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War on Terror

Seven years after 9/11, the US has declared the Afghan-Pakistan border region to be the new frontline in its war on terror. An analysis by well-known Pakistani journalist M Ilyas Khan

 

NEW DELHI: Friday's encounter in the Capital left no doubt on SIMI's hard-line terrorist character - far from claims of it being a cultural organization - as has been maintained by the Centre and security agencies across the country all along. Investigating agencies say that the shootout which resulted in the tragic death of gallant cop, inspector Mohan Chand Sharma of Delhi Police, has bared the real character of the Students Islamic Movement of India as consisting of religious fanatics who have no compunction in massacring innocents, possess deadly bomb making skills and are sitting on a cache of sophisticated weapons.

But while the feeling of vindication is palpable in the police ranks, they are also seeing the encounter as a wake-up call.

 NewAgeIslam.com presents a collection of stories from mainstream national media that look at the encounter from different angles.

WASHINGTON, Sept 10: The US military will revise its strategy for Afghanistan to include militant ‘safe havens’ in Pakistan in its area of concern, the top US military officer said on Wednesday. As Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen underlined key points of the new strategy at a congressional hearing in Washington, the White House and the State Department indicated that they already had an understanding with Pakistan on implementing this strategy.

 

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Heavily armed militants opened fire on the United States Embassy in Sana, Yemen, on Wednesday and detonated a car bomb at its gates, in an attack that left at least 16 people dead including six of the attackers, Yemeni officials said.

No Americans were killed or wounded in the blast or when guards began to return fire, said a Yemeni official.

Yemeni security officials and witnesses said the death toll was at least 16, including four bystanders, one of them an Indian woman. The other dead were six attackers and six security guards, the Yemeni officials said. A report by ROBERT F. WORTH in the New York Times

Also related articles: Yemen’s Deals with Jihadists Unsettle the U.S. By ROBERT F. WORTH

And Wanted by F.B.I., but Walking Out of a Yemen Hearing by Khaled Abdullah/Reuters

 

The decision to make public a presidential order of last July authorizing American strikes inside Pakistan without seeking the approval of the Pakistani government ends a long debate within, and on the periphery of, the Bush administration. Senator Barack Obama, aware of this ongoing debate during his own long battle with Hillary Clinton, tried to outflank her by supporting a policy of U.S. strikes into Pakistan. Senator John McCain and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin have now echoed this view and so it has become, by consensus, official U.S. policy, writes Tariq Ali.

 

Through the eyes of Dexter Filkins, the prizewinning New York Times correspondent whose work was hailed by David Halberstam as “reporting of the highest quality imaginable,” we witness the remarkable chain of events that began with the rise of the Taliban in the 1990s, continued with the attacks of 9/11, and moved on to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Filkins’s narrative moves across a vast and various landscape of amazing characters and astonishing scenes: deserts, mountains, and streets of carnage; a public amputation performed by Taliban; children frolicking in minefields; skies streaked white by the contrails of B-52s; a night’s sleep in the rubble of Ground Zero.

 

In an interview Journalist Ahmed Rashid  says, 'Militancy will not run out of steam' and 'There has to be a regional approach in dealing with militancy'. His new book Descent Into Chaos is an investigation into what he describes as the "failure of nation building" in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia and the threat from radical Islam.

American media has good reasons to complain that most of the world, certainly the Muslim world continues to disbelieve that Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda organised and perpetrated the September 11 atrocities seven years ago. I agree with Townhall.com Columnist Cliff May (article reproduced below) that mainstream American media should be putting part of the blame on schools in the Arab region that instil bias while neglecting critical thinking.

I would indeed go further and say that Islamic schools infuse a dangerous and un-Islamic Islam-supremacist, and indeed now sectarian Wahhabi-supremacist view vis-à-vis all other religions and cultures and this is at least partly responsible for many of the problems Muslims face around the world today.

 But as for al-Qaeda’s responsibility for 9/11, it is the American government and Western media itself that is largely responsible for not being able to remove misunderstandings about it and even for encouraging conspiracy theories. They are doing so by both allowing these theories – articles, books, films, entire websites - to circulate and not responding to the allegations being made by seemingly responsible, intelligent, highly professional American citizens with great expertise in fields related to investigating events like 9/11. ......

If American mainstream media itself doesn’t discuss and counter these conspiracy theories how can it blame Muslims or for that matter others for taking them for a fact. Take, for instance, the latest write-up of David Ray Griffin, being reproduced below. He is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy of Religion at Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University. He has published 34 books, including seven about 9/11, most recently The New Pearl Harbour Revisited: 9/11, the Cover-Up, and the Exposé (Northampton: Olive Branch, 2008). He quotes all sorts of seemingly genuine experts and newspaper reports in the mainstream media to advance his theories. You can rest assured that he will not be refuted in the mainstream media, as he has not been in the past.  That being so, why shouldn’t Muslims treat his and many other such people’s writings and videos as gospel truth, particularly as it suits them that no so-called Muslim is to be blamed for the monstrous crimes perpetrated on September 11, 2001?

Editor, NewAgeIslam.com

 

The demands of political correctness in the elite media being what they are he (Michael Slackman  of New York Times) has not found a single source who will suggest that the prevalence of such attitudes reflects the fact that governments and media in the Middle East routinely spread anti-American and anti-Semitic slanders. He does not note that schools in the region instil bias while neglecting critical thinking. He can’t even raise the possibility – however gently -- that the persistence of such beliefs, long after the details of al-Qaeda’s plot have been made public, may reveal a pathology in the culture of the contemporary Arab Middle East. An article by Townhall.com columnist Cliff May. Also: Memo From Cairo: 9/11 Rumours That Become Conventional Wisdom by MICHAEL SLACKMAN

 

A poll released this week of more than 16,000 people in 17 nations revealed that "majorities in only nine countries believe al-Qaida was behind the attacks on New York and Washington that killed about 3,000 people in 2001." A mere 46 percent of individuals overall said they believed al-Qaida executed the attacks -- despite all the back-patting, fist-pumping video productions from AQ's media arm, al-Sahab, claiming credit, writes Michelle Malkin, aTownhall.com Columnist.

 

PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN - Frustrated by repeated dead ends in the search for Osama bin Laden, U.S. and Pakistani officials said they are questioning long-held assumptions about their strategy and are shifting tactics to intensify the use of the unmanned but lethal Predator drone spy plane in the mountains of western Pakistan....

With the CIA and U.S. Special Forces prevented from operating freely in Pakistan, the search is done mostly from the air. A report by CRAIG WHITLOCK, Washington Post

 

The events of the past seven years have yielded a definitive judgment on the strategy that the Bush administration conceived in the wake of 9/11 to wage its so-called Global War on Terror. That strategy has failed, massively and irrevocably. To acknowledge that failure is to confront an urgent national priority: to scrap the Bush approach in favour of a new national security strategy that is realistic and sustainable -- a task that, alas, neither of the presidential candidates seems able to recognize or willing to take up, writes Andrew J. Bacevich, the author of bestselling The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism.

 

Just as our failure to prevent the movement of Taliban into Afghanistan hurts the US-led coalition, their attacks inside Pakistan cripple our will and ability to isolate the militants from the public and convince Pakistanis that it is our war, says Pakistani author and columnist Rasul Bakhsh Rais.

 

Washington's military strategy in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region is expanding its range of enemies, says Paul Rogers. The consequences could be both violent and unpredictable.

 

Until the powers that be prove willing to shelf political expediency in favour of helping ordinary people in the northern areas and beyond, Pakistan will exhaust itself taking one step forward, only to take two steps back, writes political analyst Huma Yusuf.

The fact that the three key players – America, Pakistan Army and the democratically elected civilian coalition – are still not on the same page doesn’t augur well either for the war on terror or for the transition to a stable and functional democracy in the country, writes veteran Pakistani journalist Najam Sethi.

 

MUMBAI: What was initially restricted to the infamous Naya Nagar in Mira Road has now been extended to the entire Mira-Bhayandar area. All mosques in this belt have started making regular announcements asking the Muslim community to look out for 'suspicious-looking ' persons in their locality.

 

According to Shia leaders and independent analysts, the Taliban control the Sunni tribes in Kurram and want to battle the Shias until they have control of the region. An analysis Nirupama Subramanian of The Hindu., New Delhi.

 

The Saudis are not at all acting responsibly when they seek to disassociate themselves from an evil they have been rearing now for over two hundred years whether with British support or collusion with Masonic or Zionist forces, as so many historical chroniclers point out on many occasions. The obvious incongruity of the accusation that Al-Qaeda is funded by the Iranians, with whom there is a big rift with the Al-Qaeda from a sectarian point of view is somewhat unbelievable and the same is true in the case of Libyans. On the latter one cannot help but remember how Washington tried to mislead the world into believing that Saddam Hussein was associated with Al-Qaeda. … So it is not hard to tell, who is the real backer of world terrorism, morally and materially? A  Yemeni response to Saudi press allegations by Hassan Al-Haifi (commonsense@yemen.net.ye)

 

Riyadh – A Saudi citizen, Naif Mohammad Al-Qahtani has been identified by sources as the leader of the alleged “Al-Qaeda Network in the South of the Arabian Peninsula.” He has been in Yemen for almost one year and is receiving financial support from Iranian and Libyan individuals to finance terrorist operations against Yemen and Saudi Arabia, Al-Watan reported. A report in Saudi Gazette

 

YOU don’t have to be a Westerner to hate the Taleban. Most of us in the Middle East and the larger Muslim world have grown sick and tired of their extremist, truly bizarre ways and their absurd interpretation of Islam…. (But) The more the US and NATO forces kill and destroy Taleban, the more they seem to grow, multiplying like those zombie soldiers in the Hollywood productions, The Mummy II and III. An enemy that has no ostensible external support and few weapons continues to give the reigning superpower and its equally powerful allies a run for their money, writes Aijaz Zaka Syed in Arab News.

 

The direction of the anti-Soviet jihad was determined by us. We then decided after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan not to dismantle the jihadi network we had created and to use it for other purposes. We decided to support the Taliban and thus furthered the spread of extremism in our border areas. The American abandonment of the area was criminally negligent; their actions in other parts of the Muslim world were equally harmful; their decision to let Osama bin Laden seek asylum in Afghanistan after his expulsion was inexplicable. Much other blame can be apportioned to America but we too must acknowledge that the misguided policies and ambitions of our leaders have played the principal part in bringing us to our present sorry pass, writes Najmuddin A Shaikh, a former foreign secretary of Pakistan.

 

Malalai Joya, who famously (and rightly) denounced some of her colleagues as war criminals, was expelled and threatened with death. Shukria Barakzai, injured in a suicide bombing last November that killed six other parliamentarians, has now earned a suicide bomber of her own. She complained recently that while Parliament has sent her letters for the past three months informing her that she is the potential target of a suicide bomber, it hasn't offered to protect her. When her complaint reached the internet, an Afghan man (apparently safe in Canada) responded that she should stay home and raise sons who could "do something" for Afghanistan. He called her a "cowhead." That may be one step up from "cow," but it's still a long way from human being. Ann Jones, August 2008

 

Suicide bombings and these gory scenes have now become part of our tortured consciousness...Any political negotiations with the Islamists will only succeed if, at the same time, suicide bombings become less effective, less potent as a destabilising weapon. And that will not happen by smart politics but by enhancing the policing abilities against the suicide bombers by developing indigenous standard operating procedures (SOP’s), writes MOEED PIRZADA, Head of International Desk with GEO TV, Pakistan.

 

What has gone wrong with FATA? And why is the tribal area in such deep trouble and in the grip of an insurgency? Unless we address these issues sincerely and find answers to these troubling questions, we will be only dealing with the implications of the situation and not resolving the problem. An article by a former chief secretary of NWFP Rustam Shah Mohmand.

 
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  • Good column! Jamelle Bouie is a very valuable acquisition for NYTimes' op-ed page.
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