Posts Tagged ‘Al Qaeda’

Under Obama, more targeted killings than captures in counterterrorism efforts

February 15, 2010

By Karen DeYoung and Joby Warrick
Washington Post Staff Writer
Washington Post, February 14, 2010

When a window of opportunity opened to strike the leader of al-Qaeda in East Africa last September, U.S. Special Operations forces prepared several options. They could obliterate his vehicle with an airstrike as he drove through southern Somalia. Or they could fire from helicopters that could land at the scene to confirm the kill. Or they could try to take him alive.

The White House authorized the second option. On the morning of Sept. 14, helicopters flying from a U.S. ship off the Somali coast blew up a car carrying Saleh Ali Nabhan. While several hovered overhead, one set down long enough for troops to scoop up enough of the remains for DNA verification. Moments later, the helicopters were headed back to the ship.

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The Terror-Industrial Complex and Aafia Siddiqui

February 9, 2010

By Chris Hedges, TruthDig.com, Feb 8, 2010

AP / Fareed Khan
Mohammad Ahmed, son of Aafia Siddiqui, takes part in a demonstration arranged by Human Rights Network.

The conviction of the Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui in New York last week of trying to kill American military officers and FBI agents illustrates that the greatest danger to our security comes not from al-Qaida but the thousands of shadowy mercenaries, kidnappers, killers and torturers our government employs around the globe.

The bizarre story surrounding Siddiqui, 37, who received an undergraduate degree from MIT and a doctorate in neuroscience from Brandeis University, often defies belief. Siddiqui, who could spend 50 years in prison on seven charges when she is sentenced in May, was by her own account abducted in 2003 from her hometown of Karachi, Pakistan, with her three children—two of whom remain missing—and spirited to a secret U.S. prison where she was allegedly tortured and mistreated for five years. The American government has no comment, either about the alleged clandestine detention or the missing children.

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Yemen: Another US Battleground?

January 13, 2010

by Stephen Zunes, CommonDreams.org, Jan 12, 2010

The United States may be on the verge of involvement in yet another counterinsurgency war which, as is the case in Iraq and Afghanistan, may make a bad situation even worse. The attempted Christmas Day bombing of a Northwest Airlines flight by a Nigerian man was apparently planned in Yemen. There were alleged ties between the perpetrator of the Ft. Hood massacre and a radical Yemeni cleric, and an ongoing U.S.-backed Yemeni military offensive against al-Qaeda have all focused U.S. attention on that country.

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Anti-Empire Report: The American elite

January 11, 2010

By Blum, William, ZNet, Jan 11, 2010
William Blum’s ZSpace Page

Lincoln Gordon died a few weeks ago at the age of 96. He had graduated summa cum laude from Harvard at the age of 19, received a doctorate from Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, published his first book at 22, with dozens more to follow on government, economics, and foreign policy in Europe and Latin America. He joined the Harvard faculty at 23. Dr. Gordon was an executive on the War Production Board during World War II, a top administrator of Marshall Plan programs in postwar Europe, ambassador to Brazil, held other high positions at the State Department and the White House, a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, economist at the Brookings Institution, president of Johns Hopkins University. President Lyndon B. Johnson praised Gordon’s diplomatic service as “a rare combination of experience, idealism and practical judgment”.

You get the picture? Boy wonder, intellectual shining light, distinguished leader of men, outstanding American patriot.

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CIA killings in Afghanistan spotlight Jordan as key US intelligence partner

January 8, 2010

By Tom A. Peter, The Christian Science Monitor– Wed Jan 6, 2010

Amman, Jordan – The suicide bombing that killed seven CIA operatives and one Jordanian intelligence official in Afghanistan last week has shed new light on some of the partnerships the United States has come to rely on in its shadow war against Al Qaeda.

Although Jordan has been involved in supporting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, it has worked to keep its involvement secret due to the unpopularity of both wars among most Arabs. But the death of Jordanian Army Capt. Sharif Ali bin Zeid, a distant relative of Jordan’s King Abdullah II, alongside American CIA operatives, and the fact that the attacker was a Jordanian double agent, has forced at least a small part of this partnership into the open.

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The new decade begins

January 4, 2010

Barry Grey,wsws.org, Jan 4, 2010

The new decade has begun with a series of events signaling that the United States will intensify its aggressive and militarist policies in Central Asia, East Africa, the Middle East and beyond. These actions indicate that international tensions, fueled over the previous decade by the US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and military interventions in a number of other countries, will grow even more embittered and explosive.

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US Attack Kills 120 In Yemen

December 21, 2009

Obama Ordered U.S. Military Strike on Suspected “Terrorists”

By BRIAN ROSS, RICHARD ESPOSITO, MATTHEW COLE, LUIS MARTINEZ and KIRIT RADIA

December 18, 2009 “ABC News

On orders from President Barack Obama, the U.S. military launched cruise missiles early Thursday against two suspected al-Qaeda sites in Yemen, administration officials told ABC News in a report broadcast on ABC World News with Charles Gibson.

One of the targeted sites was a suspected al Qaeda training camp north of the capitol, Sanaa, and the second target was a location where officials said “an imminent attack against a U.S. asset was being planned.”

The Yemen attacks by the U.S. military represent a major escalation of the Obama administration’s campaign against al Qaeda.

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Obama’s ‘Just War’ Or A War Of Aggression

December 12, 2009
Ralph Nader, CommonDreams.org, Dec 12, 2009
President Obama, the Afghan war escalator, received the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway, and proceeded to deliver his acceptance speech outlining the three criteria for a “just war” which he himself is violating.

The criteria are in this words: “If it is waged as a last resort or in self-defense; if the force used is proportional; and if, whenever possible, civilians are spared from violence.”

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Answering Obama’s Afghanistan deceptions

December 11, 2009

Eric Ruder, Socialist Worker, December 8, 2009

Barack Obama’s December 1 nationally televised address to announce a further escalation of 30,000 troops to Afghanistan cemented his role as a war president who bears responsibility for the U.S. war on that country. It also marked Obama’s assumption of the task of providing the justifications, alibis and obfuscations needed to cloak U.S. military aims in an aura of legitimacy.

Eric Ruder goes through Obama’s speech and counters seven of Barack Obama’s worst half-truths and lies about Afghanistan.

President Barack Obama speaks on Afghanistan at West Point (Pete Souza | White House)President Barack Obama speaks on Afghanistan at West Point (Pete Souza | White House)

DECEPTION NO. 1: “We did not ask for this fight…[T]he United Nations Security Council endorsed the use of all necessary steps to respond to the 9/11 attacks…and only after the Taliban refused to turn over Osama bin Laden, we sent our troops into Afghanistan.”

HERE, BARACK Obama is repeating a lie that has been told and retold so often that it goes completely unexamined in the mainstream press. Countless Western newspapers reported on the Taliban’s offers to hand over Osama bin Laden, so long as the Bush administration provided Afghan government officials with evidence of bin Laden’s involvement in the September 11 attacks–something that any sovereign nation, like the U.S., would require before agreeing to an extradition.

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The Shame and Folly of Obama’s War in Afghanistan

December 8, 2009

by Dave Lindorff, CommonDreams.org, Dec 7, 2009

There are so many things wrong with Obama’s “New and Improved” Afghanistan War that it’s hard to know where to begin, but I guess the place to start is with his premise.

If America needs to be fighting in Afghanistan because Al Qaeda planned and launched the 9-11 attacks from there back in 2001, as the president claimed in his lackluster address to the cadets at West Point last week, then we would have to assume either that Al Qaeda is still there, or that if we were not there fighting, that Al Qaeda would be back to plan more attacks.

Well, we know Al Qaeda is not there, because US intelligence reports that there are “fewer than 100” Al Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan at most at this point, and probably a good deal fewer. Maybe even zero. Al Qaeda has long since moved on to Pakistan and thence to other countries far removed from Afghanistan (even Defense Secretary Robert Gates, after speculating that Osama bin Laden “might be” hopping back and forth across the border with Pakistan like a kid doing a double-dare game, concedes that in truth no one in the US has any idea where bin Laden is, or whether he is even in South Asia). But would Al Qaeda come back if the Taliban, ousted back in 2001 by US Special Forces, were to return to power in Kabul? Not likely. As the New York Times reported in last Sunday’s paper, the Afghan Taliban have convincingly broken with Al Qaeda, because of the latter organization’s targeting of the Pakistani government, which has long had a supportive relationship with the Afghan Taliban. Besides, the Taliban in Afghanistan have a clear goal of ruling Afghanistan, and the US has already demonstrated both that it can live and work with a Taliban government, as it was doing before the 9-11 attacks, and that it will punish the Taliban if they allow Al Qaeda a free hand inside their country. So the odds of a re-established Taliban regime in Afghanistan inviting Al Qaeda to move back in and set up shop are somewhere around zero.

Ergo, whatever he may say, the current Christmas ramp-up in the war announced by Obama has nothing to do with 9-11, nothing to do with combating terrorism, and nothing to do with protecting American security.

What about the bogie-man of a so-called “failed state”? Obama said a failed state in Afghanistan could mean a return of Al Qaeda or other terrorist organizations.

The problem with this second argument is that Afghanistan already is a failed state, if the definition of a failed state is one in which there is no effective central government. For that matter, Afghanistan has been a failed state since the overthrow of Mohammed Najibullah, the Communist leader who had the country largely unified and who was instituting reforms like protecting the rights of women, building roads, etc. (the very things the US says it wants to do), until he was driven out of power and ultimately hung by forces, including the Taliban) organized and armed by the CIA.  Actually, the truth is that Afghanistan has always been something less than a real nation, with different ethic groups occupying different regions of the country largely operating like autonomous little countries.  To expect such a situation to somehow coalesce into something resembling a European nation-state is simply ludicrous. In fact, the only commonality uniting the various ethnic groups within Afghanistan actually is religion-they’re nearly all Islamic-which suggests that the Taliban, for all their medieval fundamentalism, may have a significant edge in the nation-building game.

Moving on to strategy, Obama talks about effectively doubling the number of US and NATO forces fighting in the country (the term “fighting” is used loosely because many of the European forces are barred by their governments from actually engaging in combat), with the goal being, reportedly, to protect the cities from Taliban attacks (and good luck with that!) and giving the current government in Kabul time to build up a 400,000-man army that supposedly would take over the job of security.

Hmmmm. If you protect the cities, by definition you leave the countryside around the cities unprotected, right? But you cannot do that in a country that is largely rural, so the US will inevitably resort to search-and-destroy run-outs into the countryside, and of course air attacks by bombers and remote-controlled drones, in a doomed effort to keep the Taliban at bay. But such actions, as America leaned when it tried the same policy in Vietnam, inevitably mean massive and disproportionate civilian casualties-the so-called “collateral damage” of war.  And civilian casualties are not the way an army wins “hearts and minds.”  In fact, a high rate of civilian casualties means the destroying of hearts, minds, limbs, families, houses, etc., and the concomitant creation of blood enemies. So we start out by making more enemies outside the city gates.

Meanwhile, we are unlikely to make the cities safe either because it’s damnably easy for bombers to slip in and pop one off in a crowded bazaar or school or office building, as the Taliban have already repeatedly demonstrated.

But even assuming the best of luck with protecting a handful of Afghan cities, the idea of creating a functioning army of 400,000, as Obama and his generals have called for, and upon which Obama bases his promise to “start bringing home” troops in July 2011, is surely a pipe-dream (literally really, given that the current army is already awash in opium addicts). The Afghan Army at present numbers 90,000, but it is rife with corruption and, moreover, is largely composed of Tajiks, the dominant ethnic group in northern Afghanistan, who are widely despised by the Pashtun, who are concentrated in the south and east of the country, and other minority groups.  The idea that a Tajik or Tajik-led army could succeed in the south and east, where the Taliban are strongest, is fanciful at best and tragic at worst. Furthermore, most of those in the current military, if they aren’t drug addicts, are either corrupt, or just temporary workers, staying in as long as there is a paycheck and no fighting, but quick to go AWOL when they have enough cash, or when a mission is ordered that involves real fighting.  There is close to no chance that a true national army capable of securing most of the sprawling land of Afghanistan under central government control could be created. As hard as it’s been for the US military occupation force in Iraq to train and field an Iraqi army, at least the US there has been working with a trained officer corps inherited from Saddam Hussein, and with a core of soldiers who had already served, and with new recruits who are literate, and who have a some desire to rebuild a national government.  Afghanistan has none of those things.

And about that July 2011 “deadline” for starting to bring home US troops from Afghanistan. This was nothing but a PR feint for Obama’s liberal supporters-a fig leaf to get them on board his war express.  In fact, by late last week, White House and Pentagon officials were all back-pedaling and explaining that July 2011 was just the date that the first handful of US troops would “start coming home.”  In fact, if that even really does happen, it turns out that under Obama’s new war plan for Afghanistan, US troops will be deep in the swamp of Afghan battle for years after 2011-a clear acknowledgement that the plan for training an Afghan army to take over from the US is also just so much talk.

One can speculate about why Obama is so clearly sabotaging his presidency with this doomed crusade in Afghanistan. Some speculate that he was sandbagged by his generals, and certainly Gen. Stanley McChrystal crossed the line into improper politicking and insubordination to his commander-in-chief when he went public to lobby for the addition of more than 40,000 additional troops. But Obama could have survived that treachery had he wanted to, by playing Harry Truman and sacking McChrystal for insubordination. There are those who say it is all about wanting to build a pipeline for transporting oil to the Indian Ocean and bypassing Russia. But that begs the question of how such a pipeline, if it were built, could ever be kept secure from sabotage, running as it would have to, through both Afghanistan and Pakistan (besides, back in 2001 the US was once negotiating with the Taliban government to get permission for Unocal to build such a line, which would have made some sense if there was no war going on). It could also be that this war is all about providing an argument for ever higher spending on the military at a time when there is really no good justification for it in a nation that already spends more on arms and troops than all the rest of the world combined. But really, the military has demonstrated its ability to keep on winning increased appropriations even when wars are winding down and threat levels are reduced. That, after all, is what the fake “war on terror” has been all about-keeping the American public frightened and willing to keep throwing money at the Pentagon.  No, to me the best argument for this new war campaign may be simply that, like presidents Johnson and Nixon before him, Obama doesn’t want to be tagged as the president who lost a war.

And for that, we can expect to see thousands of young Americans die, and tens or hundreds of thousands of Afghanis die.

To make matters worse, once more Americans start coming home in a parade of flag-draped coffins, the war for Obama, and for whoever succeeds him after his own failed tenure as president, will be self-promoting and effectively permanent.   As we saw in the case of the Indochina War, those dead soldiers and Marines will become a fearsome impediment to any effort to end this longest of wars, and a grisly justification for continuing to send more young people after them to be chewed up and killed. For what president, beginning with Obama, will have the political and personal courage to say that those who died in Afghanistan died in vain?

Dave Lindorff is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. He is author of Marketplace Medicine: The Rise of the For-Profit Hospital Chains (BantamBooks, 1992), and his latest book “The Case for Impeachment” (St. Martin’s Press, 2006). His work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net


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