Posts Tagged ‘Al-Qaeda’

He’s baaaaack!

May 4, 2010

A few months ago I posted about Hakimullah Mehsud, the violent leader of the Pakistani Taliban. Shortly after, he was reported to have been killed in a drone strike, only to reappear in this shocking video, released just in time to coincide with the bombing attempt in Time Square.

Over on Huffington Post, some people in the comments sections are expressing their dismay that the culprit in the attempted bombing was not a “teabagger” or a right-wing extremist (nice to see that America is this divided, eh?). Other publications, such as Mother Jones, are expressing similar lunacy. Hakimullah and his Tehreek-e-Taliban may be disappointed that scores of people were not incinerated in this car bomb attempt, but they must be happy and enthusiastic to see the cracks that are splintering through the United States due to politics. Car bombs aren’t really necessary…America is tearing itself apart on its own.

Meanwhile, I have been commenting on The Long War Journal, where some of my fellow commentators have used the Time Square attack to berate Pakistan. While Pakistan has made some dumb mistakes in the past (USA and all countries have too) it’s not really fair to point the finger at the state of Pakistan because a car bomb was found in NYC. Up until now, Hakimullah’s TTP has largely been targeting Pakistanis, including the ISI (Pakistan’s intelligence agency), which is often accused of supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan. While Pakistan has attempted to route the Taliban from its tribal areas, its cities — the markets, schools, rallies, and government buildings — are paying the price in the form of increasingly deadly suicide bombings that have taken thousands of lives. During these attacks, the commuters in Time Square have gone about their busy days uninterrupted. This car bomb operation is very disturbing, but Americans should not act as if they are the only ones suffering from terrorism. Believe it or not, we have actually been lucky these last 8 years.  The citizens of Lakki Marwat — a small town in Pakistan’s Northwest that was hit by a massive truck bomb at the beginning of the year — might agree.

These new revelations regarding the Time Square plot are confirming my suspicions, which I mention in my first link, that Mehsud and other warlords are filling the vacuum that has been left behind by Osama Bin Laden, who could either be dead or increasingly irrelevant in this seemingly never-ending conflict.

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Somalia violence reaches new proportions

May 1, 2010

Today, two powerful bombs tore through a mosque in the heart of Mogadishu, killing dozens of people and opening up a new front of violence that had been limited, for the most part at least, to Iraq and Pakistan, where attacks on mosques and markets are a regular occurrence. Although in this case, the forces fighting for “resistance” (Al-Shabaab and Hizbul-Islam) are targeting each other…instead of innocent Shiite worshipers. A senior leader of Al-Shabaab was supposedly addressing his supporters at the mosque when the bombs went off. From what I have seen so far, the attacks do not appear to be suicide bombings, although Somalia has been faced with several of them. Last week, Al-Shabaab dispatched a suicide car bomber to an African Union Base, claiming it was revenge for the killings of Masri and Baghadi, Al-Qaeda’s two top leaders in Iraq.

Here’s the story about the attacks:

More than 45 people including Al Shabaab insurgents were killed and 100 others wounded in an Iraq-style twin bombing inside a mosque in Somalia’s restive capital Mogadishu, witnesses and security officials told Garowe Online.

Witnesses said the bombs went off shortly after the afternoon prayers inside the Abdalla Shideye Mosque in Bakara Market, a stronghold for the insurgent group, Al Shabaab.

“The explosions were big and occurred inside the Mosque. The place turned dark with huge black smoke everywhere the mosque. I saw several dead and injured people,” said eyewitness Abdinasir Ahmed.

He added that at the time of the explosion, a senior commander of Al Shabaab named Sheikh Fuad Mohamed Shongole was delivering a sermon to the mosque’s congregants.

Ali Muse of Mogadishu Ambulance Service said they have assisted “over 100” wounded people, and some are in critical condition.

Sheikh Ali Mohammed Rage, Al Shabaab’s spokesman, blamed “foreign mercenaries” for the blasts.

Unsurprisingly, Shabaab’s leaders are pointing the finger at “foreign mercenaries” for this attack. At least its not as ridiculous as the claims by some people in the Arab world and American leftists/right-wing isolationists that the CIA is responsible for the car bombings in Iraq.

Slumdog Billionaires

January 11, 2010

If you’ve ever seen the stories of people who are addicted to meth, cocaine, and other drugs, its tragic. But there is A LOT more too it, because these people are not only ruining their own lives — their actions are fueling what has become a civil war south of the border. This can no longer be ignored…its time for action, and not just from the besieged government of President Felipe Calderon in Mexico. This battle demands the involvement and decisions made by the individual, in addition to international governments, police, and the military.

Avenida Revolucion in Tijuana (Photo by Corey Hunt)

Considering the lack of coverage this phenomenal situation south of the US border has recieved on television news, you might be shocked by this:

Mexico opened the new year with what could be its most dubious distinction yet in the 3-year-old battle against drug trafficking – 69 murders in one day.

The country resembled a grim, statistical dart board Saturday as law enforcement and media reported the deaths from various regions, including 26 in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, 13 in and around Mexico City and 10 in the northern city of Chihuahua.

More than 6,500 drug-related killings made 2009 the bloodiest year since President Felipe Calderon declared war on the cartels in late 2006 and deployed 45,000 soldiers to fight organized crime, according to death tallies by San Diego’s Trans-Border Institute.

Two weeks into 2010, gang bloodshed is becoming more grotesque as drug lords ramp up their attempts at intimidation. Last week a victim’s face was peeled from his skull and sewn onto a soccer ball. On Monday, prosecutors in Culiacan identified the remains of 41-year-old former police officer divided into two separate ice chests.

This goes beyond words. I only wish that the meth, crack, and pot heads getting a fix every night here in the US knew where their stashes were coming from and worse, who is profiting from it.  Years of bringing drugs across the border into the United States has made people like Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, Mexico’s most wanted man,   billionaires…If “Slumdog Millionaire” had a dark version, these guys would be the stars, recruiting hundreds, if not thousands of young Mexican men from the poorest neighborhoods into a Jihadi-style violence mafia, where anyone deemed as a threat is done away with in the most psychopathic of ways. In fact, comparing Jihadis and Al-Qaeda to the above violence might not be enough, because over the last couple of years, more beheadings have taken place in Mexico than anywhere else in the world. Even Hakimullah Mehsud, the Taliban leader mentioned in my last post, might cringe at the thought of stitching a rival’s face onto a soccer ball. Exactly how evil does a Homo Sapiens have to be to do something like this?!

Religious beliefs and politics don’t have much of a place in Mexico’s violence…just pure human greed and a desire to come out on top. It makes me angry when I think of America’s obsession with drugs. Is it really worth sneaking out into the dark of night, evading the cops, breaking the law, and enabling what is tantamount to a civil war  just to take a hit of crystal meth? Its people like this that are empowering the drug cartels and making them the “Slumdog” billionaires of a country that is increasingly becoming North America’s version of Somalia.

Some people will say we need to legalize drugs and that will stop the violence. Maybe that’s true, but it’s not going to happen anytime soon. So for the time being, the best advice I can give to my fellow Americans is PLEASE stop using drugs! Mexico has become the world’s meth lab and it needs to be shut down…if only people cared more about the children of Mexico than rotting their teeth out with meth and tweaking with crack and LSD. Mexico’s slumdog billionaires have the clueless drug-using population in America and the terrorized people of their own country in the palm of their hands. It’s like a playground where Satan would frolic with Jeffrey Dahmer and America won’t stop its investments.

Toby Keith brings reality to Norway

December 11, 2009

As the attacks on President Barack Obama intensify over his Afghanistan policy, country music star Toby Keith is standing beside him–supporting his decision with a performance in Oslo, Norway.

While I have my disagreements over whether or not Obama deserved the Peace Prize, it goes without question that an effort to stabilize Afghanistan by crushing the Taliban fall under the category of trying to bring peace to the world. Even the Dalai Lama, who many see as the most peaceful man on earth, has said that fanatical extremists like the Taliban cannot be reasoned with. Some of the European “peace activists” and the American leftists back home who have gone up in arms (sic) over Obama’s surge strategy need to be reminded of this. No amount of reasoning and dialogue is going to stop the Taliban from hating women, blowing stuff up, or wanting to bring about a global backslide into the dark ages.

From AP:

OSLO — There’s no reason to apologize for supporting U.S. war efforts, American country singer Toby Keith said Friday, just hours before performing at the annual Nobel Peace Prize concert.

Keith, whose 2002 saber-rattling hit “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)” was inspired by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, said he stands by President Barack Obama’s decision to send 30,000 troops to Afghanistan.

Keith’s appearance at the downtown Oslo Spektrum arena, scheduled for 1900 GMT (2 p.m. EST), has been questioned by Norwegians dismayed that a performer known for a fervent pro-war anthem is playing at a show focused on peace.

The musician dismissed the criticism.

“If President Obama has to send (more) troops into Afghanistan to fight evil, I’ll pull for our guys to win, and I won’t apologize for it,” Keith said. “I’m an American, and I do pull for our team to fight evil.”

His comments come the day after Obama traveled to Oslo to collect his Nobel Peace Prize and defended his decision to increase troop levels in Afghanistan. “Make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world,” Obama said in Thursday’s speech.

The peace prize laureate normally attends the concert, which is held in his or her honor. Obama’s seat, however, will remain empty. The president left the Norwegian capital early Friday morning, blaming a jammed schedule for cutting the usual three-day stay to just over 24 hours.

The Taliban are no doubt angry about Obama’s decision, so Afghans and Pakistanis at the center of this battle might want to avoid going to mosques and shopping centers for a while. The insurgents tend to take their violence to civilian areas when things don’t go their way.

Time to call it as it is

July 30, 2009

Yes, Iraq still exists. There was a time when it was the biggest story out there. It was in a state of complete chaos, devastating bombings rocking the country on a daily basis and militias roaming the street day and night, terrorizing and killing anyone who visited the wrong mosque. The situation was labeled a “civil war” by the media and just about anyone who tried to prove the opposite—that hope was not lost— was dismissed as a neocon or a “warmonger”. That was the past.

Iraqi army soldiers

These days, the Baghdad correspondents who many Americans invited into their homes in the evening to tell tales of death and destruction have gradually disappeared. Often, a Google search of certain Iraqi cities will yield few results. With two successful elections this year, stunning security success, and a departure of US troops from major cities, Iraq is on track to succeed.  But, despite a dramatic drop in news coverage that trends opposite a rise in progress and stability, you can still find regular articles in the newspaper, on TV and on the internet about the” War in Iraq”; usually they are about troop withdrawals or an attack that the enemies of humanity—the “minutemen”, as Michael Moore termed them—manage to pull off against Iraq’s civilian population. Either you hear that, or you hear nothing…that’s an industry that’s supposed to bring fairness and accuracy to the American population at work for you. Quite an achievement in society, isn’t it?

Although there is much work to be done, its time for the media to stop referring to the situation as “the war” and focus instead on Iraq’s emergence as a sovereign country with a fully capable army and police force that brought law, order, and stability to major Iraqi cities that were once deemed “lost” to the insurgency by conniving politicians, like Harry Reid, and hatchet-piece news reports that have had an awful tendency to dot the front pages of the New York Times and the evening news. In fairness to the Iraqi people, whether or not Iraq is “at war” can rightfully be questioned. Misleading the public by portraying Iraq as something it’s not is detrimental not only to society, but to humanity. Its hard to argue that a stable Iraq is in everyone’s interest, unless of course it doesn’t fit into your zealous political aspirations.

The biggest indication that Iraq’s dark days are behind it is the face of the insurgency, or lack thereof. Zarqawi is dead. Abu Ayyub Al-Maasri, his replacement, has not been heard from since 2007 and reports suggest he is in Afghanistan.  Al-Sadr and his hiddeous deputy, Abu Deraa, have scurried off to Iran without even a whimper. As of today, every man who has taken a major role as a leader in the insurgency has been killed, jailed, or fled the country, leaving the so-called resistance without leadership or any form of  logistical organization. Running gun battles and ambushes targeting the Iraqi Security Forces are down almost one-hundred percent while the ISF rules the streets in Basra, Ramadi, and Diyala. Then there are the elections. Last January saw a peaceful and successful democratic election that gave Iraqis the chance to join other democracies without having suicide attackers and car bombs detonate as they lined up. Last week, Iraq’s Kurdistan region went to the polls in a peaceful and efficient election, bringing a death blow to the once-resilient criticism that Iraq could never become a functioning democracy.  In layman’s terms, it’s over…everyone who wanted to see the Iraqis fail at building a stable, democratic society has lost, pure and simple. And “everyone” covers a lot of ground, from the despotic Arab regimes that surround Iraq, to the still blood-soaked streets of Tehran, and the halls of Congress that were witness to countless resolutions drafted up congressmen and woman who sought to derail the success of Iraq and Iraqis to protect their political investments. The latter have both a (D) and an (R) in front of their names.

Iraq still faces trouble, particularly from its neighbors. As the uprising in Iran refuses to give up, its hard to predict what the regime in Tehran could do if 70 million people hungry for democracy and secularization bring it into its death throws. We all know the horror of what the Baathists, Saddam supporters, and Sunni extremists did to Iraq after they fell from power, there is no doubt that, if Khomeinism implodes, it could spew out the same terrorism—such as market and café bombings—and Iraq could bear the brunt of this, especially if the Mullahs and their allies sought to shift media attention away from their demise, which is becoming more of a possibility each day. Personally, I don’t think it’s a coincidence June saw an increased rate of high-profile attacks against Iraqi civilians as protests raged next door in Iran. Of course, a desperate and humiliated Al-Qaeda in Iraq was also eager to make it seem as if their attacks, not the June 30th deadline, were driving American soldiers from Iraqi cities and back to their bases. Despite rabid media hopes and speculation, the violence that hit parts of Iraq in June has not spilled over into July, and this month looks to be as calm as May, which was the calmest month in Iraq since 2003.

A congragulations and an apology to the people of Iraq from politicians across the United States should be in order. I’m not naïve though, and you shouldn’t be either. In the eyes of the Reids and Pelosis of the world, Iraq mind as well have spun off the earth’s axis. It was a subject that scored them a few cheap political points and could be swept under the rug when everything backfired. In fact, if it wasn’t for the financial crisis, I can’t help but feel that American voters might have seen what had been going on behind the curtains and rightfully voted against these people. It amazes me how a Senator can declare an effort lost and refer to a 4-star general as a liar without being ran straight out of office. 2010 could bring some solace to those of us who stood by Iraq in the most difficult of times, but the real solace comes in the continued growth and success in Iraq: the markets re-opening, the schools being built, and the brave young men and women who enlist into Iraq’s security forces and take an oath to protect their fellow citizens, so they can bring their children in a nation that could prove to be the Middle East’s greatest success story.

Pakistan on the front lines

May 27, 2009

Every time I hear American politicians verbally attack Pakistan from the safety of their offices on Capitol Hill, I think they should remember the victims of this vicious act of carnage inflicted on the city of Lahore, in Eastern Pakistan.

Lahore carnage

Rescuers comb through debris after the Lahore attack (AFP photo)

 This is what’s left of a street corner in downtown Lahore, a major city just across Pakistan’s border with India, after suicide bombers detonated a massive car bomb outside of a police headquarters and an ISI office (ISI is Pakistan’s version of the CIA–Inter-Service Intelligence Agency). Up to 30 people were killed in this attack and nearly 300 were injured. All of this happened as Pakistan’s Army is engaged in a full-scale military operation against Taliban fighters in the scenic Swat Valley, which was once a major tourist attraction before the Taliban brought their way of life and all its terror into it.

I think its crazy to accuse Pakistan of not doing enough in the war on terror. The Pakistani people are on the front lines of the war on terror, whether our politicians want to acknowledge this or not. In order to keep America safe since 9/11, the people of Pakistan have paid a very steep toll–unfortunately, the Lahore attack is just one example of a long line of violent acts committed against the Pakistani state. Already this year, Lahore has seen a siege of a police station and an attack on a visiting Sri Lankan Cricket Team. The team suffered injuries, but all of the players survived thanks to the work of the policemen protecting them. Six officers were not so lucky, however. Bombings and other terrorist activities continue to rock cities across the country, including the capital, Islamabad.

Pakistani soldiers and police are laying down their lives so that Americans can debate whether or not terrorism is a legitimate concern almost 8 years after 9/11. Yet, it seems that all our leaders will do is harass the Pakistani government and go so far as to accuse Pakistan of sympathizing with the Taliban, a laughable accusation that has nonetheless outraged some Pakistanis. The President of Pakistani, Asif Ali Zardari, lost his wife, Benazir Bhutto, in a bombing back in 2007, and former President Musharraf survived multiple assassination attempts that involved shootings, IED’s, and suicide bombers. Last year, Condoleezza Rice ruled out US sanctuary for Musharraf after he was threatened with impeachment. Rice claimed that former President Musharraf’s declaration of a state of emergency was out of line with democracy, but maybe she should be asking what an American President would do if bombings were rocking cities all across the United States on a weekly basis. Would she honestly say that America would not be in a state of emergency then?

As an American, I am grateful for everything that Pakistan has done. In the months after 9/11, almost everyone I talked to felt that another attack on US soil was imminent–people were buying duct tape to seal their doors out of fear that Al-Qaeda would launch a chemical attack and some Americans felt the need to purchase their own firearms. Others felt that the suicide bombings that had been seen in Israeli cafes and buses would be arriving in US in just a matter of time. In the 7 and a half years since our nation’s worst terror attack, none of that has happened. Americans have remained safe and have been able to go about their lives, largely without having to worry about being blown up. This is not because terrorism is not a legitimate threat, but because all of those fears–the suicide bombers, the chemical attacks, the shootouts–they have all been happening in places like Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq. In the last 6 years, hundreds of terrorists have blown themselves up in cities all across these three countries, taking a toll that is difficult for Westerners to contemplate.

Pakistan has made mistakes just as much as the US has, but Americans should take it easy on the Pakistani Army, police, and government because there are plenty of reasons for them to want to hesitate, especially because it is their cities and people who pay the price when the Taliban and Al-Qaeda retaliate while Americans are on the other side of the world sleeping in peace.