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NATO Expands Afghan War Into Pakistan

September 30, 2010 1 comment

On October 7 the United States and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization military allies will begin the tenth year of their war in Afghanistan, over 3,000 miles from NATO Headquarters in Brussels.

The following month midterm elections will be held in the U.S. and NATO will hold a two-day summit in Portugal. The American administration is eager to achieve, or appear to have achieved, a foreign policy triumph in an effort to retain Democratic Party control of the Congress and NATO something to show for the longest and largest military mission in its 61 years of existence.

President Barack Obama has tripled the amount of American combat troops in Afghanistan to 100,000 and along with forces from other NATO member states and partner nations there are now over 150,000 foreign troops in the nation, the most ever stationed in the war-wracked country. 120,000 of those soldiers are now under the command of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the most ever serving in a North Atlantic Alliance-led military operation. NATO Kosovo Force at its peak had 50,000 troops, but they entered the Serbian province after an almost three-month air war had ended.

The 120,000 NATO forces currently in theater – from 50 nations already with more pegged to provide troops – are at the center of the world’s longest-lasting and increasingly deadly hot war. NATO’s first ground war, its first combat operations in Asia.

Last year was the most lethal for the U.S and NATO in what is now a nine-year conflict and this year has already proven even more costly in terms of combat deaths. And there are three more months to go.

Washington and Brussels could decide to save face and end the fighting through some combination of an internal political settlement and a true international peacekeeping arrangement – rather than the subversion of the International Security Assistance Force that was established by a United Nations mandate in December of 2001 but which is now the Pentagon’s and NATO’s vehicle for waging war in Afghanistan. And in neighboring Pakistan.

But the military metaphysic prevalent in Washington over the past 65 years will allow for nothing other than what is seen as victory, with a “Who lost Afghanistan?” legacy tarnishing the president who fails to secure it and the party to which he belongs being branded half-hearted and defeatist.

As for NATO, the Strategic Concept to be adopted in November is predicated upon the bloc’s expansion into a 21st century global expeditionary force for which Afghanistan is the test case. A NATO that loses Afghanistan, that loses in Afghanistan, will be viewed more critically by the populations of its European member states that have sacrificed their sons and daughters at the altar of NATO’s international ambitions. In the words of then-Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer six years ago: “What is NATO doing in Afghanistan? Defending values at the Hindu Kush in the present day international climate. We have to fight terrorism wherever it emerges. If we don’t do it at the Hindu Kush, it will end up at our doorstep. In other words, this perception gap [of the North Atlantic military alliance operating in South Asia] in the long run must be closed and must be healed – that is, for NATO’s future, of the utmost importance.” [1]

Not satisfied with the Vietnam that Afghanistan has become, NATO has now launched its Cambodian incursion. One with implications several orders of magnitude greater than with the prototype, though, into a nation of almost 170 million people, a nation wielding nuclear weapons. Pakistan.

As the U.S. delivered its 20th deadly drone missile attack of the month inside Pakistan on the 27th, five times the amount launched in August and the most in any month since they were started in 2004, NATO conducted a series of attacks with helicopter gunships in Northwest Pakistan. Claiming the “right of self-defense” and in “hot pursuit” of insurgents that had reportedly attacked a NATO camp, Combat Outpost Narizah, in Afghanistan’s Khost province near the Pakistani border, this past weekend NATO attack helicopters conducted two forays into the Federally Administered Tribal Areas where U.S. drone strikes have killed a record number of people this month.

Estimates of those killed, dutifully referred to in the Western press as insurgents, militants or terrorists, were 30, then 50, afterward 60, 70 and later “82 or higher.” [2]

The amount, like the identify, of the dead will never be definitively known.

Press reports stated the targets were members of the Haqqani network, founded by veteran Afghan Mujahedin leader Jalaluddin Haqqani, who when he led attacks from Pakistani soil against Afghan targets slightly over a generation ago was an American hero, one of Ronald Reagan’s “freedom fighters.” Two years ago the New York Times wrote: “In the 1980s, Jalaluddin Haqqani was cultivated as a ‘unilateral’ asset of the CIA and received tens of thousands of dollars in cash for his work in fighting the Soviet Army in Afghanistan, according to an account in ‘The Bin Ladens,’ a recent book by Steve Coll. At that time, Haqqani helped and protected Osama bin Laden, who was building his own militia to fight the Soviet forces, Coll wrote.” [3]

As to the regret that the otherwise praiseworthy Haqqani has of late allied himself with the Taliban, one voiced by among other people the late Charlie Wilson who once celebrated Haqqani as “goodness personified,” in an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press last year Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari told his American audience that the Taliban “was part of your past and our past, and the ISI and the CIA created them together. And I can find you 10 books and 10 philosophers and 10 write-ups on that….” [4]

On September 27 two NATO helicopters attacked the Kurram agency in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, killing six people and wounding eight. A local Pakistani government official described all the victims as civilians. According to Dawn News, “Nato has also shelled the area before.” [5] Three attacks in three days and as many as 100 deaths.

On the same day a U.S. drone-launched missile strike killed four people in the North Waziristan agency. “The identities of the four people killed in the attack were not known….” [6]

The above events occurred against the backdrop of the revelation in Bob Woodward’s new book Obama’s Wars that “a 3,000-strong secret army of Afghan paramilitary forces run by the Central Intelligence Agency had conducted cross-border raids into Pakistan.” [7]

After mounting in intensity for two years and consisting in part – helicopter gunship attacks and special forces assassination team raids – of covert operations, the U.S. and NATO war in Northwest Pakistan is now fully underway and can no longer be denied.

The Pentagon – the helicopters used in the attacks on September 25 and 26 were American Apaches and Kiowas – defended the strikes over the weekend as falling within its rules of engagement and Defense Department spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan said the U.S. had adhered to “appropriate protocol” and “Our forces have the right of self-defense.” [8]

A spokesmen for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force initially denied that Alliance forces had launched any attacks inside Pakistani territory, although Afghan police officials had confirmed that they did. On September 27, however, the International Security Assistance Force verified that NATO forces had conducted the deadly strikes. As the third attack by NATO helicopters occurred on the same day, “Coalition officials said the cross-border attacks fell within its rules of engagement because the insurgents had attacked them from across the border.” [9]

A NATO official informed the press that “ISAF forces must and will retain the authority, within their mandate, to defend themselves in carrying out their mission.” [10]

Mehmood Shah, former top security official of the Pakistani government in the region where the helicopter gunship and drone strikes have killed over 200 people so far this month, said of the recent NATO attacks: “This should be considered a watershed event. They [Nato] must be warned: the next time you do this, it can lead to war. Our units should be deployed to fire upon them. This border has sanctity. Nato must realise they have a mandate to operate in Afghanistan, not in Pakistan.” [11]

On September 27 Interior Minister Rehman Malik denounced the NATO raids as a violation of Pakistani territorial integrity and national sovereignty and told the nation’s Senate that the Afghan ambassador to Islamabad would be summoned to explain the attacks. Malik and the Pakistani government as a whole know that the Hamid Karzai administration in Kabul has no control over what the U.S. and NATO do in its own country, much less in Pakistan. The interior minister’s comment were solely for internal consumption, for placating Pakistani popular outrage, but as Pakistan itself has become a NATO partner and U.S. surrogate [12] its officials, like those of Afghanistan, will not be notified of any future attacks.

Nevertheless domestic exigencies compelled Malik to denounce the strikes inside his country and assert “I take the drone attacks in Pakistani territory as an attack on the sovereignty of Pakistan.” A senator from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz “asked the government to inform the parliament about any accord it had reached with the US under which drone attacks were being carried out.” [13]

At the same time Pakistani Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit went further and lodged what was described as a strong protest to NATO Headquarters in Brussels over the weekend’s air strikes, issuing a statement that said in part: “These incidents are a clear violation and breach of the UN mandate under which ISAF operates,” as its mandate “terminates/finishes” at the Afghan border.

“There are no agreed ‘hot pursuit’ rules. Any impression to the contrary is not factually correct. Such violations are unacceptable.” [14]

By the evening of September 27, after the Pakistani complaints were registered, NATO’s ISAF attempted to conduct damage control and reverted to the military bloc’s original position: That it has not launched attacks inside Pakistan at all. On that very day it had dispatched two more helicopter gunships for the third raid in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

NATO will continue to launch lethal attacks inside Pakistan against whichever targets it sees fit and will proffer neither warnings nor apologies. The U.S. will continue to escalate attacks with Hellfire missiles against whomever it chooses, however inaccurate, anecdotal and self-interested the reports upon which they are based prove to be.

The death toll in Pakistan this month is well over 200 and for this year to date over 2,000. The justification for this carnage offered by the U.S. and NATO is that it is intended to extend the policy of Barack Obama to “disrupt, dismantle and defeat” insurgent networks in Afghanistan into Pakistan, supposedly the sooner to end the war.

Forty years ago Obama’s predecessor Richard Nixon began his speech announcing the expansion of the Vietnam War into Cambodia with these words: “Good evening, my fellow Americans. Ten days ago, in my report to the nation on Vietnam, I announced the decision to withdraw an additional 150,000 Americans from Vietnam over the next year. I said then that I was making that decision despite our concern over increased enemy activity in Laos, in Cambodia, and in South Vietnam. And at that time I warned that if I concluded that increased enemy activity in any of these areas endangered the lives of Americans remaining in Vietnam, I would not hesitate to take strong and effective measures to deal with that situation.” [15]

He claimed that “enemy sanctuaries” in Cambodia “endanger the lives of Americans who are in Vietnam,” and “if this enemy effort succeeds, Cambodia would become a vast enemy staging area and a springboard for attacks on South Vietnam along 600 miles of frontier: a refuge where enemy troops could return from combat without fear of retaliation.”

The course he ordered was to “go to the heart of the trouble. And that means cleaning out major North Vietnamese and Vietcong occupied territories, these sanctuaries which serve as bases for attacks on both Cambodia and American and South Vietnamese forces in South Vietnam.”

The practical application of the policy was that “attacks are being launched this week to clean out major enemy sanctuaries on the Cambodian-Vietnam border.”

In language that has been heard again lately in Washington and Brussels – with nothing but the place names changed – Nixon claimed: “We take this action not for the purpose of expanding the war into Cambodia, but for the purpose of ending the war in Vietnam….”

Washington indeed expanded the Vietnam War into Cambodia, with what disastrous effects the world is fully aware, and soon thereafter departed Southeast Asia in defeat, leaving vast stretches of Vietnam and Cambodia in ruins.

Afghanistan and Pakistan will not fare any better.

Pakistan blocks supply trucks after three Pakistani soldiers killed in NATO Helicopter attack

September 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Pakistan has blocked NATO supply trucks passing through its territory after atleast 3 Pakistani soldiers were killed when a NATO Helicopter targeted a security chekpost in Kurram Agency, near the Pak-Afghan border.

Pakistani government officials said senior authorities had ordered them to block oil tankers and trucks carrying Nato supplies at a checkpoint bordering Afghanistan. The two officials said they were not told the reason for the order at the Torkham border post, but it comes after threats by Pakistani officials to stop providing protection to Nato convoys if the military alliance’s helicopters hit Pakistani targets again.

A NATO helicopter attacked a Pakistani security post near the Afghan border on Thursday, killing three troops, officials in Pakistan said. NATO said it was investigating the allegations and whether they were linked to an operation against insurgents in a nearby Afghan province.

The incident was likely to fray ties between Pakistan and US-led forces in Afghanistan at a crucial time in the nine-year war. Just last weekend, NATO choppers opened fire on targets across the border, killing several alleged insurgents inside Pakistan.

Islamabad protested the incidents, which have further stirred already pervasive anti-American sentiments among Pakistanis.

Shortly after the allegations emerged, two government officials told The Associated Press they were ordered to stop NATO supply trucks from crossing into Afghanistan at the Torkham border post, a major passageway for NATO materials. Earlier this week, Pakistan threatened to stop providing protection to NATO convoys if the military alliance’s choppers attacked targets inside Pakistan again.

Pakistani officials differed on the exact location of the deadly airstrike, saying it took place either in Upper Kurram or Upper Orakzai. The remote, mountainous tribal regions neighbor one another, and the border is hard to distinguish.

The dead men were from a paramilitary force tasked with safeguarding the border, the Pakistani security officials said. Their bodies were taken to the region’s largest town of Parachinar, one official said. Three troops also were wounded.

The Pakistani officials all spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation and because in some cases they were not authorized to release the information to the media.

Lt. Col. John Dorrian, a spokesman for intelligence and special operations at NATO headquarters in Kabul, said coalition forces observed early Thursday what they believed were insurgents firing mortars at a coalition base in Dand Wa Patan district of Paktia province in eastern Afghanistan.

“A coalition air weapons team called for fire support and engaged the insurgents,” he said. “The air weapons team reported that it did not cross into Pakistani air space and believed the insurgents were located on the Afghan side of the border.”

Dorrian said NATO was reviewing the reports to see if the operation in Paktia was related to Pakistan’s reports its forces were hit by NATO aircraft.

In June 2008, a U.S. airstrike killed 11 Pakistani troops and frayed the two nations’ ties. Pakistan said the soldiers died when U.S. aircraft bombed their border post in the Mohmand tribal region. U.S. officials said their coalition’s aircraft dropped bombs during a clash with militants. They expressed regret over the incident, but said it was justified.

Pakistan and the U.S. have a complicated relationship, with distrust on both sides.

Polls show many Pakistanis regard the United States as an enemy, and conspiracy theories abound of U.S. troops wanting to attack Pakistan and take over its nuclear weapons. The Pakistani government has to balance its support for the U.S. war in Afghanistan with the support it needs from the population.

The U.S. and NATO need Pakistan’s cooperation in part because they use its land routes to transport supplies to their troops inside landlocked Afghanistan. The Pakistani government officials said about 250 vehicles of NATO supplies cross into Afghanistan daily.

There were more than 100 NATO vehicles blocked at the checkpoint by Thursday morning, they said.

NATO attacks: Pakistan should move beyond ‘bumper sticker protests”

September 28, 2010 Leave a comment

NATO attacks: Pakistan should move beyond ‘bumper sticker protests”

NATO has impugned on Pakistani sovereignty and crossed the border. This incursion should not be tolerated. It crosses the red line drawn by Pakistan. Islamabad should halt NATO supplies for a week. They will be able to replenish the supplies through airlifts and through ammunition and food that has been stored inside Afghanistan. However this will certainly impact the war being waged inside Afghanistan.

  • Two Apache helicopters crossed the border from eastern Afghanistan after insurgents attacked a remote Afghan security outpost in Khost.
  • A statement released late on Sunday night said: “An air weapons team in the area observed the enemy fire, and following International Security Assistance Force rules of engagement, crossed into the area of enemy fire.
  • The ISAF aircraft then engaged, killing more than 30 insurgents.”
  • The raid was followed up on Saturday morning when two Kiowa helicopters returned to the border area killing four more insurgents.
  • Pakistan said the helicopters intruded into its territory twice from the eastern Afghan province of Khost as they chased the militants.
  • “These incidents are a clear violation and breach of the UN mandate under which ISAF operates,” a spokesman from the foreign office said.
  • Pakistan added that ISAF’s mandate “finishes” at the Afghan border.
  • “There are no agreed ‘hot pursuit’ rules. Any impression to the contrary is not factually correct. Such violations are unacceptable,” the foreign office statement added.
  • “In the absence of immediate corrective measures, Pakistan will be constrained to consider response options,” it warned.

The Pakistan Army is busy in Flood Relief and counts on NATO support in many areas–however if it does not act properly this time, the “hot pursuits” on the Western borders will become the norm. Taking its cue the same type of nonsense can then be undertaken on the Eastern borders.

There has to be some sort of retaliation towards NATO. They have not apologized. Instead NATO has tried to justify its actions by trying to rationalize it. More than fifty people were killed which NATO says are “Terrorirsts”. The same NATO is talking peace with the same Taliban that they consider as “Terrorists”.

  • Military sources said the message communicated to the Nato command was crystal clear that in view of declining public support for war on terror, the security of Nato supply routes through Pakistan could be threatened in the aftermath of the new air campaign.
  • Analysts say Pakistan could only stop US-led forces from such violations by tactfully using its leverages that largely relate to the support for war on terror and the supply routes.
  • Nato was asked to coordinate its actions with Pakistan military and avoid crossing the ‘red lines’ — a euphemism for Pakistani sensitivities.

Update: International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which had earlier defended the aerial engagement as an action ‘under the right of self-defence’, later in the evening, according to military sources, informed Pakistani commanders that they were trying to establish that their helicopters during the operation did not cross into Pakistani territory.

72,400 of US heavy weapons ‘missing’ in Afghanistan

September 15, 2010 2 comments

At least 72,400 U.S. supplied AK-47s, hundreds of heavy machine guns and RPG launchers delivered to Afghan police have gone missing.

There are fears that some of the missing weapons of Afghan Police and security forces might have ended up in the hands of the Taliban while several thousand may have been intentionally smuggled into Pakistan for promoting terrorism.

The U.S. military newspaper Start and Stripes quoted “NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan” as saying that a massive hunt is on for tens of thousands of rifles, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers that the U.S. government procured for the Afghan National Police but are unaccounted for.”

According to Logsdon, the U.S. Department of Defence procured more than 72,400 AK-47s, as well as heavy machine guns and RPG launchers for Afghan police. Coalition forces are attempting to track exactly where the weapons are amid allegations by the military and others that some police weapons may have ended up in the hands of the Taliban.

Security experts fear that there was a grand mafia working in Afghanistan with the help of Indian intelligence and transporting arms and drugs into Pakistan as well as into some Central Asian states.

Experts say that recent reports have confirmed delivery of fresh weapons to terrorists of Tehreek-i-Taliban to launch new terrorist actions and attacks inside Pakistan. It is important to note that during recent weeks there have been more than eight terrorist actions launched by foreign-backed terrorists inside Pakistan.

Pakistan recently complained to Western states about support provided to anti-Pakistan terrorists’ networks in Afghanistan but NATO officials were reluctant to take necessary action to curb infiltration from Afghanistan into Pakistan.

Pepe Escobar classic Fifty questions on 9/11

September 11, 2010 3 comments

It’s September 11 all over again – eight years on. The George W Bush administration is out. The “global war on terror” is still on, renamed “overseas contingency operations” by the Barack Obama administration. Obama’s “new strategy” – a war escalation – is in play in AfPak. Osama bin Laden may be dead or not. “Al-Qaeda” remains a catch-all ghost entity. September 11 – the neo-cons’ “new Pearl Harbor” – remains the darkest jigsaw puzzle of the young 21st century.

It’s useless to expect US corporate media and the ruling elites’ political operatives to call for a true, in-depth investigation into the attacks on the US on September 11, 2001. Whitewash has been the norm. But even establishment highlight Dr Zbig “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski, a former national security advisor, has

admitted to the US Senate that the post-9/11 “war on terror” is a “mythical historical narrative”.

The following questions, some multi-part – and most totally ignored by the 9/11 Commission – are just the tip of the immense 9/11 iceberg. A hat tip goes to the indefatigable work of 911truth.org; whatreallyhappened.com; architects and engineers for 9/11 truth; the Italian documentary Zero: an investigation into 9/11; and Asia Times Online readers’ e-mails.

None of these questions has been convincingly answered – according to the official narrative. It’s up to US civil society to keep up the pressure. Eight years after the fact, one fundamental conclusion is imperative. The official narrative edifice of 9/11 is simply not acceptable.

Fifty questions

1) How come dead or not dead Osama bin Laden has not been formally indicted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as responsible for 9/11? Is it because the US government – as acknowledged by the FBI itself – has not produced a single conclusive piece of evidence?

2) How could all the alleged 19 razor-blade box cutter-equipped Muslim perpetrators have been identified in less than 72 hours – without even a crime scene investigation?

3) How come none of the 19′s names appeared on the passenger lists released the same day by both United Airlines and American Airlines?

4) How come eight names on the “original” FBI list happened to be found alive and living in different countries?

5) Why would pious jihadi Mohammed Atta leave a how-to-fly video manual, a uniform and his last will inside his bag knowing he was on a suicide mission?

6) Why did Mohammed Atta study flight simulation at Opa Locka, a hub of no less than six US Navy training bases?

7) How could Mohammed Atta’s passport have been magically found buried among the Word Trade Center (WTC)’s debris when not a single flight recorder was found?

8) Who is in the possession of the “disappeared” eight indestructible black boxes on those four flights?

9) Considering multiple international red alerts about a possible terrorist attack inside the US – including former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice’s infamous August 6, 2001, memo – how come four hijacked planes deviating from their computerized flight paths and disappearing from radar are allowed to fly around US airspace for more than an hour and a half – not to mention disabling all the elaborate Pentagon’s defense systems in the process?

10) Why the secretary of the US Air Force James Roche did not try to intercept both planes hitting the WTC (only seven minutes away from McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey) as well as the Pentagon (only 10 minutes away from McGuire)? Roche had no less than 75 minutes to respond to the plane hitting the Pentagon.

11) Why did George W Bush continue to recite “My Pet Goat” in his Florida school and was not instantly absconded by the secret service?

12) How could Bush have seen the first plane crashing on WTC live – as he admitted? Did he have previous knowledge – or is he psychic?

13) Bush said that he and Andrew Card initially thought the first hit on the WTC was an accident with a small plane. How is that possible when the FAA as well as NORAD already knew this was about a hijacked plane?

14) What are the odds of transponders in four different planes be turned off almost simultaneously, in the same geographical area, very close to the nation’s seat of power in Washington, and no one scrambles to contact the Pentagon or the media?

15) Could defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld explain why initial media reports said that there were no fighter jets available at Andrews Air Force Base and then change the reports that there were, but not on high alert?

16) Why was the DC Air National Guard in Washington AWOL on 9/11?

17) Why did combat jet fighters of the 305th Air Wing, McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey not intercept the second hijacked plane hitting the WTC, when they could have done it within seven minutes?

18) Why did none of the combat jet fighters of the 459th Aircraft Squadron at Andrews Air Force Base intercept the plane that hit the Pentagon, only 16 kilometers away? And since we’re at it, why the Pentagon did not release the full video of the hit?

19) A number of very experienced airline pilots – including US ally Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a former fighter jet pilot – revealed that, well, only crack pilots could have performed such complex maneuvers on the hijacked jets, while others insisted they could only have been accomplished by remote control. Is it remotely believable that the hijackers were up to the task?

20) How come a substantial number of witnesses did swear seeing and hearing multiple explosions in both towers of the WTC?

21) How come a substantial number of reputed architects and engineers are adamant that the official narrative simply does not explain the largest structural collapse in recorded history (the Twin Towers) as well as the collapse of WTC building 7, which was not even hit by a jet?

22) According to Frank de Martini, WTC’s construction manager, “We designed the building to resist the impact of one or more jetliners.” The second plane nearly missed tower 1; most of the fuel burned in an explosion outside the tower. Yet this tower collapsed first, long before tower 2 that was “perforated” by the first hit. Jet fuel burned up fast – and by far did not reach the 2000-degree heat necessary to hurt the six tubular steel columns in the center of the tower – designed specifically to keep the towers from collapsing even if hit by a Boeing 707. A Boeing 707 used to carry more fuel than the Boeing 757 and Boeing 767 that actually hit the towers.

23) Why did Mayor Rudolph Giuliani instantly authorized the shipment of WTC rubble to China and India for recycling?

24) Why was metallic debris found no less than 13 kilometers from the crash site of the plane that went down in Pennsylvania? Was the plane in fact shot down – under vice president Dick Cheney’s orders?

25) The Pipelineistan question. What did US ambassador Wendy Chamberlain talk about over the phone on October 10, 2001, with the oil minister of Pakistan? Was it to tell him that the 1990s-planned Unocal gas pipeline project, TAP (Turkmenistan/Afghanistan/ Pakistan), abandoned because of Taliban demands on transit fees, was now back in business? (Two months later, an agreement to build the pipeline was signed between the leaders of the three countries).

26) What is former Unocal lobbyist and former Bush pet Afghan Zalmay Khalilzad up to in Afghanistan?

27) How come former Pakistani foreign minister Niaz Niak said in mid-July 2001 that the US had already decided to strike against Osama bin Laden and the Taliban by October? The topic was discussed secretly at the July Group of Eight summit in Genoa, Italy, according to Pakistani diplomats.

28) How come US ambassador to Yemen Barbara Bodine told FBI agent John O’Neill in July 2001 to stop investigating al-Qaeda’s financial operations – with O’Neill instantly moved to a security job at the WTC, where he died on 9/11?

29) Considering the very intimate relationship between the Taliban and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and the ISI and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), is Bin Laden alive, dead or still a valuable asset of the ISI, the CIA or both?

30) Was Bin Laden admitted at the American hospital in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates on July 4, 2001, after flying from Quetta, Pakistan, and staying for treatment until July 11?

31) Did the Bin Laden group build the caves of Tora Bora in close cooperation with the CIA during the 1980s’ anti-Soviet jihad?

32) How come General Tommy Franks knew for sure that Bin Laden was hiding in Tora Bora in late November 2001?

33) Why did president Bill Clinton abort a hit on Bin Laden in October 1999? Why did then-Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf abort a covert ops in the same date? And why did Musharraf do the same thing again in August 2001?

34) Why did George W Bush dissolve the Bin Laden Task Force nine months before 9/11?

35) How come the (fake) Bin Laden home video – in which he “confesses” to being the perpetrator of 9/11 – released by the US on December 13, 2001, was found only two weeks after it was produced (on November 9); was it really found in Jalalabad (considering Northern Alliance and US troops had not even arrived there at the time); by whom; and how come the Pentagon was forced to release a new translation after the first (botched) one?

36) Why was ISI chief Lieutenant General Mahmud Ahmad abruptly “retired” on October 8, 2001, the day the US started bombing Afghanistan?

37) What was Ahmad up to in Washington exactly on the week of 9/11 (he arrived on September 4)? On the morning of 9/11, Ahmad was having breakfast on Capitol Hill with Bob Graham and Porter Goss, both later part of the 9/11 Commission, which simply refused to investigate two of its members. Ahmad had breakfast with Richard Armitage of the State Department on September 12 and 13 (when Pakistan negotiated its “cooperation” with the “war on terror”) and met all the CIA and Pentagon top brass. On September 13, Musharraf announced he would send Ahmad to Afghanistan to demand to the Taliban the extradition of Bin Laden.

38) Who inside the ISI transferred US$100,000 to Mohammed Atta in the summer of 2001 – under orders of Ahmad himself, as Indian intelligence insists? Was it really ISI asset Omar Sheikh, Bin Laden’s information technology specialist who later organized the slaying of American journalist Daniel Pearl in Karachi? So was the ISI directly linked to 9/11?

39) Did the FBI investigate the two shady characters who met Mohammed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi in Harry’s Bar at the Helmsley Hotel in New York City on September 8, 2001?

40) What did director of Asian affairs at the State Department Christina Rocca and the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan Abdul Salam Zaeef discuss in their meeting in Islamabad in August 2001?

41) Did Washington know in advance that an “al-Qaeda” connection would kill Afghan nationalist commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, aka “The Lion of the Panjshir”, only two days before 9/11? Massoud was fighting the Taliban and al-Qaeda – helped by Russia and Iran. According to the Northern Alliance, Massoud was killed by an ISI-Taliban-al Qaeda axis. If still alive, he would never have allowed the US to rig a loya jirga (grand council) in Afghanistan and install a puppet, former CIA asset Hamid Karzai, as leader of the country.

42) Why did it take no less than four months before the name of Ramzi Binalshibh surfaced in the 9/11 context, considering the Yemeni was a roommate of Mohammed Atta in his apartment cell in Hamburg?

43) Is pathetic shoe-bomber Richard Reid an ISI asset?

44) Did then-Russian president Vladimir Putin and Russian intelligence tell the CIA in 2001 that 25 terrorist pilots had been training for suicide missions?

45) When did the head of German intelligence, August Hanning, tell the CIA that terrorists were “planning to hijack commercial aircraft?”

46) When did Egyptian President Mubarak tell the CIA about an attack on the US with an “airplane stuffed with explosives?”

47) When did Israel’s Mossad director Efraim Halevy tell the CIA about a possible attack on the US by “200 terrorists?”

48) Were the Taliban aware of the warning by a Bush administration official as early as February 2001 – “Either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs?”

49) Has Northrop-Grumman used Global Hawk technology – which allows to remotely control unmanned planes – in the war in Afghanistan since October 2001? Did it install Global Hawk in a commercial plane? Is Global Hawk available at all for commercial planes?

50) Would Cheney stand up and volunteer the detailed timeline of what he was really up to during the whole day on 9/11? Fifty questions on 9/11  By Pepe Escobar. Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009). He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.

US deaths in Afghanistan hit record in 2010

September 1, 2010 Leave a comment

In all, 1,270 US troops have lost their lives since the conflict began with the US-led invasion of Afghanistan following the September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001.

KABUL: The number of US soldiers killed in the Afghan war in 2010 is the highest annual toll since the conflict began almost nine years ago, according to an AFP count Wednesday.

A total of 323 US soldiers have been killed in the Afghan war this year, compared to 317 for all of 2009, according to a count by AFP based on the independent icasualties.org website.

Foreign forces suffered a grim spike in deaths last month as the Taliban insurgency intensified, with Nato confirming on Wednesday that a sixth US soldier was killed on one of the bloodiest days this year.

At 490, the overall death toll for foreign troops for the first eight months of the year is rapidly closing in the number registered in all of 2009, which at 521 was a record since the start of the war in late 2001.

A total of 80 international soldiers died in the Afghan war last month, 56 of them Americans.

In all, 1,270 US troops have lost their lives since the conflict began with the US-led invasion of Afghanistan following the September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001.

US President Barack Obama on Tuesday warned that the United States faced a “very tough fight” in Afghanistan, with more casualties and “heartbreak” to come.

“We obviously still have a very tough fight in Afghanistan,” Obama told troops in Texas as the United States marked the formal end of combat operations in Iraq.

“We have seen casualties go up because we are taking the fight to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban,” Obama said. “It is going to be a tough slog.”

Nato’s International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) confirmed that a sixth US soldier died on Tuesday, killed in an insurgent attack in the south of the country.

This followed the previously announced deaths on Tuesday of another five US soldiers, four of them killed in a roadside bomb attack.

Twenty-five Americans have died since Friday.

Military leaders say the spike in deaths reflects the injection of additional troops into the Afghan theatre, which leads to a higher number of battlefield engagements with Taliban-led insurgents.

US General David Petraeus, the commander of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan, said Tuesday that deployments would reach their full strength of 150,000 within days.

On Monday, eight Nato troops — seven Americans and an Estonian — were killed in bomb attacks in southern Afghanistan.

Icasualties.org is constantly updating its figures as soldiers wounded in battle die of their injuries after they have been evacuated from Afghanistan, sometimes days or weeks later.

Pakistan may have tried to thwart Afghan talks: report

August 23, 2010 Leave a comment

WASHINGTON: January’s capture of top Taliban commander Abdul Ghani Baradar may have been a bid by Pakistani intelligence to thwart talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government, The New York Times said late Sunday.

Baradar was a top military strategist and trusted aide of the militia’s shadowy leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar.

He was arrested in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi reportedly in a secret raid by CIA and Pakistani agents, an operation that was described as a huge blow to the group.

Citing unnamed Pakistani officials, it said Pakistan’s intelligence had set out to capture Baradar with the CIA’s help as it wanted to end secret peace talks between Baradar and the Afghan government that excluded Pakistan, the Taliban’s longtime backer.

In the weeks after Baradar’s capture, Pakistani security officials detained up to 23 Taliban leaders, many of whom had been enjoying Islamabad’s protection for years, the report said.

These developments resulted in the talks coming to an end.

The events surrounding Baradar’s arrest have been the subject of debate inside military and intelligence circles for months, The Times said.

“We picked up Baradar and the others because they were trying to make a deal without us,” the paper quotes a Pakistani security official as saying.

“We protect the Taliban. They are dependent on us. We are not going to allow them to make a deal with Karzai and the Indians,” the official said, referring to Hamid Karzai, the Afghan President.

Some US officials say the Pakistanis may be trying to make themselves appear more influential, the report said.

“These are self-serving fairy tales,” The Times quotes one US official as saying on condition of anonymity.

“The people involved in the operation on the ground didn’t know exactly who would be there when they themselves arrived. But it certainly became clear, to Pakistanis and Americans alike, who we’d gotten.”

But other US officials suspect the CIA may have been unwittingly used by the Pakistanis for the larger aims of slowing the pace of any peace talks, the report said. – AFP

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