
Not everyone accepts the premise of a complete rupture between the two Talibans.
The U.S. has to be careful not to be "suckered in" by relatively moderate statements by former and current Afghan Taliban officials, said Bruce Riedel, a specialist on South Asia who headed a policy review of Afghanistan and Pakistan for the Obama administration last spring. "A lot of smoke is being thrown up to confuse people."
Mr. Riedel said that such figures as Mr. Muttawakil "speak for no one but themselves."
Yet even Mr. Riedel recognizes growing tensions between the two camps.
"The Pakistani Taliban are attacking the ISI, which threatens the Afghan Taliban's cozy relationship with the ISI," he said, referring to Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency.
That is significant, because the ISI helped create and nurture the Afghan Taliban in the 1990s and ISI agents continue to maintain ties with Taliban factions in Afghanistan, Mr. Riedel said.
By doing so, Pakistani intelligence can retain influence in Afghanistan, especially in the event of a U.S. withdrawal, he said.
Rahimullah Yusufzai, a leading Pakistani journalist and authority on Afghan affairs, said the Afghan Taliban wants to differentiate itself from the Pakistani branch so the two will no longer be "lumped together."
Mr. Yusufzai quoted an unnamed Afghan Taliban member as saying, "The Afghan Taliban are fighting Western forces that have occupied Afghanistan. It is jihad against non-Muslims and occupiers. We cannot say the same about the new groups of Taliban fighting in places outside Afghanistan."
Mr. Yusufzai said some Afghans were going so far as to ditch the name "Taliban," because of the growing stigma attached to it. He quoted a senior Afghan Taliban official as saying that "the term Taliban no longer represented the madrassa students who rose against the Afghan mujahedeen in the mid-1990s and challenged and defeated their corrupt and cruel commanders."
Meanwhile, links between Pakistani Taliban and al Qaeda have been growing since the formation of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan in 2007. Al Qaeda helped forge the TTP out of several Pakistani factions.
Most Taliban members are Pashtuns, an ethnic group that straddles the border. But the TTP also includes ethnic Punjabis from the Pakistani heartland, which can be attributed in part to al Qaeda influence, analysts say.
In a recent interview, former French investigating magistrate Jean-Louis Bruguiere said he was convinced that Lashkar-e-Taiba, first set up by the Pakistani government to fight India in the divided Himalayan region of Kashmir, had become part of an international terrorist network tied to al Qaeda. The group is thought to be responsible for the 2008 attacks on Mumbai that killed more than 170 people.
"Lashkar-e-Taiba is no longer a Pakistani movement with only a Kashmir political or military agenda," he told the Reuters news agency. "Lashkar-e-Taiba is a member of al Qaeda. Lashkar-e-Taiba has decided to expand violence worldwide."
Barbara Slavin contributed to this report from Washington.