Posts Tagged ‘Taliban’

Knock, knock…

July 19, 2010

On Thursday evening Americans could see and hear a car bomb as it exploded in downtown Juarez — the city I just returned from a few weeks ago. The blast hit a Federal Police convoy and killed 3 people, rattling law enforcement on both sides of the border and creating fears that the bombings that shook Colombia throughout the 80’s and 90’s could make a comeback a few hundreds yards from the US border.

Investigators and bystanders gather at the site of a car bomb attack in Colombia.

When I saw the image of the burning police trucks on the El Paso Times website, I felt a personal connection. During my visit to Juarez in June, I spent a day interviewing the Federal Police and riding in one of their convoys, as the video in my previous post shows. With this attack, the Juarez Cartel — which claimed responsibility for the car bomb — puts itself on the same level as Jihadist groups like the Pakistani Taliban, which attempted to bomb Time Square with its own explosive-laden vehicle in May.  The Juarez hit, however, suceeded…and just a short stroll form the United States.  The explosion of car bombs and the rattle of AK-47 is knocking on our door…and its even found a way in.

Here are the links to my articles about Juarez. The first one was published on July 2nd and the second came out on July 9th. A third installment will follow at the beginning of August — this time around, I will be reporting from Phoenix.


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.

The revenge of the drones

January 9, 2010

The US military should release this video to Hakimullah Mehsud, his Pakistani Taliban, and the other terrorists swarming Pakistan in response to the video that was released on Saturday:

Hakimullah has become the Pakistani version of Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, the Al-Qaeda leader who conducted massive terrorism against Iraqi civilians…and now he is angry about the death of his own leader, Baitullah Mehsud, who was taken out by a predator drone back in August. In response, the Pakistani Taliban has released punishing attacks on Pakistani civilians from Peshawar to Karachi, killing almost 1,000 people in the last few months and terrorizing fellow Muslims. Now they’ve claimed responsibility for an attack on the CIA. The CIA bomber–a Jordanian double-agent–targeted a base in Afghanistan used for US drone attacks in Pakistan.

Here is the video that was released by the bomber…he’s seen sitting beside Hakimullah. Honestly, I find this very frightening. The face of extremism has changed a lot in recent years…while Bin Laden may be dead, Hakimullah Mehsud (who is only in his 20’s) is leading a new campaign of violence that has brought chaos down upon a nuclear-armed state.

What’s even scarier than Hakimullah though is the Pakistani Army’s complete inability to see who the real enemy is. As attacks bring carnage to its cities, it seems there’s always some police chief, intel officer, or government minister who blames India, instead of fellow Muslims, for the violence. Pakistan continues to keep its best soldiers on its border with India, even as the Taliban destabilizes the country to unprecedented levels that could lead to an fundamentalist Revolution.

It’s important to say that the drone attacks have continued…with 6 of them taking place in the last week alone. As Hakimullah and his allies continue to hide, drones are flying over the snow-capped peaks of Pakistan with their images in mind. Zarqawi and Baitullah Mehsud lived by the bomb…and they died by the bomb. As Johnny Cash would say “When the man comes around…”

The Taliban should think things through. Hakimullah has used a disproportionately high number of teenage suicide bombers for his attacks, which suggests that he and his top commanders might not be as willing to face death as they say claim they are.

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.

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.