Tag Archive 'Terrorism'

Rejecting Hamas

Here’s a bit of good news from earlier. As you may have seen, reports have been swirling about a plan by Obama to open direct talks with Hamas. Those reports are evidently groundless, as a statement from Brooke Anderson was quite strong:

“The President-elect has repeatedly stated that he believes that Hamas is a terrorist organization dedicated to Israel’s destruction, and that we should not deal with them until they recognize Israel, renounce violence, and abide by past agreements. The President elect’s repeated statements are accurate. This unsourced story is not.”

A question would then enter though. If it is so unacceptable to negotiate with Hamas absent these conditions, why is it forgivable to open diplomatic dialogue with its chief sponsor, Iran? It can’t escape notice that Iran similarly fails Obama’s preconditional test: it does not recognize Israel, nor does it renounce violence.

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Motive for Mumbai Attacks Emerges

A Deccan Mujahedeen gunman has spoken by telephone to a television station from within the Oberoi Trident Hotel (which has since been raided by Indian special forces units), and said the motivation of the attacks was to end persecution of Indian Muslims and force the release of jailed Islamic militants.

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Nebraska Boots Ayers

A bit of old news I didn’t have a chance to mention, but it seems that grotesque little terrorist William Ayers won’t be speaking at my beloved UNL. Good for us.

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A Separate Cause on Gitmo

In commenting on Barack Obama’s renewed pledge to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, Con Coughlin observes that most of the assembled army of Al Qaeda jihadists currently confined there would likely be released for lack of evidence, if the United States mandated their transfer to the civilian court system for trial. He then wonders aloud:

There have already been suggestions that former Gitmo detainees have carried out terror attacks against coalition forces in Afghanistan and Iraq after being released from Gitmo. What if one of those released by President Obama then masterminded a repeat of the 9/11 attacks?
(Daily Telegraph)

For some of us, it is astonishing that there can be an assumption made by anyone that future terrorist attacks wouldn’t happen, should one precipitate the release of the Gitmo rogues gallery. The question before us would seem to be merely one of scale and target location. It is after all extremely implausible that upon their release, the detainees would suddenly and collectively renounce their violent religious war or its tactics, as an act of reciprocal beneficence.


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Armies of the Obsolete

Light and infrared targeting devices for games. (Photo by Rob Stradling | website)

Al Qaeda technicians have apparently pioneered the use of electronics in old SEGA game cartridges for bomb detonators. A smaller precedent than the use of the airliner as suicide missile, but no less remarkable as a demonstration of the the transnational terrorist group’s acumen and artistry at the reuse of civilian technology for military purposes.

The West, having derived its military advantages from the possession of advanced technology for centuries, has been preoccupied with the security risks of technology transfer perhaps since the classical Greeks. But the emergence of massive civilian technology transfers from modern to relatively underdeveloped cultures, and the accelerating pace of Western technological advance, presents a new challenge that promises only to expand in risk and complexity.


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Christopher Hitchens & Political Irresponsibility

interrogating Christopher Hitchens over his rather weakly supported endorsement of Barack Obama for president.

Hitch’s primary position in this chat is that Obama should be supported because he is “evolving” toward support of a more aggressive policy against international terrorism. Hardly the most persuasive pitch to say the least. Perhaps all those years of arguing for evolution through natural selection may have given him too much of a preference for the word itself.

His auxillery case is that McCain has become senile and temperamentally unfit for leadership. That’s something which is supposedly entirely and exclusively demonstrated by his “irresponsible” selection of Sarah Palin for vice president. Hardly more persuasive.

But in reading Hitchens’ recent writing on this matter, one tends to think that last point is what is actually driving the others (something Laura instantly zeroes in on). There is a certain reflexive personal hostility to Mrs. Palin in Hitchens’ writing, which is far closer to a definition of political irresponsiblity than McCain’s selection of her allegedly is.

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Priority of the Estate

Andrew Cochran reports that some media organizations he’s familiar with have reassigned terrorism specialists to investigate Sarah Palin. Andrew sees this as part of a long-term decline of media interest in the threat of transnational terrorism and US counterterrorism policy, in favor of more marketable domestic political squabbling. Atlas on the other hand, takes it as a doubling down of media efforts to defame Palin through the investigation of nugatory gossip. Hmm. The two causalities can coexist quite agreeably, says me.

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Ludicrous Expectations

Some of Bob Woodward’s criticism in his upcoming fourth volume on the Bush presidency: “He had not rooted out terror wherever it existed. He had not achieved world peace.”

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Drug War Progress But Not

Counterterrorism Blog

For the first time in 25 years there are no clearly identifiable drug kingpins running the cocaine trade from Colombia. The FARC and AUC are both seriously degraded.

Yet, production has not diminished, and, according to Colombian and U.S. officials, the amount of cocaine moving out of the Andean region (Colombia, Peru and Bolivia) has showed almost no variation despite the tactical successes against the organizations.

We have spent billions but we are unable to reduce the flow with our current tactics. The nexus of terrorism and drug money continues to grow. This becomes more than a war on drugs when it is funding our adversaries. The drug war needs to be incorporated into the larger war against terrorist organizations. There is a similar argument for energy independence because we are funding our enemies to buy our energy. Degrading their funding is a significant part of winning this larger war.

Producing our own energy reduces the transfer of funds to the middle east. Legalizing drugs would drastically reduce the profits gained in the black market.

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To the Heart of the Matter

Norm Geras, as he often does, cuts away the extraneous aspects of how and why terrorism exists, as well as how the media distorts out thinking about it, and our response.

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A Paranoid on Paranoia-Last updated 1:06 CST

After 9/11 itself, the anthrax attacks were probably the most consequential event of the Bush presidency. One could make a persuasive case that they were actually more consequential.

You could?

The 9/11 attacks were obviously traumatic for the country, but in the absence of the anthrax attacks, 9/11 could easily have been perceived as a single, isolated event. It was really the anthrax letters — with the first one sent on September 18, just one week after 9/11 — that severely ratcheted up the fear levels and created the climate that would dominate in this country for the next several years after. It was anthrax — sent directly into the heart of the country’s elite political and media institutions, to then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt), NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw, and other leading media outlets — that created the impression that social order itself was genuinely threatened by Islamic radicalism.

So that is what made everybody concerned? The twisted reasoning that could assert that after 9/11 we in any way could think something like that couldn’t happen again, sans those letters, is pretty breathtaking.  Once those letters were delivered however, it suddenly occurred to the American people that it might happen again? What kind of parallel universe is he living in? Oh, and if you couldn’t tell, this is the Sock Puppet talking. (more…)

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(Relatively) Measuring Success

This is the most recent of a series of posts on Registan.net where I explore some of the fundamentals of conflict within the tribal areas of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. At the end of this post is a link to the rest of them.

Nightwatch argues that May was the most violent month in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion:

NightWatch almost has completed its monthly assessments of combat for both April and May. In the data sample drawn from unclassified reporting sources that NightWatch uses, April featured 199 violent incidents in 86 districts, making it the most lethal April in the six year conflict. May featured 214 incidents of violence in over 100 districts, also a new six-year total for May and the highest single monthly total. Despite official efforts to spotlight improvement, the spring offensive thus far is worse than last year’s spring offensive. The security situation has deteriorated again.

At no prior time has the Taliban managed to stage attacks in over 100 of the 398 districts. The previous highs were 86 in April 2008 and 83 in May 2007. Fighting has been heavy in Garmser District in Helmand Province but it has been significantly higher in Zormat District in Paktia Province; Andar District in Ghazni Province and Asadabad District in Konar, all across from the tribal areas of northern and central Pakistan. If Taliban fighters are heading to Pakistan, they are going back to base to rest and to get more ammunition and supplies.

Now, it is notable that the worst fighting has actually not been in the south, but in Paktya, Ghazni, and Kunar, all of which are provinces operating under the new success metrics breathlessly regurgitated by our lazy propagandists. Kunar in particular was the site of David Kilcullen’s now-seminal piece on the magical IED-stopping power of roads; Asadabad in particular is the site of one of the PRTs making the most talked-about progress in terms of construction and violence reduction.

Are we being sold a bill of goods? Are the areas bordering the FATA in far worse shape than we were lead to believe, and is the South in comparative good health?

It is not as simple to answer as it may seem. There are three metrics to look at: actual numbers, comparative numbers, and perceived numbers. For our purposes—i.e. for the purpose of some sort of permanent defeat of the Taliban and associated militias—the real numbers don’t matter. The comparative numbers might, if there was an effective IO campaign in place—not selling roads as bomb shields, but selling the astonishing success of the brand new national telecommunications network, or the very real benefits of steadily improving developmental indicators. But since there is not, the comparative numbers could be interesting, but haven’t really gone anywhere.

What of the perception? Again, this is a difficult question to unravel: security is rarely at the top of a typical Afghan’s priority. Most want food, or an end to the pervasive and devastating impact of official corruption.


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“This is what I wish, to be martyred”

From Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s statements to the U.S. military court today:

The accused al Qaeda mastermind of the September 11 attacks stood in a U.S. military court on Thursday, sang a chant of praise to Allah and said he would welcome the death penalty.

“This is what I wish, to be martyred,” Pakistani captive Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the highest-ranking al Qaeda operative in U.S. custody, told the Guantanamo war crimes court.

He and four accused co-conspirators appeared in court at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. naval base in Cuba for the first time on charges that could result in their execution.

As the judge questioned him about whether he was satisfied with the U.S. military lawyer appointed to defend him, Mohammed stood and began to sing in Arabic, cheerfully pausing to translate his own words into English.

“My shield is Allah most high,” he said, adding that his religion forbade him from accepting a lawyer from the United States and that he wanted to act as his own attorney.

br'er rabbit In other news, Br’er Rabbit reiterated his plea welcoming death so long as he is spared the briar patch.

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A Retreating Periphery

Indian Frontiers
(photo: Mani Babbar)

After 9/11 widened Al Qaeda’s ambitious war against most of the world, Osama bin Laden described his own axis-o-evil as being composed of “Crusaders, Zionists and Hindus.” But at some point, without anyone much noticing, that seems to have changed for Hindus.


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More Like This Please

I was pleasantly surprised, and mildly irritated, to see that Condi Rice basically called Muqtada al-Sadr a coward while she was in Baghdad recently (via: Instapundit):

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice mocked anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr as a coward on Sunday, hours after the radical leader threatened to declare war unless U.S. and Iraqi forces end a military crackdown on his followers.

Rice, in the Iraqi capital to tout security gains and what she calls an emerging political consensus, said al-Sadr is content to issue threats and edicts from the safety of Iran, where he is studying. Al-Sadr heads an unruly militia that was the main target of an Iraqi government assault in the oil-rich city of Basra last month, and his future role as a spoiler is an open question.

“I know he’s sitting in Iran,” Rice said dismissively, when asked about al-Sadr’s latest threat to lift a self-imposed cease-fire with government and U.S. forces. “I guess it’s all-out war for anybody but him,” Rice said. “I guess that’s the message; his followers can go too their deaths and he’s in Iran.”

Both my surprise and irritation are because our government has been notably reticent to openly ridicule people like Sadr and bin Laden, or to state the obvious with respect to the civilian-targeting terrorists who blow themselves (they hope) to high heaven. None of them are brave enough to face off against their enemies. Instead they snipe from the sidelines, issue crude and fantastic proclamations about their superiority, and in the end they prey upon the weakest and least protected members of the enemy herd. There is a word for these types of people: cowards.

When one considers the fact that we are knee-deep in an information war (as opposed to a conventional, battlefield, territory-taking war), it’s difficult to understand why we haven’t resorted to deriding the enemy much earlier. The war-supporting blogosphere does so on occasion, but our leaders certainly don’t.

By “deriding the enemy” I don’t mean producing propaganda. Instead, call them out regularly and forcefully as the cowards and charlatans that they are. Employ the poison pen and wipe that arrogant smile off of their collective faces. In other words, take them on in the battle space they’ve chosen. We can defeat them there just as easily as we’ve done in actual combat.

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Chavez Threatens Colombia Because He Finances Terrorism

McQ alerts us to this developing story in South America.

Colombia, apparently, struck at a narco-terrorist camp inside Ecuador after tracking FARC spokesman Paul Reyes and other leaders there. Reyes and 16 other terrorists were killed.

Chavez reacted by sending troops to the Venezuela/Colombia border:

Now you might ask why Chavez would involve himself in this conflict that essentially had nothing to do with him. Of course he could just be trying to take advantage of a situation to let him attack the rightist and US allied Colombian govt, or he could be trying to protect himself from what the raid would possibly find.

Evidence found in computers seized in a raid over the weekend suggests that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez recently gave the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia $300 million, Colombia’s national police chief said Monday.

Let’s also note Chavez’s past ties with Iran when this part shows up:

Naranjo said other evidence in the computers suggests FARC purchased 50 kilograms of uranium this month.

This could be an interesting story to watch unfold.

UPDATE: More on the story on the Ecuadorians. It seems they were in negotiations with FARC to post friendlier security forces on their border. Also, want to throw a link out there to the US Presidential Election? The files also stated

Americans have reached out to Correa’s government, saying Barack Obama is likely to be the next U.S. president. ”We responded we’re not interested in relationship with governments … and in the case of the United States, we require a public announcement expressing interest in talking with the FARC, given their eternal war against us,” the memo said.

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Breaking Terrorism Markets

Soldier in night vision

Douglas Farah notes that with the Al Qaeda leadership now dead or in flight from Iraq, we might be on the verge of a replication the experience of the Andean drug wars of the 1980s. In that situation, the death and flight of the cartel leadership (and subsequent cocaine supply network decentralization), only made them harder to directly combat. It’s a sound historical cautionary note. But the difference of course is that in the drug war the market for cocaine remained largely unchanged and highly lucrative during cartel suppression. Whereas in Iraq, it may be that the Awakening has permanently damaged the (niche) market for foreign terrorism.

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Anti-FARC March in D.C.

John Lilyea has the goods:

So I decided to add my voice to the millions worldwide from here in DC.

I was really surprised that an ad hoc organization put together such a large demonstration in such a short period of time.

anti-Farc rally

More at Gateway Pundit.

UPDATE: Commenter logtar supplies a link to pictures of anti-FARC rallies from around the world. Protest babes abound (albeit some not exactly, um, real.)

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A Witness in Mauritania

Israel Matzav has a of a report on the Al Qaeda attack on the Israeli embassy in Nouakchott, Mauritania. You have to lament for the investigation when your eye witness refers to the scene of the attack as “the embassy of the Zionist Entity.”

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Mukasey on Waterboarding (UPDATED)

Attorney General Michael Mukasey sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding the interrogation technique known as waterboarding. Mukasey remarked that it is not an authorized interrogation technique, and that it “is not, and may not be, used in the current [CIA interrogation] program.” As in his confirmation hearings, however, Mukasey declined to absolutely declare the technique illegal:

Mukasey Letter Excerpt

The important part of that excerpt is this:

Indeed, I understand that a number of senators articulated this very concern in the fall of 2006, in the course of defeating an amendment that would have expressly prohibited waterboarding.

Essentially, Mukasey is telling Congress to declare the technique illegal if that’s what they want. He’s not going to do their job for them.

waterboardingMukasey politely adds that reasonable minds may disagree on the issue, which does not present an easy question, and that:

There are some circumstances where current law would appear clearly to prohibit the use of waterboarding. Other circumstances would present a far closer question.

He goes on to say that opining on “generally worded legal provisions” absent concrete factual circumstances is not wise, and that his reluctance to do so now is precisely because there are no such circumstances. This is typical judge-speak for not providing advisory opinions, and is a bit weaselly. Mukasey could at least identify what some of the “closer questions” are where waterboarding may be deemed legal, and I expect that he is being drilled on such scenarios in the Senate today.

My guess is that Mukasey is vaguely referring to “ticking time bomb” types of situations. He seems to be reluctant to proscribe waterboarding altogether, at least publicly, because our enemies may use that information to withhold vital information:

The principle that one should refrain from addressing difficult legal questions in the absence of concrete facts and circumstances has even more force as to this question. That is because any answer that I give could have the effect of articulating publicly — and to our adversaries — the limits and contours of generally worded laws that define the limits of a classified interrogation program.

Frankly, Mukasey’s reasoning makes absolute sense, but in this climate of highly charged partisanship regarding any matters concerning the war, all discussion is framed in terms of absolutes. Today’s Senate hearing has nothing to do with practical legal matters. Instead it is a battle for moral superiority. More accurately, it’s a highly publicized display of how morally superior the Democratic leadership on the Judiciary Committee considers itself, especially vis-à-vis the Bush Administration. In short, it’s a dog and pony show designed to make Democrats look good, and Bush (and any who agree even tangentially with him) look bad. Waterboarding is merely the current foil.

In the end, we’ve learned that the technique is not available to the CIA for use in interrogation and that, at least in some situations, it is clearly prohibited by law. However, there maybe other scenarios (presumably involving imminent and catostrophic danger) where either (a) waterboarding is not necessarily illegal, or (b) we don’t want our enemies to know we won’t use it. The rest is just stentorian drama of little to no consequence or utility (i.e. Senators blathering away).

UPDATE: Andy McCarthy reports from the Senate hearings (emphasis added):

In the hearing today at which AG Mukasey is testifying, Sen. Specter — who believes waterboarding is torture — has pointed out that his opinion is not the end of the matter. He noted that the Senate had voted down a provision that would have made it illegal. He then pointed out that, quite apart from waterboarding, the use of torture in ticking-bomb exigencies has been approvingly discussed by President Clinton, the Israeli Supreme Court, Sen. Schumer, Prof. Alan Dershowitz, and others. (He left out Sen. Clinton, but could have included her too.)

Has Specter been reading ASHC?

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Terrorist plot foiled in Barcelona

Fausta has the details, and Captain Ed has more. A wave of attacks was planned, and as Captain Ed points out, none are involved in Iraq.

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Venezuelans not fond of Hugo Chavez’s new found affinity for narcoterrorism, are planning street marches in Caracas and Maracaibo to explicitly reject FARC and their murderous barbarism. This is an enormously heartening sign of genuinely worthwhile international solidarity, unlike the vile and dictatorial version Hugo likes to promote. Details in English from Kate at A Colombo-Americana’s Perspective.

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Al Qaeda Casualties

Here’s an interesting figure from 2007 operations in Iraq: “Military operations against al Qaeda in Iraq resulted in the capture of 8,800 militants, while 2,400 were killed.”

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Al Qaeda in Thailand?

The Thai government may be divided over whether AQ is funding Islamic militants in the south.

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Terrorists by Any Name

JammieWearingFool hilariously points out that Hugo Chavez’s recent appeal to the world to refer to the FARC as “insurgents,” rather than terrorists, is off to a smashing start. It only took Reuters four paragraphs into the story before they began to comply.

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Say It Aint So

Via hotair

President Bush on Friday used a “pocket veto” to reject a sweeping defense bill because he dislikes a provision that would expose the Iraqi government to expensive lawsuits seeking damages from the Saddam Hussein era…

The sponsor of the contested provision, Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., said the provision would allow “American victims of terror to hold perpetrators accountable — plain and simple.”

** Isn’t this a de-facto admission that Saddam’s regime was neck deep in terrorism???

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The Green Party and National Security: An Interview with Alan Augustson

A few weeks back I posted a facile little rebuke aimed at the national security implications of Green Party presidential candidate Alan Augustson’s political platform. Alan responded to this in such a way that I realized I had little idea what the Green Party’s position on security matters was, relative to its environmental policies. Indeed, rarely have I seen anyone even ask Green Party figures questions about this subject.

In continental Europe, Greens are expected to have a broad agenda on all conventional political issues from foreign policy, to funding for the humanities. However in the United States, Greens seem to have been ghettoized into answering questions solely on subjects like global warming or genetically engineered foods. This has the natural effect of marginalizing them into niche political interests within the broader Left. A Left that the media seems quite content to have dominated by the Democratic Party alone.

So, toward a better education in the broader politics of Greens, Alan was kind enough to sit down with us for a short interview on security policy.

From the outset, it should be noted that Alan is a fierce critic of current US security policy and naturally his ideas won’t find much agreement with me, or among postpolitical’s predominantly conservative audience. But I think you’ll agree with me that we managed to ask some fair questions and the interview turned out to be an interesting and instructive exploration of a radically different political perspective.


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