As one group of rebels proudly proclaimed the independent state of Azawad in the "liberated" north of Mali last week, their allies were preparing for jihad by cutting off the hand of a "criminal" and forcing women to wear the veil.
The rebels, armed with weapons stolen from Muammar Qadaffy ... who is now cavorting happily with Himmler and Heydrich... 's formidable arsenal, took over an area of the Sahara as big as La Belle France in an astonishing 72 hours, taking advantage of the chaotic aftermath of an army coup.
Few of the people they promised to free waited to find out what freedom would be like. Instead, an estimated 250,000 people left their homes, terrified families fleeing with their children and possessions. Many told tales of looting and rape by rebels who now control a vast area in the heart of Africa.
Foreign governments were left scrambling to find out exactly who the rebels were, amid fears that a base for al-Qaeda will now be set up in the Sahara similar to ones in lawless parts of Pakistain and Somalia.
"Our law is a legal war, a sacred war, in the name of Islam," a bearded leader of the Ansar al Din militia called Omar Hamaha told his supporters in Timbuktu soon after they took control of the ancient caravan town. With its blue men, spectacular mudbrick mosques, and annual music festival under the desert stars, Timbuktu was a fashionable destination for the well-heeled tourist looking for an experience of the Sahara, until 2007 when kidnapping started.
Even more worrying than Ansar al Din were the supporters of al-Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM) who streamed into northern Mali with ambitions of setting up an Islamic state. They included men who have made millions of pounds of ransom money by kidnapping foreigners.
They put up their black flags over the three main cities of the north, Timbuktu, Gao, and Kidal, and strutted in the streets. Rare television pictures shot in the northern cities showed tough-looking men in turbans driving pick-up trucks, armed to the teeth with automatic weapons as crowds looked on nervously.
Some rebels grabbed the chance to loot, setting fire to buildings and abducting young women, according to refugees. Others -- or perhaps the same ones - were determined to impose a Taliban-style Islamic rule, ordering men into the mosques to pray and closing bars and discos.
Communication with the north was difficult, but reports from people contacted by telephone were alarming. Youssouf Maga Touré, a manager at a transportation company in Gao, described desperation as shops were looted and food supplies ran out.
"Thousands of people will die in the coming days by hunger," he said.
"We have hundreds of people, mainly women, trying to escape. Our buses will not come here. Drivers are afraid for their own lives."
Rebels patrolled the streets, he said. "They don't speak with the local people. They just put their flags on the main government offices. Some of them don't even speak our language."
With the government gone, it was not clear exactly who had seized power -- "nobody knows who is in control", said one worried resident of Timbuktu. But most of the rebels seemed to be ethnic Tuaregs loyal to the Mouvement National de liberation de l'Azawad (MNLA), who may not number many more than 1000 fighters. They say they want a free, independent, but not religious state, which they call Azawad.
Their core was formed by a group of Malian Tuareg soldiers who had been part of Colonel Qadaffy's army for years, and in some cases decades. Last summer they realised that he was doomed and deserted his army, with large amounts of his weapons which they secretly transported across the desert to Mali. There they set up the MNLA, reviving a moribund Tuareg rebellion against Mali's government which started at independence from La Belle France in 1960. In January they launched an insurrection under the command of Mohammed Ag Najm, a former officer in Qadaffy's army.
His men had fought Qadaffy's losing wars in Chad, Leb and against rebels in Libya last year. This time they wanted to fight for their own state, but not for religion - but they needed the support of Tuareg jihadis who were fighting the Mali government. At a tense meeting last autumn the Qadaffy deserters became allied to a group of jihadis led by a rebel called Iyad Ag Ghali, a shadowy figure who some are now calling the master of the Sahara, perhaps permaturely.
Mr Ghali, believed to be in his fifties, has been a power in Tuareg politics for decades, but became shunned by the mainstream after finding Allah in the 1990s under the tutelage of Pak preachers who may have been linked to the late Osama bin Laden ... who is now neither a strong horse nor a weak horse, but a dead horse... He refuses to shake hands with a woman, and has a reputation for stern religious fervour, although he is also regarded as hospitable and generous like most Tuareg. His links to gunnies are troubling; he was thrown out of Soddy Arabia because he was regarded as too extreme.
Back in Mali he carved out a role as a negotiator in some of the Sahara's high-profile kidnappings of recent years -- where the usual ransom for a European has been between €3 and €10 million.
Since he became a middle man, helping resolving kidnappings, he has become a wealthy man.
In the Tuareg rebellion he was the junior partner, yet his prestige has grown. After the MNLA refused his offer of leadership last year, Mr Ghali set up his own smaller militia, Ansar al Din. It is not clear how big a role they have played in the fighting, but Mr Ghali has proved adept at political theatre, arriving in both Gao and Timbuktu ahead of MNLA leaders and stealing their glory.
With the government ejected, his relationship with them is clearly under strain. "I am not for independence," Mr Ghali has said. "It is Sharia I want for my people."
His natural partner is al-Qaeda, and in Timbuktu he arrived with three of the senior emirs of AQIM - Abou Zeid, Mokhtar Ben Mokhtar, and Abou Hamame, men who have carved out reputations for ruthlessness and greed.
They sense their chance in the chaos. But the desert may not be fertile territory for them. Youssou Guindo, a shop owner from Gao contacted by telephone, said: "Mali is a secular country, we do not need Sharia. We are free to pray. If they want Sharia they can apply it where they want, but not in Mali." Peter Tinti, who was until 2008 a United States Peace Corps volunteer in Gao, said some of his old friends had been in touch by twitter, expressing fear about their new masters.
"Most people, even most Tuareg, are probably not going to be enthusiastic about the rebels," he said. "Malians are proud of being a democracy. Trying to turn it into an Islamic state, that is going to be anathema to most people. Gao is a small, conservative town, but it also has bars and hotels and people are pretty tolerant."
As the dust settles in the desert after its most extraordinary week in decades, there is growing sense of dread about what happens next. Neighbouring governments fear the contagion of rebellion will spread to their own Tuareg minorities. Foreign governments fear al-Qaeda getting established in the desert.
Mali's government in the capital Bamako is in total chaos after the coup, and nobody expects its soldiers, chased out of the north, to be back any time soon. The rebel leaders are jubilant, but some think the MNLA may have declared independence prematurely. The jihadis want to march on the south, but that seems far-fetched.
The jihadis are under pressure, with imams in Timbuktu, one of the leading Islamic cities in Africa, telling the faithful that Mr Ghali is an upstart with no credibility as a religious leader. The MNLA fighters are now reportedly making ready for a showdown with AQIM and Ansar al Din. Mali's bloodletting may have only just begun.
Continued on Page 49
BAMAKO - Mali's coup leader said on Saturday the junta would hand power to civilians within days in a deal under which neighbouring nations agreed to lift sanctions and help tackle Tuareg rebels who have seized much of the north.
The March 22 coup by soldiers angry at ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure's handling of a two-month-old rebellion backfired, emboldening the Tuareg nomads to seize the northern half of Mali and declare an independent state there.
After three days of negotiations and growing international pressure to step down, Mali's junta announced late on Friday it would begin a power handover in return for an amnesty from prosecution and the lifting of trade and other sanctions.
'It is the will of the committee to quickly move towards the transition,' coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo said at the barracks outside the capital Bamako which has been the headquarters of his two-week-old rule.
'In the next few days you will see a prime minister and a government in place,' Sanogo, sitting in an armchair in the middle of his cramped office, said in an interview with Reuters, France's i-tele and the Spanish-language channel Telesur.
A five-page accord agreed by Sanogo and the 15-state West African bloc ECOWAS for a return to constitutional order did not specify when the handover would start. The agreement calls for Toure, who is still in hiding, to formally resign. Sanogo's junta must then make way for a unity government with Mali's parliament speaker Diouncounda Traore as interim president.
Sanogo won't exactly go away, however...
Elections would follow as soon as allowed by the widespread lack of security in the north, now mostly overrun by Tuaregs accompanied by groups of Islamists with links to Al Qaeda.
In an interview with Burkina Faso state radio before he flew back to Mali on Saturday, Traore said the top priority was to restore order to Mali's state institutions after the coup and to deal with 'this problem of the north'.
'Our goal is the territorial integrity of Mali and the pursuit of our democratic project,' Traore said of a state which had been viewed as one of the region's more stable democracies. He made no comment to reporters as he arrived in Bamako later.
Sanogo, dressed in battle fatigues and showing signs of tiredness, called on ECOWAS countries to help the Malian army with transport and logistics rather than send ground troops as they are discussing.
'The Malian army still needs help precisely on logistics and air support but not ground troops to help us solve the security problem in northern Mali,' he said.
'We have to sit and talk. If they want to help us it should be according to our needs,' added Sanogo, surrounded by aides and sitting beneath a large portrait of himself on the wall.
The African Union, ECOWAS and foreign capitals from Paris to Washington all dismissed Friday's declaration by the Tuareg-led MNLA rebels of the independent state of 'Azawad', a desert region bigger than France in Mali's north. Neighbours fear secession would encourage such movements in their own countries, while the presence of Islamists among the rebels has raised fears of the emergence of a rogue state with echoes of Taleban-era Afghanistan which sheltered Al Qaeda.
EGYPT'S powerful spy chief under the deposed president Hosni Mubarak has roiled the country's presidential race by announcing his candidacy and presenting himself as the best choice for restoring security and prosperity.
Omar Suleiman's announcement was widely seen as a game changer in the landmark election scheduled for next month. The prospect of his return to power would have been laughable a year ago, when he vanished from public view after sombrely announcing the country's long-time autocratic ruler was stepping down.
But much has changed since that afternoon of February 11 last year. Islamists have thrived in the country's newly open political system, alarming secular Egyptians and Western nations that would like to see non-Islamists leading Egypt. In addition, a large segment of Egyptian society has come to yearn for the safety and relative prosperity that prevailed until the popular uprising sent the economy into a tailspin and eroded the pillars of the country's police state.
Mr Suleiman's candidacy broadens a field of front runners dominated by Islamists. Political analysts said his entry, coming just days after he publicly ruled out a presidential bid, suggests the ruling military council opted to anoint him as a contender, possibly in response to the Muslim Brotherhood's decision to field a candidate and robust support for more hard-line Islamist candidates. It offers Egyptians their clearest choice yet between the old order and the new: a contender who is an old hand of the Mubarak-era security establishment facing off against Islamists who were banned from politics under the government he served.
''It just became a more interesting race, because it has become increasingly clear the regime has not collapsed,'' the chairman of the history department at the American University in Cairo, Khaled Fahmy, said. ''This represents the realisation that the stand-off with Islamists in parliament is very serious to them.''
Mr Suleiman, a former army general, has remained largely invisible since the final days of Mr Mubarak's rule, during which he served briefly as vice-president. Unlike the ousted president and several of his senior loyalists, Mr Suleiman has not been put on trial.
The balding former spymaster was among Washington's closest backers in the Middle East in recent years, championing Egypt's unpopular alliance with neighbouring Israel. The agency he ran played a big role in the rendition of US terrorism suspects.
SANAA/ADEN - Yemen's president removed a half brother of former leader Ali Abdullah Saleh on Friday as head of the air force, replacing nearly 20 top officers but leaving Saleh's son, nephew and other allies in place as heads of important military units.
Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who had served as Saleh's deputy, took power in February after standing as the only candidate in a presidential election, part of a deal negotiated by Yemen's Gulf neighbours for Saleh to step down after 33 years in power.
State news agency Saba said Hadi appointed General Rashed Ali Nasser al-Jund as air force commander, replacing Saleh's half brother, General Mohammed Saleh Al Ahmar, who was made an assistant to the defence minister. Under the power transfer deal, Hadi is tasked with reunifying the army, which had split during the year-long uprising against Saleh's rule, with some units openly siding with protesters.
Saba said that a senior army officer loyal to dissident General Ali Mohsen, who broke away from Saleh after the protests began, was also replaced. The reshuffle did not affect Brigadier General Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh, the ex-president's son and commander of the Republican Guards, or Saleh's nephew, Brigadier General Yehia Mohammed Abdullah Saleh, who heads the paramilitary Central Security Forces.
Also replaced were the governors of four provinces, including that of Taiz, a staunch Saleh ally who led a bloody crackdown against protesters, and the governor of southern Abyan province, where al Qaeda's regional wing has seized swathes of territory.
"This is the largest military shake-up in recent times. It took many by surprise," said Mohammed Albasha, spokesman for Yemen's embassy in Washington.
Analysts said Hadi appeared to have tried to be balanced, by replacing officials from both rival camps.
"The decisions show that President Hadi is distinguished as a responsible commander. I believe the decisions have been taken in consultation with all political parties," Yemeni analyst Ali Saif Hassan said.
[AFP] - The trial opened in Soddy Arabia on Saturday of 50 Al-Qaeda suspects accused of carrying out and plotting attacks in the kingdom, including US and British interests, state news agency SPA reported.
It said 47 Saudis, a Syrian and a Yemeni national went on trial in the specialised criminal court in Riyadh.
They are accused of "joining a terror cell in the country belonging to Al-Qaeda terrorist network, plotting ... to blow up" residential compounds and a public building, and killing an American citizen.
They also face charges of plotting to "blow up the US and British embassies in Riyadh, planning to assassinate a top Saudi state official and top security officers, as well as opening fire on security forces," SPA reported.
The defendants, five of whom appeared in court on Saturday, allegedly possessed weapons and smuggled heavy arms from Iraq into the kingdom "to serve the terrorist network," it added.
In June last year, 85 suspects facing similar charges also went on trial in a special Saudi security court.
In April 2011, a judicial source said 5,080 terror suspects either faced trial or had already been tried before the special court which has come in for criticism from lawyers.
Soddy Arabia was the target of a wave of deadly attacks by Al-Qaeda between 2003 and 2006, prompting authorities to launch a crackdown on the local branch of the jihadist network.
Al-Qaeda remains active in neighbouring Yemen, where the Saudi and Yemeni franchises of Al-Qaeda has joined forces under the banner of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
It is classified by the United States as the most active branch of the global terror network.
Brazilian media is reporting that ailing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will make an emergency trip to Brazil after allegedly suffering intestinal burns during his radiation treatment in Cuba.
Differential diagnosis based on what little we know includes radiation enteritis, an inflammation of the bowel from the radiation beam hitting it, chemotherapy induced colitis (similar), colonic infection (C diff), obstruction (not mutually exclusive with enteritis), bladder inflammation from radiation (cystitis), metastatic spread of his tumor (whatever the primary location was) and certain other things. The enteritis could be significant, particularly if he has an obstruction, and metastatic spread would be ominous for him.
Chavez, who in June of last year revealed that Cuban doctors had removed a cancerous tumor from his abdominal region, has been going back-and-forth from the island nation for treatment. The Venezuelan leader had returned to his country on Wednesday night from radiation treatment in Cuba.
"So far, fortunately there hasn't been any adverse reaction to the treatment," Chavez said Wednesday, according to The Associated Press. "All the exams that have been carried out have shown positive results of physical recovery."
However, the Brazilian daily O Globo reported a rumor from Venezuelan journalist Nelson Bocaranda that Chavez could be headed to the hospital Sirio e Libanęs in Sao Paulo.
One wonders why his own country can't take care of him. They used to have decent health care for the middle class and wealthy...
"People close to Chavez fear that it is too late for a new treatment here in Brazil, which could have started long ago with the offer made by President (Ignacío Lula da Silva) and President Dilma (Rousseff)," O Globo reporter Merval Pereira wrote.
Chavez refused treatment in Brazil due to the Brazilian hospital not being able to provide the level of security and privacy he wanted, including blocking off hospital doors and searching all hospital visitors while Chavez was interred.
He could have pretended to be a Saudi and gone to the Cleveland Clinic...
Wait -- interred? It's a Fox News report, so that can't be a language issue...
The rumors of Chavez's trip to Brazil cast not only his chances in Venezuela's upcoming presidential elections in jeopardy, but more so his chances of winning his battle against cancer. While he has given little details about his treatment or his condition, Bocaranda seems to believe that the radiation applied in Cuba could have been improperly aimed and caused the burns.
There is also speculation that Chavez suffered intestinal problems that could have originated from the metastasis of his cancer.
Yup, either or both. He just might not make it to election day. That means there's going to be a shooting war in Venezuela real soon, as his Marxist pals will do everything and anything to stay in power.
Chavez refused treatment in Brazil due to the Brazilian hospital not being able to provide the level of security and privacy he wanted, including blocking off hospital doors and searching all hospital visitors while Chavez was interred.
Chavez refused treatment in Brazil due to the Brazilian hospital not being able to provide the level of security and privacy he wanted, including blocking off hospital doors and searching all hospital visitors while Chavez was interred.
Sorta makes me wonder if they did that on purpose.
There is a real possibility of dementia as the brain becomes involved.
"There is a real possibility of dementia as the brain becomes involved."
He's already there, cp - and has been for many years (or at least crazy).
Let's hope Yugo "emerges" in a coffin.
Posted by: Barbara ||
Hugo knew he was a marked man, but having an insatiable ego, he hoped to will the cancer away, like he did everything else. Having come face to face with his mortality, he still does not relinquish his power, but keeps in denial. Such it is with tyrants. What a legacy.
Posted by: Alaska Paul ||
Off to Brazil like OWG PAULA "DELILAH/BATHSHEBA" ABDUL, is He???
* "Suffered intestinal problems" - iIMO not speculation but fact, as once again AFAIK Hugo has had the cancer = "the Problem" since Milwaukee. Even then he couldn't handle certain foods. IFF 'OLE HUGO WANTED IT TO BE A MILITARY ANDOR STATE SECRET, ETC. HE NEVER ASKED OR SAID SO - OOOOOOOOOOOOPPPPPPSSSSSIES, HIS BAD.
As Dennis Miller pointed out, you are welcome here for treatment, Chavez, except most of the awesome Doctors may be JOOS, and we are also the Great Satan. But it could save your life from obamacare, or whatever you installed in your own country.
I know you asked for Mercy, but it is kind of like not popping off to Father right after HE cursed you.
Anyways, good luck with all that man.
Best thing about this letter to you, Chavez, is, it does not cost a stamp.
But Pay off Fred next time you see Breitbart! Both quality of the same solid cut of stone.
In Cuba, the pleasant, subtle lingering odor of sulphur is still gently wafting through the streets of Havana since Hugo Chavez humbly returned to his beloved Venezuela after having been the recipient of the total Chi-Com organ-harvest "re-set" .
"Yugo" reportedly contacted fellow demon George Soros to say that "he felt wonderful and was robustly preparing to oppress anyone and everyone everywhere.
Translated and rewritten from a Spanish language Associated Press report
The Los Zetas criminal organization recruits Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) AKA Las Maras, gang members for training in paramilitary camps in Guatemala, according to Guatemalan authorities.
Los Zetas use their Las Maras recruits in the Guatemalan capital to distract the actions and resources of the authorities in order to ensure control of rural land corridors used for narcotics smuggling. Las Maras also provide intelligence support through their organization according to Stuart Velasco, chief coordinator of the task forces of the Ministry of Interior.
Las Maras use their training to improve their criminal operations and to make more money. Perquisites include access to military training, high-powered weapons and drugs for sale or own consumption, he added.
"In this nexus with Los Zetas, MS-13 is more capable of articulation, strategy and capacity for maneuver," said Velasco.
"According to our intelligence sources, Los Zetas are looking to recruit 5,000 gang members. Their strategy is to concentrate the MS-13 chaos in the cities to maintain corridors for the shipment of drugs inside the country."
By expanding its operations to Guatemala, the first base of Los Zetas was to recruit soldiers in the country, said Velasco.
He said that the recruitment of Kaibiles, or Guatemalan special forces trained in counterinsurgency operations began in the province of Peten.
"There is a Kaibiles school in Petan, and there are many who live in that area. So, even with what little they earn, it was difficult for Los Zetas to bribe them with money. Additionally, Los Zetas needed the knowledge and training of the Guatemalans to operate in Guatemala" he said.
"The most important and dangerous are Los Zetas because not only do they engage in drug trafficking, they also take control of the criminal structure and completely take over all kinds of activities," said Velasco, who is coordinating police operations against criminal groups in the country.
"They know that the economic benefit is large and that Los Zetas, being a foreign group, need their networks to increase their operational level in Guatemala."
The initial information on the alliance between Las Maras and Los Zetas came after the arrest of 50 people linked to the slaughter on a Petén cattle farm on 14 May last year that left 27 people dead, 25 of them beheaded.
Velasco stressed that despite the close links between the MS-13 gangs, the ideological indoctrination that Los Zetas provides convinces them that if they get into it, Los Zetas can control all criminal activities.
"Obviously they are loyal to their gang members and leaders have to adopt the same mechanisms the Los Zetas have, to ensure the work of their new recruits,'' he said.
By moving to a second phase, integrating the MS-13 gang members, Los Zetas are making a difference within the family structure of gangs, who arrived in Guatemala in the 1990s when the United States accelerated deportations of criminals.
Miguel Angel Galvez, judge of drug trafficking, said the links are increasingly evident in the cases that are processed.
"Los Zetas are a group like the Las Maras and seize complete control (when captured) always carry a notebook where are listed all the people they are paid and what their roles are starting with mayors, judges and reaching the local criminals,'' said Galvez.
Scott Stewart, an analyst with the Stratfor intelligence company and a former diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala, said that gangs are increasingly willing to work with Los Zetas and the economic power of the criminal organization.
"Therefore, there is an incentive to belong to the organization or risk going out of business completely," he said.
The President of El Salvador, Mauricio Funes, reported on May 26, 2010, that organized crime groups like Los Zetas were trying to break into Honduras and El Salvador.
The race war is prolific here. It is worth scurry and maybe some delving. MS-13, Hezbollah, and other loving brands are now going against the Templars - lots of drug war kings arrested, many more to fill their place.
* ION DEFENCE.PK/FORUMS > RUSSAI TO FLATTEN GEORGIA IFF IRAN ATTACKED | RUSSIA EXPECTING ATTACK ON IRAN BY SUMMER , PLANS TO MOVE TROOPS TO PROTECT INTERESTS, POSSIBLE ISLAMIST ENCLAVE [agz US? Israeli? Milfors = attacks].
Methinks its more correct to say Russia is for Russia as usual + will "improve" its Borders vee perceived threats from Nuclear? Iran + Radical Islamist MilTerrs, Caucasus + CentAsia Insurgency, ISLAMIST-led? AFPAK, etc. by unilaterally forcibly extending it???
Lest we fergit, ROGOZIN = IRAN ATTACK IS A DIRECT MILITARY THREAT TO RUSSIA.
* SAME > IRAN TO LINK CASPIAN SEA WID PERSIAN GULF, as per Energy trade vee prosed 680-kms long Iran-Caspian Canal system.
Iran Energy Minister Majid Namjou.
IIUC, IRAN IS GIVING RIVAL TURKEY "DA BIRD" [Finger] AS PER TURKEY'S SIMILAR CANAL PROJECT.
The $$$ Russia spends on acquiring Drone Techs would be a serious change vee below.
* WORLD MIL FORUM > US EXPERTS SAY CHINA MAY BE DEVELOP "UNMANNED AIRCRAFT CARRIERS" TO SUBVERT TRADITIONAL NAVAL + AIR, OTHER WARFARE, POTEN IN TIME TO BECOME THE NUMBER ONE THREAT TO THE US NAVY. RUSSIA + INDIA MOSTLY DISINTERESTED IN DEV UNMANNED OR DRONE TECHNOLOGIES FOR PRIMARY/MAJOR COMBAT ROLES.
* SAME > CHINA COULD ASYMMETRICALLY COPY? DURING THE US-USSR COLD WAR IN THE EARLY 1960'S, TAIWAN'S MILITARY MULLED PROCURING BOEING + GENERAL ELECTRIC'S PROPOSED "SUBMARINE AIRCRAFT CARRIER" TO HELP THE US INTERCEPT SOVIET OR RED CHINESE STRATEGIC BOMBERS IN EARLY-STAGE/PHASE
"POINT DEFENSE". POST-COLD WAR MODERNIZATION OF CONCEPT AS "SUBMARINE DRONE STRIKE-BOMBER CARRIER" TO SINK THE US NAVY.
* SAME > EXPERTS: US-CHINA WORLD WAR MAY OCCUR IN 2027.
The US seemingly gets a 9-10 Yarn breather vee 1990's Net + then Sino-Russian "War agz US not only Possible but Desired circa Year 2018" - 9-11 + GWOT + NUCLEAR IRAN, NUCLEAR RADICAL ISLAM/MILTERRS NOTWITHSTANDING???
The Jamaat-ud-Dawa ...the front organization of Lashkar-e-Taiba... (JuD) chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed ...who would be wearing a canvas jacket with very long sleeves anyplace but Pakistain... called for people to wage jihad against America during a Friday sermon, saying it was needed to save Pakistain and Islam.
"Come to us. We will teach you the meaning of jihad... The time to fight has come," he said, according to AFP.
"This is the same jihad which caused the USSR to break and now America is failing because of it. Analysts and journalists don't realise why America is failing, the only reason is jihad."
"There are many parties in Pakistain, but America has only sent a message to Jamaat-ud-Dawa, because we do jihad," he said.
The sermon was held at the JuD head office Jamia Markaz al-Qadsia in Lahore, where Saeed had his own security.
AFP reported that some of the security personnel were also seen carrying weapons with silencers. A box was placed at the exit of the mosque and those present were asked to give funds for jihad.
He recently became the centre of attention after the US announced a $10 million reward for information which would enable him to be prosecuted and convicted in a court of law.
After Friday's sermon, a rally was taken to the Lahore press club which was joined by union traders, some Pakistain Mohammedan League - Nawaz leaders, other Difa-e-Pakistain Council (DPC) leaders and was led by Convener of Hurmat-e-Rasool Committee Ameer Hamza. Saeed himself did not participate in the rally but is one of the leaders of Difa-e-Pakistain, a an umbrella political party for many of Pakistain's hardline religious groups.
Hundreds of DPC activists protested the US "bounty" on Saeed, taking to the streets Friday while calling for "holy war" and torching a US flag.
Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said Thursday that the $10 million reward for information on Saeed would "further widen the trust deficit between the two countries," while opposition politicians also condemned it, calling it "mind boggling."
The reward for Saeed was announced by US Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman in India on Monday.
Ten Hindu families are said to migrate every year from Pakistain to India. But what of the poor Pak Hindus who don't have the means to escape?
Pandit Bhagat Lal Khokar shivers as he tightly clutches his little sack of timber and carefully siphons kerosene. He squats on the dark courtyard and prepares a large bonfire for Holika, the night before Holi. Amid the struggle, the old man informs me, "Bonfires purify the air of evil spirits."
Loh's Lahore has hosted Panditjee's family for six generations. Priesthood is inherited, and today, Bhagat Lal Khokhar is the pandit of the Valmik Mandir situated in Old Anarkali. His generation may be the last one here, as his children find solace in regular jobs and not temple duties. Living in a land obsessed with Islam, he's had to run the temple and his house without any government support by doing odd roadside jobs.
Hindus whispering in the temple are distracted by the sight and sound of Bhagat striking a match against the ancient brick floor. As the fire towers high, we follow him into the temple.
The main room of the dimly lit temple is preserved for the worship of Baba Guru Valmik Swami (Valmiki), the supreme 'Untouchable' deity, and the author of the Ramayana. The other houses a prayer room with mini statues and posters.
Excited Hindu children worship the statue amid squeals of innocent cheer and laughter. Once done prostrating, they crawl and rest against the wall. Anu, a 6-year old, starts reciting a naat she said she heard at school. The pandit's wife rushes in and silences her, warning her of dire consequences and unforgivable punishment if the Maharaaj (Panditjee) finds out. But the maharaaj is busy, immersed in praying and blessing everyone.
As the pooja ends, we exit the room and surround the bonfire. All ears turn towards Panditjee as he explains the origin of Holi. His frail hands tremble in the evening breeze as he tells the story of Holika and Prahalad.
According to Ratnaval, a 7th century Hindu drama, Holika was a female demon and the sister of Hiranyakashyap, the demon king. Hiranyakashyap considered himself ruler of the Universe, and higher than all the gods.
The percentage of Hindus in Pakistain has dropped from 16 percent in 1947 (after Partition and the exodus of non-Mohammedans) to 2 percent in 2010
The demon king hated his son Prahalad because he was a faithful devotee of Lord Vishnu. One day the king asked him, "Who is the greatest, God or I?" "God is," said the son, "you are only a king." The king was furious and decided to murder his son. But the king's attempts at murder went in vain. Prahalad survived being trampled by elephants, being thrown over a cliff, bitten by snakes, and attacked by soldiers.
Hiranyakashyap consulted his demon sister, Holika, for help in killing Prahalad. Holika made Prahalad sit in her lap as she settled in the middle of a fire. Holika's magical robe made her immune to fire, so she thought Prahalad would burn to death while she remained safe. But because Holika was indulging in evil, the divine powers made a fierce wind blow across the land, blowing both Pralahad and the magical robe away. Holika's immunity vanished and she was burned to ashes. Prahalad stayed true to his God Vishnu, who had protected him, and survived.
Later, Vishnu killed King Hiranyakashyap, and Prahalad ruled as a wise king in his father's palace. To celebrate this story, Hindus ignite large bonfires a day before Holi, often burning a dummy of Holika. The story established the moral that good always wins over evil, and those who seek to torment the faithful will be destroyed.
That moral now seems as remote as the 7th century itself. Today, evil wins over good and the faithful are destroyed and tormented.
How is it that the minorities of Pakistain, despite being promised equal rights by the founding father, continue to be reviled and tortured in the name of faith? Pandit Bhagat Lal Khokar's face reflects the sad reality and screams a thousand stories of discrimination and regret.
When I ask the Mohammedan shopkeepers for directions to the temple, they misguide me. Some want to know the reason for my 'visit'
He remembers a painful childhood filled with stories of how Mohammedan traders in his neighbourhood always fussed about sharing utensils with his family, yet never minding the money they gave them.
Almost every Hindu at the temple has a similar story of persecution to tell. To avoid dampening our spirits, Pandit Bhagat Lal resumes the rituals and starts running around the towering fire, singing Vedic chants and screaming 'Holika', his people following him in unison.
As Mohammedans, we elevate Arabic, an alien language, to unattainable heights of reverence. And yet witnessing the ancient Vedic texts of our land come to life in this way also stirs up emotions. The majority of Mohammedans in Pakistain are Mohammedans by birth, not by choice. Most of our ancestors were Hindus. Can it be so easy to kill the Hindu inside you?
How do I explain this feeling to Pandit Bhagat Lal Khokar?
It is only when a trusted mutual friend refers me to him that Panditjee agrees to meet me. While the temple is nestled in Anarkali, one of Lahore's most densely populated places, it is difficult to find. When I ask the Mohammedan shopkeepers for directions to the temple, they misguide me. Some want to know the reason for my 'visit'. When I inform them of my intention to photograph the temple and interview Hindus over there, they recommend me not to "waste my time". A call to the Panditjee reveals that the entrance is in a passageway, once called the Valmiki Street, neatly camouflaged behind a cart selling old clothes.
The Valmiki Mandir lacks the common statues found in most Hindu temples, and December 7, 1992, a day after the Babri Mosque was "martyred", explains everything.
On that fateful day, Bhagat Lal Khokhar and other Hindus prepared for the worst at the temple.
The ancient temple was attacked by men with sticks and hammers. Valmik's jewel-encrusted pre-Partition statue, built by a student of Punjab University, was destroyed. A white marble statue of Krishna was also destroyed. Surprisingly, no Hindus were harmed. The temple collapsed within minutes and the entire structure was set on fire.
Bhagat Lal Khokhar hid for fear of his life and many assumed that he had decamped to India. Six months later, he reopened the temple and resumed his duties amid the rubble.
The authorities were kind enough to allot them money for reconstruction. The remaining money came from members of the community. A part of a wall from the original construction as a reminder of what had happened has been preserved. A new Valmiki statue has replaced the original, whereas framed pictures continue to represent the idol of Krishna.
Panditjee is reluctant to talk about "forced conversions", but sums it up by saying that they've been taking place ever since Muhammad Bin Qasim and his men brought "Islam" upon the people of this land.
A Human Rights Commission of Pakistain (HRCP) report from 2010 informs us that at least 25 Hindu girls are kidnapped and converted by force in Pakistain every month. According to the report, the percentage of Hindus in Pakistain has dropped from 16 percent in 1947 (after Partition and the exodus of non-Mohammedans) to 2 percent in 2010. Yet three million Hindus continue to be the largest religious minority in Pakistain. The report states how in 1947, there were 428 functioning temples in the country, and now there are only 26. According to Indian sources, around ten rich Hindu families migrate from Pakistain to India every month. But for poorer Hindus like Bhagat Lal Khokar, escaping reality seems like a distant dream.
Continued on Page 49
Secularists feared by Sajid Mir
Daily Nawa-e-Waqt reported leader of Markazi Ahle Hadith as saying that if the religious parties went on quarrelling among themselves the secularists of Pakistain might come to power again.
Both are corrupt, as is the Army of the Pure, so the country loses regardless.
If the mullahs got together he said the people will 'give them note together with vote'.
How blasphemers are invented
Monthly Naya Zamana had a report from Nabil Anwar Dhaku Chakwal which told the story of how a Foreign Office clerk Mohammad Ishaq turned saint while in America was named blasphemer in Talagang and sentenced to death for insulting the Prophet PUBH by a judge in Adiala jail Rawalpindi after a scared judge in Jhelum had first gave him death. Ishaq became popular in Talagang as cult figure and his followers chanted 'Ya Rasul-Allah' which was interpreted by jealous Deobandis as insult. A judge refused to take the case because he was scared of the Deobandis but later another scared judge in Jhelum gave him death, confirmed in Adiala jail.
Indian Kashmire attacks Valentine's Day
According to monthly Naya Zamana Mohammedan women's organization led by Asia Andarabi went around stopping what they thought was Valentine's Day in the Valley. They were confronted by a couple in a restaurant who said they were about to be married and had come to the restaurant because it was their right. Asia retorted that even married couples were not allowed by Islam to celebrate Valentine's Day.
Heaven forfend, a Christian holiday celebrating the love of a man for a woman!
American, Iran and Ikhwan are enemies!
Daily Mashriq reported the police chief of Dubai as saying that the enemy of the Mohammedans were America, Iran and Ikhwan al Muslimoon in power in Egypt. Talking to a Kuwaiti paper he said that the region was under threat from the three.
But not the Juices. Why d'you suppose he missed that one?
Kayani as Salahuddin Ayubi
Writing in Jang famous columnist Haroon Rasheed stated that he greatly longed to write books about certain great people he revered and the first among them would be Dr Rafeeq Akhtar of Gujjar Khan known as the spiritual mentor of Imran Khan ... aka Taliban Khan, who ain't the sharpest bulb on the national tree... . Those who came after him as worthy of books authored by Haroon Rasheed were: Tipu Sultan, Jinnah and Salahuddin Ayubi. He said he had once called General Kayani ... four star general, current Chief of Army Staff of the Mighty Pak Army. Kayani is the former Director General of ISI... the Salahuddin Ayubi of Pakistain which was not liked by journalist, Ayaz Amir.
Brigadier Ali wanted to kill generals
Monthly Naya Zamana reported that Hizbut Tahrir ...an al-Qaeda recruiting organization banned in most countries. It calls for the reestablishment of the Caliphate... member Brigadier Ali Khan had planned to use Air Force planes to attack a corps commanders' meeting at the GHQ and thus kill all the generals in order to establish a Khilafat in Pakistain. Some Mohammedan civilians were also involved in the plot but all of them were British citizens.
Two kinds of storms
Writing in Jang Hamid Mir said that there were two kinds of storm (toofan): the first was ones created by Nature and they were genuine against which can be no human resistance. The second kind was invented by the human mind which in fact was turbulence of one mind which some wished to transfer to other minds. This storm was a mental storm and was composed of conspiracies. The first genuine storm was desi (home-made) while the second one was valayati and internationally linked. This valayati storm was not understood but every time it appealed to the people as social revolution it brought on the government of military rule.
Afghan Taliban leader killed in jug
Reported in monthly Naya Zamana, Afghan Taliban leader Maulana Ubaidullah Akhund was killed in jug in Bloody Karachi ...formerly the capital of Pakistain, now merely its most important port and financial center. It may be the largest city in the world, with a population of 18 million, most of whom hate each other and many of whom are armed and dangerous... after being locked away in 2007 from Balochistan ...the Pak province bordering Kandahar and Uruzgun provinces in Afghanistan and Sistan Baluchistan in Iran. Its native Baloch propulation is being displaced by Pashtuns and Punjabis and they aren't happy about it... . Akhund was army chief of defence under Mullah Umar and belonged to Qandahar. He was released the same year but was relocked away in 2008 and kept in jail in Bloody Karachi where he died of heart attack, according to official sources. (Another commander of Mullah Umar - Dadullah - was locked away in 2010 from Sindh.)
I'm finding it hard to work up the proper level of indignation...
Sindh Assembly and English
Daily Express reported that the Sindh Assembly got hot when one lady MPA Shazia Marri stated that she was offended by the English language used in a draft resolution by an opposition lady MPA named Marvi Rashdi. She told her that her English was wrong and she had no manners. Rashdi responded by saying Marri did not use normal makeup but applied think paint on her face. The speaker had to stop proceedings of the house.
Did they speak in English so all could understand, or did one speak Sindhi and the other Aer?
Mansoor Ijaz and state agencies
Writing in Jang Hamid Mir stated that Mansoor Ijaz was known to him from the past as a plotter against Pakistain but some state agencies were attracted to him despite the fact that he had persuaded Musharraf to declare ceasefire in Kashmire which set the liberation movement against itself and against Pakistain. But those who spoke against Mansoor Ijaz as an enemy of Pakistain were accused by the agencies of being kafir.
Which ends all discussion.
Wife of Shakeel Afridi dismissed
Reported in Monthly Naya Zamana, a health officer with the government Shakeel Afridi was given Congressional Gold Medal for helping the US to get to the late Osama bin Laden ... who no longer exists... in Abbottabad ... A pleasant city located only 30 convenient miles from Islamabad. The city is noted for its nice weather and good schools. It is the site of Pakistain's military academy, which was within comfortable walking distance of the residence of the late Osama bin Laden.... and kill him. He was a surgeon in Khyber Agency but moved to Abbottabad to conduct fake polio ...Poliomyelitis is a disease caused by infection with the poliovirus. Between 1840 and the 1950s, polio was a worldwide epidemic. Since the development of polio vaccines the disease has been largely wiped out in the civilized world. However, since the vaccine is known to make Moslem pee-pees shrink and renders females sterile, bookish, and unsubmissive it is not widely used by the turban and automatic weapons set... tests. The government in Beautiful Downtown Peshawar moved - after his arrest and subsequent case of treason against him - to dismiss also his wife who was principal of Darra Adamkhel Girls Degree College from her job.
From 'farangi' slave to 'Amrikan' slave
Quoted in Nawa-e-Waqt leader of JUI Maulana Fazlur Rehman Deobandi holy man, known as Mullah Diesel during the war against the Soviets, his sympathies for the Taliban have never been tempered by honesty ... said that the rulers of Pakistain had converted from Pakistain from the slaves of farangi (British) to slaves of America. After that the country was made insecure and the rulers began to loot it through corruption while extending the begging bowl to enemies of Pakistain.
Why destroy Osama's house so quickly?
Columnist Ishtiaq Beg wrote in Jang that it was perhaps not proper to demolish the house of Osama bin Laden in great haste. Many people may have doubts as to the motives behind the destruction of the house. The place could have been preserved as a school for girls or a public library. But there was also the consideration that the house could become a centre of attention for the lovers of Osama bin Laden.
Government hiding facts about Osama
Famous historian an ex-Intelligence Bureau officer Dr Safdar Mehmood wrote in Jang that the government will not reveal everything about the residence of Osama bin Laden and the incident of May 2 when the Americans came and killed Osama. Likewise Aimal Kansi
...the thoroughly odious man who came to the U.S. on a forged Pakistani passport and shot five CIA employees at Langley in 1993 before escaping back to Pakistan. The Pashtun relatives he fled to sold him to the CIA for the multi-million dollar reward. Mr. Kansi was returned to America, properly tried and convicted. The death sentence was carried out in 2002. All sorts of interesting people attended his funeral in Pakistan, and a mosque was built to memorialize his martyrdom.
was hiding in a remote hotel when the CIA was allowed to pick him up take him to the US and get him sentenced to death.
Wukla go on the rampage
Reported in Express lawyers in Lahore called wukla for their violent conduct beat up a civilian judge in Lahore and threw him out of the court. One lawyer named Iftikhar Bhatti first demanded that the judge give his judgement on his advice. When this was not done he became violent. Other wukla joined and beat up the judge. On seeing this, the judges in other courts got scared and struck work.
Continued on Page 49
Reported in Monthly Naya Zamana, a health officer with the government Shakeel Afridi was given Congressional Gold Medal for helping the US to get to Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad and kill him. He was a surgeon in Khyber Agency but moved to Abbottabad to conduct fake polio tests. The government in Peshawar moved - after his arrest and subsequent case of treason against him - to dismiss also his wife who was principal of Darra Adamkhel Girls Degree College from her job.
[AFP] - An online video shows Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, Saddam Hussein's vice president and the highest-ranking member of his regime still on the run, in what appears to be his first video message since 2003.
The authenticity and date of the clip posted on YouTube on Saturday could not be verified.
It is the first message in years alleged to be from Duri, 70, who was the king of clubs in a US decks of cards showing the most-wanted members of Saddam's regime.
The Baath party, the ruling party in Saddam's Iraq, said Duri had died in 2005, but audio messages attributed to him were broadcast in 2006, 2008 and 2010.
The hour-long clip was posted online on the 65th anniversary of the 1947 founding of the Baath party, which came to power in Syria in 1963 and in Iraq in 1968, in both instances following coups.
At the beginning of the video, a man in a military uniform introduces Duri and calls him the "high commander of jihad (holy war) and liberation ... and the general secretary of the Baath party."
Duri, dressed in a drab green military uniform and black beret, reads remarks from sheets of paper, his hands shaking, and sometimes stumbles over the words.
"Our Baath (party), on its 65th anniversary, is in a major historic war," he said. "I call on this ... occasion for all the progressive resistance forces and all the national Islamic resistance forces to work for the liberation" of Iraq.
He alleged that "the political process today is ... for the benefit of Iran, which is carrying the most dangerous project for the Persians, with the intention of taking over Iraq and then destroying the nation."
Duri also spoke about Syria, criticising the reaction of Arab states against Hereditary President-for-Life Bashir Pencilneck al-Assad One of the last of the old-fashioned hereditary iron-fisted fascist dictators... 's regime, which has been carrying out a bloody crackdown on an uprising against his rule.
"We are with the Syrian people and with its legitimate rights, and with its peaceful uprising," he said.
But addressing Arab states, he said: "What is wrong with? You did everything against the Syrian regime, and you reached the point of calling for armies to invade Syria and erase its people, as happened in Iraq and Libya."
Once upon a time, not so very long ago as history is measured, the Turks ruled over Arabia with a strong hand. Though Turkey is now but a small rump of her former glory, the Turks have not forgotten that once they were chosen by their god to rule over the others in all the part of the world that mattered.
Turkey's top imam blasted the Saudi grand mufti's call to "destroy all the churches" in the Gulf region, saying that the announcement is in total contradiction to the peaceful teachings of the Moslem religion.
So true. But consonant with the violent teachings of the Muslim religion, which were revealed later and therefore supersede the earlier ones, we are told. But shhhh! Don't say it where the kufrs can hear, lest they become suspicious and wary.
Speaking to Today's Zaman, Mehmet Görmez, head of the Religious Affairs Directorate, said he cannot accept the Islamic religious order --fatwa -- issued by Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh, adding that the mufti's remarks run contrary to the centuries-old Islamic teachings of tolerance and the sanctity of institutions belonging to other religions.
How fare the Christians in Turkey, Imam Gormez? Have you yet given back the Hagia Sofia? Have you permitted the Halki Theological Seminary to reopen, that new priests might be trained?
He emphasized that Islam has always respected religious freedom.
So long as jizya is paid and the sultan isn't feeling cranky...
"The opinion of the grand mufti also obviously contradicts the agreements that the Prophet of Islam signed with the non-Moslem communities both in Medina and in the region. It also plainly overlooks the right of immunity given by Islam to the holy shrines and temples of other religions on the basis of the rule of law throughout its history," Görmez explained.
Sheikh Abdulaziz reportedly made the controversial statement during a meeting with a delegation from the Kuwait-based Society of the Revival of Islamic Heritage in response to a query about Shariah law concerning the construction of churches in Moslem countries. He issued the fatwa in March, saying that further church building should be banned and existing Christian houses of worship should be destroyed.
Görmez slammed Abdulaziz, stating, "We strongly believe that this declaration has left dark shadows upon the concept of rights and freedoms in Islam that have always been observed on the basis of its sources, and it will not be recorded as an opinion of Islam." He also added, "We, therefore, entirely reject the aforementioned opinion and hope that it will be amended as soon as possible."
Turkey's top Moslemholy man challenged the Saudi grand mufti's assertions on the established principles in Islam. "We believe that the mentioned opinion is evidently against the aims of Islam, especially in a region that witnessed the descent of the Holy Koran and the first application of the Sunnah of the Prophet. It is against the Moslem tradition's established practice of respecting non-Moslems' rights as well," he noted.
An old question, Pappy. I remember as a kid seeing a newspaper photo of protesters waving signs at Eisenhower, saying "Don't sell me to Saud, Ike". A reference to the fact they still acknowledged slavery at the time (as opposed to the unacknowledged slavery they still practice with their "servants". Given such a long-standing distaste for things Saudian, there can be only one reason they're still so favored by DC.... their cute little curly-toed slippers, no doubt.
their cute little curly-toed slippers, no doubt
I think that anyone who reads Rantburg knows why there's still a relationship with the Sauds.
Unfortunately we have this problem where, anyone with half a mind to post here (and unfortunately there's far too many) seems to think that everyone but them is clueless and it is their sacred duty to point that out why there's "only one reason they're still so favored by DC" ad absurdium.
It's the same I-am-the-only-one-with-The-Answer mindset was the "Wake Up America" crowd (which we get all far too often).
Iran's state TV says the country's navy has rescued 28 crew members of a Chinese ship hijacked by pirates.
The Saturday broadcast says the Iranian navy also detained nine Somali pirates in the operation in the Arabian Sea in the north of the Indian Ocean. And released them. In the middle of the night. Must not have been any political advantage in charging them with spying or something.
The pirates attacked the ship Friday but they surrendered after Iranian navy sent warships to rescue the crew and free the ship. The freighter was carrying iron and was heading to a port in southwestern Iran.
Both the attack and the rescue operations were carried out in international waters.
Iran has clashed with pirates on several occasions in the past and freed ships captured by them.
ANKARA, Turkey: Turkey's prime minister says the country will wait "patiently" to see if Syria abides by a cease-fire deadline, but may take certain "steps" if the violence does not stop after that.
How fascinating! I wonder what they will do, given the top ranks of the military are now languishing in jail. Are the middle ranks ready to take over and execute whatever bright ideas Prime Minister Erdogan might have?
Recep Tayyip Erdogan did not specify Saturday what measures Turkey would take. But Ankara has in the past floated the idea of creating a buffer zone inside Syria if refugee flows become overwhelming.
WASHINGTON: The United States released satellite images on Friday that it said showed Syria has artillery poised to hit residential areas and has moved some forces from one town to another despite calls for a withdrawal.
The point of this little exercise: Pencilneck lied. But then, you knew that...
I imagine they have similar images of Iran. Are they sharing those, too?
Robert Ford, the US ambassador to Syria, posted the commercial satellite images on Facebook in what seemed an effort to pressure Syrian President Bashar Assad to pull back forces as called for in a peace plan devised by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. While Ford said Syrian forces had indeed withdrawn from some areas, he cited media reports that they had fired artillery at residential areas in several towns over the last two days and had carried out "arrest sweeps" in Damascus suburbs.
"This is not the reduction in offensive Syrian government security operations that all agree must be the first step for the Annan initiative to succeed," Ford, who left Damascus when the US embassy was closed in February, said on Facebook.
"The regime and the Syrian people should know that we are watching. The regime cannot hide the truth," he added.
Annan's plan, accepted by Assad two weeks ago, calls for Syria to "immediately cease troop movements toward, and end the use of heavy weapons in, population centers, and begin pullback of military concentrations in and around population centers."
Annan has set April 10 as a deadline for the Syrian troop withdrawal and April 12 a cease-fire. On Thursday, Annan said he was told by Damascus that troop withdrawals were underway from Idlib, as well as Zabadani and Daraa. But UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Friday the conflict was worsening and attacks on civilian areas persisted.
It is not easy for an untrained eye to see the details in the satellite images Ford posted on Friday on the Facebook page. A US official who asked not to be identified said the images were provided by a commercial satellite. The images were marked with arrows and tank symbols that Ford said indicated the presence of armored vehicles.
Ford said the images showed the withdrawal of tanks from Dael in Daraa province as well as from Taftanaz, a village east of Idlib city in Idlib province. However, Ford said "the Syrian government simply moved some armored vehicles out of Taftanaz to the nearby town of Zirdana."
Other images carried arrow markings and a caption that said the Syrian government had "kept artillery units near residential areas" such as in Homs and Zabadani "where they could again fire upon them."
It was the second time Ford has posted satellite photos to try to show proof of Syria targeting residential neighborhoods. The earlier images were released on Feb. 10.