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Target locked-on: Pakistan

December 31, 2009 Leave a comment

Courtesy: PKKH

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The lap bomber mystery

December 31, 2009 Leave a comment

PKKH

Justin Raimondo

It just wouldn’t be Christmas in the age of terror if we didn’t have a visitation, ostensibly from al-Qaeda, now would it? ‘Tis the season, and all that. Recall Richard Reid, the “shoe bomber,” arrested on December 22, 2001, for trying to blow up American Airlines flight 63, coming into Miami from Paris. As in the current case involving one Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian, the explosive used was PETN, also known as pentaerythritol: Reid, like Umar, was subdued by passengers and airline attendants, and, to add yet another touch of déjà vu, Reid’s stunt led to the imposition of the take-off-your-shoes rule at airport security, just as Umar’s midair antics have now inspired the Transportation Safety Authority to inaugurate a spate of new regulations: nothing in your lap, please, and no getting up from your seat for a solid hour before landing.

Also please note the timing: the Reid incident occurred at a volatile moment, right after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and just as the Bush administration was ramping up to invade both Afghanistan and Iraq. Umar, the lap bomber – so called because he apparently had his explosive device hidden in his pants – also leaps onto the international stage at a sensitive time, when President Obama is launching a major offensive in Afghanistan and the US has “assisted” Yemen in its air strikes on the alleged al-Qaeda stronghold in that country – where Umar, we’re told, received “training” and the actual explosive device.

Yes, the parallels are certainly eerie – but so what? After all, these terrorists are seemingly a simple-minded lot, if the behavior and demeanor of, say, Richard Reid is any indication. How many different explosive substances are available for such a “job,” and, at any rate, what else can one expect from the TSA in response except a bunch of useless and needlessly intrusive regulations that have little relevance to what happened? And, of course, the US, it seems, is always launching some new attack or military campaign, somewhere, so the timing is pure chance. Right?

What’s more, the pattern fails when we take into account our own mindset, eight years after the Shoe-na’bomber affair: back then, we were all too frightened out of our wits to really question anything the government told us, and the news media reported. We took it all at face value, and trusted in the gods that we wouldn’t all be blown to smithereens in the next attack, which – for all we knew – could have come at any time.

Eight years later, our mental processes have been quickened, through bitter experience, and a growing cynicism which leads us to notice – and question – several seeming anomalies, such as: why, when Umar’s own father – a prominent banker – contacted the US embassy, and met with the CIA as well as the Nigerian intelligence agency, and warned them his son might pose a danger, was Umar allowed on a plane entering the US? Authorities tell us that he was in a database, consisting of over half a million people, said to pose a risk, but not on the “no fly” list, in spite of his own father’s warning.

How could this happen? Inquiring minds want to know.

Another break in the Shoe’na-bomber pattern is Umar himself, whose life of wealth and privilege stands in stark contrast to Reid’s. While Reid was the poor son of ajailbird, a nobody with an apparently limited mental capacity, Umar is the son of Dr. Umaru Mutallab, former economics minister in the Nigerian government and one of the country’s most prominent bankers: schooled at the exclusive British International School in Lome, Togo, and an aspiring mechanical engineer, he had a bright future ahead of him, and if any single word could be used to characterize his life prior to the Christmas day incident, it would be access.

Access not only to the best schools and opportunities, and to his posh London digs, but also access to planes without the proper documents, as one Kurt Haskell, who was on the same flight with Umar, testifies:

“I was on this flight today and am thankful to be alive. My wife and I were returning from an African safari and had this connecting flight through Amsterdam. I sat in row 27, which was 7 rows behind the terrorist. I got to see the whole thing take place and it was very scary. Thanks to a few quick acting people I am still alive today.

“…I was next to the terrorist when he checked in at the Amsterdam airport early on Christmas. My wife and I were playing cards directly in front of the check in counter. This is what I saw (and I relayed this to the FBI when we were held in customs):

“An Indian man in a nicely dressed suit around age 50 approached the check in counter with the terrorist and said ‘This man needs to get on this flight and he has no passport.’ The two of them were an odd pair as the terrorist is a short, black man that looked like he was very poor and looks around age 17(Although I think he is 23 he doesn’t look it). It did not cross my mind that they were terrorists, only that the two looked weird together. The ticket taker said ‘you can’t board without a passport.’ The Indian man then replied, ‘He is from Sudan, we do this all the time.’. I can only take from this to mean that it is difficult to get passports from Sudan and this was some sort of sympathy ploy. The ticket taker then said ‘You will have to talk to my manager,’ and sent the two down a hallway. I never saw the Indian man again as he wasn’t on the flight. It was also weird that the terrorist never said a word in this exchange. Anyway, somehow, the terrorist still made it onto the plane. I am not sure if it was a bribe or just sympathy from the security manager.”

This goes way beyond weird, all the way to sinister. Perhaps we should take Janet Napolitano’s assurance that “right now we have no indication that it is part of anything larger” with a gargantuan grain of salt. Not only that, but maybe we should simply make a new rule, as follows: anything Madame Napolitano or any government official says about this or any other similar incident should be considered, at the outset, an outright lie. Assuming deception as the default, we might be better off believing the exact opposite. This argument is especially compelling in light of what Mr. Haskell has to say about the aftermath of the Christmas bomb attempt:

“FBI also arrested a different Indian man while we were held in customs after a bomb sniffing dog detected a bomb in his carry on bag and he was searched after we landed. This was later confirmed while we were in customs when an FBI agent said to us ‘You are being moved to another area because this area is not safe. Read between the lines. Some of you saw what just happened.’(The arrest of the other Indian man). I am not sure why this hasn’t made it into any news story, but I stood about 15-20 feet away from the other Indian man when he was cuffed and arrested after his search.”

Why isn’t the “mainstream” media reporting this? Well, perhaps they just don’t know about it: or it could be they do know and have been asked to keep a lid on it by the authorities, not the first time such a thing has happened when it comes to the dissemination of “sensitive” information.

In any case, given the veracity of Haskell’s account, it is clear that, contrary to news reports, Umar was no “lone nut,” but had at least one accomplice with him on board the plane. Furthermore, both of his accomplices – the one who got him on the plane without a passport, and the one nabbed by the bomb-sniffing dog – may have been Indians.

What India has to do with all this is sheer speculation. While India’s foreign intelligence service, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), stands accused by Pakistanis of being behind much of the sectarian strife that riles the region, it’s unclear – to me, at least – what interest they would have in stirring the pot in faraway Yemen, the supposed source of the plot. If, however, it should suddenly be discovered that the “real” source of all this lies in the tribal regions of Pakistan, where Washington insists Osama bin Laden & Co. have set up their world headquarters, the Indian connection would make sense.

Haskell concludes his account as follows:

“What also didn’t make the news is that we were held on the plane for 20 minutesafter it landed! A bomb could have gone off then. This wasn’t too smart of security to not let us off the plane immediately.

“You can see what time I am writing this as I am having a hard time sleeping tonight. Just thought some of you would like to know what I saw, Merry Christmas.”

A telling note of authenticity there: clueless bureaucrats keep him on a plane that might be about to explode, and a Merry Christmas to all – and to all a good night!

No wonder the poor guy couldn’t sleep. If I were in his shoes, I wouldn’t sleep for a week. And if, somehow, I did manage to take a cat nap or two, I’d dream of Umar being led onto the plane, passport-less, escorted by his mysterious helpers, including several demonic figures lurking in the background, chortling and rubbing their hands together in gleeful anticipation.

We are asked to believe that a highly privileged young man, with everything to live for, was suddenly seized with a desire to commit suicide as an act of jihad: that he disappeared from his life of ease, on a street lined with Mercedes Benzes and Ferraris, in a fashionable district of London, and traveled to Yemen, where he received what may have been a defective bomb, which was sewn into his underwear by his jihadist trainers. This bomb then went undetected in Amsterdam airport, where the security arrangements are said to be tight (and a personal interview is conducted), and where he was let on a plane headed for the US in spite of explicit warnings given by his own father.

I’m not buying it, and, furthermore, in the context of Haskell’s testimony, another narrative seems just as likely: that this was a staged incident, a false flag operation, launched by those who have everything to gain by ramping up the atmosphere of hysteria and fear that regularly precedes America’s wars. This – admittedly speculative – scenario, of which I am equally skeptical, is buttressed, however, by the testimony of Jasper Schuringa – the passenger who leapt out of his seat on the other side of the plane, put out the fire, and secured Umar in a headlock – who says of the alleged terrorist:

“He was shaking. He didn’t resist anything. It’s just hard to believe that he was trying to blow up this plane. He was in a trance. He was very afraid.”

He didn’t resist? This hardly seems like the behavior one might expect of some fanatic jihadist bent on destruction and meeting those virgins in the afterlife.

The simplistic narrative that took shape as the news broke is already beginning to break up into something a bit more complicated, as additional information comes out, including this brief news item that just came across the wires:

“A passenger aboard the same Northwest Airlines flight that was attacked on Christmas Day was taken into custody here Sunday after becoming verbally disruptive upon landing, officials said.

“A law enforcement official said the man was Nigerian and had locked himself in the airliner’s bathroom. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing.

“Delta Air Lines spokeswoman Susan Elliott said crew members requested that security remove the man from Flight 253 after he became disruptive. The remaining 255 passengers got off safely, she said.

“Airport spokesman Scott Wintner said it was the same flight on which a man tried to set off an explosive on Christmas Day.

“’The pilot requested emergency assistance upon arrival,’ he said. Security and airline personnel are on edge since the attempted terror attack on Christmas Day, and the law enforcement official said that lesser incidents had been reported on other flights arriving in Detroit, but the incident with the Nigerian man had sparked the most concern.”

Whether Nigerian, or Indian, something is up here, and it seems to have little to do with al-Qaeda, which – breaking its past habit of promptly taking “credit” – has yet to claim responsibility for the attempted attack. More grounds for suspicion: allegations that the Detroit incident was planned and carried out by al-Qaeda in Yemen can be traced back to “IntelCenter,” a mysterious private contractor with a dubiousreputation [.pdf] (see frames 89-100) that does business with the intelligence community.

Another shoe is bound to drop – the arrest of this other “Nigerian” may be it, along with the surprising news that Detroit, for some reason, seems to be the latest “terrorist” target – and when it does, I’m wondering how much closer to the truth we’ll get. One thing is certain, however, and it is this: look on the pronouncements of government officials with a very jaundiced eye.

Already Joe Lieberman and several Republicans are calling for more preemptive strikes on targets in Yemen, and it’s not hard to see that the US is very close to opening up yet another “front” in our eternal “war on terrorism.” Deeper into the quagmire we go – and those demons in my dreamscape are chortling ever louder.

Nuclear Threat: Fire at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre lab kills 2

December 31, 2009 Leave a comment

By: Daily.Pk

A fire broke out in a chemistry laboratory at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, located just a kilometre away from the nuclear reactors, leaving two research students dead, but scientists said there was no danger of any radioactivity.

Scientists at the suburban Trombay-based BARC said a loud bang was heard in the chemistry lab after which black smoke billowed out. It was not immediately clear if the bang was caused by an explosion or triggered by a chemical reaction.

No research involving radioactive material is conducted in the multi-storeyed Modular lab, in which the chemistry lab was housed, scientists said. It was also stated that no reactor, radioactivity or radiation was involved in the accident.

The victims, who were between the age group of 22 and 25, were identified as Umang Singh of Mumbai and Partha Bag of Kolkata. The identification was done on the basis of their ID cards on their person since their bodies were charred beyond recognition, a BARC release said.

Some scientific equipment was also damaged in the blaze, scientists said.

“The fire broke out at 12.5 pm in the chemistry lab on the third floor of the Modular lab of BARC. There was a loud bang, after which black smoke billowed out of the chemistry lab filling the corridor,” said BARC director and Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Sreekumar Banerjee.

BARC’s fire brigade officials rushed to the spot and doused the blaze within 45 minutes. The fire-fighters later made their way to the lab and located two badly charred bodies. pkkh

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWdj-_av7_E

A report on India’s poor nuclear safety arrangements:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5RCfCWbOwM

Alert: Indian Army Ready For War Against China And Pakistan Simultaneously

December 31, 2009 1 comment

PakAlertPress

India is preparing for a possible `two-front war’ with China and Pakistan, Indian newspaper saying Wednesday.

The newspaper said the Indian Army is now revising its five-year-old doctrine to effectively meet the challenges of war with China and Pakistan, deal with asymmetric and fourth-generation warfare, enhance strategic reach and joint operations with IAF and Navy.

Work on the new war doctrine — to reflect the reconfiguration of threat perceptions and security challenges — is already underway under the aegis of Shimla-based Army Training Command, headed by Lt-General A S Lamba, sources told the Indian newspaper.

It comes in the backdrop of the 1.13-million strong Army having practiced — through several wargames over the last five years — its `pro-active’ war strategy to mobilise fast and strike hard to pulverize the enemy.

This `cold start strategy’, under a NBC (nuclear-chemical-biological) overhang, emerged from the `harsh lessons’

learnt during Operation Parakram, where it took Army’s strike formations almost a month to mobilise at the `border launch pads’ after the December 2001 terrorist attack on Parliament.

This gave ample opportunity to Pakistan to shore up its defences as well as adequate time to the international community, primarily the US, to intervene. The lack of clear directives from the then NDA government only made matters worse.

“A major leap in our approach to conduct of operations (since then) has been the successful firming-up of the cold start strategy (to be able to go to war promptly),” said Army chief General Deepak Kapoor, at a closed-door seminar on Tuesday.

The plan now is to launch self-contained and highly-mobile `battle groups’, with Russian-origin T-90S tanks and upgraded T-72 M1 tanks at their core, adequately backed by air cover and artillery fire assaults, for rapid thrusts into enemy territory within 96 hours.

Gen Kapoor identified five thrust areas that will drive the new doctrine. One, even as the armed forces prepare for their primary task of conventional wars, they must also factor in the eventuality of `a two-front war’ breaking out.

In tune with this, after acquiring a greater offensive punch along the entire western front with Pakistan by the creation of a new South-Western Army Command in 2005, India is now taking steps — albeit belatedly — to strategically counter the stark military asymmetry with China in the eastern sector. There is now “a proportionate focus towards the western and north-eastern fronts”, said Gen Kapoor.

Two, the Army needs to `optimise’ its capability to effectively counter `both military and non-military facets’ of asymmetric and sub-conventional threats like WMD terrorism, cyber warfare, electronic warfare and information warfare.

Three, the armed forces have to substantially enhance their strategic reach and out-of-area capabilities to protect India’s geo-political interests stretching from Persian Gulf to Malacca Strait.

“This would enable us to protect our island territories; as also give assistance to the littoral states in the Indian Ocean Region,” said Gen Kapoor.

Four, interdependence and operational synergy among Army, Navy and IAF must become the essence of strategic planning and execution in future wars. “For this, joint operations, strategic and space-based capability, ballistic missile defence and amphibious, air-borne and air-land operations must be addressed comprehensively,” he said.

And five, India must strive to achieve a technological edge over its adversaries. “Harnessing and exploitation of technology also includes integration of network centricity, decision-support systems, information warfare and electronic warfare into our operational plans,” he added.

Apart from analysing the evolving military strategy and doctrines of China and Pakistan, the Army is also studying the lessons learnt from the US-launched Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in 2001 and Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 and their relevance to India. PD Agencies

Hasan Nawaz sole owner of multi-million pound London business

December 31, 2009 Leave a comment

Daily.Pk

* Nawaz Sharif’s son paid millions of pounds in taxes to UK

No Sharif family member other than Hasan Nawaz owns Flagship Investments Ltd and the premises being used as the company’s offices are rented, said a Sharif family spokesperson in a press statement.

Issued in reply to an article (Sharifs own property worth billions in London, the release points out that Hasan Nawaz “has paid millions of pounds in taxes” to the UK tax authorities as a resident and has even been featured in the Who’s Who of Britain’s Young Business Elite.

The release also states that the offices in Tower Bridge House are of a multinational auditing and accounting firm and do not belong to the company. However, the address for Hasan Nawaz Sharif, as listed in the 2009 edition of the Who’s Who of Britain’s Young Business Elite – a copy of which was attached to the Sharifs’ statement – is indeed ‘Tower Bridge House, St Katherine’s Way, London’, contrary to the spokesman’s claims.

The statement also claims, “a property near Buckingham Palace valued at 4,450,000 pounds has nothing to do with the company”. It may be noted that the said property is still listed on the company website even as this report is being filed.

International Death Watch For MiG 29s: India upgrades new Flying Coffins

December 26, 2009 Leave a comment

December 24, 2009

Myanmar is buying twenty MiG-29s from Russia. Myanmar bought its first twelve MiG-29s in 2001. This new sale will earn Russia some criticism, because Myanmar (formerly Burma) is a military dictatorship with a very bad international reputation. But Russia is desperate to keep the MiG-29 from fading away. To that end, Russia also ordered 24 MiG-29Ks for its sole aircraft carrier, to replace the Su-33s that currently serve on the ship. However, most of the current news about the Mig-29 has been bad.

Malaysia, for example, admitted that it is getting rid of its MiG-29 fighters because the aircraft are too expensive to maintain. It costs about $5 million a year, per aircraft, to keep them in flying condition. Three years ago, Malaysia bought two more MiG-29s, in addition to the 18 it got in the 1990s. Two of those were lost due to accidents. Malaysia has since ordered 18 Su-30 fighters, and will apparently order more to replace the MiG-29s. Malaysia also bought eight F-18Ds in the 1990s, and is getting rid of those as well. Russia has offered better prices on maintenance contracts for new Su-30s, in addition to bargain (compared to U.S. planes) prices.

Most of the MiG-29s provided satisfactory service. Malaysia was long a users of U.S. aircraft, so they have been able to compare Russian and American warplanes. The Russian aircraft cost less than half as much as their American counterparts. The Malaysians find that an acceptable situation, even though they face better trained pilots flying F-16s in neighboring Singapore.

The MiG-29 entered Russian service in 1983. Some 1,600 MiG-29s have been produced so far, with about 900 of them exported. The 22 ton aircraft is roughly comparable to the F-16, but it depends a lot on which version of either aircraft you are talking about. Russia is making a lot of money upgrading MiG-29s. Not just adding new electronics, but also making the airframe more robust. The MiG-29 was originally rated at 2,500 total flight hours. At that time (early 80s), Russia expected MiG-29s to fly about a hundred or so hours a year. India, for example, flew them at nearly twice that rate, as did Malaysia. So now Russia is offering to spiff up the airframe so that the aircraft can fly up to 4,000 hours, with more life extension upgrades promised. This won’t be easy, as the MiG-29 has a history of unreliability and premature breakdowns (both mechanical and electronic).

In the last year, Russia grounded has grounded its MiG-29s several times, in order to check for structural flaws. Compared to Western aircraft, like the F-16, the MiG-29 is available for action about two thirds as much. While extending the life of the MiG-29 into the 2030s is theoretically possible, actually doing so will be real breakthrough in Russian aircraft capabilities.

The Indians are going to take up the Russians on their upgrade offer. But the Malaysians are going to go with the more highly regarded Su-30. Malaysia expects to have all its MiG-29s out of service in about a year. If they can’t be sold, they will simply be scrapped. Algeria, and several other nations, have turned down the MiG-29, which has acquired the reputation of being second rate and a loser. Russia, however, wants to preserve MiG as a brand, so it is not solely dependent on Sukhoi for its jet fighters. At this point, it looks like an uphill fight. MiG and Sukhoi are now both divisions of a state owned military aircraft company (United Aircraft). Technically, the MiG division is bankrupt. Sukhoi is profitable. Stratfor.

US behind attacks on Pakistani civilians: Ex-ISI chief

December 26, 2009 Leave a comment

PressTv

Former ISI chief Asad Durrani says private US contractors such as Xe (formerly known as Blackwater) and other intelligence agents may be behind the assassination of civilians across Pakistan.

Former ISI chief Asad Durrani

In an exclusive interview with Press TV, Durrani said on Friday that the local militants led by Hakimullah Mehsud primarily target the government and military instillations.

Arguing against the local militants involvements in civilian assassinations, Durrani added that the militants consider Islamabad as a close ally of the US in the so-called ‘war on terror’ and that they have been launching retaliatory attacks against the government targets, particularly since the Pakistani army launched a major offensive against their stronghold in South Waziristan.

Durrani said that he doubted the notorious militants groups were behind a recent surge in attacks on civilian targets across the country.

The former head of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) claimed that certain theories were circulating among Pakistani intellectuals suggesting that the foreign agents or private US contractors could have been orchestrating assassinations on the civilian targets in the nuclear-armed country.

According to Durrani, these attacks were being carried out to encourage Islamabad to be more involved in war against the militants.

Pakistan has experienced a wave of violence over the past two years. Nearly 3,000 people have been killed in bomb attacks and other terrorist operations across the country.

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