Topic: War on Terror
The beat goes on in the "forgotten war," in Afghanistan. Not only is Rummy doing a "very fine job" in Iraq, he's also doing a "great job Brownie" in the other mess we're involved in. Remember, it was Rummy who pulled the plug on the hunt for OBL at Tora Bora so he could get his war on in Iraq (more stuff to bomb etc.) and as if that weren't bad enough, now the Taliban are back with a vengeance. Pretty much the whole of the southern part of the country is run by the Taliban, who are either fully supported by their Pashtun brethren or are scaring the local populous into submission.
AP reports today that 3 Afghan soldiers were killed in a roadside bombing in Khost province and 3 British soldiers were wounded in Lashkar Gar, Helmand province, when a suicide bomber rammed their convoy. This is just the latest in a long string of IED and suicide bombings from Helmand to Kandahar to Kunar. Sound familiar? Today there was a clash with the Taliban that the government reports killed another 6 Afghan and 40 insurgents. Naturally, since the press doesn't get out of Kabul much, we'll just have to take the government's word for the body-count. There is some controversy over this incident regarding the slow response of U.S. air support which took 6 hours to arrive.
Report the good news!
In a bit of good news, another "senior member" of al-Qaeda has been killed in a Pakistan. According to Pakistani officals, Muhsin Musa Matwalli Atwah was killed in the village of Anghar, which is along the Pakistani border with Afghanistan. Atwah is suspected of being involved with the American embassy bombings in Africa in 1998 and has a $5 million bounty on his head. Along with Atwah, the Pakistanis say they killed four to six other extremeists and four local villagers. Unfortunatly, the Pakistanis have no actual proof that they killed anyone, let alone Atwah.
The NYT reports:
"The officials said that extremists had removed the bodies immediately after the attack and buried them at a secret location, making the job of finding the remains for DNA tests to confirm the identities difficult."
Gosh, they're pretty efficient when it comes to making sure there's no evidence that anyone was really killed. That seems to happen a lot in Pakistan. If I only had a nickel for every time I read that a senior al-Qaeda figure or Abu al-Zarqawi's second in command had been killed...
In the "winning hearts and minds" department:
, we have this story from Newsweek about an Afghan man who saved a Navy SEAL's life back in June. A four man SEAL team was ambushed by the Taliban and all were killed except for one who was rescued, at great personal peril, by an Afghan man named Mohamad Gulab. Gulab was foraging for edible plants when he came across the wounded SEAL and he took him home and "fed and sheltered him for two days and helped contact a U.S. rescue team," according to Ron Moreau and Sami Yousafzai, for Newsweek.
The local Taliban soon found out what was going on and demanded that the village of Sabray, in Kunar province, give up the SEAL. Gulab and the town elders sent a message to the Taliban saying, "If you want him, you'll have to kill us all." The Taliban declined and the SEAL was later rescued. Gulab says the SEAL promised him $200,000 dollars as a reward and he claims the military said they would relocate him and his family to the U.S. The U.S. denies such an offer was ever made. The SEAL is still on active duty and the Newsweek report says he "declined to comment via his attorney, Alan Schwartz, an 'entertainment lawyer,' in Santa Monica Calif." Gulab is now living near the U.S. military base at Asadabad in Kunar making $250.00 a month as a construction laborer. "I sacrificed everything," he says. "Now no one cares. Why would anyone want to cooperate with the U.S. now?"
Military-grade security at Bagram. NOT!
While the Bush administration is feverishly reclassifying intelligence reports that were already declassified from the 1950's, the military in Afghanistan is working just as hard to sell all our secrets to whatever Afghan or al-Qaeda member has 40 bucks in his pocket. Paul Watson of the LA Times has been reporting this week that he was able to purchase U.S. military flash disks from venders at a Bazzar outside the base at Bagram. Contained in one disk were the names, addresses and children's names of all the Afghans who are working undercover for us.
Pretty incredible. You're doing a heck of a job Rummy!