Topic: War on Terror
I’m still reluctant to comment on what’s going on in the UK right now, because it’s so laden with speculation and propaganda, but I’m really intrigued by the constantly unfolding situation there. Every time you read the news there’s another even more bizarre twist.
My impression of the British security services was that they had things pretty much together when it came to dealing with terrorism, from their experiences with the IRA and their more enlightened stance towards their Muslim population, but it now appears that who ever these people are who are perpetrating these attacks, they really have the police on the ropes. Come to think of it, if you look back at the British Empire’s history in South Asia and its involvement in “the great game” over the past century or so, there is probably no country the extremists know better than the UK.
I always thought the British were our saner cousins that we could rely on not to fly off the handle when our government went crazy, but now, I don’t know what to think. A day after the mercifully bungled rerun attacks on three Underground trains and a bus, a fleeing suspect, who looked Asian according to eyewitnesses, was chased into a train car by armed British police officers, knocked down and then shot five times in the head.
According to the metropolitan police commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, the suspect was “directly linked to the ongoing and expanding anti-terrorist operation.” The next day: not so much. In fact, the man was a Brazilian electrician who had absolutely nothing to do with the London bombings. In an interview yesterday Blair apologized for the shooting but blamed it on the bombers. “I think it is important to recognize that…the underlying causes of this are not a police action or a police policy or procedures but actually the fact that we have terrorists using suicide as a weapon on the streets of London…that is the context in which we’re operating.”
In a classic example of British understatement, the FT writes in Saturday’s edition that the police admitting that they shot an individual dead, who was found subsequently not to be a suspect in the bombings, could be, “potentially hugely controversial.” Interestingly, they also write that the police have been given “secret new shoot to kill guidelines against suspected terrorists in recent weeks…the guidelines were secretly developed in consultation with other police forces including Israel, Russia, and the U.S.”
So, in other words, the UK government is sanctioning targeted assassinations? I’m not sure this new “shoot to kill” policy will make the British Muslim community any less apprehensive. A Pakistani man has been beaten to death and a convenience store in Leeds was burned down just to name a few of the hundreds of anti-Muslim incidents reported since the bombings on 7/7. Now, the police are shooting Asian looking people and asking questions later. [Listen to Steven Beard’s story on Market Place about Leeds, for more background on the poor economic conditions of British Muslims in Leeds.]
The war goes global:
Not that the improving situation in Iraq isn’t putting the terrorists to flight, but at 1:30 Saturday morning in Egypt, two truck bombs and a bomb in a suit case went off in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el Sheik, killing at least 88 people. Al-Qaeda took credit for the bombings, but there is always the possibility the attackers were of domestic origin. Typically, the Egyptians immediately rounded up over 70 “suspects” for “questioning” but have yet to find three men they now believe may be involved. I’m surprised they have enough room in their prisons, already so full with all of our rendered suspects.
The Pakistanis are also dutifully rounding up a large number of “suspects” who are supposedly connected to the London bombings and have enacted a new law requiring Madrassas to register with the government by the end of the year. Very impressive! I’m sure this ham handed crackdown will have the whole terrorism thing wrapped up pretty quick.
If only we knew which side Pervez Musharraf is on. Seems he’s having a little problem reconciling his new anti-terror stance with all the groups he and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) have been coddling for the past few decades, when they were Pakistan’s convenient cats paws in Kashmir and Afghanistan.
While the security forces are frantically searching in Lahore for all the usual suspects, in South Waziristan, Syed Saleem Shahzad at Asia Times Online reports various extremists organizations, formed into cells, kept small for security and safety reasons, have been forming since 2003. There, thousands of young men from around the world are being trained and then sent out to wage jihad around the world.
These “organizations include Kurds, Arabs, Pakistanis and Afghans committed to fighting against the US and its allies all over the world, by any means.”
Remember Iraq, the front line of the war on terror, but not linked at all to the attacks in UK.?
Over the weekend all the news was dominated by the terror attacks in Egypt and England. Iraq disappeared right off the front page, but the carnage continued unabated. Two hundred Iraqis have been killed in numerous attacks over the past week or so. On Sunday alone 22 Iraqis were killed and 30 wounded from an attack on a Baghdad police station and a Shiite charity. 36 American troops have also died so far this month.
A top Sunni politician, Saleh al-Mutlak, who is involved in the writing of the Iraqi constitution and is a member of the Sunni organization Iraqi Committee for National Dialogue, is accusing the Shiite dominated security forces of killing two Sunnis, Mijbil al-sheikh and Dhamin Hussein, also involved in the constitution writing, who were shot on July 19. Since the shootings the Sunnis have pulled out of the process. The Badr Brigade is the most likely suspect but al-Mutlak does not want to “use names.”
Link? What link?
The idea that the London bombings had anything to do with the invasion of Iraq is, of course, nonsense, right? England’s prestigious foreign policy think tank, Chatham House, issued a report last week criticizing the British government’s policy of sticking with the U.S. in Iraq. The war, they say, has diverted the country’s resources from defending its self from terrorist attacks. The report says the “situation over Iraq” had given Osama Bin Laden aid and comfort by helping al-Qaeda with its “propaganda, recruitment and fund raising.” British foreign secretary Jack Straw is outraged! “I am astonished that Chatham House is now saying that we should not have stood with shoulder to shoulder with our long standing allies in the United States”
That’s not what he said before the war:
Well, in fact, Jack Straw himself told Blair in 2002 going along with the U.S in its plans for invading Iraq would present risks for “both for you and for the Government,” according to one of the secret memos released recently. Before Blair met with Bush at his ranch in Waco in the spring of that year Straw wrote that, "The rewards from your visit to Crawford will be few.” In another memo Straw says, “We have also to answer the big question -- what will this action achieve? There seems to be a larger hole on this than on anything."
The Liberal Democrat leader in England’s parliament, Charles Kennedy, has said Tony Blair shouldn’t be surprised if the public linked the bombings with the war in Iraq. The FT writes,” Mr. Kennedy said in a speech in London that the war and the mismanagement of the occupation had “fueled the conditions in which terrorism flourishes.
The Lib Dem leader pointed out that Mr. Blair had been warned by the Joint Intelligence Committee, the body that gathers together intelligence assessments from various UK agencies, that the war was likely to increase the terrorist threat.” A large majority of British citizens think the bombings and Iraq are connected as well. (But they’re all wrong!)
And so apparently does Osama bin Laden. The idea that these terrorists are just cold- blooded killers and they do what they do because they “hate freedom” is an oversimplification of the situation. Ralph M. Coury a professor of history at Fairfield University in England writes, in a letter to the editor in the FT, that we should take bin Laden at his word. He quotes bin Laden as saying,” contrary to what Bush says and claims---that we hate freedom---let him tell us why we don’t attack Sweden. We fight you because we are free and we don’t put up with transgressions…any nation that does not attack us will not be attacked” (October 29 2004)”
Bin Laden’s political themes he argues “reflect a rational political calculus and include arguments that secular radicals might embrace…bin Laden’s statements reveals that he has placed far more emphasis on and why specific acts of western aggression must be fought than he has on any divinely sanctioned civilisational conflicts.”
Coury writes, “I am not seeking to justify the killing of civilians. I simply wish to argue that the motivations of bin Laden and many other Jihadists are eminently political. Their actions are not the products of a mentality “that sees mass murder as an existential act.” They are no more pure killers than Madeleine Albright, former US secretary of state, who claimed the death of Iraqi children as a result of sanctions was “worth it,” or present members of the Bush administration who seem indifferent to the deaths of thousands of Iraqi civilians as a result of their invasion.”
Iraqis and Afghanis link up:
Syed Saleem Shahzad writes in his article in Asia Times that “members of the Iraqi resistance, comprising mostly Ba'athists who have melted into various Islamic groups in Iraq, and Taliban and al-Qaeda members of the Afghan resistance met several months ago in Baghdad, where they reconfirmed strategies for their common goals.” These goals include taking the fight to “the home countries of the invading forces,” of both Afghanistan and Iraq.
The evidence is pretty overwhelming that this is a global Jihad at this point and until we understand what it is these people are really after, I don’t see how we can defeat them. That’s not to say we should “surrender” but how can we fight an enemy we don’t know? Didn’t Rommel say, “Know your enemy?” Ignoring what their leaders are saying and simply dismissing it as Islamic rhetoric is a dangerous conceit we cannot afford.
Read Robert Pape’s Op-Ed on the real motivations of al-Qaeda, where he cites documents laying out the strategy behind the Spanish train bombings in March of last year, four months before the attacks actually took place.
Not ready, unwilling and unable:
Eric Schmitt writes in the New York Times on Thursday that a pentagon assessment of Iraq’s security forces found that, “About half of Iraq's new police battalions are still being established and cannot conduct operations, while the other half of the police units and two-thirds of the new army battalions are only "partially capable" of carrying out counterinsurgency missions, and only with American help.”
Never deterred by the untidiness of reality, Rummy said at a press conference on Wednesday that people shouldn’t be looking at the effectiveness Iraq’s security forces too closely because, “It's not for us to tell the other side, the enemy, the terrorists, that this Iraqi unit has this capability, and that Iraqi unit has this capability. The idea of discussing weaknesses, if you will, strengths and weaknesses of 'this unit has a poor chain of command,' or 'these forces are not as effective because their morale's down' - I mean, that would be mindless to put that kind of information out."
Somehow, I think the insurgents probably have a better idea of the state of Iraq’s military capability than probably even the U.S. military does.
The only ones being kept out of the loop on the pathetic state of affairs in Iraq are the American people. And members of congress, of course, who are brain dead. Just keep the checks coming and Billy Tauzen says its time for your medication.
Note: ISLAMABAD (AFP) - Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf said a "broken" Al-Qaeda in his country could not have directed the bomb blasts in Egypt and London and called the terror network a global "phenomenon".
"It has no command structure originating from Pakistan and conveying messages to the whole world to do this act and do that act under total coordination of some commander."
"It is a phenomenon where everyone has started calling himself Al-Qaeda, whether he has done it in London or Sharm el-Sheikh," he said referring to recent deadly bomb blasts in the British capital and the Egyptian Red Sea resort."
[I apologize for not providing links to FT stories, but I don't have an acount. I have to read it the old fashioned way, by getting it at the news stand.]