LAT : Setbacks weaken Al Qaeda's ability to mount attacks, terrorism officials say

Monday, October 19, 2009

Setbacks weaken Al Qaeda's ability to mount attacks, terrorism officials say

By Sebastian Rotella | Reporting from Washington | October 17, 2009

As Al Qaeda is weakened by the loss of leaders, fighters, funds and ideological appeal, the extremist network's ability to attack targets in the United States and Western Europe has diminished, anti-terrorism officials say.

Nonetheless, Al Qaeda and allied groups based primarily in Pakistan remain a threat, particularly because of an increasing ability to attract recruits from Central Asia and Turkey to offset the decline in the number of militants from the Arab world and the West.

Al Qaeda's relative strength these days is of crucial importance in the complex debate in Washington over future U.S. troop levels and tactics in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Although factions within the Obama administration differ on how best to deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan, all agree that the paramount priority is defeating Al Qaeda. Unlike the Afghan Taliban, the terrorist network Al Qaeda remains committed to a holy war against the West with a goal of matching or surpassing its devastating attacks in 2001.

Western intelligence officials say that the group, already under pressure from U.S. drone strikes and facing a likely Pakistani army assault on its sanctuary, has been further racked by internal division and rifts with tribal groups.

"Some pretty experienced individuals have been taken out of the equation," a senior British anti-terrorism official said in a recent interview.

"There is fear, insecurity and paranoia about individuals arriving from outside, worries about spies and infiltration," said the official, who requested anonymity because of the sensitive topic. "There is a sense that it has become a less romantic experience. Which is important because of the impact on Al Qaeda the brand, the myth, the idea of the glorious jihadist."

Al Qaeda last spilled blood in the West in July 2005 when bombing attacks on the London transportation system killed 52 people. Global cooperation and aggressive infiltration by Western spy services have thwarted subsequent plots, and a stepped-up campaign of drone strikes has killed many Al Qaeda leaders and intensified divisions among extremist groups.

"There are tensions about AQ as an entity," the British official said. "It has embedded itself in [northwestern Pakistan] over the course of years with marriages, links to tribes. The drone strikes appear to be straining those bonds with the locals."

Some Arabs and Westerners still trek to the training compounds of Waziristan, though the numbers have shrunk as intelligence services get better at tracking and capturing trainees. British militants thought to have trained in Pakistan during the last year and a half number in the tens, not the hundreds, the official said.

French authorities say only small numbers of militants from France are going to Pakistan. Italian anti-terrorism officials have not detected any recruits from their country traveling to Pakistan since 2005 or '06, said Armando Spataro, a top terrorism prosecutor in Milan.

The dwindling supply of foreign recruits results partly from an ideological backlash in the Muslim world, experts say.

President Obama cited the debilitated condition of the terrorist network last week during a visit with U.S. counter-terrorism officials.

"Because of our efforts, Al Qaeda and its allies have not only lost operational capacity, they've lost legitimacy and credibility," he said.

The number of failed plots in the West, whether directed or inspired by Al Qaeda, also shows that the quality of operatives has declined, scholar Marc Sageman testified at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week.

"Counter-terrorism is working," said Sageman, a former CIA officer and New York Police Department expert. "Terrorist organizations can no longer cherry-pick the best candidates as they did in the 1990s. There is no Al Qaeda recruitment program: Al Qaeda and its allies are totally dependent on self-selected volunteers."

In several recent cases, Western trainees in Pakistan allegedly had contact with Mustafa Abu Yazid, also known as Said Sheik, a longtime Egyptian financial boss. Abu Yazid acts as the day-to-day chief of the network while Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman Zawahiri, spend their time eluding capture, said the British official.

The training and direction of Westerners had largely been coordinated by one individual: Rashid Rauf, a Pakistani Briton who died in a missile strike in November. Investigators believe Rauf was the handler of British operatives in plots dating back to a failed 2004 bombing in London.

A French trainee who confessed this year detailed to French police the relatively small size of the network. Walid Othmani, who is of Tunisian descent, said he trained in the Waziristan region with a mostly Arab contingent of 300 to 500 fighters, according to a French police report provided by a defense lawyer.

"The chief of the Arabs is . . . of Egyptian origin," Othmani told interrogators. "The Arab group is mostly people of Saudi origin. You find people from the Middle East, North Africans, blacks, Turks and a majority of Arabs."

Anti-terrorism officials said Othmani's estimate largely matches previous intelligence.

The French militant also described a trend that may signal a new threat: the rise of Turks and Central Asians.

"There's a big Turkish group, the Arab group [the smallest of the groups], two rather large Uzbek groups, a group of Uighurs from Turkestan [the region in China officially known as Xinjiang] . . . the largest of the groups," he said under questioning. "There are also two Kurdish groups and finally a mixed group led by an Uzbek."

Western investigators worry about the Uzbek-led Islamic Jihad Union. The IJU broke off in 2002 from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, a longtime Al Qaeda ally.

The IJU has made a name for itself as a Turkic-speaking alternative to Al Qaeda for Turks and Central Asians. The Turkic groups produce Internet propaganda in amounts that rival those of Al Qaeda, and have threatened Germany because of its military presence in Afghanistan.

"For the Turkic groups, Germany is America," said Evan Kohlmann, a terrorism expert who works with law enforcement around the world.

The IJU also directed a group of converts and Turks from Germany who were convicted of plotting to bomb U.S. military targets in Germany in 2007.

An IJU video recently obtained by Kohlmann shows Germans training in Pakistani badlands along with a muscular man with a shaved head who brandishes an automatic rifle. The video identifies him as an American.

"Law enforcement is deathly afraid of these groups," Kohlmann said.

Recent attacks in Pakistan highlight other threats to the West. The bold strikes on military and government targets were blamed on joint teams of Pakistani Taliban and Punjabi militant groups, both allies of Al Qaeda that could protect or rejuvenate the network.

"The ties between Al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban are closer and closer," Jean-Louis Bruguiere, a veteran French anti-terrorism magistrate, said in an interview. "Then you have the danger of other Pakistani networks like Lashkar-e-Taiba that have had complicity in the past with elements of the state. Al Qaeda might be diluted, but it could become part of a larger threat."

Two Americans with links to Lashkar were convicted this summer in Atlanta of conspiring with militants in Canada and Europe and filming prospective targets in Washington.

In contrast, the Pakistani Taliban, like its Afghani counterpart, rarely surfaces in plots against the West.

One murky case hints at the potential: the arrests last year of a group of Pakistanis in Barcelona, Spain. Then-Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mahsud allegedly sent would-be suicide bombers to Barcelona, shadowed by a Pakistani informant working for French intelligence.

The informant called in a police raid when the suspects allegedly said they were about to commit a suicide attack on the Barcelona subway. No explosives were found, however. Some French and Spanish officials said the imminence of the attack was exaggerated and the links to Mahsud, who died in an airstrike this year, were unclear.

Nonetheless, the alliance between Al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban raises concern, Bruguiere said.

"Such ambitions by the Pakistani Taliban cannot be excluded, because they want to join in the global jihad," Bruguiere said.

Copyright © 2009, The Los Angeles Times

Trak : Britain to help Pak establish MI5-like network

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Britain to help Pak establish MI5-like network

ANI | October 2, 2009

Washington, Oct. 2 (ANI): Britain will assist Pakistan to set up a counter-intelligence agency on the line of British secret service, MI5.

BBC’s Richard Watson quoted senior British and Pakistani counter-terrorism officials as saying that British training and funding will be made available to the new security authority.

In the first phase, 200 experts will be employed in Pakistan, covering extremism and religious affairs, he said.

One of these will examine the alleged role in religious schools and radicalisation.

He added that there will be a new counter-terrorism strategy within six months, and research projects will be launched.

British intelligence has estimated that almost three quarters of terrorist attacks in Britain have their origins in Pakistan.

British experts fear that Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI could block progress, as it would want to remain in charge of terrorist investigations.

However, Pakistani sources insisted that the ISI is fully on board.

The Home Office declined to comment on funding, but said it strongly supported the move. (ANI)

Targana : Osama’s death or capture just months away: Expert

Monday, September 28, 2009

Osama’s death or capture just months away: Expert

NEW YORK - The cornered and weakened Osama bin Laden is just months away from being captured or killed, a terrorism expert has predicted.

The Daily Star quoted Al-Qaida expert Peter Bergen as saying: “Bin Laden will be captured or killed.”

According to experts, the 52-year-old al-Qaida chief is on the run with less power than ever before.

“Laden is trapped in the mountains of Pakistan’s tribal areas. He is stripped of any power, unable to communicate on the phone for fear of being overheard by US eavesdroppers and he is forever on the run,” experts were quoted by the report, as saying.

Drone attacks have already killed Bin Laden’s many key allies. About 500 terrorists, including a series of key lieutenants, were killed in 56 predator attacks.

Khalid Habib, the group’s military chief, rising star Abu Layth al-Libi, explosives and chemical warfare expert Abu Khabab al-Masri and attack planner Usama al-Kini have been killed.

Atlantic airline bombing plotter Rashid Rauf was allegedly killed in a drone attack, as was Pakistan Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud.

Al-Qaida’s propaganda arm seems to have been drowned by internal feuds and suspicion, since many of its websites are often offline.

America’s Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair said: “Al-Qaida today is less capable and effective than it was a year ago. In Pakistan’s FATA, al-Qaida has lost significant parts of its command structure in a succession of damaging blows.

“We are more aggressive and the ability to be more aggressive is founded on the larger and more sophisticated understanding of the adversary that we have gained.” (ANI)

War On You : EXCLUSIVE… 9/11, What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

EXCLUSIVE… 9/11, What’s Wrong With This Picture?

September 2, 2009

Waronyou has reviewed the content herein and agrees the author has presented a new and different perspective on the events of 9/11.

Many official government stories are so ridiculous that a select group of people some call the puppet masters don’t expect you to believe them. Disinformation is misleading information that is true, deliberately announced publicly or leaked by a government or an intelligence agency to sow confusion and undermine credibility. Misinformation is false or inaccurate information, which is deliberately intended to deceive.

September 11, 2001:

According to the government on 9/11 19 fanatical Arab hijackers, masterminded by an evil genius named Osama bin Laden, crash airplanes into steel skyscrapers because they “hate our freedom to consume” and for the first time in history three buildings collapse at free fall speed due to a jet fuel fire. Jet fuel, which is basically kerosene that burns at about 400c, on 9/11 took on the qualities of an explosive demolition agent, vaporizing 70 tons of aircraft into a puff of smoke and causing 110-story buildings to collapse into a pile of rubble. Misinformation?

Yes, millions believe at least a LIHOP (Let It Happen on Purpose) version of the story because a MIHOP (Made It Happen on Purpose) version results in cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is the discomfort felt when one realizes 3,000 American citizens died to build up the military, pass the Patriot Act, justify the invasion of Afghanistan, Iraq and, of course, FISA–the White House’s warrantless wiretapping on Americans suspected of links to terrorists.

Anyone not in denial and offered an alternate explanation needs a New York minute to realize the official story is absurd, and that is before they find out the military was conducting Operation Vigilant Guardian, an exercise on 9/11 simulating hijacked planes in the NE sector of the United States crashing into skyscrapers. The government describes the coincidence of terrorists actually hijacking planes and flying them into the World Trade Center as just one of those “bizarre coincidences,” those little quirks of fate that do happen from time to time, like the same person winning the lottery three weeks in a row. The odds are astronomical, but these things happen.

There were other bizarre coincidences on 9/11, take World Trade Center 7. Never heard of WTC 7? That isn’t surprising because, although slick science TV programs “explained” the collapses of the Twin Towers, the 7-second collapse of Building 7 remains virtually unknown probably because it wasn’t hit by a plane. Chapter 5 of the FEMA World Trade Center Building Performance Study states: “WTC 7 is of significant interest because it appears the collapse was due primarily to fire, rather than any impact damage from the collapsing towers.”

FEMA admits there is no proof a fire caused the collapse of Building 7, and the final chapter (5.8), instead of offering conclusions offers “Recommendations”: “Certain issues should be explored before final conclusions are reached and additional studies of the performance of WTC 7, and related building performance issues should be conducted,” as well as “suggested mechanisms for a progressive collapse should be studied and confirmed,” and “how the collapse of an unknown number of gravity columns brought down the whole building must be explained.”

The report does not mention WTC 7 was home to Giuliani’s Secret Command Center and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Enron, WorldCom and 3 to 4,000 other companies won the lottery when the collapse of Building 7 destroyed their SEC case files.

And then the Penta-gone:

According to Jamie Mcintryre, CNN correspondent at the scene “From my close-up inspection, there’s no evidence of a plane having crashed anywhere near the Pentagon. And as I said, the only pieces left that you can see are small enough that you pick up in your hand. There are no large tail sections, wing sections, fuselage, nothing like that anywhere around which would indicate that the entire plane crashed into the side of the Pentagon.” This report is disinformation deliberately announced publicly in order to influence public opinion.

The attack targeted the portion of the building opposite the offices of Secretary of Defense. Instead of attacking Rumsfeld’s offices, the jet executed a 320-degree descending spiral to its east, south, and southwest, losing seven thousand feet before making its final approach from the southwest hitting the portion of the Pentagon just renovated and occupied by its newest tenant, The Office of Naval Intelligence. Thirty-four of those killed were civilian accountants, bookkeepers and budget analysts.

Just the day before, on September 10, 2001, Donald Rumsfeld was speaking to Congress and confessed the Pentagon is missing 2.3 trillion Dollars. Just vanished. And, in another one of those things that don’t happen very often, The Office of Naval Intelligence was investigating the missing 2.3 trillion.

In June 2006, Muckraker Report investigative reporter Ed Haas contacted the FBI to ask why 9/11 was not specifically mentioned on Bin Laden’s wanted page on the FBI website. According to the FBI “The reason why 9/11 is not mentioned on Osama Bin Laden’s most wanted page is because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11.”

But according to George W. Bush, the 2003 invasion of Iraq was required because Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and a connection to 9/11–and don’t forget Bush wanted to free the Iraqi people.

Recently, the Bush Administration has admitted there were no WMDs and Saddam Hussein had no ties to the attacks on 9/11.

Enter Valerie Plame, the Spy Who Got Shoved Out Into the Cold.

The Plame leak was a breach of national security and a violation of law under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982. One could “predict that the investigation” of Bush and Cheney would die in the CIA as George J. Tenet would stay loyal to Bush. But instead, in another one of those strange quirks of fate, Mr. Tenet decided to do “the right thing” and investigate the scandal – ad nauseaum. The story was in the news until 2007 and Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald during the investigation commented, “As you sit back, you want to learn why was this information going out. Why were people taking this information about Valerie Wilson and giving it to reporters?” Answer? Disinformation. Instead of organizing an elaborate PR campaign to disparage Wilson, Cheney could have directed the CIA to hide a few WMDs prior to the invasion. “We found them, he had them, look, here they are, Bush and Cheney were telling the truth.”

And finally a warning from President Bush, “Let us never tolerate outrageous conspiracy theories” aired on national television after the attacks of 9/11 and right before the Patriot Act was forced down Congress. Super misinformation.

Evidentially David Ray Griffin was not watching television on 9/11. A philosopher at the Claremont School of Theology, Griffin scrutinizes the timeline and physical evidence of September 11 for unresolved inconsistencies in his widely read book “New Pearl Harbor”. Griffin draws heavily on The Big Lie–a bestseller in France. He claims that if standard procedures for scrambling fighter jets had been followed, the hijacked planes should have been intercepted in time, and that, structurally, the collapse of the World Trade Center towers most likely was caused by explosives placed throughout the towers, not from the plane crashes.

Amazon Customers who searched for or bought New Pearl Harbor or expressed interest in “This Item” can find 17 pages of related titles all by authors who missed the President’s warning.

Don’t want to read about 9/11? How about a movie? Here are just a few amateur selections: 9/11, Eyewitness Hoboken, Great Illusion, Painful Deceptions, Mysteries, Greatest Lie Ever Sold. Google Video has 6 pages of related 9/11 videos.

However, without a doubt the Oscar winner for Best Documentary is “Loose Change” (2005, 2006, 2007). A series of documentaries that assert the September 11, 2001 attacks were planned and conducted by elements within the United States government and base the claims on perceived anomalies in the historical record of the attacks. Loose Change is one of the most downloaded movies on the Internet and was featured on a New York local FOX affiliate, WICZ-TV. Watching it you would assume Oliver Stone was the director, not two college students Dylan Avery & Jason Bermas who allegedly made it by “accident.”

Google “9/11 conspiracy” and you get 134,000,000 results.

Google “9/11 outrageous conspiracy” you get 556,000 results.

There is a 9/11-truth movement in every major city in the United States.

9/11 conspiracy theories are allowed and even encouraged. Could the 9/11 Truth movement be the cover for another story?

The News : The top ten most wanted Jehadis

Monday, August 31, 2009

The top ten most wanted Jehadis

By Amir Mir | September 1, 2009

LAHORE: The death of Baitullah Mehsud in a US drone attack is unlikely to give Pakistan a reprieve in its military operations in the hostile tribal areas as there are many more hardcore militants with guns in their hands and Jehad on their mind — who are still at large and adamant to pursue their Jehadi agenda.

According to well-placed Interior Ministry sources in Islamabad, Pakistanís top ten most wanted terrorists belong to six militant and sectarian organisations linked to al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Four of the ten wanted militants are affiliated with the TTP; two belong to the LeJ while one each is associated with the TNSM, the JeM, the HUJI and the LeI. They include Maulana Fazlullah, the fugitive Ameer of the Swat chapter of the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM), Maulana Fazlullah, Qari Hussain Mehsud, Maulvi Faqeer Mohammad and Waliur Rehman of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Matiur Rehman and Qari Zafar of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Maulana Ilyas Kashmiri of the Harkatul Jehadul Islami (HUJI), Rashid Rauf of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Mangal Bagh of the Lashkar-e-Islami (LeI).

With Baitullah Mehsud already down, Maulana Fazlullah has become No 1 most wanted terrorist. He is the son-in-law of Maulana Sufi Mohammed, the TNSM founder. Born on March 1, 1975, Fazlullah is widely known as Mullah Radio for using illegal FM channels to broadcast vituperative speeches, threatening people with dire consequences should they not adhere to Shariat and instigating the residents of Swat into taking part in Jehad. He has been missing since April 2009 after the Pakistan Army launched a massive operation to dismantle his Jehadi infrastructure following the collapse of a peace agreement between Sufi Mohammed and the government. Though the Army has reclaimed Swat, Fazlullah remains at large. He carries a reward of Rs 5 million on his head.

A close confidant of Baitullah Mehsud, Hakimullah Mehsud, is the new Ameer of the TTP who ranks No 2 in the most wanted list. Born in 1980, he used to command TTP fighters in Orakzai, Khyber and Kurram tribal agencies of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Hakimullah, also known as Zulfiqar Mehsud alias Gudu, has been leading operations against Natoís supply lines in Khyber and Peshawar. His forces have been behind raids that have led to the destruction of more than 600 Nato vehicles and shipping containers. He had taken credit for a series of suicide attacks and complex assaults in Lahore and Peshawar, including the March 2009 attack on the Manawan Police Training Academy in Lahore. Interior Minister Rehman Malik had claimed after the death of Baitullah that Hakimullah too had died in a gun battle. But he is still alive.

Another close aide of Baitullah, Qari Hussain Mehsud ranks No 3. He is a key commander of the TTP in South Waziristan, and known as the Ustad-e-Fidayeen (the trainer of suicide bombers). He runs camps that train children to become suicide bombers. Children are indoctrinated to wage Jehad in Pakistan and Afghanistan, as shown in a video taken at one of his camps in Spinkai area which was released by himself. The two major suicide hits claimed on the video were the March 11, 2008 suicide attack on the FIA building in Lahore and the November 24, 2007 twin suicide attacks in Rawalpindi, in front of the ISI headquarters. The Pakistani military demolished Hussainís suicide nursery in January 2008 and claimed that he too had been killed. But he mocked the military hardly a week later during a press conference, saying. ìI am alive, donít you see me?”

The No 4 in the most wanted list, Ilyas Kashmiri, the chief of the Azad Kashmir chapter of al-Qaeda-linked Jehadi organisation Harkatul Jehadul Islami (HUJI), is a veteran of the Kashmir Jehad who spent several years in an Indian jail. He was arrested after the December 2003 twin suicide attacks on General Musharrafís presidential cavalcade in Rawalpindi, but released a few weeks later due to lack of evidence. He later shifted his base to the Waziristan region and joined hands with Baitullah Mehsud. He later established a training camp in the Razmak area of Waziristan and shifted most of his militants from his Kotli training camp in Azad Kashmir. He has been named in a charge-sheet filed by the Islamabad police for masterminding the November 2008 murder of Major General (retd) Amir Faisal Alvi, the former general officer commanding (GOC) of the elite Special Services Group (SSG).

No 5 in the most wanted list, Rashid Rauf is an alleged al-Qaeda linked British national of the Pakistani origin who is wanted by Pakistani and Britain for being a central figure in an August 2006 plot to blow up some US-bound trans-Atlantic airplanes. A close relative of Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar, Rashid has been accused of forming multiple cells, comprising 12 terrorists each, which had been dispatched in 2008 from Pakistani tribal areas to conduct a series of bomb attacks in the major cities of several European countries. Rashid was reportedly killed on November 22, 2008 after a missile fired from a CIA predator drone destroyed a mud-built bungalow in Alikhel village of North Waziristan. But it later transpired that he is alive and operating from the Waziristan region.

The No 6 most wanted terrorist is Mangal Bagh Afridi, who is the founder of the Lashkar-e-Islam, an Islamic militant group operating in Khyber Agency which claims to be a reformist organisation trying to promote virtue and prevent vice. Born in 1973 in the Bara Tehsil of Khyber Agency, Mangal used to be a bus conductor who now preaches extremism on his privately-run FM radio stations. If one were to believe, his Lashkar-e-Islam has 120,000 armed men who control most parts of Khyber Agency. Already declared a proclaimed offender, he had left a trail of bloodshed, pillage and mayhem when his men attacked unarmed villagers in Sheikhan, near Peshawar, in early 2009 and killed dozens.

Born in 1977, Matiur Rehman alais Samad Sial, the chief operational commander of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, ranks No 7. He is a Pakistani national, but identified as al-Qaedaís planning director, wanted by both the FBI and FIA. Known as an extremely fine bomb-maker, he comes from Bahawalpur district of the Punjab and carries a bounty of Rs 10 million, as announced by the Pakistan government. He had been linked with the August 2006 transatlantic plot to destroy US-bound British aircrafts. Suspected for his involvement in the September 2008 Marriot Hotel suicide bombing in Islamabad, Matiur Rehman is described as extremely dangerous because of his role as the liaison between al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Jehadi community.

Born in 1970 in the Bajaur Agency, Maulvi Faqir Mohammed is a member of the Mohmand tribe and the deputy commander of the TTP who ranks No 8 in the most wanted list. Formerly affiliated with the TNSM led by Sufi Mohammad, he is wanted due to contacts with the Taliban and al-Qaeda militants. Faqeer has publicly stated that he has close ties to Osamaís No 2 Dr Ayman Zawahiri. After Baitullahís death, he had first announced assuming temporary command of the TTP, but later declared that Hakimullah had been selected leader of the TTP. He is accused of orchestrating the November 8, 2006 suicide attack on an Army training centre at Dargai in NWFP which killed 45 recruits of the Punjab Regiment Centre.

Waliur Rehman, the commander of the South Waziristan chapter of the TTP, has emerged as a key Jehadi figure after the death of Baitullah who ranks No 9 on the Most Wanted list. Born in 1974, Waliur is a cleric who studied at a religious seminary in Faisalabad - the Jamia Islamia Imdadia — before teaching for seven years in a Madrassa in South Waziristan. He had joined the Taliban movement in 2004 to become one of Baitullahís trusted aides who used to look after the financial matters of the TTP. At one stage in his life, Waliur Rehman was associated with Maulana Fazlur Rehmanís Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) and had pursued peaceful politics. Wali was a main contender for Baitullahís job as the TTP head and his selection as the TTP head for South Waziristan has made him the pivotal figure in the organisation.

The No 10 most wanted militant is Qari Mohammad Zafar, who is largely believed to be the acting Ameer of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi who runs a suicide bombing squad in Pakistan. Presently operating from South Waziristan, Zafar was alleged to be the mastermind of the September 2008 Marriott Hotel bombing. Hailing from Karachi, he is reported to have become one of the members of al-Qaedaís hardline inner circle in Pakistan and enjoying the protection of the TTP. In 2007, Zafar had escaped from the custody of security services in Lahore. He is also wanted for questioning in connection with the March 2, 2006 car bomb attack on the US consulate in Karachi.

TPV : Murdering Palestinians for their organs: "All facts on the ground prove Swedish report correct"

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Murdering Palestinians for their organs: "All facts on the ground prove Swedish report correct"

by Saed Bannoura | August 23, 2009

Former Palestinian detainee, researcher Abdul-Nasser Farwana, stated that all facts on the ground, since decades, prove that the Israeli occupation executed Palestinian detainees after they surrendered and refused to hand their bodies to their families. Hundreds of bodies were transferred to the families days, months or even years after the fact, and when the bodies were sent back, they were missing vital internal organs.

Farwana added that the Swedish report, written by Donald Boström and published by Aftonbladet Swedish paper, regarding illegal trafficking of body parts of Palestinians is directly connected to the execution of Palestinians after they surrendered to the army, and is connected with the arrest of 40 well-known figures, including Rabbis in New Jersey for money laundering and corruption, in a scheme that involved sales of Israeli kidneys in the US and other corruption rackets.

Farwana added that one of the illegal acts carried out by Israel is having secret detention facilities in which dozens of detainees were imprisoned and never heard of anymore. This is in addition to the “Numbers Graveyard” in which “unknown” Palestinian and Arab fighters are buried.

He said that Israel still denies it is holding hundreds of Palestinian and Arab fighter, and refuses to cooperate with the Red Cross on the issue.

The researcher added that Israel is the only state that had a policy of detaining the bodies of slain Arab and Palestinian fighters, and that some 300 fighters are buried in the numbers graveyard.

Hundreds of bodies were returned during prisoner-swap deals, including the latest swap-deal between Hezbollah and Israel in which some 200 bodies were moved to Lebanon.

Farwana further said that dozens of detainees died in Israeli prisons, some due to torture, and their bodies were not immediately sent to their families, but instead were moved to forensic center, and some of their body parts were removed before bodies were sent back to the Palestinians.

Mayors, rabbis arrested in New Jersey human organ corruption scandal.

He said the Swedish paper said in its report that Palestinians youth were abducted by the Israeli army from their homes, were killed later on, and when their bodies were return, they were cut open and vital organs were missing.

Rabbi Levi Yitzhak Rosenberg, who was recently arrested in New York, is believed to be involved in illegal trade of organs, and that he sold Kidney to patients in the United States for 160.000 USD.

The Aftonbladet report placed the Israeli-Swedish relations at odds, and some Israel officials demanded Sweden to officially apologize, while other officials said that this report in part of the efforts to demonize Israel and the Jews.

The full Aftonbladet Kultur report, in English

Related article: "Sweden flatly rejects Israeli request for media quiet"

TLAXCALA : “Our sons plundered for their organs”

Sunday, August 23, 2009

“Our sons plundered for their organs”

by Donald BOSTRÖM | August 17, 2009

You could call me a “matchmaker,” said Levy Izhak Rosenbaum, from Brooklyn, USA, in a secret recording with an FBI-agent whom he believed to be a client. Ten days later, at the end of July this year, Rosenbaum was arrested and a vast, Sopranos-like, imbroglio of money-laundering and illegal organ-trade was revealed. Rosenbaum’s matchmaking had nothing to do with romance. It was all about buying and selling kidneys from Israel on the black market. Rosenbaum says that he buys the kidneys for $10,000, from poor people. He then proceeds to sell the organs to desperate patients in the States for $160,000. The accusations have shaken the American transplantation business. If they are true it means that organ trafficking is documented for the first time in the US, experts tell the New Jersey Real-Time News.

On the question of how many organs he has sold Rosenbaum replies: “Quite a lot. And I have never failed,” he boasts. The business has been running for quite some time. Francis Delmonici, professor of transplant surgery at Harvard and member of the National Kidney Foundation’s Board of Directors, tells the same newspaper that organ-trafficking, similar to the one reported from Israel, is carried out in other places of the world as well. 5–6,000 operations a year, about ten per cent of the world’s kidney transplants are carried out illegally, according to Delmonici.

Countries suspected of these activities are Pakistan, the Philippines and China, where the organs are allegedly taken from executed prisoners. But Palestinians also harbor strong suspicions against Israel for seizing young men and having them serve as the country’s organ reserve – a very serious accusation, with enough question marks to motivate the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to start an investigation about possible war crimes.

Israel has repeatedly been under fire for its unethical ways of dealing with organs and transplants. France was among the countries that ceased organ collaboration with Israel in the nineties. Jerusalem Post wrote that “the rest of the European countries are expected to follow France’s example shortly.”

Half of the kidneys transplanted to Israelis since the beginning of the 2000s have been bought illegally from Turkey, Eastern Europe or Latin America. Israeli health authorities have full knowledge of this business but do nothing to stop it. At a conference in 2003 it was shown that Israel is the only western country with a medical profession that doesn’t condemn the illegal organ trade. The country takes no legal measures against doctors participating in the illegal business – on the contrary, chief medical officers of Israel’s big hospitals are involved in most of the illegal transplants, according to Dagens Nyheter (December 5, 2003).

In the summer of 1992, Ehud Olmert, then minister of health, tried to address the issue of organ shortage by launching a big campaign aimed at having the Israeli public register for post mortem organ donation. Half a million pamphlets were spread in local newspapers. Ehud Olmert himself was the first person to sign up. A couple of weeks later the Jerusalem Post reported that the campaign was a success. No fewer than 35,000 people had signed up. Prior to the campaign it would have been 500 in a normal month. In the same article, however, Judy Siegel, the reporter, wrote that the gap between supply and demand was still large. 500 people were in line for a kidney transplant, but only 124 transplants could be performed. Of 45 people in need of a new liver, only three could be operated on in Israel.

While the campaign was running, young Palestinian men started to disappear from villages in the West Bank and Gaza. After five days Israeli soldiers would bring them back dead, with their bodies ripped open.

Talk of the bodies terrified the population of the occupied territories. There were rumors of a dramatic increase of young men disappearing, with ensuing nightly funerals of autopsied bodies.

I was in the area at the time, working on a book. On several occasions I was approached by UN staff concerned about the developments. The persons contacting me said that organ theft definitely occurred but that they were prevented from doing anything about it. On an assignment from a broadcasting network I then travelled around interviewing a great number of Palestinian families in the West Bank and Gaza – meeting parents who told of how their sons had been deprived of organs before being killed. One example that I encountered on this eerie trip was the young stone-thrower Bilal Achmed Ghanan.

It was close to midnight when the motor roar from an Israeli military column sounded from the outskirts of Imatin, a small village in the northern parts of the West Bank. The two thousand inhabitants were awake. They were still, waiting, like silent shadows in the dark, some lying upon roofs, others hiding behind curtains, walls, or trees that provided protection during the curfew but still offered a full view toward what would become the grave for the first martyr of the village. The military had interrupted the electricity and the area was now a closed-off military zone – not even a cat could move outdoors without risking its life. The overpowering silence of the dark night was only interrupted by quiet sobbing. I don’t remember if our shivering was due to the cold or to the tension. Five days earlier, on May 13, 1992, an Israeli special force had used the village’s carpentry workshop for an ambush. The person they were assigned to put out of action was Bilal Achmed Ghanan, one of the stone-throwing Palestinian youngsters who made life difficult for the Israeli soldiers.

As one of the leading stone-throwers Bilal Ghanan had been wanted by the military for a couple of years. Together with other stone-throwing boys he hid in the Nablus mountains, with no roof over his head. Getting caught meant torture and death for these boys – they had to stay in the mountains at all costs.

On May 13 Bilal made an exception, when for some reason, he walked unprotected past the carpentry workshop. Not even Talal, his older brother, knows why he took this risk. Maybe the boys were out of food and needed to restock.

Everything went according to plan for the Israeli special force. The soldiers stubbed their cigarettes, put away their cans of Coca-Cola, and calmly aimed through the broken window. When Bilal was close enough they needed only to pull the triggers. The first shot hit him in the chest. According to villagers who witnessed the incident he was subsequently shot with one bullet in each leg. Two soldiers then ran down from the carpentry workshop and shot Bilal once in the stomach. Finally, they grabbed him by his feet and dragged him up the twenty stone steps of the workshop stair. Villagers say that people from both the UN and the Red Crescent were close by, heard the discharge and came to look for wounded people in need of care. Some arguing took place as to who should take care of the victim. Discussions ended with Israeli soldiers loading the badly wounded Bilal in a jeep and driving him to the outskirts of the village, where a military helicopter waited. The boy was flown to a destination unknown to his family. Five days later he came back, dead and wrapped in green hospital fabric.

A villager recognized Captain Yahya, the leader of the military column who had transported Bilal from the postmortem center Abu Kabir, outside of Tel Aviv, to the place for his final rest. “Captain Yahya is the worst of them all,” the villager whispered in my ear. After Yahya had unloaded the body and changed the green fabric for a light cotton one, some male relatives of the victim were chosen by the soldiers to do the job of digging and mixing cement.

Together with the sharp noises from the shovels we could hear laughter from the soldiers who, as they waited to go home, exchanged some jokes. As Bilal was put in the grave his chest was uncovered. Suddenly it became clear to the few people present just what kind of abuse the boy had been exposed to. Bilal was not by far the first young Palestinian to be buried with a slit from his abdomen up to his chin.

The families in the West Bank and in Gaza felt that they knew exactly what had happened: “Our sons are used as involuntary organ donors,” relatives of Khaled from Nablus told me, as did the mother of Raed from Jenin and the uncles of Machmod and Nafes from Gaza, who had all disappeared for a number of days only to return at night, dead and autopsied.

“Why are they keeping the bodies for up to five days before they let us bury them? What happened to the bodies during that time? Why are they performing autopsy, against our will, when the cause of death is obvious? Why are the bodies returned at night? Why is it done with a military escort? Why is the area closed off during the funeral? Why is the electricity interrupted?” Nafe’s uncle was upset and he had a lot of questions.

The relatives of the dead Palestinians no longer harbored any doubts as to the reasons for the killings, but the spokesperson for the Israeli army claimed that the allegations of organ theft were lies. All the Palestinian victims go through autopsy on a routine basis, he said. Bilal Achmed Ghanem was one of 133 Palestinians killed in various ways that year. According to the Palestinian statistics the causes of death were: shot in the street, explosion, tear gas, deliberately run over, hanged in prison, shot in school, killed at home etcetera. The 133 people killed were between four months to 88 years old. Only half of them, 69 victims, went through postmortem examination. The routine autopsy of killed Palestinians – of which the army spokesperson was talking – has no bearing on the reality in the occupied territories. The questions remain.

We know that Israel has a great need for organs, that there is a vast and illegal trade of organs which has been running for many years now, that the authorities are aware of it and that doctors in managing positions at the big hospitals participate, as well as civil servants at various levels. We also know that young Palestinian men disappeared, that they were brought back after five days, at night, under tremendous secrecy, stitched back together after having been cut from abdomen to chin.

It’s time to bring clarity to this macabre business, to shed light on what is going on and what has taken place in the territories occupied by Israel since the Intifada began.

Source: ”Våra söner plundras på sina organ” (Aftonbladet Kultur)

Original article published on August 17, 2009.

Press TV : Sweden flatly rejects Israeli request for media quiet

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sweden flatly rejects Israeli request for media quiet

MRS/AA | August 21, 2009

Sweden has turned down a demand that it condemn the recent publication of an article that links Israeli soldiers to the death of Palestinian civilians with the motive of obtaining their organs.

In an article published earlier in the week, Sweden's best-selling daily Aftonbladet recounted grotesque incidents dating as far back as 1992 in which Israeli soldiers allegedly abducted Palestinian youths and returned their bodies mutilated a few days later.

The publication infuriated Israeli officials who labeled the news piece as 'blatantly racist' and full of 'vile anti-Semitic themes'.

In response to the publication, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called on his Swedish counterpart, Carl Bildt, to officially rebut the 'shocking and appalling' piece.

Tel Aviv's envoy to Sweden, Benny Dagan, was to make a similar request during a Friday meeting with the kingdom's deputy foreign minister.

Bildt, however, responded that he would not condemn the article, asserting that such a measure would be in violation of freedom of expression and counter to the Swedish constitution.

Condemnation of anti-Semitism is "the only issue on which there has ever been complete unity in the Swedish parliament", the Swedish minister wrote in a blog post on Thursday, apparently rejecting the idea that disapproving criminal conduct amounts to anti-Semitism.

The Swedish refusal to denounce the allegations against the Israeli army by the high-circulation daily may shake diplomatic ties between Tel Aviv and Stockholm.

There is media speculation that Israel might respond by canceling the Swedish foreign minister's visit to the occupied West Bank scheduled for the next 10 days.


Sunday, August 23, 2009


Peace proponent Cindy Sheehan calls all peace leaders to come sail with her aboard 'SS Camp Casey' anchored in Martha's Vineyard for a shipboard peace summit.

August 23, 2009

MARTHA'S VINEYARD -- Peace proponent Cindy Sheehan is calling for peace movement leaders, international news 'anchors' and pro-peace members of the public to sail around Martha's Vineyard, from August 27 to 29. The meetings will be aboard the grand sailing vessel dubbed the SS Camp Casey anchored in Martha's Vineyard. Sheehan will co-captain daily excursions as she holds this seaside peace summit.

Sheehan's purpose is to bring leaders together to stand as an acting 'Department of Peace'. She calls for immediate stipulations: "I am calling in the Peace Movement to encircle our country with our united demand for an immediate return of all U.S. forces around the globe. Bring every one of our troops home NOW! We need them in our families and towns. We need our troops back to help us fix our broken country. Our ships of state must make their voyage home, with our countrymen out of harm's way."

Sheehan declares her plan to mobilize peace leaders to begin work with her to draft the world's first 'Universal Peace Treaty': "We must stop the terrorizing of our soldiers and the world's civilians with the imperial sword rattling of wartime administrations," said Sheehan. "We must BE the change we wish to see in our President!"

Sheehan demands that the Obama Administration issue a mandatory end to U.S. war policy. "The clock does not turn back with a new President.. We must return them all back here immediately. No more waiting will be tolerated. Zero acceptance for keeping our troops abroad!

"Security begins at home with intact families," says Sheehan. "The time of healing must begin. The true purpose of our nation is Peace on Earth, starting with the decisive end to our failed war policies."

To the international peace community, Sheehan says: "This is our time to finally draw an end to America's wars. We must abide by the saying of ancient scriptures: Let peace and peace and peace be everywhere. I declare this to be our new national defense policy."

For information, contact:
Laurie Dobson

or Bruce Marshall

NYT : Bush Official, in Book, Tells of Pressure on ’04 Vote

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Bush Official, in Book, Tells of Pressure on ’04 Vote

By PETER BAKER | August 20, 2009

WASHINGTON — Tom Ridge, the first secretary of homeland security, asserts in a new book that he was pressured by top advisers to President George W. Bush to raise the national threat level just before the 2004 election in what he suspected was an effort to influence the vote.

After Osama bin Laden released a threatening videotape four days before the election, Attorney General John Ashcroft and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld pushed Mr. Ridge to elevate the public threat posture but he refused, according to the book. Mr. Ridge calls it a “dramatic and inconceivable” event that “proved most troublesome” and reinforced his decision to resign.

The provocative allegation provides fresh ammunition for critics who have accused the Bush administration of politicizing national security. Mr. Bush and his Democratic challenger, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, were locked in a tight race heading into that final weekend, and some analysts concluded that even without a higher threat level, the bin Laden tape helped the president win re-election by reminding voters of the danger of Al Qaeda.

Keith M. Urbahn, a spokesman for Mr. Rumsfeld, said the defense secretary supported letting the public know if intelligence agencies believed there was a greater threat, and pointed to a variety of chilling Qaeda warnings in those days, including one tape vowing that “the streets of America will run red with blood.”

“Given those facts,” Mr. Urbahn said, “it would seem reasonable for senior administration officials to discuss the threat level. Indeed, it would have been irresponsible had that discussion not taken place.”

Mr. Urbahn said “the storyline advanced by his publisher seemingly to sell copies of the book is nonsense.”

Mr. Ashcroft could not be reached for comment. But Mark Corallo, who was his spokesman at the Justice Department, dismissed Mr. Ridge’s account. “Didn’t happen,” he said. “Now would be a good time for Mr. Ridge to use his emergency duct tape.”

Frances Fragos Townsend, who was Mr. Bush’s homeland security adviser, said that “there was a fulsome debate” about the threat level but that “the politics of it were not ever a factor.”

Mr. Ridge’s book, called “The Test of Our Times” and due out Sept. 1 from Thomas Dunne Books, is the latest by a Bush adviser to disclose internal disagreements and establish distance from an unpopular administration. Mr. Ridge complains that he was never invited to National Security Council meetings, that Mr. Rumsfeld would rarely meet with him and that the White House pressured him to include a justification for the Iraq war in a speech.

He also writes that he lobbied unsuccessfully before Hurricane Katrina in 2005 to replace Michael D. Brown as head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and that the White House killed his proposal to open a homeland security regional office in New Orleans.

The most sensational assertion was the pre-election debate in 2004 about the threat level, first reported by U.S. News & World Report. Mr. Ridge writes that the bin Laden tape alone did not justify a change in the nation’s security posture but describes “a vigorous, some might say dramatic, discussion” on Oct. 30 to do so.

“There was absolutely no support for that position within our department. None,” he writes. “I wondered, ‘Is this about security or politics?’ Post-election analysis demonstrated a significant increase in the president’s approval rating in the days after the raising of the threat level.”

Mr. Ridge provides no evidence that politics motivated the discussion. Until now, he has denied politics played a role in threat levels. Asked by Eric Lichtblau of The New York Times if politics ever influenced decisions on threat warnings, he volunteered to take a lie-detector test. “Wire me up,” Mr. Ridge said, according to Mr. Lichtblau’s book, “Bush’s Law.” “Not a chance. Politics played no part.”

IPS : GERMANY: Terror Plot Emerges as Secret Service Game

Saturday, August 22, 2009

GERMANY: Terror Plot Emerges as Secret Service Game

By Julio Godoy | August 20, 2009

BERLIN, Aug 20 (IPS) - It was announced as a terror plot busted. German police had captured three young Muslim men in the small village Medebach-Oberschledor, some 450 km southwest of Berlin Sep. 4 in 2007. The police declared they had seized 730 kilograms of hydrogen peroxide, enough to make 550 kg of explosives.

The three men, and a fourth, who was captured a year later in Turkey, wanted to bomb U.S. military and other facilities in Germany, and to kill "as many U.S. soldiers as possible," one of the accused later confessed.

The four men told court their plans were in retaliation against the U.S. war on 'Islamic terrorism', especially the abuse of hundreds of Muslims detained at Guantanamo prison. German authorities and the media dubbed the four men 'the Sauerland group', in reference to the region where they were captured.

The Sauerland group were declared to be members of the Islamic Jihad Union, an alleged terrorist organisation based in Uzbekistan.

Almost two years later, the case is before the higher regional court in Duesseldorf, some 460 km southwest of Berlin, and should come to a close early 2010.

But now, the case has ceased to be "the serious terrorist threat" it was called. It is now a mysterious puzzle of secret service games, prosecutors' alarmism spread by the media, and basic failures of justice.

The supposedly dangerous group members have emerged as no more than some muddle-heads. They had no links whatsoever to international Islamic terror groups.

"No Islamic chief Pakistan or somewhere else influenced the group," says Hans Leyendecker, one of Germany's top investigative journalists. "Its members are dumb, narrow-minded young men who hate the U.S."

Moreover, the fifth member of the group, yet to be captured, has been described as a Turkish national known only as Mevlut K. He now appears as an informer of the Turkish national intelligence organisation (MIT, after its Turkish name). He was the key figure in the plot, according to confessions by other members of the Sauerland group.

"Without Mevlut, we would not have been able to go as far with the preparations as we did," Attila Selek, one of the accused, told the court. 'K' had procured 26 fuses for the bombs the group was supposed to make, Selek said. Only, the fuses were useless. German police investigations showed that all but two were too humid to work.

Fritz Gelowicz, another member of the terrorist group, said the four men were informed of K's links with the MIT. "We knew that Mevlut had links with several secret services," Gelowicz told the court. "We though that these links were good for us."

K apparently did not hide his links to the Turkish secret service. On at least one occasion K told the group they were being monitored by the German security agencies. "Then he told me he was stealing this information from secret services," Selek told the court.

Despite warnings that the German police were constantly informed of their actions, the four men continued their preparations until they were captured.

Numerous sources have confirmed that the German foreign intelligence service Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) knew in 2004 that Mevlut K worked for the MIT. That year, the sources said, the MIT proposed to the BND that K be infiltrated into Islam movements in Germany. The BND reportedly rejected the Turkish plan.

Despite the confessions about K's involvement, German justice failed to order his capture for a long time. Mevlut K. is believed to be living in Turkey.

German authorities only issued an international warrant against Mevlut K. Aug. 13, several weeks after depositions by the other four members of the group had been widely circulated.

The Sauerland group could have been "an orchestration to make believe that a huge terrorist threat" was looming over U.S. military facilities in Germany, says Rene Hellig, leading commentator with the Neues Deutschland daily.

Former British ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray calls it a fake case orchestrated by Uzbek security services.

"I should make plain that regrettably it is a fact that there are those who commit violence, motivated by a fanatic version of their faith," Murray wrote in his personal blog. "Sadly the appalling aggression of the U.S. government and allied war policy has made such reaction much more frequent. They may or may not have been planning to commit explosions. But if they were, the question is who was really pulling their strings, and why?"

Murray says there is no evidence of the existence of Islamic Jihad Union, alleged to have been directing the Sauerland group, other than that given by Uzbek security services. "There are, for example, no communications intercepts between senior terrorists referring to themselves as the Islamic Jihad Union," he said.

Murray said the planned attacks the Uzbekistan government attributed to the group since the spring of 2004 "are in fact largely fake and almost certainly the work of the Uzbek security services, from my investigations on the spot at the time." (END/2009)

APN / IPS : Teenage Terror Plot or Wild Imagination?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

APN : Teenage Terror Plot or Wild Imagination?

IPS : Teenage Terror Plot or Wild Imagination?

Matthew Cardinale | August 21, 2009

ATLANTA, Georgia, Aug 21 (IPS) - Following a seven-day trial, Ehsanul Islam Sadequee, 23, was convicted in a U.S. federal court earlier this month on several counts of providing material support to terrorists and the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LET), a designated foreign terrorist organisation.

However, activists and the Sadequee family say that Shifa - Sadequee's nickname - was just a teenager with a vivid imagination who had no real intention of harming the U.S.

In addition to chatting online with friends about "jihad" in radical online forums, Sadequee made amateur videotapes of dozens of Washington, DC-area landmarks.

According to the Justice Department, Sadequee later sent several of the clips to Younis Tsouli, a propagandist and recruiter for al Qaeda in Iraq, and to Aabid Hussein Khan, a facilitator for LET and the Palestinian terrorist group, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM). Tsouli and Khan have since been convicted of terrorism-related offences in Britain.

Authorities say Sadequee sent an email expressing interest in joining the Taliban in 2001, and he later met with other suspected terrorists, including Syed Harris Ahmed, a former Georgia Tech University student who faces a 15-year-prison sentence.

They charge that Sadequee and Ahmed traveled to Toronto in March 2005 and met with others, including Fahim Ahmed, one of the "Toronto 18" suspects now awaiting a terrorism trial in Canada, to discuss joining LET, allegedly in order to prepare for a violent jihad in the U.S. or abroad.

Sadequee went to Bangladesh in August 2005. Authorities say he continued to communicate with Syed Ahmed as well as other suspected terrorists, including Mirsad Bektasevic, a Balkan-born Swede who was convicted in Bosnia in 2007 of planning to blow up a European target.

Sadaquee was arrested in Bangladesh, according to the Justice Department. However, advocates and relatives say he was kidnapped and tortured, and that he served three years in prison with no trial until this month.

"He faces charges that rely on scant evidence of teenagers chatting back and forth, plans for a website that included translations of previously published scholarly texts, and photos of buildings that were never disseminated or posted," the Free Shifa Committee said in a statement.

Sadequee faces sentencing in October 2009 and could get up to 60 years in federal prison, followed by a term of supervised release up to life, and a one million dollar fine.

"Shifa's statement and cross-examination of the witness, Omar Kamal, asserted that the young men wrote emails, participated in online chats, and visited websites from the ages of 15-19 as a way to make sense of their faith," the statement from Free Shifa said.

"In no way did their activities show the formation of a plan with a defined who, where, when, and what. Shifa said in the opening statements, 'We said a lot about a lot of things,' but 'empty talk' did not amount to conspiracy to provide material support in the form of 'personnel' to terrorist organisations," the group said.

"Sadequee opened with a challenge to the government's limited understanding of the term 'jihad' asserting that the correct interpretation of the term includes details of Islamic law, religious guidelines, and does not mean violence or war. He also presented a challenge to the notion that he and other young men committed 'conspiracy' citing the dictionary that conspiracy includes a plan," Free Shifa said.

"After 9/11 the U.S. government was ready with hundreds of pages of how they were gonna change the law to make it work for them and start a war on terror that had no definitions and no definable end," Stephanie Guilloud, an activist with Project South, said in a video posted on the website, Youtube.

"Eight years later, we're here at a case in Georgia of a 15-year-old who was so angry at that point he didn't know what he do. So he started to find other Islam folks, other folks in his community and his religion to understand what his responsibility was," Guilloud said.

"He's been inside for three years in solitary confinement. The government has pulled out all the stops in the law and in this legal strategy. They have kept and suppressed all evidence of how he was kidnapped in Bangladesh illegally, kidnapped and brought over to this country in order to charge him with these counts," Guilloud said.

"The LET... one of the terrorist organisations that they're accusing him of beginning to intend to start becoming a part of, didn't even exist at the time and also was not registered in the U.S. as a foreign terrorist organisation until... two weeks after Shifa was arrested," Guilloud said.

"These facts are being denied by a Bush-era, Bush-appointed judge... who's running this legal strategy, and suppressing more evidence of even how did they get all this evidence? One of the FBI agents testified today that she wrote emails to Shifa pretending to be his friend so they could trap him into saying whatever, whatever they wanted to charge him with," Guilloud added.

But the U.S. government insisted it is necessary to fight terrorism by preventing would-be terrorists from taking action, and they did not address the claims made by Free Shifa nor Project South in their statement.

"This case [is] a sobering reminder that terrorism and its supporters are not confined to distant battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan," the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia David E. Nahmias said in a statement.

"As recent events further demonstrate, there are still some American citizens willing to take up arms against the United States... In the face of this clear threat, federal law enforcement must and will remain vigilant, seeking to disrupt future terrorist networks before a timer is ticking or a trigger is pulled," he said.

"As we move further away from the tragic events of Sep. 11, 2001, there also seems to be a growing public perception that such conduct is harmless, especially since no bombs were exploded and no one was killed," said Atlanta FBI Special Agent in Charge Gregory Jones.

"This defendant, like many others we have investigated, tried to argue that his criminal conduct and activities were protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The FBI does not buy that argument and today the jury agreed," he said on Aug. 12.

Atlantic Free Press : 9/11 Mind Swell

Monday, August 17, 2009

9/11 Mind Swell

by Joel S. Hirschhorn | August 13, 2009

As we approach the eighth anniversary of 9/11 consider this paradox. In the post 9-11 years the scientific evidence for disbelieving the official government story has mounted incredibly. And the number of highly respected and credentialed professionals challenging the official story has similarly expanded. Yet, to the considerable disappointment of the international 9/11 truth movement, the objective fact is that there are no widespread, loud demands for a new government-backed 9/11 investigation. The 9/11 truth movement is the epitome of a marginalized movement, one that never goes away despite not achieving truly meaningful results, which in this case means replacing official lies with official truth. What has gone wrong?

Akin to the definition of insanity, the hallmark of entrenched but marginalized movements is that they continue to pursue exactly the same strategy and tactics that have failed to produce solid results. They indulge themselves with self-delusion, defensive thinking and acting as if the world at large must surely and finally wake up, see the light and embrace the Truth. Years and, potentially, decades go by, but this quixotic status quo remains embedded, as if set in intellectual concrete. There is no brain tumor to blame. Nor any mass hypnosis of true believers to prove. There is just monumental disinterest among the dominant culture, political establishment and the broad public that is far more engaged with other issues, problems and movements.

The 9/11 truth movement, at best, gets meager public attention when it is derided and insulted, used as an example of persistent conspiratorial insanity.

Make no mistake; I concluded a few years back, after using my professional engineering and materials science background to study the evidence, that the official government story is a lie. As a former full professor of engineering, I firmly believe that elements of the US government were involved with contributing to (not just allowing) the 9/11 tragedy, but that does not necessarily eliminate the role of those terrorists publicly blamed for the events. Science, logic, evidence and critical thinking told me this.

Who should we blame for the failure of the 9/11 truth movement to fix the historical record and, better yet, identify those in the government who turned 9/11 into an excuse for going to war, getting them indicted, prosecuted, and punished for their murderous acts?

It is too easy to blame the mainstream media and political establishment for refusing to demand and pursue a truly comprehensive and credible independent scientific and engineering investigation. President Obama with his tenacious belief in looking forward, not backward, exemplifies a national mindset to avoid the painful search for truth and justice that could produce still more public disillusionment with government and feed the belief that American democracy is weak at best, and delusional at worst.

Marginalized movements always face competition for public attention. There are always countless national issues and problems that feed new movements and distract the public. There have been many since 9/11, not the least of which was the last presidential campaign and then the painful economic recession, and now the right wing attacks on health care reform. The 9/11 truth movement illustrates a total failure to compete successfully with other events and movements.

This can be explained in several ways. The 9/11 movement has not been able to articulate enough benefits to the public from disbelieving the official government story and pursuing a new investigation. What might ordinary Americans gain? Would proof-positive of government involvement make them feel better, more secure, and more patriotic? Apparently not. In fact, just the opposite. By its very nature, the 9/11 issue threatens many things by discovering the truth: still less confidence in the US political system, government and public officials. Still more reason to ponder the incredible loss of life and national wealth in pursuing the Iraq war. In other words, revealing 9/11 truth offers the specter of a huge national bummer. Conversely, it would show the world that American democracy has integrity.

The second explanation for failure is that the truth movement itself is greatly to blame. It has been filled with nerdish, ego-centric and self-serving activists (often most interested in pushing their pet theory) unable to pursue strategies designed to face and overcome ugly, challenging realities. The truth movement became a cottage industry providing income and meaning for many individuals and groups feeding the committed with endless websites, public talks, videos, books and paraphernalia. They habitually preach to the choir. Applause substitutes for solid results. In particular, it embraces the simplistic (and obviously ineffective) belief that by revealing technical, scientific and engineering facts and evidence the public and political establishment would be compelled to see the light. Darkness has prevailed.

Proof of this are the views expressed days ago on the truth movement by Ben Cohen on the Huffington Post: “I have done some research on the topic, but stopped fairly quickly into when it dawned on me that: 1. Any alternative to the official account of what happened is so absurd it simply cannot be true. 2. No reputable scientific journal has ever taken any of the 'science' of the conspiracy seriously. 3. The evidence supporting the official story is overwhelming, whereas the 9/11 Truthers have yet to produce a shred of concrete evidence that members of the U.S. government planned the attacks in New York and Washington.” Similarly, in the London Times James Bone recently said a “gruesome assortment of conspiracy theorists insists that the attacks on the US of September 11, 2001 were an inside job. It is easy to mock this deluded gang of ageing hippies, anarchists and anti-Semites.” Truthers continue to face a very steep uphill battle.

A common lie about the truth movement is that there have been no credible scientific articles in peer reviewed journals supporting it. But those opposing the truth movement will and do find ways to attack whatever scientific evidence is produced and published. It takes more than good science and facts for the movement to succeed.

Besides the movement having too many genuine crackpots (possibly trying to subvert it), a larger problem is what has been missing from it: effective political strategies. Besides pushing scientific results and more credible supporters, it did nothing successful to make a new 9/11 investigation a visible issue in the last presidential campaign. It did nothing effective to put pressure on a new, Democrat controlled congress to consider legislation providing the authorization and funding for a new, credible investigation. It seems that people who want to blame the government are often unable to also see the political path forward that requires the government to fund a new investigation.

To its credit, Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth does have a petition aimed at Congress, demanding a new investigation, but has fewer than 5,000 signers. The petition effort in New York City to get a new investigation is commendable, with just under 75,000 signers, but national action is needed. Pragmatically, both efforts are unimpressive compared to other campaigns seeking political action. To get both media attention and political support the movement needs a hundred times more documented supporters, willing to do a lot more than sign a petition.

The tenth anniversary of 9/11 will come fast. The opportunity is making 9/11 an issue in the 2012 presidential campaign. The least delusional and defensive in the truth movement should think deeply and seriously on what needs to change to accomplish the prime goal: having an official investigation that compels most people and history to accept the truth, no matter how painful it is, including the possibility that it finds no compelling evidence for government involvement.

Contact Joel S. Hirschhorn through

Reuters : Iraq's second energy auction late Nov-Oil Ministry

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Iraq's second energy auction late Nov-Oil Ministry

July 30, 2009

BAGHDAD, July 30 (Reuters) - Iraq will hold an auction for its second major bidding round for energy fields at the end of November, the Oil Ministry spokesman said on Thursday.

Spokesman Asim Jihad also said that a new acting director had been named to head Iraq's state-run South Oil Company, after Fayad al-Nema, a critic of the ministry's plans for an initial bidding round giving foreign firms a chance to develop oilfields already in production, was removed from his post this week.

"Dhiya Jaafar was the head of the southern operations commission of the South Oil Company and he became head of the company," Jihad said. The government said Nema was removed for reasons related to 'restructuring' at the Oil Ministry.

(Reporting by Missy Ryan; editing by James Jukwey)

© Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved

Financial Times : Critic of Iraq's oil plan transferred

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Critic of Iraq's oil plan transferred

By Anna Fifield | July 30, 2009

Iraq yesterday removed the director of its state-run South Oil Company, Fayad al-Nema, who had previously criticised the government's plans to auction large oil and gas fields, a spokesman said. He has been transferred to a different job at the ministry in Baghdad. No replacement was named.

Anna Fifield, Beirut | Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009

AFP : Iraq fires head of state-owned oil company

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Iraq fires head of state-owned oil company

AFP | July 30, 2009

BAGHDAD — The Iraqi government has fired the head of state-owned South Oil Company (SOC), who publicly criticised Baghdad's auctioning off of oil and gas fields to foreign energy giants, an oil ministry spokesman said on Thursday.

Fayadh Hassan Nima was replaced as SOC's chief executive by the head of the company's department of oil fields, Dia Jaafar, ministry spokesman Assem Jihad said.

"The oil ministry and the government are always looking for ways to improve administration of the oil sector," Jihad said, referring to the reasons Nima was dismissed.

Nima had loudly protested the public auction for six giant oil fields and two major gas fields, arguing that the SOC should be given the task of exploiting the fields in southern Iraq with only technical assistance from foreign companies.

Baghdad held the sale at the end of June, but reached agreement on only one of the fields, with the government facing accusations that the sale had been a failure.

It was the first time Iraq's oil industry was opened up to foreign companies since its nationalisation four decades ago.

Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved.

Sky News : Captain Removed After Slamming Afghan War

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Captain Removed After Slamming Afghan War

August 14, 2009

A British Army captain who anonymously wrote a scathing attack about the Afghan war has been removed from his unit, Sky News understands.

The unnamed officer wrote the emotive article in Monday's Independent newspaper.

"My motivation is simple" he said.

"Writing this helps vent off some of the frustration at what is happening out here in Afghanistan to those serving in the British Army, where death and serious injury are sickeningly common occurrences."

The officer, who has been in the Army for eight years, is likely to be brought back from Afghanistan and faces disciplinary action and a possible court martial.

It is thought he was identified because he revealed the unit he was serving with - the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards Battle Group.

He wrote in detail about coping with the loss of fellow soldiers and the injuries sustained by many more.

"I am talking about limbs removed, double or even triple amputations, on a scale that we've never seen before," he said.

Serving members of the Armed forces are banned from speaking to the media without prior agreement from the Ministry of Defence.

But just this month, new guidelines were drawn up by the Government which encouraged soldiers to talk about their work online.

An MoD press release read: "Service and MoD personnel are being encouraged to talk about themselves and their work online within new guidelines which give advice on how they can protect their security, reputation and privacy."

But the guidelines also clearly state that any communication with the media "must be referred, through the line manager/chain of command".

The captain clearly breached a number of these guidelines.

He gained no authorisation before writing the article, he questioned the purpose of the mission in Afghanistan, and he complained of a lack of equipment.

In his article he also said: "Then there are the equipment shortages. Due to the pitiful numbers of support helicopters and Apaches needed to escort them, every day troops on the ground are forced to expend an enormous amount of hours and manpower just standing still."

He concluded the article with: "We seem to know and say that it is not worth it, whilst instinctively reacting and saying that it is worth it - it has to be worth it.

"If I am honest, I do not know what I think about it all conclusively; my reasoning is lost in the storm of media, opinions, analysis that are at play here."

It is understood that he already had plans to leave the Army soon.

WSJ : Killing of Militant Shows Cementing U.S.-Pakistan Ties

Friday, August 14, 2009

Killing of Militant Shows Cementing U.S.-Pakistan Ties

By GERALD F. SEIB | August 14, 2009

The headlines a few days ago told a seemingly simple story, of a missile strike launched from an American drone that killed Pakistan's top Taliban leader.

But that missile strike, in Pakistan's remote South Waziristan province, did more than kill one terrorist thug, a man named Baitullah Mehsud. The attack may well have cemented a much tighter U.S.-Pakistani bond in the broader fight against Islamic extremism.

If so, that represents a significant development and quite a change from just a few months ago. At that time, it was easy to cruise around Washington and find U.S. officials who would complain that Pakistani officials weren't taking the threat they faced from the Taliban seriously enough and were balking at real cooperation with the U.S. in fighting it.

In one of the big and underappreciated stories of the year, that has turned around. Starting early this year, there was a marked pickup in an officially unacknowledged program in which Pakistani and American intelligence officials cooperate to pinpoint Taliban and al Qaeda leaders and strongholds, then strike at them from unmanned Predator drones under American control.

One by one, the U.S. and Pakistan, in this new partnership, have been seeking out a list of some 20 high-value al Qaeda and Taliban leaders. More than half of them now have been killed or captured.

The strike against Mr. Mehsud illustrates how far the program has come and may open the way for deeper cooperation. (Some Taliban spokesmen have insisted since that Mr. Mehsud wasn't actually killed in the strike, but both U.S. and Pakistani officials are confident he was.)

Indeed, a similar missile strike in the same region was launched Tuesday, reportedly targeting another Taliban compound.

For their part, American officials describe the strike as a sign of much better cooperation between two intelligence agencies, Pakistan's ISI security services and America's Central Intelligence Agency. Those two have tended to view each other with a healthy degree of mutual suspicion.

The CIA has long thought the ISI harbored agents sympathetic with Islamic extremists. The ISI viewed the CIA as an organization with too little appreciation for the nuances of the fight against Islamic extremism.

But the combination of a new Pakistani president, Asif Ali Zardari, and a new Pakistani army chief of staff, Ashfaq Kayani, has changed the atmosphere.

Despite deep initial American doubts about Mr. Zardari's commitment and courage, and uncertainty about the attitude of Mr. Kayani, they have cleared the way for greater, if still-quiet, cooperation.

U.S. officials say that intelligence on the whereabouts of extremist leaders increasingly is shared in real time and that a system for making decisions on when to strike them has become sleeker.

Pakistan often condemns American airstrikes in public, to deflect charges that it is allowing U.S. forces free rein, but the pattern of attacks in the past six months bespeaks a high level of cooperation, which pleases the Obama administration.

More important, though, may be the effect the Mehsud attack has on Pakistani attitudes.

Previously, Pakistani officials suspected that their American partners were far more interested in hunting for targets of concern to the U.S. -- principally al Qaeda leaders and the camps they used to plot attacks on American targets in neighboring Afghanistan -- rather than those Pakistani officials viewed as most directly threatening them.

Mr. Mehsud, though, was the terrorist leader at the top of Pakistan's most-wanted list; he was, after all, thought to be behind the 2007 assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Hence, the complex effort to track him down and take him out had more to do with eliminating a threat to Pakistan's government than with making the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan easier.

As a result, this attack, unlike many other Predator strikes, was met with general public approval in Pakistan. Now one Pakistani official says it will open "a new era of trust between the two intelligence services."

We'll have to see, of course, and suspicions about motives and intentions on both sides won't go away overnight or because of one success.

There also are some analysts who think the Predator strikes, by arousing anger among Pakistanis sympathetic to the Taliban and antagonistic toward the U.S., may do as much long-term harm as good.

Still, U.S. officials consider the strike both a milestone in its own right, as well as an event that might have a positive spillover on the effort to stabilize Afghanistan next door.

While Mr. Mehsud was principally focused on making trouble in Pakistan, he had experience fighting in Afghanistan as well, and he had a network of supporters there.

Perhaps more important, U.S. officials think he was instrumental in facilitating cross-border traffic between Taliban groups on both sides of the border and also helped al Qaeda fighters move back and forth.

To the extent the Mehsud organization now is disrupted or locked in a succession struggle, that can't be bad for U.S. efforts.

More broadly, while Pakistan remains a nation with deep problems, and one facing manifold threats, a simple missile strike has offered at least a glimmer of good news, for Pakistani officials and for America's own long struggle in the region..

Write to Gerald F. Seib at

Independent : 'There is no refuge, no place to go to deal with your grief'

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

'There is no refuge, no place to go to deal with your grief'

In the first ever unauthorised dispatch from an officer on the frontline, one young Captain offers a brutally honest account of life in Afghanistan, revealing the pain of losing comrades, the frustration at the lack of equipment, and the sense that the conflict seems unending and, at times, unwinnable

author's name withheld | August 10, 2009

My motivation is simple. Writing this helps vent off some of the frustration at what is happening out here in Afghanistan to those serving in the British Army, where death and serious injury are sickeningly common occurrences.

Before coming here, I had done two tours in Iraq which saw fierce fighting against the enemy. But, sometimes out here I feel I might as well be on my first tour, as a novice second lieutenant instead of a so-called senior captain with over eight years experience in the Army, due to a shocking rate of attrition that I have never encountered before.

Commentators keep citing previous figures for casualty rates in the Falkland's conflict, as well as the years in Northern Ireland, suggesting that, spread over the time we have been in Afghanistan, the figures here are not that bad.

How reassuring. For a moment I thought the rates might be quite bad; but thank goodness I have been shown that what we are experiencing is in fact a tolerable "medium" number of casualties.

Can we really only analyse the death and injury rate, or view it as a cause for concern, once we get past a certain benchmark or once the average number outstrips a previous average? I had hoped that human progression was a bit more advanced than that, and that there might be more to the situation than a comparison of statistics.

Then there are the injuries. I am talking about limbs removed, double or even triple amputations, on a scale that we've never seen before.

When you read about a "very seriously injured" casualty, that person's life is never going to be the same, nor is it for the rest of their family, who will be sucked in and forever affected by the aftermath.

So what effect does this have on us all out in Afghanistan? My experience of this is from the 1st Battalion Welsh Guard's Battle Group, who have endured a significant number of fatalities and seriously injured personnel, including the death of their commanding officer.

With each death I think each of us experiences a feeling of total shock, powerlessness and impotence. Within your mind you feel you have to do something, especially if you knew the individual. Back at home that might be to jump in the car and drive to some secluded spot where you can get out and scream at the top of your lungs to let out all the anguish. But here nothing of the sort is possible. You are all enclosed within your camp or patrol base; there is no refuge, no private corner to go to, to deal with your grief.

Around you everything else has to continue, and cannot stop. The radios still have to be manned and answered, the patrols still have to be planned, the convoys have to be organised. It is not as if you can take a day off to deal with the grief, to come to terms with it. And even if you could, what good would that do?

Who wants to go and sit in their tent, sweating in temperatures in the high 40s, brooding on the possibilities: what were they thinking in those last few moments, did they know what had happened, did they know they were dying, how terrified and alone did they feel?

The only option available is to embrace the alternative: keep joking with your friends, maintain the banter levels, swapping smutty jokes and stories – literally forcing yourself to keep smiling.

I do not say that as a praiseworthy example of that renowned, age-old, plucky, English stiff upper lip. Far from it – it may be our worst enemy.

After death, life obviously has to go on, but I have always felt that life should go on having learnt a lesson from that death, improving your life as a testament to that life robbed – not merely moving on with a smile, whilst showing "fortitude".

I am just speaking for those of us who deal with the deaths and injuries in Afghanistan indirectly, as an explosion in the distance, followed by a report on the radio, then a helicopter coming in to pick up the casualty.

As for those who deal directly with the deaths and injuries, who have to go into the Viking vehicles after the explosion to pull out the casualties, who have to tourniquet the remaining stumps after both the legs of a person have been blown off, those who have to pick up the leftover pulpy fragments of a disintegrated body and put them into a bag, I am not sure how they react.

I would imagine in a similar way to the rest of us: you put it aside as soon as you can, as there is nothing to be achieved in thinking about it. All you will do is think yourself into a corner, where you are faced with the absurdity and horrid waste of it all. And if you let that take a hold, how are you meant to perform, drag yourself out of your tent at 4am after just three hours sleep, to go on another foot patrol, another 18-hour convoy, another 12-hour shift in the operations room? It does not work.

There is so much that still needs to be done, there are still weeks to get through, more patrols and convoys that need to be completed. So the event of each death is placed away, zipped up in a mental body bag, back in the recesses of your mind.

However, unlike a real body bag, which fortunately disappears, that mental body bag remains in the morgue of your sub-conscious, quite possibly to come out and be re-opened, once you return home and have the chance to think about each death, each injury, each friend gone.

Then there are the equipment shortages. Due to the pitiful numbers of support helicopters and Apaches needed to escort them, every day troops on the ground are forced to expend an enormous amount of hours and manpower just standing still. They sacrifice their reserves of energy, motivation and willpower securing and picketing routes for the never-ending vehicle convoys that have to keep happening in order to resupply the patchy spread of patrol bases with water, ammo and rations; as well as recovering the vehicles that invariably go into ditches and securing helicopter landing-sites for the evacuation of casualties from improvised explosive device strikes.

I think if Sisyphus (the Greek mythological character cursed to roll a huge boulder repeatedly up a hill, only to watch it roll back down again, throughout eternity) could see us now, he would offer his sincere condolences and offer a friendly arm around the shoulder, saying that he knew what it felt like.

If someone provided one of those garishly coloured (army) pie charts depicting the percentage of time and effort sucked up into the black hole of orchestrating these road moves, it would provide a statistic that would be both shocking and embarrassing. It might also partly explain why the military is struggling to gain an advantage over the Taliban and cannot hold a significant amount of ground. Its energy, time and focus is bound up with those road moves, and our most vital asset, our troops, are either sweating on the sides of the roads, securing them, or sweating inside the vehicles of those often doomed convoys. I am not criticising the military on the ground, who have to deal with this dilemma. Everyone seems to already agree on this issue of the equipment, in particular the lack of support helicopters – which rather begs the question of how on earth is nothing done about it? And how does the fact that nothing gets done about it seem to be the status quo and keeps occurring year after year, budgetary policy after budgetary policy, operational tour after operational tour? If a magic genie were to appear in front of my eyes, who in keeping with the spirit of the present credit crunch cutbacks, could afford to grant me just one wish, I think I would simply choose a massive increase in helicopters and pilots – a wish that would have such a crucial influence on what is happening to the British Army out here.

We are dealing here with a tenacious and stubborn enemy. Despite our dropping bombs on compounds that the enemy is using as firing-points, the very next day, new enemy fighters are back.

On the one hand, perhaps the enemy command is so feared, authoritative and manipulative that they force unwilling fighters into those compounds as pure cannon fodder. On the other, perhaps, the fighters willingly go back, despite their comrades having been killed there, so strong is their faith in an afterlife, or so strong is their belief in the jihad they are fighting.

Whatever the reason, they come back undaunted to the same firing-points, despite our overwhelming fire power. Their numbers seem to stay constant, as opposed to decreasing – all of which gives a strong indication that we will not be able to reduce their numbers to a level where they are tactically defeated.

It seems increasingly true that a stable Afghanistan will only be possible with some sort of agreement, involvement or power-sharing deal with the Taliban.

However, as the British Army units here are increasingly sucked into the turmoil of the latest "fighting season" there seems little evidence that anything is happening on the political and diplomatic stage. In the meantime, tour follows tour, during which the most intense fighting appears to achieve not much more than extremely effectively inflicting casualties on both sides, whilst Afghanistan remains the sick man of Central Asia.

I think of a scene near the end of Pat Barker's novel The Ghost Road, set at the end of the First World War, in which a seriously injured soldier lies in hospital, gradually dying. The soldier regains consciousness but due to his injuries can only slur a sentence together, which he keeps repeating. His family agonisingly try to decipher what he might be saying, which sounds like "shotvarfet, shotvarfet". His doctor realises what he is trying to say and translates: "He's saying, 'It's not worth it' ."

The man's father, a retired Army major, in grief blurts out: "Oh, it is worth it, it is."

This incredibly powerful passage goes some way to articulating our response to this conflict. We seem to know and say that it is not worth it, whilst instinctively reacting and saying that it is worth it – it has to be worth it. If I am honest, I do not know what I think about it all conclusively; my reasoning is lost in the storm of media, opinions, analysis that are at play here.

However, I know that no matter how hard I try to see through the clutter of opinions and utter something of my own in order to explain or justify what I'm involved in, I just cannot shake off that nagging, repetitive voice in my head that says "shotvarfet, shotvarfet".

The Welsh Guards' casualties

Guardsman Christopher King a 20-year-old from Merseyside was killed in an explosion while on patrol in Helmand on 20 July.

Private John Brackpool was killed by a gunshot wound on 9 July while attached to the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards. The 27-year-old from Sussex was shot near Lashkar Gah.

Lance Corporal Dane Elson was 22 when he was killed by an improvised explosive device during an attack on a compound in Babaji, near Gereshk on 5 July.

Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Thorneloe was a 39 year old from Oxfordshire. He was killed by an IED in Lashkar Gah on 1 July.

Major Sean Birchall a 33-year-old, was killed in an explosion on 19 June while on patrol in Basharan near Lashkar Gah.

Lieutenant Mark Evison, 26-year-old from London, died in hospital in Birmingham on 12 May after being shot in Helmand.

Lance Sergeant Tobie Fasfous was killed by an explosion while on patrol in Helmand on 28 April.