A Fight to the Death against Islamic Jihadis
14 May, 2009
This article first appeared in Australian Islamist Monitor
The West are quite literally between a rock and a hard place. That is to say that fundamentalist Islam is being engaged on battlefields around the world, especially in Afghanistan and as the body count rises among our troopsi, the war will become harder to justify and increasingly unpopular. At least for the moment, it is seen as a just war but we should never forget that but we are at war on the home front also. Far better writers than me, such as Mark Steyn ["America Alone"], Melanie Phillips ["Londonistan"], Walid Phares ["Future Jihad" et seq] and many others, including Robert Spencer have written of 'stealth jihad' and the tactics used by the enemy within to use the freedoms of democracy against our nation.ii
Then, as recent trials have shown, all too clearly, that there are wannabe terrorists in our midst and I remain convinced that we are far too relaxed about the situation. I have written a lot more about the foreign policy aspects of what has become a worldwide conflict and it could well be that islammonitor.org would like to reproduce them. My main focus in writing this article is to examine the question of terrorism or Islamic jihad; recent overseas events and attempt to link them to the domestic situation. However, to look forward a little, it is firstly necessary to look in the rear view mirror at the global situation and tune-up one's lexicon.
1. A definitional problem. In dealing with the alphabet soup of names of proscribed terrorist groups and their support organizations, I have tried to maintain consistency by using the most frequent spelling that occurs in the media. Naturally enough, there are differences between the US and UK versions of these groups. In the final analysis, it doesn't mean a great deal because they change constantly.2. As they say in the classics, yesterday's terrorist is today's freedom fighter and quite possibly tomorrow's statesman. I do not believe that to be the case with the Taliban or Al Qaeda. Before launching into a brief discussion of events over the past few months, I felt it might be pertinent to remind readers that Al Qaeda translated means "the base" and it is not an organizational structure in the recognized sense. The principal reason for parts of Northwest Pakistan and Afghanistan getting the treatment from Predator drones is a calculated attempt to locate Osama bin Laden and eliminate him and the top leadership. There is a belief in the allied military establishment that taking out the top leaders will solve the problem. I maintain that a dispersed organization would result from this policy and be much more difficult to combat, especially on our own soil.
3. Similarly, the translation of Taliban literally means "the students." After the Soviets had left Afghanistan, their puppet government led by Muhammad Najibullah soon fell to pieces, notwithstanding the fact that he was a Pashtun, the largest and most dominant tribal group in the area. In the chaos that passed for government, the Taliban emerged from Pakistan and soon Afghanistan fell, province by province, city by city, town by town and so on. Najibullah was caught and suffered a brutal death. I won't say that it wasn't deserved but it reminded me of the execution of Mussolini or at least the aftermath, in the way the body was displayed in public. The Taliban were and are Islamic fundamentalists. They draw their strength from many tribal groupings and it has to be understood quite clearly that across that part of the world, the tribe and the feudal system are the most important social structures. I recently read that a Soviet Army general who had served in Afghanistan referred to the country as living in the sixth century. Perhaps he was right but the soil already fertilized by too much blood, was enriched further by the bloody rule of the Taliban. Not content with murdering and instituting an extreme form of Shar'ia law (the usual, involving inhumane surgery on female genitalia; no schooling for girls; restriction of women to the home and vicious beheading of those believed to be apostates, which became something of a public spectacle) the Taliban managed to alienate just about everybody except Osama bin Laden who is apparently on record as saying that Afghanistan under the Taliban was his ideal model of a Muslim state and eventually the Caliphate.iii4. As we all know, their bloody record along with the destruction of historical relics and support for terrorism against the West led to American intervention after 9/11, when Afghanistan was seen as part of the "axis of evil." There are days when I wish that George W. Bush had not used that particular term or the Global War on Terror (GWOT) because it became debased very quickly and brought out the protesters, whom I referred to as the usual suspects, and gave them a new focus and impetus in anti-Americanism
5. As I have written in a number of articles, the problems faced in Afghanistan and Pakistan reflect the retreat of the British Raj and the disintegration of India, firstly with Pakistan breaking away in 1947 and then after a major war between the two powers in 1971, East Pakistan became Bangladesh. Alphabetically, there is what I refer to as an "arc of instability" in the whole region which encompasses Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Afghanistan has always been locked in conflict or caught between conflicts between major powers and in many respects, it is the most underdeveloped of the countries in the region. Tribal loyalties and basically feudal society still exist despite attempts to modernize the country from without and within.iv
The first attack took place on 26 November 2008 and the counter-action was declared finished some two days later. It soon became abundantly clear that this was not a suicide attack but a guerrilla or terrorist attack; basically a hit-and-run operation. The Indian defence forces have been castigated for slow reactionv , and it was apparent that the attackers were well-armed, well-trained and familiar with the city. It has been proven that reconnaissance was carried out on the ground using Google Earth and contact between the terrorists and those directing the attack basically rested on the use of Skype computer linked telephone system. Intercepted messages during the attacks pointed to Pakistan and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) as being responsible. Of the 14 members of the raiding party, all were killed except for one who is currently before the court.
Three months later, on March 3, 2009, a bus carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team to the third day of the Second Test Match in the aptly-named Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore was part of a convoy attacked by 12-14 armed men, later to be described as "well-trained, well-armed and professional," by police. Their weaponry comprised, mines, Rockets-Propelled Grenades (RPGs) hand-grenades, mines, AK-47s explosives and pistols. It was an eerie re-run of Mumbai because this was not a suicide attack. It was a typical hit-and-run terrorist attack and despite well-meaning writers on terrorism describing it as a new form of jihad, there was nothing new about the tactics.
The attack lasted a mere six minutes and all the attackers got away, jogging from the scene and then disappearing on motorcycles and motorized rickshaws. No one was captured by the authorities and the whole incident appeared on CC-TV and was soon broadcast around the world. The Sri Lankan team was evacuated by helicopter and the cricket series abandoned as a draw. In 2002, the New Zealand cricket team abandoned a tour after a bomb exploded outside their hotel in a suicide attack, and more recently Australia had refused to tour the country. Not unexpectedly, the Indian team withdrew after the Mumbai incident. However, to allay Sri Lankan concerns, the Pakistani authorities had offered what was described as "Presidential-style security" to touring teams and given that the President's wife, Benazir Bhutto, returning from self-imposed external exile had been killed a few months earlier, the promise of protection had more than a hollow ring but the tour went ahead – until the attack, after which the team was evacuated.
Given that there is an Al Qaeda presence in many of Pakistan's provinces and a Taliban/Al Qaeda overlap, this is hardly blaming an external enemy and it is highly likely/distinctly probable that LeT was behind the attack, on the basis of comparison with Mumbai and intelligence chatter. However, responsibility for the attack was subsequently claimed by the Tehrik-e-Taliban - the Pakistan Taliban - led by Batullah Mehsud, a capable, dangerous and ruthless opponent. At last, I thought, a genuine case of home-grown terrorism. And if the attacks in Mumbai and Lahore are any indication, fundamentalist Islamic jihadists enjoy the benefits of 21st century technology and use it to their advantage, while rejecting completely the values of the society that produced the various computers, radios, global positioning systems and so on.
It is fair to say that the attack against the Sri Lankan cricket team attracted more attention in cricket playing countries than America, which was still fixated on the early activities of the new President. Unfortunately, both Mumbai and attacks involved the killing of police and civilians and very few foreigners. I say unfortunate because it appears to me that the media isn't really interested unless a significant number of white-skinned people are killed. vii And that wasn't to be the end of it, because Tehrik-e-Taliban launched a savage attack on the Manawan Police Academy at an outer suburb of Lahore on 30 March, just short of four weeks later.
Once again, Batullah Mehsud claimed responsibility on behalf of the Tehrik-e-Taliban and promised to the world's press that he would take the war to Washington, quite literally. Mehsud is based in South Waziristan and is known to have connections with Al Qaeda. Furthermore, at this time, he also claimed the "credit" for the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, whom he described as a “CIA whore”. While seen by many as something of a self-publicist, the Pakistani police and armed forces apparently have a great deal of respect for his ability.
These events do not happen in a vacuum and there have been claims that Islamic fundamentalist groups have forged a broad coalition or even a united force to oppose the government of Asif Ali Zardari. viii However, taking in the broader picture, it is evident that the road to Kabul now leads through Pakistan and at last, the US and allied forces are taking far more notice of internal developments in the affairs of their nominal ally, Pakistan, which is hardly surprising given Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and production facilities close to porous borders.ix
While it is true that Pakistan has an urban elite and a more modern class structure, it is still a Muslim country and as an old friend of mine would say: "It is surely no coincidence that LeT is trained in Pakistan and operates in the West."xi It is extremely hard to see cultured, sophisticated, poor and wealthy Pakistanis alike wholeheartedly embracing jihadist ideology, because that is what we are talking about, a terrorist body sustained by a belief system embodied in the Koran. I will leave it to other scholars to reproduce the more bloodcurdling hadiths of the holy book. The fact of the matter remains that while the Americans and allies were fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, their nominal allies in Pakistan were expected to prevent the Taliban and crossing the border and finding sanctuary in the Badlands or "bandit country" of Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Provinces, collectively known as the NWFPs.
Now that Baitullah Mehsud has claimed responsibility,xii this can now be seen as an unambiguously political and sectarian killing, because Ms. Bhutto held ideas about democracy that are entirely inconsistent with the ideology of the fundamentalists in Pakistan and herself embodied certain ”alien” Western values, especially those related to women’s rights. I am not trying to gloss over her perceived and actual shortcomings but she was a serious female leadership contender and represented a threat to fundamentalist Muslims and indeed the patriarchal structure of Pakistani society.
This should be seen as part of an ongoing process because for years the Pakistan Taliban’s implementation of Shar’ia law across tracts of Pakistan and the Swat valley was little different from Afghanistan under the displaced Taliban government and there is no logical reason to suggest that there would be any difference. However, it is necessary to put the Taliban offensive of 2009, which included the terrorist attacks, into the broader context dictated by foreign politics. In short, with the election of Barack Obama, the Taliban saw a window of opportunity and advanced deeper until the Pakistani government mounted a counter-attack.
Understandably, I think there was a strong desire on behalf of the Democrat President to distance himself from his predecessor. In short order, Guantánamo Bay (Gitmo) was closed; various elements of the intelligence community found themselves with new leaders and the processes of so-called rendition and "waterboarding" were terminated.xiii He then announced that he wanted to improve relations with Russia and "hit the reset button." But the real shock lay in speeches, which caused great affront to the political establishment. He announced that he wanted to reach out to leaders in Latin and South America and has already attended one conference with the likes of Hugo Chavez and Daniel Ortega. As some South American countries enjoy relations with Hezbollah, Iran and nations considered to be hostile to the US, he will need more than luck. It has already been ascertained that drugs and guns are imported into America via Mexico and measures to clamp down on cross-border traffic have increased.
President Obama addressing the Turkish Parliament spoke of reaching out to the "moderate" elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan. The initial reaction, with which I identified fully, was a sense of shock and disbelief. Undoubtedly, there had been prior consultation behind the scenes before the public announcement and the President had been engaged in discussions with the military, especially General David Petraeus and Afghan President Hamid Karzai. xiv Once the initiative hit the press and was revealed in presidential speeches, especially on 28 March, to use a popular saying, it was on for young and old. As usual, I sat back and reviewed the foreign press including the US, the UK, Australian, Indian and Pakistan English language press and Internet media.
To the best of my knowledge and research, no modern superpower has been successful in asymmetrical warfare. Without specifying too many cases, we need only mention the US in Vietnam and the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Only the British in the 1950s and later, managed to conduct effective counterinsurgency operations and defeat the communist enemy on the Malayan Peninsula. So there is absolutely no harm in canvassing various options for the future but in many respects, the current situation would be comical, were it not for the fact that lives are being lost every day. Consider the mythical tale of Emperor Nero playing the fiddle while Rome burned. While Barack Obama was looking for options in Afghanistan, he ran into problems with the fire getting out of hand. I could easily fill several pages of quotations and comments by experts about the worth of a dialogue with the Taliban. And I will state my own position, which is a dialogue with the devil is inadvisable, if not impossible. Furthermore, I do not propose pursuing the argument further. Instead, consider the words of some who should know: I was struck by the words of Waheed Mozhdah, an analyst and former official in both the Taliban and the Karzai governments, who has written a book on the Taliban. "Obama's comment (on dialogue) resembles a dream more than reality...Where are the so-called moderate Taliban? Who are the moderate Taliban?" asked Mozhdah, and he should know. Another Afghani analyst virtually repeated the same question: "Moderate Taliban' is like 'moderate killer'. Is there such a thing?" asked the expert Qaseem Akhgar. Not unexpectedly, the matter has reverberated among experts and pundits alike.xvi
Whatever happened at the end of April 2009 has not been leaked completely but it certainly appears that the US told the Pakistani government that if they did not deal with the Taliban, then the US would. Pakistan's armed forces are relatively competent but their loyalty remains untested. Many are devout Muslims and the thought of having American boots on Pakistani soil is totally unacceptable. As a recent opinion piece stated Pakistanis fear the Taliban but hate the Americans.xix It is a chilling and sobering thought that around the world, the vast majority of Muslims believe that 9/11 was an operation conducted by Israeli intelligence and that Zionists control the US government. This is not mere humbug but the product of extensive research and it highlights the dilemma facing the US President and the West in general. Adding fuel to the flames on various claims that Afghanistan is becoming "Obama's Vietnam." The references are too numerous to list, despite official denials and heightened concern but before the present crisis in Pakistan came to the fore, "Obama's Vietnam" was said to be Afghanistan!
Many column inches of newspapers have been devoted to the attack by Pakistani helicopters and commandos on the Taliban, allegedly driving them out of the regional city of Buner and harassing enemy forces in the Swat Valley. Unfortunately, the mindset in a lot of the American press appears to see the Pakistani government action as a sign that the tide has turned and the enemy will be defeated. Too few have read even the most basic works on guerrilla warfare and this week, there are reports that the Taliban is still in control in the Swat Valley and is holding hostages - some surprise. Personally, I was staggered to read on May 5 that there was a peace treaty being threatened in that part of the country. xx One of the first reader's comments to the Times of London article stated what I would consider to be the bleeding obvious.
And as if this isn't a sufficient problem, Pakistan faces the problem of a separatist movement in a large province, Baluchistan, which at the time of the Russian incursion into Afghanistan was considered to be a principal objective in gaining a water port in the area. Bangladesh, once part of Pakistan also has a number of Islamic fundamentalist groups with links to the Taliban and Al Qaeda. This is all happening at a time when the Presidents of Pakistan and Afghanistan are visiting Washington to discuss matters of mutual interest and military tactics.xxi
By now I would not be blaming any reader for wondering where this article is leading but I can assure you that if you persist, you will grasp the reality of what the West is facing in the way of a challenge from fundamentalist Islam. Of sheer necessity, this article has devoted a great deal of time to Pakistan and its somewhat precarious state. I think it is fair to say that we have some affinity for several of the countries on the Indian subcontinent, especially if we follow cricket. However, the Pakistani dimension is particularly important for two fundamental reasons. The first is that many Pakistanis study abroad and gain residency status in Australia, Canada, the UK and the US. The corollary of this statement is that there has been any number of terrorist plots uncovered in the West where well-educated Pakistanis have been involved. I have known many Pakistanis personally and worked with a few in my time and I would not like this article to be seen as a vehicle for racist sentiments: it is not; rather it is describing what is known about the Islamic radicalism and fundamentalism in Pakistan and Pakistani communities abroad.xxii
As a consequence of a simple mistake (and it is absolutely amazing just how easy senior officers can be so preoccupied as to carry round visible documents, to say nothing of leaving computers and memory sticks on public transport) one of the most respected antiterrorist police offices at Scotland Yard, Bob Quick fell on his sword and resigned. Had he not done so, there was no alternative for the Home Secretary, Ms. Jacqui Smith. She would have been compelled to ask for his resignation. In the event, what appeared at first blush to be the makings of a fully fledged terrorist plot designed to attack cities in the British Midlands turned out to be little more than a visa scam and most of those detained were duly released and deported. Ms. Smith herself has a great deal to handle with her portfolio but it was also a near criminal error to reveal to a newspaper that not a day would go by this year without there being a terrorist trial conducted somewhere in the country. The problem for Ms. Smith was that the comment was made to the German magazine Der Spiegel and only reported later in the British media.xxiii
As most readers know, I have a very firm line on what constitutes "home-grown terrorism." On more than one occasion, I have been virtually compelled to point out that multiculturalism, which has never been approved as a policy at an election is a double-edged sword. For example, the demographics of the English city of Bradford could be considered somewhat alarming. At one stage, it was the centre of the British wool and textile industry and became the home for many migrants from India and Pakistan. It is in fact quite debatable how and to what extent these migrants have become assimilated because that is a dirty word; one that no politician aiming to retain his seat will use at the moment, any more than criticizing multiculturalism.
As a social scientist who has read a lot about immigrant communities in the UK, I can say that while they may speak English with a Yorkshire accent in Bradford and kick soccer balls around, the Muslim community generally adheres to the mosque; activities related to the particular gathering and the teachings of Islamic clergy. Furthermore, it is extremely important to realize that in the Islamic community, a person well-tutored in the Koran and other revered texts can call himself an Imam (Imaan) or even a mullah. In some respects, this is no different from certain Christian groups unlike the mainstream Catholic, Anglican and Protestant churches which expect their clergy to study not only religion but the languages of the Bible and history.
A point that I've often made is that a firebrand mullah such as our own Sheik Taj El din Hilaly or a firebrand Christian Zionist preacher have one thing in common: they are both looking at the End Times; the Apocalypse or the end of the world, depending on your viewpoint. I draw no distinction between the two in terms of intent. However, as we have seen in the UK, a migrant joins an existing immigrant community and that is the basis of his social life. And if a religion teaches you that a martyr's death is glorious, with a reward in heaven, there is usually no shortage of volunteers.
Just as an example and comparator, when I was much younger, back in the 1970s, ABC-TV made a Four Corners program on the lack of assimilation of Greek migrants in Australia. I distinctly remember one man who worked on the production line at the Dandenong plant of what was then GMH Holden. Through an interpreter, he told the interviewer that he spoke Greek at home and at work; his supervisor was a Greek and he saw Greek films at a small independent cinema and mixed with other Greeks at a social club and a soccer club. As far as I know, the Greek Orthodox Church was not planning to overthrow the Australian government or endorse acts of terrorism against Australian interests at home or abroad. That is the fundamental difference between the big Greek communities abroad and Islamic communities, especially Pakistani, Bangladeshi and more recently Somalis. In no sense can they be seen as indigenous to their new country. They cling to the old ways and traditions, which is their right but the line must be drawn when their religion urges jihad against the infidel i.e. us!
It must be most discomforting for the British government to learn by an embarrassing leak that the US Central Intelligence Agency conducts clandestine operations on British soil against migrant groups and Pakistanis in particular. Under normal circumstances, I would consider this to be reprehensible behaviour and favor expulsion of anyone caught in flagrante delicto, and if a diplomat, acting in a fashion inconsistent with stated duties or in more common parlance "at it," my view is: they should be booted out. But we live in disturbing and dangerous times. I don't have any knowledge about CIA operations in this country, but I would say that anywhere where there is a large Pakistani or similar migrant group which carries the poisonous seeds of terrorism, the Americans have every right to cover the activities of these people if it is beyond the capacity of the local authorities. In the UK, it has been made manifestly clear that despite the enormous resources and the greatest coverage per head of population by CCTV cameras, the authorities and police do not have the manpower to cover every group in every community. That is why the books I referred to at the beginning of this article are so important because they explain quite conclusively how the West is being infiltrated by Islamic fundamentalists. Then of course, there is the question of the appeasers or the usual suspects. In the case of the latter, it is strictly a case of: "by their deeds shall ye know them," and all the relics of the left who hate America more than they love their own country are fairly visible. Not quite so visible are those who practice moral equivalence and accuse those of us who are aware of the dangers of jihadists as Islamophobes and claim we suffer from a mental condition. As for the appeasers, I think Winston Churchill had it right when he said: "An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last."
Owing to practicalities and the length of this piece, this matter will be discussed further in my next article which concerns the enemy within; political correctness and weasel words.
Notes and References:
[i] As of Anzac Day 2009, 10 Australian servicemen had been killed in Afghanistan
[ii] You will notice none are Australian and this is a method for some concern. Dr. Mervyn Bendle has carried the fight to the appeasers and the usual suspects in academe and deserves our support but by and large, the definitive work on the struggle between Western values and Islam in Australia has yet to be written. It is my earnest hope that the impetus for such a work will not be a terrorist attack.
[iii] Messages, (2005), p.143. from an interview published in Al-Quds Al-Arabi in London 12 November 2001 (originally published in Pakistani daily, Ausaf, Nov. 7 Reportedly one of bin Laden’s messages to his followers - non English Translation located.
[iv] Rather intriguingly, these countries all play cricket and the game was seen as inviolable and even a bridge between the majority Hindus of India and the Muslims who comprise the bulk of the population of the other states. While I was researching this paper, Afghanistan played Scotland in a Group Two cricket match under the auspices of the ICC and surprisingly defeated the Scots. I could be facetious and say that the arm that throws a grenade would probably make good cricketer.
[v] The Indian government has acknowledged the shortcomings and has embarked on serious retraining and better equipment for counter-terrorist forces. The Indian police force in the front-line against the attackers fought bravely and as I noted elsewhere, they were outgunned; under-equipped, especially with the lack of modern body armour and their basic weapon was the Lee Enfield .303 rifle, which despite its accuracy and several other features is no match for an AK-47.
[vi] Most of the media on what we used to refer to as the Indian subcontinent has a lively English press and a great number of bloggers in the English language. Some of the Indian and Pakistani websites that focus on regional problems and terrorism produce remarkably good analyses of events. Without this material, writers such as me would be dependent on mainly US sources and newspapers, which fail to take local differences into account and unfortunately, I strongly suspect that this is true of the intelligence services.
[vii] It is said that Josef Stalin made the claim that the death of one person was a tragedy but the death of thousands was merely a statistic. I noticed with the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team, the UK press paid more attention to several former English cricketers assisting the team, especially Chris Broad.
[viii] The Indian Express of 26 April 2009 claims that the banned groups Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi have a common cause under the banner of the Muslim United Army and their activities are also in line with those of the Taliban, according to a report drawn up by the Crime Investigation Department. The report also said militancy has been rapidly taking roots in Punjab province, especially in the five districts of Muzaffarghar, Dera Ghazi Khan, Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan and Bhakkar.
[ix] Since the Taliban offensive in the Swat Valley and the taking of Buner at the end of April, just about every newspaper in the US and UK have expressed related concerns about the security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons e.g. The McClatchy bureau on May 1; The Independent (UK) May 5 and the Associated Press May 6 reported specific concern allegedly expressed by President Obama on the safeguarding of the weapons and relayed by a White House staffer. (reference)
[x] Press conference with Pres. Barack Obama April 29, 2009 “Obama says he's 'gravely concerned' about Pakistan” McClatchy Washington Bureau.
[xi] The problem about the greater Pakistani diaspora will be dealt with in my next article. Last December, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown stated quite unequivocally that 75% of planned terrorist plots in the UK had Pakistani links. LINK Lashkar-e-Toiba is known to have been involved in training terrorists for overseas operations and is believed to have been operating in concert with Al Qaeda in the notorious 7/7 bombings of 2005 and the failed follow-ups the following month. It is also believed likely that LeT also had a hand in the London and Glasgow airport bombings.
[xii] The claims and counterclaims surrounding the assassination of Benazir Bhutto were plentiful and confusing. I am not normally given to using Wikipedia as a primary source but their summing up of those taking responsibility is succinct and well referenced. ” On 27 December, al-Qaeda commander Mustafa Abu al-Yazid is said to have claimed responsibility for the assassination, telling several news outlets that "We terminated the most precious American asset which vowed to defeat [the] mujahideen." In his statement to the media, he further claimed that al-Yazid stated that al-Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-ZawahiriAsia Times Online also reported that it had received a claim of responsibility from al-Yazid by telephone. U.S. intelligence officials have said that they cannot confirm this claim of responsibility. Nonetheless, U.S. analysts have said that al-Qaeda was a likely or even prime suspect. For its part, the Pakistani Interior Ministry states that it has proof that al-Qaeda was behind the assassination, stating "that the suicide bomber belonged to Lashkar-e-Jhangvi – an al Qaeda-linked Sunni Muslim militant group that the government has blamed for hundreds of killings". The Interior Ministry also claimed to have intercepted a statement by militant leader Baitullah Mehsud, said to be linked to al-Qaeda, in which he congratulated his followers for carrying out the assassination. On 29 December a Mehsud spokesman told the Associated Press that Mehsud was not involved in the assassination: "I strongly deny it. Tribal people have their own customs. We don't strike women. It is a conspiracy by government, military and intelligence agencies." The Pakistan People’s Party also called the government's blame of Mehsud a diversion: "The story that al-Qaida or Baitullah Mehsud did it appears to us to be a planted story, an incorrect story, because they want to divert the attention," said Farhatullah Babar, a spokesman for Bhutto's party. On 18 January CIA Director Michael Hayden (reference) ordered the killing in October 2007. confirmed that Mehsud and his network was responsible on BBC World Service radio.
[xiii] The arguments about the value of torture and obtaining information from enemy combatants have raged for years and will continue to do so. On the first weekend in May, BBC world news broadcast a program which cost considerable doubt on waterboarding and cited methods used by British troops to extract information from prisoners. Apart from the legal aspects and there is no doubt that because the US had not declared war in a formal sense, the Geneva Convention was inoperable, there is a moral dilemma involved in interrogation. Such is the nature of the struggle against fundamentalist Muslims that some will claim "whatever it takes" is necessary. Having read some so-called definitive accounts of interrogation technique, I remain uneasy about some methods used recently. Some will argue, quite correctly, that anyone taken prisoner by the Taliban will be tortured in the most brutal manner but we then face the question of whether we wish to get down in the gutter with them.
[xiv] It appears also that a substantial presentation to select committees of the U.S. Congress were made by an Australian, David Kilcullen, an anthropologist and soldier who is considered something of an expert on countering the Taliban. As yet, I have not read his full testimony, which is a rather long document.
[xv] Clinton Calls Years of Afghan Aid 'Heartbreaking' in Their Futility, Washington Post 31 March 2009
[xvi] HYScience See also Walid Phares: "The myth of the Two Talibans" March 9, 2009 LINK This is a particularly robust examination of the matter. For those who would like to read conspiracy theories which blame the US and the CIA for the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and the destabilization of Pakistan, you can get some idea of the thinking of some of the more sophisticated sites at Global Research this link leads to an article entitled: "US-NATO Military Agenda: The Destabilization of Pakistan" by Michel Chossudovsky, a Canadian professor of economics with a profound hatred of the US who has maintained that Mossad, the CIA and other parties were behind 9/11. The professor’s background is obscure but he is typical of the "usual suspects" active in front organizations during the Cold War.
[xvii] Afghanistan is lost, says Lord Ashdown. Daily Telegraph (UK) 29 October 2007
[xviii] This is a worthwhile net search for those interested. This site provides details of an assessment made in 2006 by US think tanks. Pakistan is listed as No. 9 and Afghanistan No 10 out of 146 ranked nations. Therefore, it was extremely interesting to hear a radio report on May 8 when president Barack Obama dismissed the idea of Pakistan being in this category. In part he described Pakistan as a modern democratic state, which is a concept I find difficult to be accurate given that it is also a Muslim state.
[xix] "Mistrust of the West is stronger in Pakistan than fear of the Taleban" The Times, London, May 5, 2009. The article goes on to point out that in Karachi and Islamabad "they really believe the US was behind 9/11" and that is apparently the reason why opposition to the jihadists is lukewarm at best.
[xx] The Times UK May 5, 2009: "Pakistan troops Clash with Taliban as Swat Valley truce breaks down."
[xxi] There is a sensibly written website called The Cable, which canvasses US foreign policy issues and is connected to a collection of websites linked to foreignpolicy.com and in the issue of May 5, contains details of a briefing given by a State Department spokesman, Robert Wood, "amid mounting US concerns about the fragility of the Pakistani government and the security of its nuclear arsenal and in advance of the arrival of Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai (LINK)
[xxii] The Pakistani student Izhar ul-Haque who appeared in court in Sydney in 2007 was an example of a well educated young man resident in Australia, who had visited Pakistan and allegedly trained with Lashkar-e-Toiba. Three years earlier, Frenchman Willie Brigitte, suspected of planning a terrorist act in Australia and deported was also linked to LeT.
[xxiii] Der Spiegel February 16, 2009 " No Day This Year without a Terror Trial. [xxiv] See footnote xi above. Although not as prominent, there is nevertheless a significant problem with Islamic fundamentalists from Bangladesh in the Tower hamlets in London.
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