The magazine you need to read on Afghanistan
Monday, April 30, 2007
From the Sunday New York Times, article by Helene Cooper and Jim Rutenberg, "A Saudi Prince Tied to Bush is Sounding Off-Key."
As if King Abdullah would embarrass himself by “isolating Hamas” before the Palestinian people themselves were ready to do this. What the Saudi king did in this case was side-line Hamas – and in a way that allowed Hamas to save face while still managing to get Abbas – someone Israel could deal with (well, maybe try to at least) – back in the driver’s seat.
Bush administration officials have been scratching their heads over steps taken by Prince Bandar’s uncle, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, that have surprised them by going against the American playbook, after receiving assurances to the contrary from Prince Bandar during secret trips he made to Washington.
For instance, in February, King Abdullah effectively torpedoed plans by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for a high-profile peace summit meeting between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel and the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, by brokering a power-sharing agreement with Mr. Abbas’s Fatah and Hamas that did not require Hamas to recognize Israel or forswear violence. The Americans had believed, after discussions with Prince Bandar, that the Saudis were on board with the strategy of isolating Hamas.
As to this charge:
American officials also believed, again after speaking with Prince Bandar, that the Saudis might agree to direct engagement with Israel as part of a broad American plan to jump-start Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. King Abdullah countermanded that plan.How could Cooper and Rutenberg - or these unnamed American officials they refer to - possibly have concluded that King Abdullah would further polarize the situation by agreeing to talk to Israel directly before receiving trustworthy assurances that Israel was willing to talk to him? That is, that Israel was willing to make the concessions that he is urging Israel to make.
King Abdullah - as all Saudi kings before him - will conduct his negotiations strictly behind the scenes. King Abdullah is not someone who anybody has ever suggested would suffer well the public humiliation of having any deal he proposed torpedoed right in front of his face. This is simply not his style - or the style of the Saudi monarch.
Then there is this potshot that the Times takes:
Most bitingly, during a speech before Arab heads of state in Riyadh three weeks ago, the king condemned the American invasion of Iraq as “an illegal foreign occupation.” The Bush administration, caught off guard, was infuriated, and administration officials have found Prince Bandar hard to reach since.Once again this “illegal war” assertion is recycled. Surely it must have occured to the reporters and editors, even the ones who work on 42nd Street, that King Abdullah made this statement to get his audience past the quaqmire of having to condemn the Iraq war so he could push them to the next phase: making Middle East peace.
Now notice how slyly the Times weaves in the "sounding off-key" business:
“The problem is that Bandar has been pursuing a policy that was music to the ears of the Bush administration, but was not what King Abdullah had in mind at all,” said Martin S. Indyk, a former United States ambassador to Israel who is now head of the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy.Martin Indyk is the Times' source here? As if Indyk is Bandar's best friend – or the Bush administration's for that matter. Indyk was a foreign policy advisor to Clinton and then his ambassador to Israel until he was replaced by President Bush in 2001.
Moreover, Bandar simply isn’t in the business of entertaining American presidents as Indyk suggests. The prince's job is to shuttle messages back and forth between the Saudi king and the American president. These are the only two people, to use Indyk's analogy, who would know how well Bandar sings and they're not talking - certainly not to Indyk, at any rate.
As Saleh al-Kalleb, Jordan's former information minister so aptly told the Times: “The relationship between the United States and the Arab regimes [i.e., Saudi Arabia] is like a Catholic marriage where you can have no divorce.”
So instead of trying to cast Prince Bandar as a singer who has somehow lost his talent, why did not the Times compare him to a child of this "Catholic marriage"?
But then the Times couldn't have mocked the Saudi's relationship with the Bushes with this too-clever-by-half line: "Prince Bandar has continued his long courtship, over decades, of the Bush family and Vice President Dick Cheney." [Emphasis added.]
I doubt whether Bandar has ever been in love with the Bushes - or whether that would matter if it were true. As the Jordanian minister implied in using the Catholic marriage analogy, the time is long since past for any party to be wondering whether they are in love.
Labels: Prince Bandar
James Taranto over at the Wall Street Journal's Best of the Web has some fun with ridiculous comparisons.
I'm going to quote him at length here - but to get his often hilarious commentary in daily emails, you can subscribe for free here.
Lynching Was Bad, but . . .
Speaking of the Los Angeles Times, on Friday the paper printed an exceptionally idiotic column by Rosa Brooks titled "9/11 Was Bad, but . . ." Brooks suggests that people who worry about terrorist attacks are "irrational wimps":
The 9/11 attacks were appalling and tragic, but they did not threaten the survival of the nation. . . . Of course, 3,000 dead is 3,000 too many. But keep it in perspective. As a nation, we have survived far worse. We lost more than 100,000 Americans in World War I, more than 400,000 in World War II, 37,000 in Korea, 58,000 in Vietnam--all without allowing our national character to turn into quivering jelly.
Every year, we also lose millions of Americans to preventable accidents and disease. We're more likely to die on the road than as a result of Al Qaeda's machinations. Annually, we lose some 43,000 people to auto accidents. For the grieving families, that's 43,000 deaths too many. But, although we surely could reduce auto fatalities if we chose to make it our top national priority, the Bush administration has yet to announce a "War on Highway Deaths."
This is unoriginal as well as fatuous. It's not even original in the L.A. Times, which published essentially the same piece three months ago. But in the hope that our new friends at the Times won't make the same mistake a third time, let's repeat our analogy that shows why this is such a ridiculous argument.
According to this table, 4,742 people were lynched in America between 1882 and 1964. That's an average of but 57 people a year, and the number of annual lynchings peaked in 1892, at 230. By the standards Brooks applies to 9/11, lynching was not a big problem. It killed far fewer people than war, disease, accidents, etc.
Yet if someone were lynched tomorrow, would we shrug it off because the number of deaths is only 1/43,000th of the annual car-crash toll? Of course not. It takes a stunning degree of moral obtuseness to treat a murder in the furtherance of a hateful ideology--be it white supremacy or Islamic fundamentalism--as the equivalent of an accidental death.
A similar bit of foolishness comes from Ian Buruma, who won an award at the book festival. In yesterday's Times, he opines:
Just as Jews, during some traditional Passover feasts, ask God to bring down his wrath on the Gentiles who "don't know him," and many Christians believe that hell awaits those who don't subscribe to their faith, Muslims are led to believe that killing the enemies of Islam can be justified.
"Just as"? Surely there is a difference between believing or hoping that God will punish unbelievers and taking it upon oneself to do it. It doesn't speak well of the editors of the L.A. Times that they not only publish such nonsense but do so habitually.
Yesterday's New York Times delved into why so many Sunni tribes have turned against Al Qaeda in Anbar Province, Iraq.
Here are some of the most interesting points:
Many Sunni tribal leaders, once openly hostile to the American presence, have formed a united front with American and Iraqi government forces against Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. With the tribal leaders’ encouragement, thousands of local residents have joined the police force. About 10,000 police officers are now in Anbar, up from several thousand a year ago. During the same period, the police force here in Ramadi, the provincial capital, has grown from fewer than 200 to about 4,500, American military officials say.
The Times couldn't help but diminish the situation in Anbar by characterizing it as "essentially a police state" though it at least conceded that this new police state "appears to enjoy the support of the people."
To readers not familiar with why so many Sunni tribes have suddenly turned against Al Qaeda in Iraq, the Times supplied this background:
The turnabout began last September, when a federation of tribes in the Ramadi area came together as the Anbar Salvation Council to oppose the fundamentalist militants of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.
Among the council’s founders were members of the Abu Ali Jassem tribe, based in a rural area of northern Ramadi. The tribe’s leader, Sheik Tahir Sabbar Badawie, said in a recent interview that members of his tribe had fought in the insurgency that kept the Americans pinned down on their bases in Anbar for most of the last four years.
“If your country was occupied by Iraq, would you fight?” he asked. “Enough said.”
As the Times went on to note:
But while the anti-American sheiks in Anbar and Al Qaeda both opposed the Americans, their goals were different. The sheiks were part of a relatively moderate front that sought to drive the Americans out of Iraq; some were also fighting to restore Sunni Arab power. But Al Qaeda wanted to go even further and impose a fundamentalist Islamic state in Anbar, a plan that many of the sheiks did not share.
Al Qaeda’s fighters began to use killing, intimidation and financial coercion to divide the tribes and win support for their agenda. They killed about 210 people in the Abu Ali Jassem tribe alone and kidnapped others, demanding ransoms as high as $65,000 per person, Sheik Badawie said.
For all the sheiks’ hostility toward the Americans, they realized that they had a bigger enemy...
As the Times wrote:
Abd Muhammad Khalaf, 28, a policeman in the Jazeera district on Ramadi’s northern edge, is typical. He joined the police after Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia killed two of his brothers, he said. “I will die when God wills it,” he said. “But before I die, I will support my friends and kill some terrorists.”
Sheik Badawie reportedly described his own change of heart this way:
“Since I was a little boy, I have seen nothing but warfare — against the Kurds, Iranians, Kuwait, the Americans,” Sheik Badawie said. “We are tired of war. We are going to fight through the ballot box.”
Too bad I can't find the cartoon that mocked all the endless comparisons between the Iraq war and Vietnam that showed the kids in the back seat of a car traveling cross-country with the caption: "Are we there yet?"
But in an attempt to answer that question, here are some sobering thoughts from yesterday's Washington Post.
As fighting in Iraq enters its fifth year, an increasing number of experts in foreign policy and national strategy are arguing that the biggest difference may be that the Iraq war will inflict greater damage to U.S. interests than Vietnam did.
Here is a sampling of what these experts told the Post:
Former defense secretary William S. Cohen: "In terms of the consequences of failure, the stakes are much bigger than Vietnam. The geopolitical consequences are. . . potentially global in scope."
Ret. Air Force Gen. Charles F. Wald: "It makes Vietnam look like a cakewalk. . . Worst-case scenarios are the most likey thing to happen."
Gary Solis, Vietnam War vet and former instructor on the Law of War at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point: "Most of my military acquaintances agree that the issues in our departure from Vietnam will pale beside those that will be presented by an Iraq withdrawal."
But do read the whole thing. You'll even find a counteropinion or two.
And as always, the dresscode crackdown was greated by howls of protest from Iran's fashionistas. Most confined their displeasure to making fun of the regime behind closed doors. But some were brave enough to express their views in public - such as the women and girls who took to the streets in Qom pictured below.
The London Telegraph reports that the jury in the Operation Crevice trial was not told about the defendants' links to the 7/7 subway and bus bombers:
The judge, Sir Michael Astill, said the Old Bailey jury had not been told of the connection as it would be too prejudicial for the fertiliser bomb plot accused to be linked to the men who caused carnage in London.
See below for more of what this trial revealed.
Five Britons were convicted today of charges that they plotted to carry out terror attacks in Britain that would cause massive civilian casualties. The Washington Post reports:
Here are some of the trial's highlights from the Post dispatch:
The five men, convicted after a year-long trial that ended with 27 days of jury deliberation, were convicted of a 2003 plot to use a massive fertilizer bomb to attack a shopping center, nightclub or Britain's natural gas and electricity networks. Officials said the scheme, in which police recovered more than 1,300 pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, was at the time the most ambitious plot to kill mass numbers of people in Britain ever disrupted by British security services.
The convicted men, who face life sentences, are: Omar Khyam, 26, the group's presumed ringleader; Waheed Mahmood, 34; Jawad Akbar, 23; Salahuddin Amin, 31; and Anthony Garcia, 24. Two other men, Nabeel Hussain and Khyam's brother, Shujah Mahmood, were found not guilty in a case the British police referred to as "Operation Crevice."
So if the police were surveilling these two 7/7 bombers, why didn't they arrest them before they could carry out the attacks?
Testimony at trial also included repeated references to "Abdul Hadi" a top al-Qaeda operative who had been involved in training the men at camps in Pakistan. Gohel said security officials have confirmed that the man was Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi, 46, a top al-Qaeda figure now in custody at the U.S.-run prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The Pentagon announced last week that al-Iraqi, described by officials as a key aide to bin Laden and one of the extremist network's highest-ranking operatives, was arrested late last year on his way to Iraq and handed over to the CIA.
Gohel said the Crevice suspects' involvement with such a top-level operative was "very significant" and showed that their plot was "not just al-Qaeda-inspired, but actually assisted by, and under the control of, al-Qaeda."
Evidence presented at trial, which the media was banned from reporting until now under British law, showed that the Operation Crevice plotters met several times with two of the bombers from the July 7 attack, known here as 7/7. Police testified that 7/7 ringleader Mohammed Siddique Khan and bomber Shehzad Tanweer, who both died in the suicide bomb attacks, were caught in surveillance operations leading up to the Crevice arrests.
"If Mohammed Siddique Khan had been caught on tape saying, 'I want to blow up London and I'm going to do it,' they should have arrested him," [Sajjan M. Gohel, a terrorism and security specialist] said. "But there was nothing he was saying that was so clear and dangerous. It's impossible to keep an eye on every single individual."Terrorism does seem to present a genuine problem for law enforcement, as the Post goes on to suggest:
"There is always a balance to be struck between allowing terrorists to go ahead with their planning, so that we can gather evidence, and making sure the public are safe. We will never gamble with public safety," [Peter Clarke, head of counter-terrorism at Scotland Yard,] said. "In this case we decided to arrest the plotters when we feared that they were getting closer to mounting their attack."Here's an interesting revelation:
Finally, note this chilling detail:
Monday's verdict was also notable because it was reached with the unprecedented help of a U.S.-raised al-Qaeda operative turned informant. Mohammed Junaid Babar, 31, who was born in Pakistan but moved to New York when he was two, was the prosecution's chief witness.
Babar was arrested in the United States in 2004 and pleaded guilty to terror-related charges. He faces 70 years in prison but agreed to testify against his former colleagues in return for a reduced sentence.
Babar's mother had been in one of the World Trade Center towers when they were attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, but escaped without injury. Despite that, Babar told investigators that within a week he flew to Pakistan to join a war of jihad against the west.
Sunday, April 29, 2007
What is going on in Turkey right now is perhaps the biggest underreported foreign affairs story. Between 700,000 and one million Turks staged a rally in Istanbul—apparently the largest in Turkish history—in defense of secularism. Photos here.
This follows the prime minister's selection of Abdullah Gul, a fellow Islamist, to be the only candidate for the presidency. Despite what many Western reporters are saying, what concerns Turks is much greater than whether the first lady wears a Saudi-style headscarf. It involves the future role of women, minority sects like the Alevis, the education system, and the judiciary, not to mention the question of whether Turkey can be bought. After the AKP failed to achieve a quorum, the left-of-center Republican People's Party has challenged the legality of the first round of the presidential vote. The Constitutional Court should rule on Wednesday.
Omar Fadhil reports:
Al-Sabah reported today that “some community leaders in Adhamiya [a Sunni stronghold in Baghdad] are working on forming a salvation council for their own district they will be calling The Adhamiya Awakening. Sources close to the leaders said they (the leaders) have managed to win the support of some hundred people who agree with the new position. The sources asserted that the goal of the Awakening is to rid Adhamiya of the terrorists.”
Last but not least I’d like you to read this story “Iraqi artists find canvas in the cruel concrete of war”. Those brave artists are risking their lives to simply offer fellow Baghdadis a glimmer of hope, something beautiful to look at and remember that not everything about their life is dark. Remember that those artists are standing on both sides of Blast Walls. It’s this kind of spirit that helps me and other Baghdadis remain hopeful.“Wild horses couldn’t drag me away. / Wild, wild horses. We’ll ride them some day.”
Saturday, April 28, 2007
I hope this boy survived today's bombing. From Iraqslogger:
At least 55 people were killed and 158 more were wounded on Saturday in a car bomb blast in the holy Shiite city of Karbala, a medical source said. "The casualties ofthe car bomb blast that occurred on Saturday afternoon near Imam Abbas Shrine in Karbala reached 55 dead and 158 wounded," Saleem kadhem, media official at Karbala health department, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI). He added "among the casualties were women and children." Earlier, an eyewitness told VOI "a car bomb exploded near the gates of Qiblat al-Imam al-Abbas." The Qiblat al-Imam al-Abbas is 300 meters south of al-Marqad, the tomb of Imam al-Hussein, a holy shrine for Shiites in Karbala. The police did not comment on the incident.
In tomorrow's Washington Post, Michael Scheuer, head of the CIA's first Bin Laden Unit and author of the books Through Our Enemies' Eyes and Imperial Hubris offers his reaction to former CIA chief George Tenet's upcoming memoires.
According to Scheuer: "[Tenet] will be out to absolve himself of the failings of 9/11 and Iraq. He'll sell a lot of books, of course, but we shouldn't buy his attempts to let himself off the hook."
As he writes:
[W]hat troubles me most is Tenet's handling of the opportunities that CIA officers gave the Clinton administration to capture or kill bin Laden between May 1998 and May 1999. Each time we had intelligence about bin Laden's whereabouts, Tenet was briefed by senior CIA officers at Langley and by operatives in the field. He would nod and assure his anxious subordinates that he would stress to Clinton and his national security team that the chances of capturing bin Laden were solid and that the intelligence was not going to get better. Later, he would insist that he had kept up his end of the bargain, but that the NSC had decided not to strike.
Since 2001, however, several key Clinton counterterrorism insiders (including NSC staffers Richard A. Clarke, Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon) have reported that Tenet consistently denigrated the targeting data on bin Laden, causing the president and his team to lose confidence in the hard-won intelligence. "We could never get over the critical hurdle of being able to corroborate Bin Ladin's whereabouts," Tenet now writes. That of course is untrue, but it spared him from ever having to explain the awkward fallout if an attempt to get bin Laden failed. None of this excuses Clinton's disinterest in protecting Americans, but it does show Tenet's easy
willingness to play for patsies the CIA officers who risked their lives to garner intelligence and then to undercut their work to avoid censure if an attack went wrong.
To be fair, Tenet and I had differences about how best to act against bin Laden. (In the book, he plays down my recommendations as those of "an analyst not trained in conducting paramilitary operations.") The hard fact remains that each time we acquired actionable intelligence about bin Laden's whereabouts, I argued for preemptive action. By May 1998, after all, al-Qaeda had hit or helped to hit five U.S. targets, and bin Laden had twice declared war on America. I did not -- and do not -- care about collateral casualties in such situations, as most of the nearby civilians would be the families that bin Laden's men had brought to a war zone. But Tenet did care. "You can't kill everyone," he would say. That's an admirable humanitarian concern in the abstract, but it does nothing to protect the United States. Indeed, thousands of American families would not be mourning today had there been more ferocity and less sentimentality among the Clinton team.
Of course, it's good to finally have Tenet's side of the Iraq and 9/11 stories. But whatever his book says, he was not much of a CIA chief. Still, he may have been the ideal CIA leader for Clinton and Bush -- denigrating good intelligence to sate the former's cowardly pacifism and accepting bad intelligence to please the latter's Wilsonian militarism. Sadly but fittingly, "At the Center of the Storm" is likely to remind us that sometimes what lies at the center of a storm is a deafening silence.
Raymond Ibrahim, editor of The Al-Qaeda Reader, asks some valid questions in response to Tariq Ramadan's recent one-way talk via satellite at Georgetown University.
Tariq Ramadan is a grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, and currently a research fellow at Oxford University. He was unable to address Georgetown in person because the U.S. government refuses to grant him a visa.
While Ibrahim's entire article is worth reading, I extract here for you his response to Ramadan's charge that the West is obsessed with radical Islam to the point of refusing to even see that the vast majority of the world's Muslims are actually moderate and peaceful.
As Ibrahim writes:
[E]ven if we were to agree with Ramadan that the vast majority of Muslims are “moderates” and that, say, only a mere 20 percent of Muslims are “literalists,” that simply means that some 200 million Muslims in the world today are dedicated enemies of the infidel West. At any rate, when it comes to instilling terror, numbers are of no significance. It took only 19 to wreak great havoc and destruction on American soil on 9/11. It won’t take much more to duplicate that horrific day. This is precisely why, to use Ramadan’s own words, “we are obsessed by the few [radical Muslims] and not seeing the many [moderate Muslims].” That most Muslims are good, law-abiding citizens and that only a mere minority of the umma, say, 200 million, are hell-bent on destroying the West — how is that supposed to be any comfort to us?This is a question that Muslims will have to answer. The bottom line is that there is in fact a dangerous element that operates under the banner of Islam.
If the West seems obsessed, well, the West is not accustomed to burying its head in the sand, so to speak. The Western way is to identify problems and then try to solve them. Critical thinking is revered - as are satire and mockery - as that's what it takes to root out tyranny, oppression - and yes, terrorism.
Blogger Omar Fadhil at Iraq the Model writes from Iraq:
He says more, but read the whole piece.
I said it before and I say it again; this war must be won. If it is not the world as you in the United States know it today (and as we here in Iraq dream for it to become) will exist only in books of history. The forces of extremism that we confront today are more determined, more resourceful, and more barbaric than the Nazi or the communists of the past. Add to that the weapons they can improvise or acquire through their unholy alliance with rogue regimes, combined with their fluid structure and mobility… well, they can be more deadly than any forces we have faced in the past. Much more.
The political game the Democrats are playing has gone farther than it should have. Before they took over the congress they were complaining that there had been no feasible plan for winning the war. Now that such plan exists and thousands of American soldiers are working hard with the millions of good Iraqis to make it work, they wish to turn their backs on it.
I understood that by winning a majority in the legislature the Democrats were supposed to guide America to victory by correcting the mistakes of the past. Obviously I was wrong; they have put all their efforts into making sure the exact opposite outcome happens.
Just look at this one example of how the terrorists are going to make benefit from the defeatism of democrats. Al-Jazeera, the unofficial mouthpiece of al-Qaeda posted this on the same day the House passed the wretched bill: "Dadullah said: 'Thank God, he is alive, we get updated information about it. Thank God, he plans the operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan.'"
In no time al-Qaeda and all similarly extremist factions will start boasting about how America is fleeing Iraq under the heavy blows of the “Mujahideen” planned by OBL himself.
The Democrats just offered al-Qaeda victory on a silver plate. For free. An imaginary victory for sure, for now, but it can still be used by al-Qaeda to promote their ideology of death and attract more recruits.
“America’s will can be broken, America is not invincible,” they will say in a thousand ways. Is this the kind of message you want to send to the enemy?
Reconsider your position before it’s too late. For us and for yourselves.
Friday, April 27, 2007
Not to mention other terrorist plots in London. From The (London) Times:
After al-Qaeda restructured its operations in Pakistan’s tribal areas he sought out young Britons for instruction at training camps. In late 2004 Abd al-Hadi met Mohammad Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer, from Leeds, at a militant camp in Pakistan and, in the words of a senior investigator, “retasked them” to become suicide bombers.
They were sent back to Britain where they led the terrorist cell that carried out the 7/7 bombings, killing 52 Tube and bus passengers. Pakistani intelligence sources said that Abd al-Hadi was also in contact with Rachid Rauf, a Birmingham man now in prison in Pakistan and alleged to be a key figure in last summer’s alleged plot to blow up transatlantic airliners in mid-flight.
Abd al-Hadi has also been linked to a number of other foiled al-Qaeda plots to carry out attacks in Britain. But the Security Service, which has previously sent officials to question detainees at Guantanamo Bay, may not have the opportunity to question him directly.
Wouldn't you know, Britain's human rights issues will likely mean that British counterterrorism officials won't be able to question al-Hadi themselves. As the Times explains:
The Government’s recently adopted position in favour of closing Guantanamo Bay is likely to act as a bar on agents travelling there. British Intelligence would have to rely on relaying questions it would like asked by American interrogators.
I guess al-Hadi's capture explains why, as the Times reported, British officials were able to say with confidence last week that the al-Qaeda leadership was behind the recent spate of terror plots in Britain.
But it's too early to start opening bottles of champagne. As the Times reports:
Michael Scheuer, former head of the CIA’s bin Laden unit, told The Times that catching Abd al-Hadi was important but that it did not spell the end of al-Qaeda.
He said Abd al-Hadi had been an important figure in developing al-Qaeda’s strategy in the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan and also helped to redirect its terrorist strategy in Europe.
Mr Scheuer, a senior fellow at the Jamestown Foundation in Washington, said: “It is a blow for al-Qaeda, especially in Iraq, where it will have consequences.
“But al-Qaeda always plans for succession, and there will have been someone lined up to take his place. It is nonsense to think that al-Qaeda is dead.”
Labels: Baghdad Security Plan
From the Associated Press:
The Pentagon announced Friday the capture of one of al-Qaida's most senior and most experienced operatives, an Iraqi who was trying to return to his native country when he was captured.Apparently he's been shipped to Guantanamo Bay, and is now the 15th "high-value detainee" being held there in U.S. custody.
Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said the captive is Abdul al-Hadi al-Iraqi. He was transferred to Defense Department custody this week from the CIA, Whitman said, but the spokesman would not say where or when al-Iraqi was captured or by whom.
So who exactly is this guy? Here are some interesting background details from the AP dispatch:
Whitman said al-Iraqi was believed responsible for plotting cross-border attacks from Pakistan on U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and that he led an effort to assassinate Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, as well as unspecified officials of the United Nations.Update: Here are some more interesting details about this al-Iraqi person. This time from the U.S. government website Rewards for Justice:
"Abd al-Hadi (al-Iraqi) was trying to return to his native country, Iraq, to manage al-Qaida's affairs and possibly focus on operations outside Iraq against Western targets," Whitman said, adding that the terror suspect met with al-Qaida members in Iran. He said he did not know when al-Iraqi was in Iran.
...The Pentagon said al-Iraqi was born in Mosul, in northern Iraq, in 1961. Whitman said he was a key al-Qaida paramilitary leader in Afghanistan in the late 1990s, and during 2002-04 led efforts to attack U.S. forces in Afghanistan with terrorist forces based in Pakistan.
In August 2005, al-Iraqi appeared in a purported al-Qaida-made video that shows militants in Afghanistan — including Europeans, Arabs and others — preparing to attack U.S. troops and showing off what they said was a U.S. military laptop.
Al-Iraqi, speaking in the video with a scarf hiding his face, said the U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have created "two fronts" for recruiting terrorists to the cause of bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Omar. "Now all the world is united behind Mullah Omar and Sheik Osama," he says.
Whitman said al-Iraqi was associated with leaders of other extremist groups allied with al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan, including the Taliban. He worked directly with the Taliban to determine lines of communication between Taliban and al-Qaida leaders in Afghanistan, specifically about the targeting of U.S. forces, the spokesman said.
The Pentagon said al-Iraqi spent more than 15 years in Afghanistan and at one point was an instructor in an al-Qaida training camp there. Before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he was a member of al-Qaida's ruling Shura Council, a now-defunct 10-person advisory body to bin Laden, the Pentagon said.
He also was a member of al-Qaida's military committee, which oversaw terrorist and guerrilla operations and paramilitary training, according to the Pentagon.
Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi is one of Usama bin Laden’s top global deputies, personally chosen by bin Laden to monitor al Qaeda operations in Iraq. Al-Hadi was the former Internal Operations Chief for al Qaeda. He has been associated with numerous attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan and has been known to facilitate communication between al Qaeda in Iraq and al Qaeda. Al-Hadi rose to the rank of Major in Saddam Hussein’s army before moving to Afghanistan to fight against the Soviet Union.Hmmm, so al-Iraqi was a major in Saddam's army. Now what could that mean? Nothing, I suppose - I mean, we're sure about there not being any pre-invasion links between Saddam and al Qaeda, right?
Wrong, but you'd never know that from the media's accounts.
Anyway, I wonder if anyone collected the $1 million reward that the U.S. government was offering under the Rewards for Justice program. To date, the U.S. government says its distributed some $62 million in reward money under this program.
Incidentally, you can still collect $10 million if you can provide information that will lead to the capture of Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, who served as Vice Chairman under Saddam. Then there are at least another dozen or so other former regime elements that are worth up to $1 million each to the U.S. government.
The big rewards - up to $25 million - are, not surprisingly, reserved for Bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri. But there are the dozens of other terrorists who could net someone anywhere from $1-5 million if they would only turn them in.
I'm not sure how anyone can rationalize not turning in these type of people to the authorities. Anyone who knows where one of these guys is and is protecting him should be ashamed of themselves.
I'm sorry to, um, drop the somewhat professional tone I try to adopt here and to sound like, er, your mother, but the blood of all these people these guys kill or order killed is now on your hands.
The good news from Afghanistan via the New York Times:
Infant mortality has dropped by 18 percent in Afghanistan, one of the first real signs of recovery for the country five years after the fall of the Taliban regime, health officials said Thursday.
“Despite many challenges, there are clear signs of health sector recovery and progress throughout the country,” Dr. Muhammad Amin Fatimi, the health minister, told journalists here.
The number of children who die before their first birthday has dropped to 135 per 1,000 in 2006 from 165 per 1,000 live births in 2001, according to a countrywide survey by Johns Hopkins University, he said.
That represents a drop of 18 percent, and means that 40,000 to 50,000 fewer infants are dying now than in the Taliban era, Dr. Fatimi said. “Thanks be to God they are celebrating, laughing and smiling,” he said. “These infants are the future builders of our country.”
Actually, the number of children dying is probably even less than these figures suggest. As the Times went on to report:
The findings are probably conservative, [Dr. Fatimi] said, since mothers were interviewed about the children they had given birth to over the past five years, and health services only began to improve countrywide in 2004.
...[T]he lower infant mortality [was attributed] mainly to the expansion of health clinics to rural areas and to the better coverage of the population with basic vaccinations against measles, polio and tetanus. Immunization coverage in 2003 was 19.5 percent of the child population; in 2006 it rose to 35 percent. The target was 80 percent.
Azar Nafisi, the author of Reading Lolita in Tehran, offers her prescription for the Iranian problem in the latest issue of TNR:
The fight for Iranian democracy is not simply a political one; in this respect, Iran is very much like communist Eastern Europe and apartheid South Africa....It is not just a struggle for political rights but also for the right of individual citizens to live the way they choose.
As to "who in the West will champion these existential rights on behalf of Iranians?" Nafisi thinks non-governmental-organizations may be the best option. As she writes:
Western governments, according to Nafisi, should not opt for the military solution, as she writes:
No government--no matter how liberal--can devote itself only, or even primarily, to the defense of human rights and personal freedoms abroad, so we must rely on other actors to push the cause of liberty. I am speaking, of course, of nongovernmental organizations. What is needed is for human rights groups, activists, and journalists to take up the cause of the Iranian people. The secular journalist Faraj Sarkuhi, the former revolutionary and dissident Akbar Ganji, and the reformists Emadeddin Baghi and Ramin Jahanbegloo owe their freedom to a great degree to the efforts of organizations like PEN, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Reporters Without Borders, as well as to the attention of journalists throughout the world...
The progressive women who have staged two demonstrations since the start of Ahmadinejad's presidency are in the midst of a campaign to garner one million signatures demanding equality and justice for women in Iran. U.S. feminist groups should be doing far more to support them in their struggle.
[T]he notion that Iran will be subdued into compliance with a handful of precision-guided missiles is as dangerous and fanciful as the belief that an invaded Iraq would serve as a model of enlightened democracy. Indeed, to attack Iran at this point would be to send a lifeline to the regime's most militaristic elements, which would use an attack as an excuse to quash all domestic dissent.
...The most important weapon in the U.S. arsenal is not its military might but its culture. Vigorously defending and promoting those values the United States was long thought to represent--freedom of expression, freedom of movement, freedom of conscience--will do a great deal more than any missile to neutralize Iranian radicals. And, though this wide-ranging task is probably beyond the capability of American politicians, it is not beyond the capability of America.
A dispatch direct from CENTCOM, the U.S. military command center in the region:
Apparently, Iran is supplying some of the more deadly explosive devices, according to the U.S. military (who is on the ground there in contrast to most media outlets). As Centcom reports:
Through interrogations of key detainees in the past month, the United States has learned a great deal about Iranian involvement in terrorist activities in Iraq, specifically the financing and training of insurgent groups, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq said here today.
The interrogation of leaders and members of the Qazali terror network who have been in detention for more than a month revealed that Iran provided the network substantial funding, training on Iranian soil, advanced explosive munitions and technologies as well as arms and ammunition, and in some cases advice and even a degree of direction, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of Multinational Force Iraq, said in a Pentagon news conference.
The U.S. so far can't determine exactly who in Iran is directing this effort.
The U.S. has learned more about Iranian involvement in Iraq through the detention of one of the heads of the Sheibani network, which brings explosively formed projectiles into Iraq from Iran, Petraeus said.
This leader’s brother was in Iraq, and was the conduit who received munitions from Iraq and distributed them among the extremist elements.
“Those munitions, as you know, have been particularly lethal against some of our armored vehicles and responsible for some of the casualties, the more tragic casualties, in attacks on our vehicles,” Petraeus said.
Also, there's no evidence that Iran is behind the, in Centcom's phrasing, "the spectacular car bomb attacks in Iraq." So far the military believes these are conducted by foreign jihadists coming in through Syria - along with the pious folk in Al Qaeda.
Here's a question for everybody, especially those readers in the region: So what should the U.S. do about Iran? And what to do about Syria?
Some were even alleged to be training to fly aircraft into targets.
The [Interior Ministry] issued a statement saying the detainees were planning to carry out suicide atttacks against "public figures, oil facilities, refineries... and military zones" -- some of which were outside the kingdom.
"They had reached an advance stage of readiness and what remained only was to set the zero hour for their attacks," Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Mansour al-Turki told The Associated Press in a phone call. "They had the personnel, the money, the arms. Almost all the elements for terror attacks were complete except for setting the zero hour for the attacks."
The ministry did not say the militants would fly aircraft into oil refineries, as the September 11, 2001 hijackers flew planes into buildings in New York and Washington, but it said in a statement that some detainees had been "sent to other countries to study flying in preparation for using them to carry out terrorist attacks inside the kingdom."
The Saudis didn't just nab suspects either. As CNN goes on to report:
In their crackdown, the police seized large quantities of weapons, explosives and money. More than 120 million riyals ($32.4 million) had been seized in the operation, one of the largest sweeps against terror cells in the kingdom.
Not everyone arrested was Saudi, incidentally. Nor has anyone been identified as being a member of Al Qaeda. But as CNN reminds the reader:
The al Qaeda terror group, whose leader Osama bin Laden is a Saudi, has called for attacks on the kingdom's oil facilities as a means of crippling both the kingdom's economy and the hurting the West, whom he accuses of paying too little for Arab oil.
Sheikh Hamid al-Ali, the prominent jihadist cleric in Kuwait - and a financier and supporter of terrorism as far as the United States is concerned (and who I blogged about here) - has surprised many of his followers in asking al Qaeda to dissolve their Islamic State in Iraq and go back to fighting jihad until the conditions are right to establish such a state, according to a MEMRI dispatch.
Here some of the Sheikh's statements on this subject that MEMRI was able to cull from his website:
I suspect that the Sheikh understands why the Sunni tribes are rebelling against this Islamic State of Iraq - because it is an unaccountable government that rules by terror. I think that he grasps that should other Iraqis follow suit and decide they too are not interested in putting their fate in the hands of these extremists, this would deal a catastrophic blow to the jihadist movement.
The imama [established by the ISI] is not grounded in Islamic law, since Islam does not recognize [the concept of] swearing allegiance to an unknown, hidden leader who lacks the power, the visible presence and the [self-sustaining] empowerment [tamkin] which would enable him to maintain [safety] on the roads, to dispense law and justice, to protect life, property and honor and [to defend the] borders...
Establishing an imama without adequate religious basis and then imposing it on people by the force of the sword is an [unacceptable] religious innovation... and there is a danger of straying from the right path, for which Allah may withdraw his blessing [from the believers] and cause jihad to be forgotten...
[To] monopolize jihad and [spread] abhorrent division, extremism and [mutual] hatred [among the jihad fighters] – albeit under a pretense of piety – is to do the work of the Devil and to follow [base] instincts, and everyone must avoid such acts and keep away from this dangerous path.
Not surprisingly, however, al-Ali's followers were not all thrilled with his remarks. As MEMRI reports, typical of the reaction were the comments one Bakr bin Salim Bakri posted on another jihadist website:
I, for one, hope he's right about this - that the media will exult about this "fitna" (dissent) in the jihadist corps - but I won't hold my breath. I sometimes get the impression the mainstream media is almost as invested in the Americans losing as al Qaeda is.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that this is one of the most serious [cases of inciting] fitna that the jihad in Iraq has known during this sensitive phase. And this fatwa was not issued by an insignificant sheikh.
[It was issued] by a sheikh who is not only known for his support of jihad but is a well known [figure, namely by] Sheikh Hamed bin Abdallah Al-Ali – the most prominent of the sheiks who support the jihad fighters...
This fatwa, coming at this time, can turn into a weapon against the jihad and the jihad fighters. Such fatwas, [if issued], should be distributed among the jihad fighters in secret...
In my opinion, the media will exult over this fatwa as it has not exulted since the day Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi was killed.
In any case, Al-Ali remained firm in his position, responding to such criticisms with the following(again, from MEMRI):
I clarify the truth for people – even if it is a bitter [truth] – [since this is better] than letting them [cling to] false hopes and eventually be hit by a disaster that will frustrate and confound them...We'll soon, I suppose, whether or not the Sheikh still counts al Qaeda in Iraq among his followers.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Iraqslogger reports on what Gen. David Petraeus told a Pentagon press conference on Thursday.
In response to questions about Iranian and Syrian involvement in Iraq, Iraqslogger writes:
While focusing a great deal of attention on possible Iranian involvement in driving extremist activities, Petreaus carefully delineated between the kinds of activities of the Shi'ite, Sadr-affilited Khazalis, who focus the bulk of their attacks on US forces, and the al Qaeda-affiliated foreigners, the majority of whom, he said, perpetrate the "spectacular" attacks, usually car bombs or suicide attacks with civilian or otherwise very public targets. Those groups, he said, rely on an al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist network to assist their transportation to the battlefield, usually crossing the border into Iraq through Syria.
Though reluctant to give any specific numbers, Petreaus roughly estimated that "dozens" of foreign fighters cross into Iraq from Syria every month. Later in the press conference, when confirming that there was no evidence of any Iranian involvement in the "spectacular" bombings attacks, Petraeus said of the bombers in those incidents: "80-90% of those are foreigners coming in through Syria."
So perhaps we should start listening to him as once again he tries to set the record straight at the Wall Street Journal's Best of the Web.
This time Taranto is trying to correct this notion that the Bush administration's 2002 claim that Iraq was trying to buy uranium in Africa has been "discredited." As he notes, this is, er, a falsehood, and one that the media is particularly fond of constantly recycling.
To make his case, Taranto only needs to point to the 2004 findings of the nonpartisan Factcheck.org:
As Taranto concludes:
After nearly a six-month investigation, a special panel reported to the British Parliament July 14 that British intelligence had indeed concluded back in 2002 that Saddam Hussein was seeking to buy uranium. The review panel was headed by Lord Butler of Brockwell, who had been a cabinet secretary under five different Prime Ministers and who is currently master of University College, Oxford.
The Butler report said British intelligence had "credible" information--from several sources--that a 1999 visit by Iraqi officials to Niger was for the purpose of buying uranium:
Butler Report: It is accepted by all parties that Iraqi officials visited Niger in 1999. The British Government had intelligence from several different sources indicating that this visit was for the purpose of acquiring uranium. Since uranium constitutes almost three-quarters of Niger's exports, the intelligence was credible.
The Butler Report affirmed what the British government had said about the Niger uranium story back in 2003, and specifically endorsed what [President] Bush said [in that year's State of the Union Address] as well.
The erstwhile Iraqi regime's quest for uranium appears to have been in vain. But the claim that Iraq didn't seek uranium is simply false. News organizations that repeat it are serving, wittingly or unwittingly, as propaganda outlets for those who oppose the U.S. war effort.
Labels: WMDs in Iraq
Chris Heffelfinger at The Jamestown Foundation's Terrorism Monitor profiles the strange influence of Hamid bin Abdallah al-Ali, a respected Salafi cleric in Kuwait and much of the Arab world, but a sponsor and financier of global terrorism as far as the U.S. is concerned - but yet still able to host his website in Washington state.
Heffelfinger believes that al-Ali is still able to operate here because Americans have a hard time believing that someone like al-Ali - who communicates using poetry and religious rhetoric - could possibly attract a substantial following.
But, as he points out, it was al-Ali who issued the famous fatwa in early 2001 condoning suicide missions involving flying aircraft into targets. He has also been known to use his website to recruite Kuwaitis to wage jihad in Iraq and Kuwait, as well as to disseminate directions on explosives-making.
As Heffelfinger points out:
Despite his clear ties to al-Qaeda and mujahideen in Kuwait, al-Ali is presented to thousands of Muslims as simply a senior Kuwaiti cleric. He enjoys this prestige, as do other Salafis, due to the juxtaposition of the Salafi movement with the two holiest sites in Islam, Mecca and Medina. To many, especially those less-educated Muslims who fulfill their Hajj duties, Salafi Islam is simply pure, or highly conservative Islam. Its exclusive reliance on the holy texts of Islam, seen by many as a return to the basics of the religion, obscures its true doctrine. It is thus seen not as a 17th century movement, arising largely out of the drive to expel Turkish Ottomans and their forces from Arabia, but Sunni Muslims who enjoy among the highest authority in Islam. Given this climate—and the view toward the Salafi movement by Muslims, Arabs and the West—it is unlikely that figures like Hamid al-Ali will cease the education and indoctrination of young Muslims into jihad.
[The Anbar Salvation] Front announced the immanent defeat of al-Qa'ida-related groups in Anbar province, and asked for permission to pursue militants across provincial lines. Recent reports suggest that such clearance may have been granted.
Tribal forces have been trained in a month-long program at a camp in Iraq’s northern Kurdish region, according to a separate report.
Formed in Fall 2006, the "Anbar Salvation Front" represents a coalition of Sunni tribal leaders from Anbar province, under the leadership of the tribal shaykh Abd al-Sattar Abu Risha. The Front is aligned with US forces and the Iraqi government against al-Qa'ida in the Anbar area.
...The tribal forces announced they had conducted wide-ranging attacks in Ramadi, with the help of the Falluja police, and the al-Bu 'Isa tribe in the Amiryiat al-Falluja area, targeting the remaining elements of the al-Qa'ida organization. The group said that the Askari and al-Julan areas of Ramadi had been completely cleared of al-Qa'ida-affiliates, according to al-Hayat’s report.
The tribe announced its success in battles around the Ramadi and Falluja areas, and said that remnants of the militant groups had been chased to the Jazirit Heet area west of Ramadi, al-Hayat writes.
Note what else Iraqslogger reports [especially the text I have highlighted]:
US forces were not informed of the operation, [Iraqi daily] al-Mada reports. Informing US forces would have delayed the operation, the success ofNow isn't that curious? Anyway, shows what Iraqis themselves can do if they put their minds to it.
which depended on speed and surprise, the paper writes. The source also said that informing the US would have increased the possibility of the information being leaked which would have caused the terrorists to flee. Al-Mada’s sources said that the local security forces were concerned that some of the individuals working with the US could inform the suspects of the operation.
The New York Times reports that this is what Peter Clarke, the top counterterrorism police officer in Britain, told Policy Exchange, a private research group.
According to the Times:
He said that about 100 terrorism suspects awaited trial — in addition to several on trial — and that their cases would confirm a trend that had emerged since 2004 of young British Muslims traveling to Pakistan for training and instructions, then returning home to plot attacks.
As the Times goes on to report:
British terrorism has been largely associated with a Muslim minority of 1.6 million people — just 3 percent of the population — many descended from Pakistanis who immigrated in the 1960s. “The fact is that there are, in the United Kingdom, many young men who are vulnerable to being drawn into extremism and violence,” Mr. Clarke said. “Of all the things I have seen over the past few years, one of the most worrying has been the speed and apparent ease with which young men can be turned into suicidal terrorists.”
But he insisted that homegrown terrorists had not acted alone. “In case after case, the hand of core Al Qaeda can be clearly seen,” he said. “Arrested leaders or key players are quickly replaced, and disrupted networks will re-form quickly.”
But as the Times goes on to say:
British Muslims have frequently expressed skepticism about police motives, citing several high-profile raids and arrests that yielded no charges.
Police say that even if terrorist suspects are often released without charge, they have no choice but to intervene and arrest people based on the intelligence they do have. Their primary concern in these cases, obviously, is to foil terror plots as opposed to wait and criminally prosecute the perpetrators after they are able to carry out their plans.
Not surprisingly, the community most often under suspicion - i.e., British-Pakistani Muslims - is still resentful that its members are often misidentified as terrorists.
Clarke gets the negative impact false alarms can have as well on the community. As he reportedly told Policy Exchange, it was “no exaggeration to say that the lack of public trust in intelligence is in danger of infecting the relationship between the police and the communities we serve.”
I have to wonder - what on earth would an al Qaeda "security" leader do?
Here's what I was able to cull from the Centcom release.
First, his identity and theatre of operation:
Muhammad Abdullah Abbas al-Issawi, also known as Abu Abd al-Sattar and Abu Akram, was a known al-Qaeda terrorist leader known to operate in Karmah and Ameriyah areas and was the al-Qaeda in Iraq Security Emir of the eastern Anbar Province.
Notice that he was in Anbar Province where the Sunni tribes have largely turned against al Qaeda.
Now the part about his responsibilities:
He was also a weapons supplier to insurgent forces fighting against the Iraqi Army, Iraqi Police and Coalition Forces, and had links to the recent surge in chlorine VBIED attacks across Iraq.So now we know what an al Qaeda "security" leader does - he wages chemical and other types of deadly attacks against the Iraqi people, even going so far as to use their own children against them.
Intelligence reports also indicate that his VBIED cell used 12- to 13-year-old children as VBIED drivers.
Now what did Michael Moore call these insurgents again? That's right, Minutemen. Yeah, right.
Labels: Al Qaeda in Iraq
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Oddly enough, since Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the former Dutch parlimentarian who became famous because of her crusade against Islam, left the Netherlands, Muslim women resident in Holland - who she was presumably attempting to speak on behalf of - are telling Reuters that, for the most part, they are relieved that she is gone.
"I am glad that Ayaan Hirsi Ali is gone, because now the tone has softened, it has become less extreme and tensions have eased," said Nermin Altintas, who runs an education centre for migrant women."Let her call one woman forward and show how she really helped her," another woman, Famile Arslan, described as a 35-year-old family lawyer told Reuters, adding:
"We worked for 10, 15, 20 years to help emancipate Muslim women... and she stole the respect we should have had as grass- roots movements working for change."As Reuters reported:
..."Her statements on Islam were very harsh. I have a completely different experience of Islam... as I come from a Turkish cultural background," said Altintas.
Hirsi Ali caused uproar by calling Islam "backward," and by branding the prophet Mohammad a pedophile and a tyrant. However, it was the film "Submission" she wrote for Dutch television which most provoked. In the short film, an actress whose naked body is covered with a thin veil appeals to God about the violence she believes she must endure in his name, while in other scenes naked women cower with texts from the Koran inscribed on their bodies.The film's director, Theo Van Gogh, was gunned down as he biked along an Amsterdam street in broad daylight. His killer appended a note to his corpse saying that Ali could expect to meet the same fate for her part in having insulted Islam.
But rather than rallying around Ali, Muslim women who she was purportedly trying to help were mostly alienated by Ali's methods according to Reuters:
"If she wanted to campaign against violence against women then she shouldn't have written the Koran text on the body, because that was offensive to many of the religious women she claimed she was trying to help," said Altintas. "Her methods were such that rather than attracting Muslim women she pushed them away... She polarized things," said 19-year-old student Suzan Yucel from Eindhoven.I've often wondered how all the slamming of Islam can be productive when it seems to me (and apparently to these Muslim women as well) that vilifying the religion only alienates the good-willed Muslims.
Wouldn't it be far easier to limit the critique to sworn enemies, for example, the violent jihadists?
For the record, I think Ali raises many valid points and her voice should not be suppressed.
But still, I can't dismiss what these women are saying as easily as, well, John Hood did at The Corner. He wrote:
[It] sounds like much of the "relief" expressed in the Reuters piece has to do withfear of what Ali provoked from Dutch Muslims rather than a fundamental misunderstanding of Islam on her part. It's essentially another example of Mark Steyn's quod erat demonstrandum: Don't say we're violent, or we'll kill you.
This news, reported by US News & World Report, doesn't seem to have gotten its fair share of coverage, so I'll repeat it here:
Saudi Arabia-which has been publicly grumbling about the U.S. "occupation" of Iraq-announced last week that it would forgive 80 percent of Iraq's debt owed the kingdom, about $18 billion. It is a small portion of Iraq's total outstanding foreign debt of some $380 billion, but the gesture offers hope that the summit will not be another disappointing diplomatic exercise.
Let's hope some more of Iraq's neighbors start to pitch in to help Iraq - as opposed to just sitting back and complaining that the conflict there could spill over and inflame the rest of the region - as it well could, absent help from the neighbors.
It was in Rawalpindi, incidentally, that KSM, the master mind of the 9/11 attacks, was reportedly arrested.
On Sunday this blogger pointed to a report claiming that regardless of what experts say about the unreliabilty of information obtained using torture, Iraqi soldiers maintain that after they beat up suspects they often get accurate intelligence.
Now CBS reports that former CIA director George Tenet is making a similar claim. He apparently told the broadcaster that the intelligence obtained using "enhanced interrogation techniques" was "more valuable than all the other terror intelligence gathered by the FBI, the National Security Agency and the CIA.
As Tenet reportedly told 60 Minutes: "the program saved lives and allowed the government to foil terror plots."
As whether these "enhanced techniques" included torture, this is what Tenet is reported to have told CBS:
Tenet also tells CBS some details I didn't know:
"We don't torture people," he says. "I want you to listen to me. The context is it's post-9/11. I've got reports of nuclear weapons in New York City, apartment buildings that are gonna be blown up, planes that are gonna fly into airports all over again, plot lines that I don't know. I don't know what's going on inside the United States, and I'm struggling to find out where the next disaster is going to occur. Everybody forgets one central context of what we lived through: the palpable fear that we felt on the basis of the fact that there was so much we did not know."
When 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was captured in a raid in Pakistan, the "enhanced interrogations" apparently were a surprise to him. According to Tenet, the captured terrorist told CIA interrogators, "I'll talk to you guys when you take me to New York and I can see my lawyer." Instead, he reportedly was flown around the world, kept in secret prisons and water-boarded. Tenet repeated his denial again and again: "Let me say that again to you. We don't torture people. OK?" But when asked by Pelley why the "enhanced interrogation" techniques were necessary, Tenet says, "Because these are people who will never, ever, ever tell you a thing. These are people who know who's responsible for the
next terrorist attack … [who] wouldn't blink an eyelash about killing you, your family, me and my family and everybody in this town."
When Pelley presses, asking whether he lost sleep over the interrogations, Tenet says, "Of course you lose sleep over it. You're on new territory."
The show will air this Sunday, April 29 at 7 PM on CBS.