The making of a suicide bomber


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.

Escaping convicts pull the wool over coppers’ eyes!

Two Argentinean convicts who escaped from jail reportedly evaded capture by disguising themselves as sheep.

Maximiliano Pereyra and Ariel Diaz dressed in full sheepskin fleeces with realistic looking heads as they tried to evade capture.

Pereyra, 25, and Diaz, 28, who were jailed for robbery, escaped from a maximum security jail in Argentina, reports The Sun.

They stole the sheep hides from a local ranch and used their disguises to fool officials for more than a week despite more than 300 members of the local constabulary searching for them.

The local police have been left embarrassed by the episode after locals reported seeing the pair running through local fields at night.

“They were wearing grey clothes but had full sheepskins, including the sheeps’ heads, over their heads and backs,” said a farmworker at La Almeda.

Police sources said it appeared that identifying the pair among thousands of other sheep was “almost impossible”.


Women to blame for earthquakes, says Iran cleric

I can feel the Earth shaking from here…

“Many women who do not dress modestly … lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which increases earthquakes,” Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi was quoted as saying by Iranian media. Women in the Islamic Republic are required by law to cover from head to toe, but many, especially the young, ignore some of the more strict codes and wear tight coats and scarves pulled back that show much of the hair.

What can we do to avoid being buried under the rubble?” Sedighi asked during a prayer sermon last week. “There is no other solution but to take refuge in religion and to adapt our lives to Islam’s moral codes.”

Seismologists have warned for at least two decades that it is likely the sprawling capital will be struck by a catastrophic quake in the near future. Some experts have even suggested Iran should move its capital to a less seismically active location. Tehran straddles scores of fault lines, including one more than 50 miles long, though it has not suffered a major quake since 1830…

The welfare minister, Sadeq Mahsooli, said prayers and pleas for forgiveness were the best “formulae to repel earthquakes. We cannot invent a system that prevents earthquakes, but God has created this system and that is to avoid sins, to pray, to seek forgiveness, pay alms and self-sacrifice,” Mahsooli said.

It’s always supportive when the nations that require religion as part of state law and order – have each steaming pile of stupidity agree with the other?

Just what we need. Tobacco candy for the kid in all of us!

A new generation of smokeless, flavored tobacco products that look like breath mints or breath-freshening strips may be life-threatening for children who mistake them for candy, according to researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Nicotine is a poison, and now we’re seeing smokeless tobacco products that look like Tic Tacs or M&M’s, which parents can leave on the counter and children can be attracted to,” says Greg N. Connolly, D.M.D., the director of the Tobacco Control Research Group…

The new products — currently being test-marketed in three cities — include Camel Orbs, which resemble breath mints; Camel Sticks, which are about the size of a toothpick and dissolve in the mouth; and Camel Strips, which are similar to breath-freshening strips. Small, teabag-like “snus” — pouches filled with tobacco that are placed between the upper lip and gum — are also a potential hazard, according to the study, which appears in the journal Pediatrics…

Although children in the study were most often poisoned from eating cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products in general, the researchers single out the new, dissolvable products — especially Camel Orbs — as a “major concern.” Orbs are available in cinnamon and mint flavors and could easily be mistaken for candy, the researchers say…

While accidental infant poisonings are certainly cause for concern, purposeful ingestion of smokeless tobacco products by kids and teens may be a larger problem, Winickoff points out. As the study notes, the use of smokeless tobacco products among adolescents increased 6 percent per year from 2002 to 2006.

“An adolescent thinks this is harmless because it looks harmless, but they’re exposing their brain to nicotine, and there’s a chance that they would be primed to develop a nicotine addiction,” says Winickoff, who was not involved in the study. “If teens ended up using smokeless product because they are attracted to candy flavors and they end up getting addicted to nicotine, the public health benefit of smokeless tobacco is neutralized.”

Once again, the distinctions between avarice, deceit and good old-fashioned corporate greed are blurred in the name of marketing.

Is today a National Holiday for the Tea Party?

Tonight, the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow will air, for the first time ever, audiotapes of Timothy McVeigh giving his own account of why he detonated a truck filled with explosives in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. It was our country’s most destructive and deadly act of terrorism on U.S. soil prior to September 11. The bombing murdered 168 people, including more than two dozen children under the age of 6. More than 800 people were injured; damage was estimated at $652 million. Yet, McVeigh’s recorded voice, as if speaking from the grave almost nine years after his execution, says, “I feel no shame for it.”

Maddow has said the program is designed to put antigovernment extremism in perspective. “It doesn’t have to lead to violence, but it can and it has,” says Maddow in promotional spots. “We ignore this, our own very recent history of antigovernment violence and the dangers of domestic terrorism, at our peril.” According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the number of antigovernment extremist groups spiked from 149 in 2008 to 512 (127 of them militias) in 2009…

Attorney Beth Wilkinson was the prosecutor who argued for the death penalty for McVeigh. “Obviously I am gratified to know he’ll be admitting to what he was convicted of,” says Wilkinson. “That said,” she adds, “I find it disturbing that these tapes will be played at such length, giving him—once again—a platform.” She hopes that the two-hour segment will provide a perspective on extremism, not just McVeigh’s…

Hearing from the losers who still back the policies of Bush and Cheney, I see no rhyme or reason to separate them from the violence that – for some – flows easily from their politics.

The number of militias grows fourfold after the nation votes in our first non-white president; but, they say they are not racist. Gun nuts wearing side-arms are welcomed as brothers-in-arms, literally, at their demonstrations; but, they say they oppose murder as part of their politics.

But, just as McVeigh used the death and destruction of suicidal nutballs in Waco as justification for his mass murder, thousands of defeated Republicans and their camp followers justify their hatred of government, their egregious unwillingness to pay their fair share of running a nation the size of the United States – you can expect the next McVeigh to come from the ranks, the families, of the déclassé paranoids who gather in collective anti-democratic self-pity.

Supreme Court to hear freedom from religion case

Equal time, equal time!

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear argument on whether a law school’s anti-discrimination policy trumps a Christian student group’s beliefs.

The case pits the University of California’s Hastings Law School against the Christian Legal Society, which says requiring it to admit gays and non-believers into the group violates its religious freedom…

The oldest law school in the West, the San Francisco-area school requires officially recognized school groups to admit any Hastings student who wants to join. The religious student group said that violates the First Amendment’s guarantee of free association and freedom of religion.

Hastings says it its brief the CLS, a national group that wants to “proclaim, love and serve Jesus Christ through the study and practice of law,” is asking for special treatment — the access to benefits and student activity fees that come with official recognition, but it won’t commit to a non-discrimination policy that affects every other student group, the Post reports.

The CLS is not being forced to do anything, Hastings contends. “A group may abide by the school’s viewpoint-neutral open-membership policy and obtain the modest funding and benefits that go along with school recognition, or forgo recognition and do as it wishes,” it said in its brief…

What? You expected an activist Christian group to be something other than hypocrites?

The only question is – are any of the Republican justices willing to give up their own hypocrisy and support constitutional separation of church and state, political freedoms over religious belief systems?

“Obama Effect” is real around the world

Views of the US around the world have improved sharply over the past year, a BBC World Service poll suggests. For the first time since the annual poll began in 2005, America’s influence in the world is now seen as more positive than negative.

The improved scores for the US coincided with Barack Obama becoming president.

As in 2009, Germany is viewed most favourably while Iran and Pakistan are seen as the most negative influences.

Nearly 30,000 people in 28 countries were interviewed for the poll, between November 2009 and February 2010…

“People around the world today view the United States more positively than at any time since the second Iraq war,” said Doug Miller, chairman of international polling firm GlobeScan, which carried out the poll with the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland…

PIPA director Steven Kull noted: “After a year, it appears the ‘Obama effect’ is real…”

In only two of the 28 countries, Turkey and Pakistan, do more than 50% have a negative view of the US.

Germany is the most favourably viewed nation (an average of 59% positive), followed by Japan (53%), the United Kingdom (52%), Canada (51%), and France (49%). The European Union is viewed positively by 53%.

It is often a shock to Americans that many nations feel their citizens are responsible for the politics of their home country. Americans think we aren’t responsible for anything.