US to launch new operation to hunt down Bin Laden
'Qaeda cannot be defeated until Bin Laden is captured or killed':
Bin Laden often sneaks across Af-Pak border: US
Bin Laden's location unknown for 'years:' Gates
127 dead as 5 car bombs rock Baghdad
Suicide bombers target ISI office in Pak's Multan, 12 dead
Islamic experts: no to the political exploitation of the Ayodhya mosque
Islamization is Transforming the North Caucasus into Russia’s ‘Internal Abroad,’
Election Date Set in Iraq as Bombs Kill Scores
Pakistan's support for Taliban and Al-Qaeda
Peshawar Moot rejects new US policy on Afghanistan
The Swiss and Islam; making money from bank bailouts
Spain: Men Charged in Unofficial Islamic Court
Afghanistan will need US security aid for 15-20 yrs: Karzai
No additional troops for Afghanistan: Turkish PM
‘Osama sighted in Afghanistan early this year’
No silver bullets of success in Afghanistan: Mullen
Obama: Turkey vital player on Iran
Al Qaeda claims aid worker kidnappings
Philippine Muslims restart peace talks in Malaysia
Iranian opposition 'pro-reform' not anti-Islamic - experts
Mughal daughter- in- law awaits hike in pension
'De-tensioning of Kashmir border critical to stability'
Kashmir sings along with Terra Naomi
Bihar Govt must stop appeasement of Muslims: Praveen Togadia
Islamic Jihad operative arrested in Israel
Palestine govt boycotts Israeli goods made in West Bank settlements
Democracy vital to win terror war: Zardari
26/11 probe: US may ask for Pak major's extradition
US 'in this thing to win', says US envoy Gates in Afghanistan
Clamp down on Taliban or we step in: US to Pak
'Indo-Pak security relationship has consequences in Afghan'
Punish us if you must: Sushma Swaraj
Why India shouldn’t give up on Obama
Ross Douthat: Maybe Islam Will Save Us from Secularism
Iran cracks down on moms before rally
Vatican bank accused of laundering money
Residents protest Islamist violence in Mogadishu
Arab press says Swiss “regressing mentally”
Turkey: When Islamist foreign policies hurt Muslims
Unmotivating Speech On War: No Guts, No Glory
9/11 Terror Trial Protesters Boo Obama's, Holder's Names
War at Pearl Harbour and war today
URL of this Page: http://newageislam.com/NewAgeIslamIslamicWorldNews_1.aspx?ArticleID=2203
Hold intellectual dialogue to combat terrorism: Pakistan’s Council of Islamic Ideology
December 08, 2009
Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) Chairman Dr. Muhammad Khalid Masud on Monday called for holding an intellectual dialogue to effectively tackle the issue of militancy.
Talking to APP he said that the Council of Islamic Ideology in the book ‘Islam aur Intaha Pasandi’, to be launched on Tuesday, recommended that all Muslims countries should adopt a joint strategy to combat extremism and for it to constitute a special committee of experts in Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC). Terrorism in the name of Jihad should be strictly restricted, he said and added that it also recommended strengthening of political system and ensure provision of equal rights to people without any discrimination.
All kinds of human rights violations should be immediately stopped. It is also recommended that Interior ministry should be issued private detective licence which help root out camps involved in terrorist activities. National intelligence departments should be re-strengthened.
Media should responsibly educate people rather than disseminating sensationalism in society. Anti-terrorism courts should be more strengthened and terrorism related cases should be decided without any fear or undue favour. Boundaries of the country should be drawn clearly and tribal areas be included under stated area.
It is also recommended that in every area law and order situation should be monitored through establishing peace committees at federal, provincial and district level and nurture the atmosphere of tolerance and mutual differences or difference of opinion should not be reason of hatred.
8 Dec 09
Washington, Dec 7 (PTI) US special forces will soon launch new operations to hunt world's most wanted terrorist Osama Bin Laden who the Americans believe is holed up in rugged terrain along the Afghan-Pak border.
The new American plans to chase Bin Laden were outlined by General James Jones, National Security Adviser who said that intelligence reports suggested that the al-Qaida chief was moving sanctuaries between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Appearing on CNN's "State of the Union" programme, Jones signalled that some US troops could start coming home from Afghanistan as soon as July 2011, but a large number would remain there for several years, keeping in view the US's strategic interest in the region.
Bin Laden "is somewhere inside north Waziristan, sometimes on the Pakistani side of the border, sometimes on the Afghan side of the border," Jones said.
'Qaeda cannot be defeated until Laden is captured or killed'
December 09, 2009
America's top military commander in Afghanistan believes that al-Qaeda cannot be defeated until Osama bin Laden, the most wanted fugitive of the world, is either killed or captured.
"I don't think it would make, it would not defeat al-Qaeda to have him captured or killed, but I don't think that we can finally defeat al-Qaeda until he is captured or killed," General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, told Senators at the Congressional hearing on Afghanistan.
Appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, General McChrystal said Osama bin Laden is an iconic figure at this point whose survival emboldens al-Qaeda as a franchising organisation across the world.
"It does remain important to American people, indeed the people of the world, that one day, Osama Bin Laden is either captured or killed and brought to justice for his responsibility for the murder of many Americans and citizens of the world on the 11th of September, 2001," Karl Eikenberry, the US Ambassador to Afghanistan, said.
Responding to a question from Senator George Lemieux, McChrystal said: "Were Osama bin Laden to come in there (in Afghanistan), that would become a huge priority for all of our forces. If he is not inside, it's outside of my mandate right now."
Noting that the American people still want to capture and kill Laden, Senator Lemieux said it would remain an important strategic military goal as well in terms of war fighting and trying to break the will of the enemy.
7 December 2009
WASHINGTON: Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden may periodically slip back into Afghanistan from his remote hideout in neighboring Pakistan, a senior
White House official says, adding a new twist to the mystery of the elusive terrorist’s whereabouts.
President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, James Jones, said bin Laden, believed hiding mainly in a rugged area of western Pakistan, may be spending some time in Afghanistan, where he was based while plotting the 9/11 attacks.
But Obama’s Pentagon chief, Robert Gates, said the US has lacked good intelligence on bin Laden for a long time.
WASHINGTON--The United States does not know where Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden is and has lacked reliable information on his whereabouts for years, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said.
The revelation from Gates, speaking in an interview with the ABC News "This Week" program to be aired Sunday, comes days after US President Barack Obama announced he would send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan.
Asked if Pakistan was doing enough to apprehend Bin Laden, Gates answered: "Well, we don't know for a fact where Osama bin Laden is. If we did, we'd go get him."
Referring to the last time US intelligence had a fix on Bin Laden's whereabouts, Gates said: "I think it's been years."
Bin Laden is believed to have escaped from Afghanistan into Pakistan in late 2001.
In excerpts of the interview released ahead of the broadcast, Gates also could not confirm reports about a detainee in Pakistan who claimed he had information on where Bin Laden was earlier this year.
Part of the United States' reason for going to war more than eight years ago in the wake of the September 11 attacks was to kill or capture Bin Laden.
The Al-Qaeda leader is seen as the chief mastermind of the 2001 attacks in the United States that killed nearly 3,000 people.
Immediately after the attacks, US government officials named Bin Laden and the Al-Qaeda network as the prime suspects and offered a reward of 25 million dollars for information leading to his capture or death.
In 2007, this figure was doubled to 50 million dollars. But so far, the Al-Qaeda founder has eluded capture.
A US Senate report released last week said Bin Laden was "within the grasp" of US forces in late 2001 but escaped because then-defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld rejected calls for reinforcements.
The hard-hitting study points the finger directly at Rumsfeld for turning down requests for reinforcements as Bin Laden was trapped in December 2001 in caves and tunnels in a mountainous area of eastern Afghanistan known as Tora Bora.
The vast array of American military power, from sniper teams to the most mobile divisions of the marine corps and the army, was kept on the sidelines," the report says.
"Instead, the US command chose to rely on air strikes and untrained Afghan militias to attack Bin Laden and on Pakistan's loosely organized Frontier Corps to seal his escape routes."
The report commissioned by Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, says Bin Laden expected to die and had even written a will.
"But the Al-Qaeda leader would live to fight another day. Fewer than 100 American commandos were on the scene with their Afghan allies and calls for reinforcements to launch an assault were rejected.
"Requests were also turned down for US troops to block the mountain paths leading to sanctuary a few miles away in Pakistan.
"The decision not to deploy American forces to go after Bin Laden or block his escape was made by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his top commander, General Tommy Franks," the report says.
Kerry points out at the beginning of the report that when the United States went to war less than one month after the September 11 attacks, the mission was clear: to destroy Al-Qaeda and kill or capture Bin Laden
Dec 09, 2009
Baghdad: A series of coordinated attacks struck Baghdad on Tuesday, including two suicide car bombers and another vehicle that blew up near government sites. At least 121 were killed and hundreds wounded in the worst wave of violence in the capital in more than a month, authorities said.
A total of five attacks, which also included a suicide car bomb on a police patrol, showed the ability of insurgents to strike high-profile targets in the heart of Baghdad and marked the third time since August that government buildings were targeted with multiple blasts that brought massive bloodshed.
The bombings reinforced concerns about shortcomings in Iraqi security as US forces plan their withdrawal, and parliament held an emergency session with many lawmakers demanding answers for apparent security lapses.
The bombings marked the most serious spate of violence in Baghdad since twin car bombs on October 25 struck outside government offices, killing at least 155. In August, suicide bombers hit the finance and foreign ministries, killing more than 100.
Officials blamed the August and October attacks on al-Qaeda in Iraq and loyalists of the Baath Party — even bringing out three suspects on national television who gave what officials termed confessions.
8 December 2009
ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: Terrorists targeted Pakistan's powerful ISI for the second time in less than a month as suicide bombers struck its office in
eastern Multan city detonating their vehicle packed with up to 1,000 kg of explosives, killing at least 12 people and injuring 47 others.
The militants first drove to Qasim Bela area in Multan, the home town of Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Punjab province, in a truck and attacked security personnel manning a check post with small arms and rockets.
They then drove up to the ISI office situated within the high-security cantonment area and lobbed grenades before blowing up their explosives-laden vehicle, police said. Twelve people, including four soldiers and four children, were killed in the attack, said officials of the state-run emergency services.
Forty seven injured people, including women and children, were taken to three nearby hospitals. Four of them were in a serious condition.
This was the second attack targeting ISI in less than a month. On November 13, suicide bombers struck its operational headquarters in northwestern city of Peshawar, leaving 12 people dead and 65 injured.
Today's attack follows the suicide bombing at a crowded market in Lahore last night that killed 49 people and injured 180 others. Another suicide bomber blew himself up outside a court complex in Peshawar yesterday, killing 10 people.
by Nirmala Carvalho
Asgar Ali Engineer doubts that the parliamentary debate on the allegations against BJP leaders will bring any results . He invites Muslims and Hindus not to follow "aggressive and ambitious ringleaders " and work for education, development and secularism.
Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The parliamentary debate on the destruction of the mosque in Ayodhya and on those responsible for massacres is in danger of being politically manipulated for the benefit of ambitious party leaders, without helping to understand the real problems between Hindu and Muslim communities or safeguarding the secular nature of the country. Speaking to AsiaNews Muslim intellectual Asgar Ali Engineer, Chairman of the Center for Study of Society and Secularism, comments on the Liberhan report into the Hindu extremists attack on the mosque of Babar, or Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in 1992 ( photo).
The Indian parliament is preparing to discuss the findings of the Inquiry Commission that accused the leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party of direct responsibility in the affair (see AsiaNews, 25/11/2009, "BJP leaders blamed for the destruction of the Ayodhya mosque" ). Engineer, well known in India for his struggle for human rights in Islam, says: "Both sides will try to use the Liberhan report to their advantage. Nothing will happen to the criminals who demolished Babri Masjid and whoa are already planning new attacks. This is the greatest tragedy: the politicisation of the issue for electoral purposes without anything happening to the leaders meaning that crimes can continue to be committed with impunity in the country".
Engineer believes that top leaders of the BJP were directly involvement in the events of Ayodhya. Lalchand Kishen Advani, the current opposition leader in parliament, "is the main culprit and should already have been tried years ago."
The political use of the Babri Masjid demolition was at the basis of the same violent events in 1992. For this reason the Islamic scholar hopes that after 17 years of fierce and sterile controversy, "Hindu and Muslim leaders understand that aggressive and ambitious people do not represent the true interests of the people. They represent their own interests or those of political or socio-economic powers. Exploiting their religious traditions for political purposes and aggressively so. Both communities are unfortunately victims of the violent propaganda of these ambitious leaders. The problem will worsen unless steps are taken to limit their ambitions. "
President of the Center for Study of Society and Secularism affirms that "it is not enough to shun sterile debates to strengthen common peace, we must show a positive attitude." He adds that "Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party and Samajwadi Party are not doing anything to rebuild the Babri Masjid."
The Muslim intellectual advocates a common commitment to the Hindu and Muslim communities. Engineer recalls that the Muslims now, "rather than fighting for Babri Masjid, are focusing more on problems of education, economic progress and development”. He asks the "Hindus who support secularism" to "fight for justice. If they are loyal they must undertake to mend the fabric of secular coexistence in India”.
Islamization is Transforming the North Caucasus into Russia’s ‘Internal Abroad,’ December 07, 2009
The growing influence of Islam in the North Caucasus, a reflection of increasing disillusionment with the Russian political system, is transforming the region into Russia’s “internal abroad,” where people “have portraits of Putin and Medvedev [on their walls] but are for shariat law,” according to a leading Moscow specialist.
In a speech last week, Aleksey Malashenko, a scholar at the Moscow Carnegie Center, says that this trend, rather than support for separatist movements is behind what he says is a nearly equal “civil war” there, between those who want the imposition of Islamic law and those who back Russian legislation (www.slon.ru/articles/203931/).
Six or seven years ago, the Moscow analyst said, few people responded to calls for the imposition of shariat in these republics, but “now certainly have of society is demanding” that, not because they want independence from Russia but because they want a system in which their rights are protected, something the Russian powers that be cannot supply.
At a meeting in Daghestan a month ago, Malashenko continued, a group of Daghestanis expressed their views. Half of the speeches concerned Islam, and of those, “approximately 25 percent had approximately the following motif:” If the current disorder in our society continues, “we will all go into the mountains.”
Ten years ago, many in the North Caucasus had turned from Islam in the hopes that Putin, “despite the second Chechen war,” would restore order. Those hopes have collapsed, Malashenko argued, because “there is no feedback loop between the powers that be and society, between the federal powers that be and society there.”
In short, “there are no normal relations between the federal powers that be and that power” which exist in the North Caucasus, and consequently, people are again turning to Islam, not because they want independence but because they want law and order which Islam promises to provide.
There are precedents for this, he suggested. Many in the North Caucasus recall that in 1999, four villages in Daghestan’s Kadar district declared themselves “a Shariat Territory of the Russian Federation” in which all narcotics were banned and the militia, subordinate to Makhachkala was prevented from “stealing” from the population.
The people who formed that “shariat territory” and those who support the imposition of shariat law elsewhere are “absolutely” loyal to Moscow. They want to have shariat laws because in their regions “there is no Russian law.” Hence, they form what could be called “an internal abroad.”
Malashenko said that he had frequently heard people in Daghestan, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria and Chechnya say “’Let us live as we like.’” You in Moscow created the current problems with the war in Chechnya and the imposition of lawless officials who declare loyalty to Moscow, but “we are Russians and we do not think about life without Russia.”
There needs to be dialogue between the Russian powers that be and those who support shariat law, the Moscow analyst argued, and that will be possible only if the former understand that shariat law does not simply mean the lopping off of hands or heads, as some Russian commentators imagine.
In tsarist times, the imperial government allowed people in the North Caucasus to continue to live according to shariat after the victory of the Russian army. And “it is not only possible but necessary” for contemporary Russian officials to make use of this pre-revolutionary experience.
Full report: http://georgiandaily.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=15941&Itemid=72
By STEVEN LEE MYERS and MARC SANTORA
December 8, 2009
BAGHDAD — A series of car bombings devastated government institutions across Baghdad on Tuesday, provoking public and political denunciations of the country’s prime minister and the security forces he oversees. The attacks came as officials agreed at last to set a date in March for a national election.
the bombings, a coordinated assault on the capital, highlighted an ominous convergence of politics and violence, which American and Iraqi officials have long warned will mar the country’s election. The vote, originally scheduled for January, was delayed by ethnic and sectarian disputes resolved only two days ago.
Five bombs, at least three detonated by suicide attackers, struck a courthouse, two colleges, a mosque and a bank. They created chaos across the city, locking down entire neighborhoods, overwhelming the police and rescue workers, and filling hospitals with the wounded. In one, a woman with her hair scorched and neck bloodied agonized as her child lay dying in a hallway.
At least 121 people were killed and more than 400 were wounded, according to police and hospital officials.
The attacks appeared intended to cripple the government’s basic ability to function, and at least in part they succeeded. Two government institutions struck on Tuesday, the Finance Ministry and an appeals court, had only just relocated to new buildings after similar attacks destroyed their old offices in August and October.
Many victims, standing amid debris and carnage, blamed Iraq’s army and police force, which have taken charge of security as American forces have withdrawn from cities. They also linked the attacks to the protracted political jockeying over the election. “Are we cursed?” yelled a young woman near the mosque that was struck in Qahira, in northeast Baghdad. She had burns over her arms and legs. “When will we be finished with this election issue?” Prospective candidates blamed the security forces and the government for once again failing to protect the heart of Baghdad.
The attacks were the worst in Iraq since twin suicide bombings destroyed three government agencies on Oct. 25, killing at least 155. They fit a pattern of spectacularly lethal attacks in the capital, followed by weeks of relative calm. In August, two suicide car bombs struck the country’s Finance and Foreign Ministries, killing at least 122. Those attacks became known as Bloody Sunday and Bloody Wednesday, respectively. Officials and average Iraqis promptly added the adjective to Tuesday, as well.
“We can only hope that not every day will turn into Bloody Days,” Wathab Shakir, a Sunni lawmaker, declared during a stormy session of Parliament convened hours after the attacks.
The bombings underscored the inability of Iraq’s security forces to stop carefully orchestrated attacks, despite an overwhelming presence at checkpoints that punctuate every major street in Baghdad.
Not one of dozens of lawmakers who fulminated in Parliament expressed any confidence in Iraq’s security, a rare display of unity across political and sectarian divisions.
Full report: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/09/world/middleeast/09iraq.html
Muhammad Omer Iqbal
Yesterday, Lahore, Pakistan's second largest city had two bomb explosions in the same market killing scores of people. In the evening, I talked with my mother as my family lives in Lahore. One of my aunts had left the market minutes before the blast took place. I was relieved to know that everyone was safe. Then, I logged-in on Facebook to check my friends, and found out that one of my friend's mother-in-law was in the market when the blast took place, but thankfully was not hurt.
Then I saw a discussion thread, debating whether Pakistani people are pro-Taliban or not. In the media, I always find that after these terrorist attacks are reported, it is projected that somehow the whole country is behind these horrendous acts.
The data, however, speaks otherwise. In Pakistan, even the conservative religious parties have failed year after year to get people's votes. For example, in the most recent elections, the secular Pakistan Peoples Party formed the government in alliance with Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz. How can then Taliban have popular support in Pakistan when they purport an extreme and violent ideology and have been mercilessly killing the people?
In fact, Pakistan has a history of never electing religious parties to power with the exception of the time when, in the second term of General Pervez Musharraf, MMMA, an alliance of all religious parties, was able to form a government only in one province, the NWFP, but that too crumbled within the following election cycle.
Pakistan Army has been engaged in a massive operation against the Taliban, first in the Swat valley and now in Waziristan. The army has lost many soldiers in this war and even outside the war zone, army facilities are constantly targeted by terrorists. Back in September 2008, BBC reported that the local tribesmen were fighting the Taliban. As a result, they have incurred the wrath of the Taliban and many tribal elders who openly opposed the Taliban have been murdered.
Election data clearly shows that the country is not even in favor of conservative religious parties, let alone any widespread support for Taliban. Therefore, if anyone claims that the country supports Taliban, Al-Qaeda or other terrorist organizations, they must provide data that trumps this one.
As far as religious lines are concerned, the Taliban even resorted to attacking a mosque in Rawalpindi, in which forty people died, including seventeen children. Gen Kayani, Chief of the Army Staff, who met some he relatives, is reported to have said, "The nation, including the army, stands united in sharing their grief.
"Pakistan is our motherland. It is the bastion of Islam and we live for the glory of Islam and Pakistan.
"Our faith, resolve and pride in our religion and in our country is an asset, which is further reinforced after each terrorist incident."
In other words, Pakistan Army is waging jihad against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
By Bureau report
PESHAWAR: A moot organised at a religious seminary Monday rejected the new Afghan strategy of the US and declared that the American and allied forces should withdraw forthwith from Afghanistan to settle the issue and restore peace in the region.
Addressed by noted religious scholars, representatives of different religio-political parties and academicians, the ‘National Conference on US New Afghan Policy’ was convened by Maulana Syedul Arifeen, administrator of the Markaz-e-Uloom-e-Islamia in Rahatabad.
Through a resolution, the conference demanded the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and formation of a national government in the war-ravaged country in accordance with the wishes of its people. Another resolution urged the Pakistan government to stop what it called bloodshed in tribal areas and settled parts of the country and to resolve the issue through talks.
The speakers included Maulana Hamdullah Jan Dagai, Maulana Sher Ali Shah, Qazi Mohammad Ameen, Syedul Arifeen, JUI-F Provincial Secretary General Shujaul Mulk, leader of Jamiat Ahle Hadith Abu Salam Salfi, Dr Qibla Ayaz, Abdul Jalil Jan and others.
The speaker said that the US announcement regarding gradual withdrawal from Afghanistan was actually an admission of defeat. They said it was better for the US to pull out from Afghanistan otherwise the mujahideen would make the country a graveyard for them. They said it was the US that used media to dub as terrorists to the mujahideen who resisted the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and inflicted a crushing defeat on the-then superpower, which led to its dismemberment.
The speakers said the US invasion of Afghanistan was violation of the international laws. They said the US troops invaded Afghanistan to dismantle the Islamic government there but they could not occupy even 10 per cent of the country’s territory. They said the intelligence agencies of the US, Israel and India had set up their bases in Afghanistan and were involved in terrorism in Pakistan.
Stressing the need for unity among the Muslim rulers, the speakers said that the Islamic countries should evolve a joint strategy to foil the nefarious designs of the US and other infidel forces against Islam and Muslims. They also expressed serious concern over the extremely poor law and order situation in the country, saying that the presence of the US troops in Afghanistan was the root cause of all the problems. The military operations in the country were also adding fuel to the fire, they alleged. The speakers urged the political parties to join hands to steer the country out of the prevailing crisis.
The Swiss and Islam; making money from bank bailouts; student absenteeism December 8, 2009
The Times asks, "Why should Saudi Arabia allow Christians to worship openly if . . . Switzerland requires Muslims to efface their identity?"
Why does Switzerland set this agenda? Why does Saudi Arabia get, at this very late date, to further its delay of human rights to its citizens and legal immigrants because of a tiny European country's bad behavior? The center of Islam doesn't forbid just church towers -- it forbids churches and synagogues and temples of every sort.
By all means challenge Switzerland, because what it did was exclusionary and wrong. But don't give us insipid excuses for the Saudis to delay doing what is right. Their behavior is even more offensive than the repugnant behavior of Switzerland, which at least permits Muslims to worship publicly without their minarets.
Fr. J. Patrick Mullen
The writer is a professor of biblical studies at St. John's Seminary.
Nine men are awaiting trial in eastern Spain after allegedly sentencing a woman to death for adultery in an unofficial Islamic law court, a police spokeswoman said Monday. The woman walked into a police station in March saying she had escaped captors who had taken her to a remote house in Catalonia where they “tried” and “convicted” her for adultery, the spokeswoman from the Catalonia regional police force said. The men were charged with illegal detention, attempted murder and forming a criminal band. The spokeswoman said seven of the men were in prison while two had been released on bail.
KABUL: Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai told visiting US Defence Secretary Robert Gates on Tuesday that Afghanistan would need aid to fund its
security forces for up to 20 more years, calling for a long-term US commitment.
The newly re-elected Karzai said that his new government would work to assume responsibility for Afghanistan's security within five years, but the impoverished country lacked the funds to foot the entire bill.
Gates, who held talks with Karzai on implementing a new war strategy that involves sending 30,000 extra US troops to fight the Taliban, reiterated that the United States intended to start withdrawing its forces from July 2011.
"For 15 to 20 years, Afghanistan will not be able to sustain a force of that nature and capability with its own resources," Karzai told a news conference.
US President Barack Obama's plan to start withdrawing troops in July 2011 has sparked concern in Afghanistan and neighbouring Pakistan that the Taliban could sit out the surge and attack a pared down force in 18 months' time.
"We hope that the international community and the United States, as our first ally, will help Afghanistan reach the ability to sustain a force," the president said.
He said Afghan forces hoped to assume responsibility in critical areas of the country in another two years and "hopefully with a maximum effort to add on the whole of the country... in five years time".
Gates was in Kabul on the first visit by a senior US official since Obama
last week announced he would boost the US deployment in Afghanistan to 100,000 to counter the increasingly virulent Taliban insurgency.
Karzai on Tuesday condemned the death of six civilians, including a woman, during a NATO raid in eastern Afghanistan as Gates vowed that US and NATO troops would make the prevention of such deaths a "top priority".
The Pentagon chief welcomed Karzai's timeline to take over security within five years alongside Obama's pledge to start reducing the US military presence after an overall foreign troop surge of around 150,000.
"It is our expectation that on a gradual conditions-based premise, that we will begin reducing our forces after July 2011.
"But we expect that this is a several year process. Whether it is three years or two years or four years I think remains to be seen. As President Obama has made it very clear, this is not an open-ended commitment," he said.
Gates acknowledged the United States faced a heavy financial commitment paying for security in Afghanistan and called on NATO allies, who have pledged an extra 7,000 troops as part of the new strategy, to help shoulder the burden.
"There is a realism on our part that it will be some time before Afghanistan is able to sustain its security forces entirely.
"But I think it is also true that the US has made clear to our international partners that we expect them to share this responsibility," he said.
A senior NATO commander has warned that the current police force of around 68,000 is hampered by corruption. Out of 94,000 soldiers trained so far, 10,000 have defected and 15 percent of the armed forces are drug addicts.
The Pentagon has said the first wave of 1,500 extra US Marines will arrive in the south next week, the spiritual capital of the Taliban and scene of the worst fighting since the 2001 US-led invasion.
Soaring violence has made this year the deadliest since the Taliban fell from power, with record numbers of civilians, Afghan and foreign troops killed.
Karzai, who faces huge pressure to form a transparent government after his fraud-tainted re-election in August, is to unveil a cabinet next week.
Washington has warned him to fight corruption or see his cabinet bypassed in favour of lower level officials in a bid to supply Afghans with services.
Gates was also to hold talks with US and NATO commanders on the logistical challenges involved in bringing in reinforcements, after he signed deployment orders for the first wave of 17,000 US troops to arrive early next year.
In southern Helmand province, 1,000 US Marines, British troops and Afghan forces have been pressing a five-day offensive in a key battleground, where an Afghan commander said 11 insurgents were killed Tuesday.
6 December 2009
ANKARA: Turkey's prime minister has ruled out sending additional troops to Afghanistan but says the country is willing to train the Afghan army
Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday before his departure for talks with U.S. President Barack Obama that Turkey has already contributed the ``necessary number'' of troops.
Turkey, NATO's sole Muslim member, took over the rotating command of the NATO peacekeeping operation in Kabul last month and doubled its number of troops to around 1,750.
Erdogan says Turkish military and police are ready to train their Afghan counterparts. Turkey will also press ahead with health, education and infrastructure projects there.
Turkey has the second largest army in NATO but is reluctant to participate in combat operations.
5 December 2009
ISLAMABAD: A Taliban detainee in Pakistan has claimed that one of his contacts met al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan early this
“In 2009, in January or February I met this friend of mine. He said that he had come from meeting sheikh Osama, and that he could
arrange for me to meet him,” the detainee said. “The sheikh (bin Laden) doesn’t stay at any one place. That guy (the contact) came from Ghazni province, so I think that’s where the sheikh was,” the detainee told BBC.
The detainee said militants were avoiding Pakistani territory because of the risk of US drone attacks. “Pakistan at this time is not convenient for us to stay in because a lot of our senior people are being martyred in drone attacks,” he said.
On Friday, Pakistan PM Yousaf Gilani said there was no credible evidence that bin Laden was in Pakistan.
Former CIA analyst Bruce Riedel said that the detainee’s story is plausible and should be investigated. “The entire western intelligence community have been looking for bin Laden for the last seven years and haven’t come upon a source of information like this,” Riedel said.
Washington, December 09, 2009
A top US military official on Wednesday said there is no silver bullet for Afghanistan and the ultimate success there will be cumulative effect of sustained pressure across multiple lines of operation.
"Being successful in Afghanistan, winning, is not solely the responsibility of the US military. This is not that kind of war, not that kind of struggle. Success will come only by and through a concerted effort by other agencies and other partners," Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at a news briefing here.
Referring to the new Afghanistan policy, Mullen said: "The President has made it very clear: While our commitment to the people of Afghanistan is enduring, our troop presence will not be."
The task, therefore, was to increase the quality and quantity of Afghanistan's security forces so that they could provide for their own security and improve it to such a degree which would allow good governance, or at least in certain selected ministries.
"And so in July of 2011, we will begin the process of transition, of transferring more responsibility to Afghan national-security forces and thinning our own lines. At that time, the marines we sent last summer into Helmand province will have been at the job for 2 years. We will know by then if we have been successful," he said.
Dec. 7, 2009
In a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan Monday, US President Barack Obama called Turkey an "important player" in keeping Iran's nuclear energy program peaceful despite his recent criticism of the Western approach towards Teheran.
Speaking beside Obama at a White House press conference, Erdogan said that the two leaders discussed what could be done "jointly in the region with regard to nuclear programs."
He also stressed that "we stand ready as Turkey to do whatever we can do with respect to relations between Israel and the Palestinians, and Israel and Syria."
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was quoted as telling the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday he had been told by French President Nicolas Sarkozy that Syria was ready to open direct talks if Israel was prepared to commit itself to a withdrawal from the Golan Heights.
According to media reports from the closed-door meeting, Netanyahu told Sarkozy that if indirect negotiations were to continue, he would prefer France to Turkey as a mediator.
Turkey helped hold indirect negotiations between the latter two countries before the Gaza war last winter, during which Syria called off talks and Turkey harshly criticized Israel.
US officials said they would like to see Turkey return to such a mediation role, though none is currently on the table, but indicated they understood Israeli discomfort with the idea given Turkey's rhetoric on Gaza.
Obama also praised Turkey for helping stabilize Iraq and Afghanistan, and concluded his remarks, which followed a lengthy Oval Office meeting ahead of a working lunch, by calling Turkey "a great country" and Erdogan a personal friend.
It was the prime minister's first trip to the Obama White House, and the two leaders extended their tete-a-tete to review an "enormous agenda" of issues, as one US official put it.
The meeting came amid growing disagreements between Washington and Ankara over a slew of policies, notably Iran and Israel.
The Obama administration has largely chosen publicly to emphasize places of agreement and stress Turkey's important regional role, but US officials have also subtly acknowledged differences and areas where they would like to see more being done.
The official also warned that Turkey would need to work at its relations with Israel in order to be seen as an "honest broker" which could return it to the helpful role in brokering Israeli-Syrian talks it played in 2008.
"To the extent that they return to the kind of relationship that they have previously had, which has been a very strong and cooperative relationship, they will be able to serve in the role that they seek to play in the region," he said. "If they don't retain those ties, it's going to be harder for them to lead in the way they would like to lead."
Another administration official described the ruling Turkish government as having "a policy of zero problems with neighbours," which they argue enables them to play that honest broker role, potentially even when it comes to Iran.
"We have no problem with Turkey reaching out to Iran, talking to Iran," he said. "But it is important to us that the message be the same."
At a news conference after his White House meeting, Erdogan stressed the role of diplomacy in persuading Iran to give up any nuclear ambitions it might have and made clear that Turkey does not see the need yet for new sanctions.
He also criticized current sanctions against Iran as being ineffective and allowing loopholes for Western goods to reach the Iranian market.
Full report: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1260181013244&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull
Madrid, Spain (CNN) -- Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) said Tuesday it was holding three Spanish aid workers kidnapped late last month in Mauritania, and Spain's Foreign Minister said the government considered the claim "credible."
In an audio recording released Tuesday on al Jazeera television, AQIM "specifically mentioned the names" of the three aid workers, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement released in Madrid.
Later at a news conference in Brussels, Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said, "Based on the information we have, we consider credible that claim of responsibility."
The al Qaeda message Tuesday set no immediate conditions for the release of the three, saying that would come in a future message to the Spanish government, the foreign ministry statement said.
"We have to wait for that contact, which has not happened yet, and we keep working to free our nationals," Moratinos said.
The two men and a woman, from the Barcelona Solidarity Action humanitarian organization, were kidnapped November 29 in Mauritania from a 13-vehicle aid convoy. The Spanish government said the next day it suspected al Qaeda.
"Minutes before 7 a.m. today (Tuesday), al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, on al Jazeera television, claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of the Spanish aid workers in Mauritania and for a French citizen in Mali," the foreign ministry statement said.
Philippines soldiers battle MILF rebels in 2000
The deal seeks to put an end to a conflict that goes back decades
Peace talks have resumed between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a separatist group from the south of the country.
The talks are being held in Malaysia, which had brokered talks which collapsed 16 months ago.
An International Contact Group including Japan, the UK and Turkey has been formed to join the talks.
Earlier peace talks collapsed when a promised agreement was quashed by a Philippines court.
"The formation of the ICG finally clears the way for the formal resumption of the peace talks," said a statement signed by the chief negotiators of the two sides, released last week.
Rafael Seguis, the government's top negotiator, said in an opening statement in Kuala Lumpur that the process was "now formally back on track".
"I believe - and I am sure that we all share this optimism - that we will be able to forge a peace settlement that is just, lasting, acceptable, and truly beneficial to the Muslim Filipinos in Mindanao, and to the entire Filipino people," he said.
"But the task ahead of us is still great. The challenges we have to surmount remain high. There is a lot of work to do."
Mohagher Iqbal, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front's (Milf) chief negotiator, told Reuters by phone from his base on the southern island of Mindanao that he was confident a final solution to the conflict can be reached before President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo steps down in June.
He said the two sides would negotiate to reconstitute an International Monitoring Team (IMT) and reactivate an ad hoc joint action group which would try to isolate Muslim militants from criminal groups in rebel-controlled areas.
The IMT and ad hoc joint action group pulled out more than a year ago after violence escalated in Muslim areas in the south following a Supreme Court ruling that stopped a deal between Manila and the Milf that expanded an autonomous Muslim region.
Iranian opposition 'pro-reform' not anti-Islamic – experts
The Iranian opposition is pro-reform rather than anti-Islamic or anti-establishment, Russian experts said on Tuesday.
Speaking at a news conference hosted by RIA Novosti, Radzhab Safarov, director of the Center for Contemporary Iranian Studies said the opposition "is not against the Islamic regime or the Iranian leadership" but was a "pro-reform opposition."
He said Iran had "a high level of democracy," which "enables different political movements to work everywhere, including at the state level."
However, he added, such activity "will always be controlled to prevent disturbances and ensure the citizens' security."
Prof. Vladimir Sazhin, a senior research associate at the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Oriental Studies, said: "There is no opposition to the Islamic regime as such."
"There is opposition to Ahmadinejad, his team, and his vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran. But there is no hard-line opposition."
He also effectively dismissed talk about "external influence."
"As for external influence... there has been ideological pressure... political propaganda," but "no concrete action," he said.
Supporters of the defeated presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi staged protests in the Iranian capital on Monday - national Student Day. Student Day marks the day three Tehran University students were killed during protests against then U.S. vice-president Richard Nixon's visit to Iran in 1953.
Mousavi supporters threw bottles and stones at the supporters of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and a clash broke out.
MOSCOW, December 8 (RIA Novosti)
SHE could well have become the empress of India. But history chose to traverse a different course and Begum Sultana, married in the great family of Mughals, now lives in a slum in Forshore Road in Howrah with a monthly pension of Rs 400.
The British arrested Bahadur Shah Zafar and packed him off to Rangoon following the great uprising of 1857. It was in Rangoon that Bahadur Shah’s great grandson Bedar Bakht was born in 1920. Soon after, Bedar was brought to Kolkata by his parents. He continued to evade British sleuths till India gained Independence.
After independence, the government allotted Bedar a pension of Rs 250 per month, which was raised in 1967 to Rs 400 a month. In 1965 Bedar married Sultana and to make ends meet, he found work in a leather factory.
After her husband’s death in 1980 Sultana’s life was a hard battle for survival.
She opened a roadside tea stall and sold bangles and was forced to forget that she had been married in a family, which had once ruled India. It is useless to indulge in such thoughts, she says now.
Sultana has repeatedly appealed to the government for an increase in the pension she still receives. The NDA government had given her a onetime assistance of Rs 50,000 in 2004. A desperate Sultana met President Pratibha Patil last September and was assured help. She was told that her pension would be increased, but she is still not aware by how much.
Welcoming India's decision to reduce troop strength in Jammu and Kashmir, a top US military official has said "de-tensioning of that border" is absolutely critical to the long-term stability of the region.
"I really do believe that "de-tensioning" that (Kashmir) border is absolutely critical to the long term stability in that region. And it is going to take outreach on the part of both countries (India and Pakistan)," Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told newsmen in Washington.
"So, I am very positively moved by the steps that the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Government has taken with respect to this," Mullen said in response to a question on the recent decision taken by New Delhi to reduce troops from Jammu and Kashmir and its implications in the region.
"I think that the adjustments that the Indians have proposed, and to the degree that has been executed -- I am just not current on the level of execution right now -- but certainly executing those changes is a very positive step," Mullen said.
"I think, the leadership -– the political leadership, the diplomatic leadership and military leadership in both countries and in the region need to continue to encourage and also to respond," Mullen said.
The top US military official who has made several trips to Pakistan in the last one year and has been in constant contact with top Pakistani military leadership on a day-to-day basis, said resolution of Kashmir dispute is very critical for the stability in the region.
Khursheed Wani | Srinagar
Music knows no boundaries or politics, particularly when it is played for a common cause. On Monday, music sensation Terra Naomi sang on the banks of famed Dal Lake to raise awareness on environment safety. Politicians with warring ideologies, academics, the media and students tapped their feet to join the chorus singing ‘It is Possible.’
Clad in a typical Kashmiri embroidered dress, Naomi — along with Kashmiri singer Waheed Jeelani — chose to sing in Kashmir when world leaders were discussing environmental issues in Copenhagen. She strummed her guitar at her famed number Say It’s Possible and her Kashmiri counterpart Jeelani translated, ‘Yeh chu bilkul mumkin.’
Naomi, winner of YouTube’s first “Best Music Video” Award in 2006, for this song that she wrote under inspiration from Nobel laureate Al Gore’s climate change documentary — An Inconvenient Truth.
While Tourism Minister Nawang Rigzin Jora and his deputy Nasir Wani were in the front row, enjoying the music, separatist Liberation Front leader Yasin Malik was tapping his feet in a corner. “I am not a scientist or a politician. I know the language of music alone, and I am here to contribute for a cause to save environment,” she said.
The concert, organised by the NGO Mercy Corps, was aimed at highlighting environmental issues in the backdrop of world leaders’ summit at Copenhagen to discuss ways to prevent environmental degradation due to industrial emissions.
Shakeel Romshoo, a geologist who studied Kashmir’s glaciers, was also part of the audience. “We have seen scores of our glaciers lost in last 40 years. It is high time we wake up and save the rest,” he thundered.
“She (Naomi) is the real artist who is conscious about alarming effect of Global Warming and is spreading awareness world over on environmental disasters,” said Rigzin Jora.
Patna: Firebrand Hindutva leader and General Secretary of Vishwa Hindu Parishad Praveen Togadia yesterday blamed the Bihar Government as well as Central Government for appeasement of Muslims. To rake up the issue he chose the day of 17th anniversary of Babri Masjid demolition and the state of Bihar which has remained almost peaceful in the last one decade.
Addressing a function organized at Bhartiya Kala Mandir in Patna on the occasion of Silver Jubilee of Bajrang Dal’s foundation, he said that government should equally look after people belonging to all religions, but unfortunately both central as well as state government are busy in appeasement of Muslims.
Coming down heavily on the JDU-BJP combine Bihar government led by Nitish Kumar, Togadia said the state government is providing so many facilities to Muslim community that may harm the country in future.
“Hunar Program is being run to uplift Muslim girls but Hindu girls are being neglected. Sanskrit schools are getting nothing compared to Madrasas. For appointment of Sanskrit teachers, it is mandatory to obtain 45% marks in English while Madarsa teachers are free from such condition. A new AMU campus is going to be established in Kishanganj to provide education to Muslim students. These all are to appease Muslims. If this act will not be stopped, we will start strong movement against it” warned Togadia.
Reiterating his vow to build Ram Mandir at Ayodhya he said: “Ram Mandir will be constructed at Ayodhya at any cost and all Hindus are united for that. If Ram Mandir would not be built at Ayoudhya, VHP will claim for other mosques that were built after demolition of mandirs in different parts of the country.”
At the end of the program he also marched with cadres of Bajrang Dal towards Governor House to hand over a memorandum against Muslim appeasement but they were stopped by the police midway. They submitted the memorandum in Kotwali Police Station.
JERUSALEM (JTA) -- A wanted Islamic Jihad operative was arrested in Israel.
Zalach Muhammad Buchari, 36, was arrested Monday night in Nablus in a joint operation of the Israel Defense Forces and Israel Security Agency.
Buchari has been wanted for seven years, according to an IDF statement. He is suspected of planning a suicide bombing in the Tel Aviv central bus station in January 2002 for Islamic Jihad. Twenty-eight civilians were wounded, three of them critically, in the attack.
In 2003, Buchari reportedly recruited another suicide bomber to carry out an attack within Israel that was thwarted at the last minute by security forces.
Between 2002 and 2003, Buchari allegedly planned to abduct Israeli soldiers and to construct an explosives-manufacturing lab inside Israeli territory, the IDF said.
Buchari went into hiding in Nablus seven years ago for fear of being arrested.
9 December 2009
RAMALLAH (West Bank): The Palestinian government announced on Tuesday that it is enforcing a boycott of goods made in Israel's West Bank
settlements and has confiscated more than $1 million in merchandise from shops and companies.
Israeli products, including those made in settlements, are commonplace in the West Bank, either for lack of a Palestinian-made alternative or because consumers prefer them to local goods. As a result, previous Palestinian efforts to stem consumption of Israeli-made goods have failed.
The confiscation of settlement products, which began in November, marked the most serious government effort to date to enforce a boycott. Palestinians consider Israel's continued settlement expansion as the biggest obstacle to eventual independence and say Israel's recent pledge to curtail construction is insufficient.
About 300,000 Israelis live in West Bank settlements and another 180,000 in east Jerusalem - land the Palestinians seek for their state.
Islamabad—President Asif Ali Zardari has said that democracy was critical for sustained public support and political ownership to the war on terror and it was the responsibility of the PPP government to protect and preserve democracy so as to pursue war against militancy to its logical end.
He said this while addressing members of the parliamentary party of PPP on Tuesday night at the Presidency. Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani was also present.
Briefing the journalists about the meeting Spokesperson to the President former Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the President said that the essence of existence was continuity and the PPP was the only formidable political force with its roots in all the provinces that was in continuous existence as a force to be reckoned with for the past over four decades. The party will continue to be a force to be reckoned in the future also, he said.
The Spokesperson said that the President asked the Party MPs not to be disillusioned with the media trial of the Party leadership. He said the country was faced with the prospects of a long-term fight against militancy and this situation called for summoning the qualities of leadership and closing of ranks.
The President said that the party after discussion and debate had taken a political and moral decision in respect of the NRO and was fully prepared to manage the fall out of this decision.
The FBI team that visited India in the wake of the arrest of Lashkar-e-Taiba terror duo David Coleman Headley and
Tahawwur Hussain Rana has not only provided their links to the 26/11 attacks but also contacts with figures in Pakistan, including, possibly, serving officers of Pakistani army.
Speaking to journalists on the way back from Moscow, foreign secretary Nirupama Rao said India would be "naturally" keen to interrogate Rana and Headley. "I believe the FBI has given incriminating evidence and there are links to conspirators in Pakistan," said Rao.
Meanwhile in Delhi, sources in the government indicated that FBI has provided details of the involvement of serving officers of Pakistan army in the 26/11 plot. They also said that Mumbai police would file a supplementary chargesheet in the 26/11 case naming Headley. If the US indicts Rana in the 26/11 case, India will include his name as well in the chargesheet.
India's complaint that Pakistan is not doing enough to bring the perpetrators of 26/11 to book is shared by the Russians. This is reflected in the India-Russia joint statement as well with the two sides noting that nations must act on the "prosecute or extradite" principle in dealing with terrorists. There is also mention of respecting UN resolutions on specific outfits -- read LeT -- that have been declared as terrorist organizations.
Apart from Ajmal Kasab, Headley is another 26/11 accused in police custody in a country other than Pakistan. His role has emerged as more central to the attack on Mumbai than that of Fahim Ansari and Sabauddin, two other accused in Indian custody.
The US will certainly ask for the extradition of retired Pakistan army major Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed, who, according to the FBI chargesheet, was arrested in Pakistan earlier this year, but subsequently released.
The FBI team that was in New Delhi left for Pakistan on Monday.
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN: US Defense Secretary Robert Gates arrived Tuesday in Afghanistan with plans to assure officials and American troops there
that the United States is committed to winning the war despite plans to begin pulling forces out in 2011.
``We are in this thing to win,'' Gates told reporters while traveling to Kabul, where he plans to meet privately with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and later with troops bearing the brunt of combat.
The secretary's trip to Afghanistan is the first by a Cabinet member since US President Barack Obama's announcement last week that he will deploy 30,000 more troops with the intention of starting to bring them home in July 2011.
As Gates took his message abroad, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the overall military commander in Afghanistan, will try Tuesday to convince a skeptical Congress that more troops are needed to fight a growing enemy insurgency. More than 920 US troops have died in the 8-year-old war.
McChrystal's appearance before the House Armed Services Committee starts the first of three days of congressional Afghanistan hearings that are expected to draw hard questions from both anti-war Democrats and conservative Republicans about Obama's stated intention to begin paring down the US role in July 2011.
Gates and other administration officials have described the 2011 date as just the beginning, with the process likely take at least two or three years to complete.
Gates, in a midair briefing en route to Kabul, said he believes the US mistakenly abandoned Afghanistan in 1989 as it fought the Soviets and understands Afghan concerns that they will be left alone against the Taliban.
Gates says he will try to assure Karzai and his advisers ``that we are not going to repeat the situation in 1989'' and that ``we intend to be their partner for a long time to come.''
He also says he will press Karzai and Afghanistan Defense Minister Gen. Abdul Rahim Wardak on efforts to recruit and train more Afghan soldiers and police officers. McChrystal has set the goal of building the Afghan security force to 400,000 by 2013. There are roughly 94,000 Afghan police officers and 97,000 soldiers today.
Gates' trip came as the Pentagon issued deployment orders for more than 16,000 troops to Afghanistan, the first major installment of the 30,000 reinforcements expected to be in place by next fall.
An infantry battalion of 1,500 Marines from Camp Lejeune will be among the first to arrive later this month, followed by another 6,200 Marines from the North Carolina base and 800 Marines from Camp Pendleton, Calif., deployed next spring.
A 3,400-soldier brigade combat team from Fort Drum, N.Y., will also deploy in early spring. Most of the troops will head toward southern Afghanistan, where anti-U.S. forces have a stronghold and fighting has been heaviest.
On Monday, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen bluntly told troops at Ft. Campbell, Ky. _ including some bound for Afghanistan _ that ``we are not winning, which means we are losing and as we are losing, the message traffic out there to (insurgency) recruits keeps getting better and better and more keep coming.''
Headley faces death if found guilty over 26/11Coordinated attacks in Baghdad kill at least 112US threatens to take 'unilateral action' to shut down Taliban
Cyrus pays tattoo tribute to friendKatie Price receives death threatsTwenty wickets on Day 1‘I’ve never beaten batsmen more often than I did in this series’US threatens to take 'unilateral action' to shut down TalibanMany Chinese think India greatest security threat after US: new pollMont Blanc's depiction of Gandhi in pen nibs wrong: Govt
When gautam barua di... - By Babubhai Vaghela AhmedabadRahul gandhi needs t... - By Babubhai Vaghela AhmedabadSpot on - By Proud to be an IndianShame - By ChepWhy rao alone - By P SANKARBabri - By RajanWhy keep asking the ... - By rajkumar
The pounds are flying offHow many more?Lets change IndiaSanskrit Festivals
The Obama administration is turning up the pressure on Pakistan to fight the Taliban inside its borders, warning that if it does not act more aggressively the US will use considerably more force on the Pakistani side of the border to shut down Taliban attacks on American forces in Afghanistan, American and Pakistani officials said.
The blunt message was delivered in a tense encounter in Pakistan last month, before President Obama announced his new war strategy, when Gen James L. Jones, Obama’s national security adviser, and John O Brennan, the White House counterterrorism chief, met with the heads of Pakistan’s military and its intelligence service. US officials said the message did not amount to an ultimatum.
For their part the Pakistanis interpreted the message as a fairly bald warning that unless Pakistan moved quickly to act against two Taliban groups they have so far refused to attack, the US was prepared to take unilateral action to expand Predator drone attacks beyond the tribal areas.
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An administration official declined to go into details but added, “I think they read our intentions accurately.” A Pakistani official, briefed on the meetings said, “Jones’s message was if that Pakistani help wasn’t forthcoming, the US would have to do it themselves.”
America's top diplomat in Kabul has told US lawmakers that security relationship between India and Pakistan has its own consequences in Afghanistan.
"The security relationship between India and Pakistan has consequences for Afghanistan," US Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry said on Tuesday to a question from Senator Kay Hagan before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Senator Hagan said ever since the partition of India, Islamabad has attempted to utilise its proxies, to install a friendly Pashtun government in Afghanistan that would preserve the de facto border and prevent Pashtun aspirations of a homeland and prevent Indian involvement in Afghanistan.
Hagan alleged that Pakistan continues to pursue a dual track policy of disrupting the Pakistani Taliban in its tribal areas, most notably in South Waziristan, while elements of its military support the Afghan Taliban networks, most notably in North Waziristan; and
the Afghan Taliban high command in its Baluchistan province.
"The key question is if elements of Pakistan's military can be persuaded to change this dual-track policy. In order to do that, we've got to address Pakistan's regional concerns, taking into account its relationships with Afghanistan and India," the Senator from North Carolina noted.
9 December 2009,
NEW DELHI: BJP chief Rajnath Singh may have elbowed out party colleague and deputy leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj to open the debate on
Liberhan Commission report in Lok Sabha but Swaraj on Tuesday beat him by making an impassioned defence of her party as well as taking a strident Hindutva line that appeals to the Sangh.
Leader of Opposition L K Advani, architect of the Ayodhya movement, placed his hands over his deputy’s head in blessing her in appreciation of her performance, which also took the party "back to basics".
She even tried keeping Muslims on board by declaring that the Liberhan report had the potential of starting communal riots, as it asked Hindus and Muslims to dump their community leaders. While asking the home minister to scrap the Liberhan report "lock, stock and barrel", she said "khuda ke liye is report ko kharij kijiye", using the Urdu word for God instead of the usual BJP style of invoking Ram or Ishwar.
Harping on the Hindutva theme, Swaraj said the report should be dismissed as it says the Ram temple agitation was "not a people’s movement". Slamming Justice Liberhan, saying he would not know the facts of the wave in favour of the temple by sitting in an air-conditioned office in Chandigarh, Swaraj told the House, "It was the largest people’s movement of post-Independent India that turned L K Advani into a mass leader."
She went on to say how during Advani’s Ayodhya yatra, she participated in the Haryana leg and every morning she would do an "aarti" of the vehicle and pick up the dust from the wheels and put it on her head. She said Liberhan had dared to call Ram a Hindu God when "Ram was really the soul of India".
Swaraj dared the government by declaring that its leaders were ready for any punishment. "Did kar sewaks dismantle the disputed structure? Yes. Was there a conspiracy? No," she said, adding "Yes, we are ready for any punishment, if you want to punish us. Both leaders inside and outside the House are ready."
The deep scepticism within the Indian strategic leadership about Barack Obama’s interest or ability to further the Indo-US relationship is no secret. Many upenly say that it would be best for India if he was a one-term Oval Office resident. I am still not convinced that Obama will leave much of a mark on Indian relations but after the recent visit of Manmohan Singh visit I believe it won.t be because of a desire to do so.
First let’s talk about intentions. Obamaites have repeatedly told Indian officials that ultimately a Democratic administration is more “comfortable” with a country like India then with a one-party China or a crazy like Pakistan They have also insisted that the one foreign policy initiative of the Bushmen they support is the India push.
If you read the statements and speeches Obama made during Singh’s visit it is striking how there are references repeatedly to the two countries being partners destined to work together. Read, in comparison, the US-China joint statement which gives up trying to find any common values and, business-like, talks about responsibilites and duties. There’s no warmth. While both Indian and US sources assure me there’s quite a bit between Singh and Obama. (Can’t be basketball or economic theory. Just two ex-professors?)
Second let’s talk about ability, in other words to convert intentions into tangibles. This is far less clear. The economic crisis is rightly foremost in Obama’s mind. Note how he kept saying ties with India would help create jobs in the US. He was talking to a 10 plus percentage jobless figure there.
And the crisis, he clearly believes, requires a global fiscal balance to be regained. And this means bringing China into the game. So he kowtows a bit to the Middle Kingdom - but that may be just a touch of realism given the circumstances.
I will say his priorities are crudely 1. Economy 2. Economy and China 3. Afpak. After that there is Iran, North Korea and the state of California. India isn’t a problem state so he doesn’t have to burn the midnight oil trying to think of solutions.
by David P. Goldman
December 7, 2009
Sad that the dumbest thing I've read in the New York Times for years came from the blog of Ross Douthat, the Catholic conservative voice at the Gray Lady:
Maybe the encounter with a post-Christian Europe will supply the Islam of recent immigrants with the cultural vigor that's been missing, for centuries now, in Baghdad and Cairo and Damascus. Maybe a kind of "Euro-Islam" is being forged that's capable of contending with secular liberalism for converts. Maybe a Tariq Ramadan-esque figure will emerge to play the Muslim Saint Paul to the E.U.'s Roman Empire.
I'll have more to say about this in a brief essay on the minarets issue tommorow in the Public Square, but the core of the problem is simple: the most important spiritual leader of Muslim provenance in Europe is Magdi Cristo Allam, who was received by Pope Benedict XVI into the Catholic faith at the Easter Vigil in 2008, to the very vocal outrage of the Islamophiles in the Church. Allam, the deputy editor of Italy's leading newspaper Corriere della Sera, wrote at the moment of his conversion that the Church had sent a message of hope to innumerable Muslim converts to Christianity who dared not acknowledge their new faith for fear of physical violence.
In fact, the message fell flat. Magdi Allam was hung out to dry, and other Muslim converts to Christianity–who cannot afford the full-time bodyguards who keep Mr. Allam alive–continue to live in terror of their lives.
As for Tariq Ramadan: the redoubtable Paul Berman exposed the supposed Euro-Islamist as a terrorist supporter who uses the threat of violence to silence critics, in a 28,000 word essay for The New Republic. Ramadan, it should be remembered, is the grandson of the founder of the original and still-thriving Islamist entity, the Muslim Brotherhood (of which Hamas is simply the Gaza chapter). I reviewed Berman's essay (which he is turning into a book, I am pleased to hear) in my "Spengler" column in 2007. As I reported then:
Without spoiling Berman's story in The New Republic, a subscription site, I can report that he has placed Ramadan in the midst of a web of terrorist associations. He does not advocate terrorism, by any means, but he defends many who do. Berman's 30,000-word essay, really a condensed book, targets not only Ramadan, but the European and American journalists who admire him, for example Timothy Ash in The Guardian. What Berman dubs "the intellectual establishment" has decided, "Better the 7th century than Nicolas Sarkozy," and attacks Muslim dissidents such as former Dutch Member of Parliament Hirsan Ali while cozying up to presentable Islamists like Ramadan.
An especially revolting example is found in Ash's laudatory profile of Ramadan's great-uncle, the cleric Sheikh Gamal al-Banna. Ash contrasted the aged Egyptian mullah favorably with the hapless Hirsan Ali, as it happened on the same day that Banna's public endorsement of the World Trade Center attacks appeared on the MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute) website. Comparing Banna to Hirsin Ali, the collaborator of murdered filmmaker Theo van Gogh, Ash wrote, "Which do you think reveals a deeper historical knowledge of Islam? Which is more likely to encourage thoughtful Muslims in the view that they can be both good Muslims and good citizens of free societies?" It happens that Banna had praised the "extremely courageous" action of the September 11, 2001, hijackers, which was "dreadful and splendid", in opposition to the "barbaric capitalism" of the United States.
Willful blindness in the face of undisguised intentions to do violence to the West, Berman writes, requires explanation. The physical threats that follow journalists who attack Ramadan and his homicidal family, he concludes, have turned some of the more timid members of the fourth estate.
Ross Douthat read the essay at the time, and stated coyly on his Atlantic blog that he was "by no means certain which side of that debate I'm on." Well, Douthat is flirting publicly with a very, very wrong side. Flirting is the correct word, for Douthat backs away from a conclusion:
But I'm just not sure you can extrapolate that far from current trends. I think it's reasonable to look at Europe and see decadence — demographic, cultural and otherwise. But even a decadent society can be stronger than its rivals, and capable of containing, assimilating, and outlasting them.
In fact, Muslim immigrants to Europe tend to sink into the cultural swamp; there are some reports (fragmentary, because European governments studiously avoid providing data on the actual number of Muslim residents or their birth rates) that the fertility of Muslim women in Europe falls towards European levels. But intermixed in the demoralized, sullen mass of mostly poor, mostly marginalized immigrants are a large enough minority of hard-core jihadis.
Europe's Christians not only have declined to evangelize the Muslims in their midst: they have backed away from helping Muslims who came to Christianity quite on their own, as Magdi Allam protested. Paul Berman is a secular liberal, but a consistent one, and came to the conclusion that Tariq Ramadan is a menace. Ross Douthat is a Catholic conservative, but an inconsistent one, and flirts with the idea that Tariq Ramadan might be part of Europe's spiritual re-awakening.
Young Mr. Douthat should consider a brief Bildungsreise to Rome with Magdi Allam (and Mr. Allam's bodyguards); the presence of the bodyguards will teach him as much as whatever Mr. Allam might say.
Ahead of a planned opposition rally on Monday, Iran tightened security and arrested more than 20 mothers who were mourning children killed in the
The mothers took part in an antigovernment protest in Leleh Park in central Tehran every Saturday since the death in June of Neda Agha-Soltan, 26, whose shooting became a symbol of the government’s violent repression. The rally had been attacked by the police before, but Saturday was the first time the mothers were arrested.
An opposition website reported that the protest was broken up by the police and many demonstrators were taken away. The BBC Persian service quoted a witness who said 29 women were arrested, some of whom were later released. But at least 21 remained in jail, the BBC said.
The arrests appear to be part of the government’s efforts to suppress a large rally planned for Monday on National Student Day.
Iranian police clashed with supporters of opposition leader Mir Hussein Mousavi on Monday and fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators at Vali-ye Asr Square, a witness said. Earlier, another witness said police used batons on protesters chanting anti-government slogans at a separate demonstration.
ROME: The Vatican bank is under investigation for suspected money laundering via accounts held at one of Italy’s largest banks, the UniCredit
In its latest issue published on Friday, the magazine claims prosecutors are probing transactions totalling 180 million euros handled between 2006 and 2008 by Vatican bank
(IOR) accounts held at Unicredit’s branch near the Vatican in Rome’s Via della Conciliazione.
Some of the funds came from the sale and purchase of real estate, and the banking operations allegedly breaking money laundering laws. Prosecutors told the magazine that they would in the next few days to question Unicredit's senior management over the suspect operations.
MOGADISHU — Protestors in Mogadishu torched the Al Qaeda-linked Shebab group's black flag Monday as hundreds marched in an unprecedented show of public anger against the hardline insurgent group.
The demonstrators staged a march from a hotel where a suicide bomber killed 24 people last week, including four government ministers, during a graduation ceremony in one of the country's most devastating attacks.
The protestors chanted slogans "Down with Al-Shebab" and "We don't need violence", and blamed the deadly explosion on the radical Islamist movement.
The march made a stop at Banadir University, which lost several newly-graduated medical students in the bombing.
"Hundreds of Mogadishu residents, many of them women and children, have spontaneously organised this rally. The people are fed up with indiscriminate killings by terrorists," police officer Farah Osman Kalafoge told AFP.
"I joined the rally near Zobe junction to show my resentment against the cruel act that killed the future doctors and journalists," said Mohamed Yare, one of the demonstrators.
Dec 7, 2009
Minaret ban approved by 57 per cent of voters
Following Switzerland’s decision to ban new minarets, reaction in the Arab media has ranged from calls for sanctions to the need for self-critical reflection.
“Shame”, “Holocaust”, “Islamophobia”, “humiliation” – words that have appeared regularly in Arab press since 57.5 per cent of Swiss voters said yes on November 29 to a ban on the construction of minarets.
Most commentators wondered what could have pushed the Swiss to vote as they did, and what the consequences would be for a country that found itself attracting criticism from all sides, including from the United Nations and the European Union.
The Qatari newspaper Al-Raya was amazed at the voting behaviour of a country known for its freedom of speech and democratic principles.
According to the Assabah newspaper in Tunisia, “the stigmatisation of Islam in the West is no longer a question of mere media provocation – from now on it genuinely threatens the Muslim minority”.
Al-Quds Al-Arabi, edited in London, observed: “If Switzerland – known for its neutrality, quality of life and very high levels of education – is foundering with Islamophobia, one can no longer blame certain other European countries which appear sensitive because of unemployment and the financial crisis.”
“Why do they hate us and what does the minaret ban hide?” asked Al-Dostour in Jordan, for whom the vote reflected the rise of the European far right. It added that this was the result of a campaign against Islam led by Western political authorities and media since September 11, 2001.
The Kuwaiti daily Al-Watan said the vote was the sign of “European mental regression, a return to the Middle Ages and a desire to eliminate others”.
For a columnist in Egypt’s Al-Ahram, everything being said about creeping Islamicisation and the introduction of sharia law was “pure fantasy”.
The comments of Al-Shourouq in Algeria were hardly more flattering. Under the headline “Four minarets rock Switzerland and tear down its neutrality”, it blamed the Swiss government for allowing the vote to be put to the people. It also placed responsibility on Swiss Muslims, “who failed to unite and speak under one banner and let themselves be distorted”.
Sanctions Some media called for a boycott of Switzerland or other sanctions. The Palestinian website Dounia Al-Watan demanded rich Arabs withdraw their money from Swiss banks. Al-Dostour in Egypt drew comparisons between Islamophobia and anti-Semitism and pointed out how the hatred of Jews slowly gained ground in Germany, resulting in the Holocaust.
Alam Al-Akhbar, an Arab site in Turkey, invited Muslims to deposit their money in Turkish banks. In London Al-Sharq Al-Awsat believed there was a connection between the minaret vote and the two Swiss businessmen sentenced to 16 months in prison three days later by a Libyan court for visa irregularities and tax evasion.
Dialogue Less harsh words were found on the London-based Elaph website, which wondered whether the Swiss vote was not ultimately linked to the poor image offered to the West by Muslims in Western countries.
Similarly Al-Ittihad, a newspaper in the United Arab Emirates, said one shouldn’t “insult” a democratic and sovereign country which was free to adopt whatever measures it deemed necessary.
It added: “Maybe [the Swiss voted like that] because they fear for their Christianity?”
Abdelhafidh Abdeleli, swissinfo.ch (Translated from French by Thomas Stephens)
Turkey: When Islamist foreign policies hurt Muslims
By Soner Cagaptay
Turkey's government and leader bash the West for transgressions while absolving anti-Western regimes of their sins. This hurts ordinary Muslims from Darfur to Chechnya to Iran. What is an Islamist foreign policy, exactly? Is it identifying with Muslims and their suffering, or is it identifying with anti-Western regimes even at the cost of Muslims' best interests? Turkey's foreign policy under the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, government demonstrates that far from protecting Muslims and their interests, it is the promotion of a la carte morals -- bashing the West and supporting anti-Western regimes, even when the latter hurts Muslims.
AKP leader and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is scheduled to meet today with President Obama in Washington. This is a chance for Obama, who visited Ankara in April in a charm offensive to win Turkish hearts, to have a discussion with Erdogan about Turkey's ill-conceived foreign policy, which is bad for the West and for Muslims.
Since coming to power in 2002, the AKP has dramatically changed Turkey's foreign policy. The party has let Ankara's ties with pro-Western Azerbaijan, Georgia and Israel deteriorate and has started to ignore Europe. Meanwhile, the AKP has built ties with anti-Western states such as Sudan while making friends with Ankara's erstwhile adversaries, including Russia, Iran and Syria, and positioning itself as Hamas' patron.
It wasn't always this way. After casting its lot with the United States in 1946, Ankara collaborated with the West against the communist Soviet Union, Baathist Syria and Islamist Iran. When communism ended, Ankara worked to spread Western values, including free markets and democracy, in the former Soviet Union, becoming close with pro-Western Azerbaijan and Georgia. Turkey also developed a close relationship with Israel, based on shared values and security interests.
The AKP has now turned Turkish foreign policy on its head -- bashing the West for transgressions and absolving anti-Western regimes of their sins.
A comparison of the AKP's Israel and Sudan policies helps define Turkey's Islamist foreign policy. Since coming to power, the AKP has not only built a close political and economic relationship with Khartoum but also defended Sudanese leader Omar Hassan Bashir's atrocities in Darfur.
Last month, Erdogan said: "I know that Bashir is not committing genocide in Darfur, because Bashir is a Muslim and a Muslim can never commit genocide." What? The International Criminal Court indicted Bashir and has called for his arrest for war crimes in the Darfur conflict, in which 300,000 Sudanese -- mostly Muslims -- have died.
The AKP's Sudan policy stands in stark contrast to its Israel policy. At a World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, in January, Erdogan chided Israeli President Shimon Peres, Jews and Israelis about the Gaza war, for "knowing well how to kill people." Erdogan then walked off the panel. Days later, he hosted the Sudanese vice president in Ankara.
This is an ideological view of the world, guided not by religion but by a distorted premise that Islamist and anti-Western regimes are always right even when they are criminal, such as when they are killing Muslims. And in this view, Western states and non-Muslims are always wrong, even when they act in self-defense against Islamist regimes.
By COLIN A. HANNA
December 07, 2009
The expression on the cadets faces at West Point told much of the story of President Obama’s speech last night. A military motivator he is not, and it was clear from his military audience’s reaction. Even political pundit Chris Matthews noticed their tepid response to Mr. Obama’s second Afghanistan war strategy in 10 months. After watching the speech, I wondered how he could seriously call himself Commander in Chief when it was painfully obvious that his lack of military experience serves to his detriment. He has no idea what it takes to motivate a military force. A Commander in Chief knows that motivation is an essential component of leadership. He speaks positively and confidently of America’s military might. Instead, we heard a president who outlined a cautious and modest strategy that speaks to “success,” not victory. He spoke more about the security of our allies and the world than about protecting the United States and her people from the very serious threat of radical Islam. And once again, we heard President Obama call Islam “one of the world’s great religions.” He’s even abandoned the American pronunciation of words like “Taliban” and “Pakistan” for the more provincial, accented pronunciation, trying to prove to the world that he’s more than ready to abandon things American for a newer world order. What we saw last night was a president who tries to act like he’s pro-military, while his words ring hollow—this was reflected in the expressions and reactions of the cadets at West Point and the soldiers watching the president on live TV around the world. One U.S. Army soldier, when asked what he thought of Mr. Obama’s strategy replied, “I don’t really like it. 18 months. If the enemy knows when we are leaving, why won’t they just wait?”
Full report at: http://thebulletin.us/articles/2009/12/07/commentary/op-eds/doc4b1cbb1c8cce1917411396.txt
Hundreds of demonstrators protested over the weekend against the plan to try Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four other suspected 9/11 plotters in a Manhattan civilian court.
On Saturday, protesters rallied in Foley Square in front of the federal court complex, arguing that the accused terrorists should not be transferred to New York from Guantanamo Bay, and that their fates should be decided in military tribunals. Actor Brian Dennehy spoke out at the rally, claiming that a civilian trial would be "an uncalled-for ordeal that could be used for political purposes," according to ABC. "This will provide the radicals with a huge forum. Why should they have the normal constitutional protections?"
US Attorney General Eric Holder has defended the plan to try the suspects just blocks from the scene of the 9/11 attacks, stating: "I’m not scared of what [terror mastermind] Khalid Sheik Mohammed has to say at trial — and no one else needs to be either." According to the Post, the crowd at the protest booed whenever the Obama's name or Holder's name were mentioned.
War at Pearl Harbor, and war today
Today is Pearl Harbour day, the "date which will live in infamy."
But our World War II veterans are dying daily, and their first-hand remembrances of that Dec. 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked U.S. ships at our Navy base in Hawaii, are dying with them.
The Pearl Harbor air strike killed 2,043, about half of them military personnel assigned to the USS Arizona, and shook our nation to its roots. The attack galvanized the nation's resolve to enter World War II. To put it in a context that today's young people can understand, Pearl Harbor was that generation's 9/11. Only different, because unlike the ongoing struggle we now face against often stateless extremists, World War II was a war between nations. It began in Europe, expanded to Africa and Japan and the Pacific, extended to India and southern Asia. But it had a beginning and an end. Today's so-called war on terrorism had no real beginning — terrorism has been around for generations — and likely will have no end. It affects Americans and Russians, Pakistanis and Saudis, French and British and Chechnyans and Kenyans and myriad other victims the world over. Only constant vigilance and ongoing efforts to work closely with cooperative governments will stave off terrorism's worst effects.
Yes, the world has changed since Japan dropped its bombs. Today Japan is a peaceful nation and stands among our most important trading partners.