Posts Tagged ‘Taliban’
A U.S. military task force has discovered that part of a $2.16 billion transportation contract was diverted through a murky network of subcontractors and into the hands of a group of Afghan power-brokers, criminals and Taliban insurgents…Roughly $600 million of the contract had been spent before authorities were alerted to the scandal…
Only part of that money, however, is believed to have been diverted to “nefarious elements,” the source added…Well, that makes me feel better.
The official said it appears some of the payments were given for truckers to be assured of safe passage through insurgent areas of Afghanistan. As has happened in other instances, trucking contractors paid off local drivers who then turned around and paid local security forces, who in turn paid insurgents in their areas…
Actually, when I worked in traffic management, we did the same thing to get our shipments through Mafia checkpoints in Newark.
The contract program, called Host Nation Trucking — which expires in September — has since been replaced by a more stringent system that requires up to 40 different contractors — an effort to reduce overall reliance on a single firm.
The new program is also meant to tighten accounting measures of second and third party vendors, an area various groups had previously been able to exploit, the source said…
Government officials are currently pursuing corrective actions against the trucking firms, including suspensions and limits on work, though all eight companies still remain on the U.S. payroll.
If you’re functioning here at home within a Republican-devised system like “mark to market” accounting, why expect the Pentagon to deploy legitimate accounting and oversight in a war zone created by the same phonies?
The Taliban have long been known as haters of modern technology, certainly the kind that comes out of the Western world they revile.
Now, they’re on Twitter, and as of this week, even tweeting in English.
The account, @alemarahweb, links back to the Taliban’s website, Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, which is the name they use for themselves. Most of the tweets on the account, which was created on December 19, are written in Pashto, the native language in parts of Afghanistan.
As The Guardian, the UK publication, noted, the feed had fewer than 1,000 followers as of Thursday. The addition of English, as well as the media reports about it, have more than tripled that total to over 3,000 as of Friday morning.
The feed appears almost entirely made up of links to the Taliban website. The English-language posts appear to be wildly exaggerated claims of attacking and killing NATO and U.S. troops and Afghan government personnel.
If the tweets were to be believed, 81 “enemy” troops were killed since the feed began publishing in English on Thursday. A U.S. spy plane, and 23 vehicles, including five U.S. tanks, also were destroyed by Taliban attacks, according to the tweets.
Military and news reports do not support anything approaching those claims.
I’d say this alternates between hilarious and thoroughly dumb. I doubt if it carries odds of growing their support at roughly a hundredth of that enjoyed by the average religious nutball who leaves their sect’s newsmagazine rolled up and stuck into the top of our front gate.
A founding patron of the Taliban in Afghanistan died in the hands of a younger generation of militants in the tribal badlands of Pakistan in the last few days, a victim of the vicious forces he helped create, Pakistani officials said Monday.
Brig. Sultan Amir, known by his nom de guerre, Colonel Imam, was captured by the Pakistani Taliban in northern Waziristan last March. Whether he was killed by his captors, or died of a heart attack as reported by the Taliban, remained unclear.
The demise of Colonel Imam comes 10 days after another veteran figure in the emergence of the Afghan Taliban, Gen. Naseerullah Babar, 82, died after a long illness at his home in Peshawar, in northwest Pakistan.
The death of the two men signified the end of an era of the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan that began in the 1970s, stretched into the American-backed mujahedeen resistance against the Soviet occupation and was followed by the coercive Taliban rule of Afghanistan in the 1990s…
Colonel Imam formed a close bond with Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Taliban leader who welcomed Osama bin Laden to Afghanistan…
A weathered figure with a long white beard and white turban who looked to be in his 70s, Colonel Imam was initially trained by the Special Forces at Fort Bragg, N.C., in 1974, and completed a master parachutist course with the 82nd Airborne Division…
A senior Pakistani government official in the tribal areas, Tariq Hayat, said Monday that he had been informed by a Pakistani official in North Waziristan that Colonel Imam was dead. The militants were demanding a ransom for the return of the body, he said. Only after the body has been reclaimed would the cause of death be known, Mr. Hayat said.
Chickens coming home to roost land in the Pentagon about as frequently as any other center for the training of imperial flunkies.
RTFA for the details. If you have watched American policy in South Asia for a spell you ain’t about to be surprised.
The confusion is understandable, right?
The imposter who posed as a Taliban leader to open peace negotiations with Kabul was put forward by British agents who failed to note he was several inches shorter than the man he was impersonating.
The man masquerading as Akhtar Mohammad Mansour was paid a six figure sum and was flown three times to secret meetings with Nato and Afghan representatives before he was rumbled.
Afghan intelligence agents later determined he was a shopkeeper from the Pakistani city of Quetta.
A senior aide to Hamid Karzai said the man had been recommended by the British.
Mohammad Umer Daudzai, Mr Karzai’s chief of staff, said British officials brought the impostor to meet the president in July or August, where he was spotted as a fraud. Senior American officials confirmed the impostor was “the Brits’ guy”.
Har! What could they say?
We noted this tale earlier this week; but, accepting a ringer, paying him big bucks to “negotiate” – and failing to notice he was a shrimp compared to the real deal. Laughable.
What – me worry?
A man who has been representing Taliban senior leadership in secret talks with the Afghan government appears to have been an impostor.
The man, calling himself Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, the Taliban’s second-ranking official, was exposed after another man who knows Mansour did not recognise him during a negotiation session…
The secret talks with the impostor had been going on for months and were used by senior US officials to claim progress on the diplomatic front in the Afghan war.
NATO and Afghan officials told the New York Times they held three meetings with the man, who allegedly received large sums of money to take part in the negotiations.
The fake Taliban leader, who travelled from across the border in Pakistan, even met with Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, in the presidential palace in Kabul, the capital. He was flown to the capital on NATO aircraft…
I’ll bet the TSA would have caught him, right?
Al Jazeera’s Sue Turton, reporting from Kabul, said US officials always held suspicions about the identity of the man.
“Americans here admit that they don’t often know what these people look like; that they can only go on who they say they are because these people have been hiding and fighting this insurgency for so long,” she said.
“So they have to go on trust to a certain extent, and it seems that this particular man has managed to get away with it.”
The prestigious Council on Foreign Relations’ 25 experts-strong, 71-page task force report on the [Afghan] crisis, says, given “the complex political currents of Pakistan and its border regions … it is not clear U.S. interests warrant” the costly war, “nor is it clear that the effort will succeed…”
The same week CFR published its gloomy assessment of the Afghan war, one of Pakistan’s most influential journalists, the editor of a major newspaper, made the “off the record” — which now means go ahead and use it but keep my name out of it — rounds in Washington to deliver a stunning indictment of all the players.
– All four wars between India and Pakistan (1947, 1965, 1971 and 1999) were provoked by Pakistan.
– There is no Indian threat to Pakistan, except for what is manufactured by Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence agency…
– Pakistan has a big stake in Afghanistan. And America’s own exit strategy is entirely dependent on Pakistan. Our army has a chokehold on your supply lines through Pakistan. And Pakistan wants to be the U.S. proxy in Afghanistan. ISI wants to make sure Pakistan doesn’t become a liability in Afghanistan…
– There is no chance whatsoever for the United States and its NATO and other allies to prevail in Afghanistan. No big military successes are possible. All U.S. targets are unrealistic. You cannot prevail on the ground. ISI won’t abandon Taliban. And if Taliban doesn’t have a major stake in negotiations with the United States, these will be sabotaged by Pakistan…
Nearly three decades of war and religious extremism have devastated medical libraries and crippled the educational system for doctors, nurses and other health professionals. Factions of the Taliban, which ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, singled out medical texts for destruction, military medical personnel say, because anatomical depictions of the human body were considered blasphemous.
“They not only burned the books, but they sent monitors into the classroom to make sure there were no drawings of the human body on the blackboard,” said Valerie Walker, director of the Medical Alumni Association of the University of California, Los Angeles.
Ms. Walker is helping lead an ambitious effort by American doctors and nurses, both civilian and military, to restock Afghanistan’s hospitals, clinics and universities with medical textbooks and other reference materials.
The project, called Operation Medical Libraries, began modestly in 2007 with a plea for books from a U.C.L.A. medical graduate serving in the Army. It has since been embraced by 30 universities and hospitals, more than a dozen professional organizations and scores of individual doctors and nurses…
Like most others involved in the program, Dr. Maldonado heard about it from a colleague. And word has spread among medical officers stationed in Afghanistan, who act as volunteer points of contact to shepherd books to the libraries…
By Ms. Walker’s estimate, 27,000 medical texts have reached Afghanistan through Operation Medical Libraries, but she adds that the number is probably much higher. Donors can contribute directly by visiting the project’s Web site to find a military volunteer’s address, then shipping the books on their own.
Please, join in. Collect books. Get folks to collect and ship them to the Project.
RTFA. Reflect on the “joys” that fundamentalist religions almost inevitably bring to whatever part of the world is under their subjugation.
Life inside an ideological cave
The young lovers didn’t stand a chance.
In a desolate field on the edge of their village in northern Afghanistan, hundreds of men, stones in hand, closed in to carry out the mullah’s death sentence, handed down after the pair eloped against the wishes of their families.
“It was an act of great cruelty,” said Mutasem Khan, an uncle of Abdul Qayuum, the 28-year-old man who was stoned to death this month in Kunduz province along with the village woman he had wooed, identified only as 19-year-old Siddiqa…
Even as hard-line village mullahs loosely aligned with the Taliban seek a return to the harshest forms of physical punishment permitted under Sharia, or Islamic law, the Taliban leadership has been trying to rally public support by painting itself as a defender of civilian lives.
In a highly unusual move, the Taliban this month even offered to create and participate in a joint commission with the Western military, the United Nations and the Afghan government to investigate the deaths and injuries of noncombatants. That offer came soon after the insurgents issued a “code of conduct” that discouraged the killings of civilians…
For countries contributing troops to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization force, such a settlement could set the stage for an exit from what has become an increasingly unpopular war. But the West says, echoed by the government of President Hamid Karzai, that negotiations can take place only with insurgents who promise to renounce violence and respect Afghanistan’s Constitution and legal system, which call at least in theory for due process under the law.
At the village level, however, matters of crime and punishment almost always encompass family honor and deeply held tribal traditions.
Summary justice, governing everything from land disputes to adultery, was a feature of daily life long before the Taliban rose to power in the 1990s and will probably remain part of the landscape regardless of how long the Western military presence lasts.
Someone remind me: Which group of Stone Age ideologues is on “our” side?
Why are we there? And who invited us to stay forever?
Hizbul-Islam militants in Somalia ordered men in Mogadishu this week to grow their beards and trim their moustaches. “Anyone found violating this law will face the consequences,” a Hizbul-Islam militant said, announcing the edict.
But, is growing a beard obligatory under Islam?
Professor Muhammad Abdel Haleem, of the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, says it is not.
It is up to the individual whether he lets his facial hair grow or not, Mr Abdel Haleem says, attributing this view to most scholars of Islamic law across a majority of Muslim-dominated countries…
The Prophet Muhammad is believed to have had a beard and those who insist that devout Muslims grow beards argue that they are doing no more than asking the faithful to emulate the Prophet’s actions…
Mr Abdel Haleem says the body of Islamic law at the core of manuals of Muslim practice puts it as a recommendation – sitting in the middle between an order and absolute free choice.
But, he adds, it is “a recommendation nonetheless“.
The Taliban, who ruled Afghanistan until they were ousted in 2001, and the Islamists of Somalia, are among a small minority in the Muslim world who demand unconditional observance and threaten penalties for non-compliance, says Mr Abdel Haleem.
Every practising Muslim, he argues – adding that he is one of them – should be free to exercise their choice, without fear of retribution.
Being free to exercise your choice without fear of retribution is characteristic of any society with aspirations to liberty.
Still, there is no shortage of religious communities supposedly dedicated to freeing human spirit, bringing the word of whichever neighborhood in heaven they aspire to – to the average heathen – which automatically skip the part about fear of retribution.
You may be causing no special harm to any other human being; but, if your behavior, hair, speech and sexuality upset the neighborhood Knight Templar – you’re target number one.
Abdul Baseer sent the grenades and explosive vest ahead, then boarded a bus that would take him to his target, accompanied by the 14-year-old boy he had groomed as his suicide bomber.
But before they could blow up their target, a luxury hotel in Lahore where they believed Americans would be staying, the two were arrested and are now in jail — Baseer unrepentant about having plotted to send a boy to his death, and the boy saying he never knew what was in store for him.
The story that unfolded in an interview with The Associated Press offers a rare insight into the world of a Pakistani militant, from his education at hard-line Islamic schools, through his professed participation in an attack on a US patrol in Afghanistan, up to his arrest by Pakistani police along with the the boy, Mohi-ud-Din…
Baseer was born in 1985 close to the Swat Valley, which last year was overrun by Taliban and recaptured by the Pakistanis…
“Through my studies, I became aware that this is the time for jihad and fighting the infidels, and I saw that a jihad was going on in Afghanistan,” said Basser, a rail-thin man speaking just louder than whisper. “I looked for a way to get there.”
“A trip to Afghanistan is considered part of the profession for a militant,” said Imtiaz Gul, director of the Center for Research and Security Studies in Islamabad. “It is almost like you need to do it for graduation…
Baseer said he spent three summer vacation periods in Kunar, an Afghan province just across the border from northwest Pakistan, which he reached through a network of sympathetic clerics.
On the final trip he took part in the ambush of a US patrol after he and other fighters had lain in wait in the snow for two days.”I was happy to be in place where I could kill unbelievers,” he said. “I thank God that we all returned safely and had a successful mission…”
RTFA. The ignorance is not surprising. Nor is the ease of building conviction and commitment within the Islamic boarding school system.
Another aspect of what political support is needed in Pakistan to overcome bandits who have adopted religion as their mufti.