An explosion aimed at Nato peacekeepers has killed an Afghan civilian and wounded 13 people, including a German peacekeeper, in northern Afghanistan, police said. The blast, caused by a remotely controlled device attached to a bicycle, went off on Wednesday as a group of peacekeepers were shopping in the northern town of Kunduz, police chief Mutalib Beg said. "It killed the shopkeeper and wounded 13 people, all of whom were civilians except a German soldier from ISAF," he said.
An ISAF official in Kabul confirmed that the attack was aimed at its troops but said he had no more details. During the past few months, Taliban fighters and their al-Qaida allies have targeted ISAF peacekeepers in attacks. Most of the casualties have been Afghan civilians.
The ISAF has more than 9000 soldiers stationed in Afghanistan. Most of them are in Kabul and the relatively peaceful north and west, but there are plans for them to take over responsibility in the south to allow US forces to reduce their strength in Afghanistan. During the past year, nearly 70 foreign troops have been killed, mostly in the south and east, making it one of the bloodiest periods since US-led forces overthrew a Taliban government for habouring al-Qaida leader Osama bin Ladin in 2001.
Sporadic gunfire rung out in the Somali capital despite a ceasefire agreement signed by warring factions after days of battles that killed at least 33 people and left hundreds wounded.
"The two sides have accepted the ceasefire proposed by traditional elders," Ugas Abd-dahil Ugas Mohamed, a prominent Somali elder, told AFP in the evening.
The redeployment of militia back into their stronghold from the battle zone will start on Thursday morning, he said, after truce talks in the Peace Hotel in southern Mogadishu.
Recent clashes pitted gunmen backed by the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism (ARPCT) -- a coalition of warlords -- against Islamic court militia.
At least 33 people were killed and hundreds wounded in the fighting, thousands of families were displaced and dozens of houses ruined by bombs, Mohamed said.
Despite the truce, gunshots were still heard along a key road in southern Mogadishu's Daynile district.
The capital remained isolated, without public transport or signs of civilians.
Heavily-armed militia patrolled the area littered with shell casings, fragments of rockets, ammunition boxes and remains of militia food rations.
Witnesses said the skirmishes began on Saturday moments after the warlords launched the ARPCT, an initiative believed to be backed by Washington. It is aimed at curbing the influence of Islamic extremism in Somalia and fighting the possible presence of terrorists there.
Critics have accused the Islamic courts, which have set up a judicial system in Mogadishu, of having links to the Al-Qaeda network.
Western intelligence groups have long warned that the world's failure to support efforts to stabilise lawless Somalia risks allowing the country to become a breeding ground for Islamic extremism. They have expressed concern at the influence of the clerics.
"The mediation effort was accepted by both sides and that will end the fighting in Mogadishu south from now onwards," said another elder, Sultan Ali.
"The violators of the ceasefire will be seen as the enemy of the people of Mogadishu and Somalia," Ali added.
Elders said earlier the fighting was between subclans of the larger Hawiye clan and that it was sparked by an attempt to bring southern Mogadishu under the full control of one of the two groups, which was rejected by the head of Islamic courts.
"It was the satanic alliance (warlords) that ignited the violence, fired the first shot and it is up to the them if the want to stop the violence. The Islamic court has accepted the suggestion of elders," said Sheik Shariff, the head of the influential Mogadishu Joint Islamic Courts.
The truce comes hours after the UN secretary general's special envoy to Somalia, Francois Fall, urged the factions to end hostilities and stop harming civilians trapped in indiscriminate crossfire.
It also comes as factions in the splintered Somalia transitional government prepare to hold their first parliamentary session in the town of Baidoa, about 250 kilometres (155 miles) west of Mogadishu, on February 26.
Posted by: Mike Kozlowski ||
02/23/2006 12:20 Comments ||
Since we did not finish the job in Somalia in the 1990s, we will eventually have to go back in there and clean up the mess. Just like with Iran, the infection can only be allowed to fester so long before it has to be lanced or it will kill the body.
Warring Somali factions have clinched a ceasefire agreement to end days of fighting in Mogadishu that killed at least 33 people, mostly civilians, and left hundreds others wounded, elders said.
Damn. That's too bad.
"The two sides have accepted the ceasefire proposed by traditional elders," Ugas Abd-dahil Ugas Mohamed, a prominent Somali elder, said on Wednesday. "The next stage of the negotiations will start on Thursday morning, which is the redeployment of militia back into their stronghold from the battlezone," he said after truce talks that were held in Peace Hotel in southern Mogadishu. The clashes pitted gunmen backed by the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism (ARPCT) - a coalition of warlords - against Islamic court militia.
You just can't ask for better shootout participants than that...
Witnesses said skirmishes, along a road in southern Mogadishu's Daynile district, began on Saturday after the warlords launched the ARPCT. The initiative is thought to be backed by Washington.
And money well spent, I might add...
At least 33 people were killed and hundreds wounded, thousands of families were displaced and dozens of houses ruined by bombs in the fighting, Mohamed said. "The mediation effort was accepted by both sides, and that will end the fighting in Mogadishu south from now onwards," said another elder, Sultan Ali. "The warring groups full-heartedly accepted the ceasefire, and any group that violates the ceasefire will be seen as criminals who want to continue killing innocent people," he said.
"If they do that, by golly we'll shoot it out with 'em!"
Elders had earlier said the fighting was between the Mursade and Habergider subclans of the larger Hawiye clan. It was sparked by an attempt to bring southern Mogadishu under the full control of one of the two groups, which was rejected by the head of the Islamic courts, they said. "It was the satanic alliance (warlords) that ignited the violence, fired the first shot and it is up to them if they want to stop the violence. The Islamic court has accepted the suggestion of elders," said Sheik Shariff, the head of the influential Mogadishu Joint Islamic Courts. "Anybody who describes the violences as interclan fighting is lying," he said.
The Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC) distributed in late-January 2006 to jihadist forums the sixth issue of Al-Jamaa, a periodic magazine devoted to issues of the Algerian jihad. This issue, 36-pages in length and commemorating the occasion of Eid al-Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice, contains articles contrasting the faith and resolve of the mujahideen vis-à-vis the Muslim people in general, and renegade rulers in particular; congratulating the mujahideen in Iraq; disparaging Algerian President Abd al-Aziz Bouteflika and Algerian press for fabricating and aggrandizing claims of victory against Algerian mujahideen; and a vivid and lengthy description of a battle between fourteen mujahideen and Algerian authorities in the Sahara desert, near a village called Hajira, during the month of Ramadan.
An editorial opening the magazine lauds the mujahideen in Iraq for their victories accompanied by the beginning of the countdown for the American cowboy, and argues that jihad is the only language understood by the enemy and should be taken into account by the Muslim nation. This is followed by a piece titled, Between Two Festival, by Salah Abu Muhammad, that draws a dichotomy between those Muslims who are concerned more about materialistic and ostensibly Western values during Eid al-Adha, and the mujahideen in the cold mountains who would rather care about jihad. The article states: How will they slaughter, during the days of this blessed festival, a herd of renegades? If only their swords could do their work on crusading or Jewish targets! Or at least: how can they blow up a bomb? In the same vein, the article, Patience Increases Victory, serves to explain that only those Muslims who embrace patience and jihad will attain Paradise.
Another section of the magazine reports current events in the Islamic world community, including the speech by Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri in which he demanded that the idiot Bush confess his defeat at the hands of the Mujahideen, mujahideen operations in Iraq allegedly rendering 40,000 Americans killed, collaborations between the Algerian government and the enemies of the Ummah, and arrest campaigns in Morocco, which the GSPC interprets: It seems that exposing terrorist cells has become a preferred hobby carried out by this collaborating regime in order to prove to its Jewish and Christian masters that is a loyal dog of theirs. This section also elaborates upon the impression of Bouteflikas fading on the reconciliation initiative. The Algerian newspapers allegedly collaborating with the Algerian president are also thrashed in the article, Hired Newspapers and Imprisoned Facts, written by Abu Abdullah Ahmad, in which he argues that the publications condemned the purported maltreatment of Muslims in Iraq by American soldiers, yet do not write of the maltreatment of Algerian mujahideen. They also question why the mujahideen have not been interviewed to present their views.
Other myriad articles express condolences for the death of Abu Omar al-Seif, a religious leader and purported al-Qaeda leader in the Chechen jihad, describe operations executed by the GSPC, and criticize a partnership between Algeria and the European Union, believing that the EU seeks to use Algeria as a cultural foothold to rebuild the geopolitical map in the Islam world.
How will they slaughter, during the days of this blessed festival, a herd of renegades? If only their swords could do their work on crusading or Jewish targets! Or at least: how can they blow up a bomb?
At least 76 people have been killed as religious violence continues to rage across Nigeria, with Christian and Muslim gangs on the streets in several cities. Rioters armed with machetes and shotguns roamed the streets of the predominately Christian city of Onitsha in the south of the country on Wednesday. There were three more deaths on Wednesday, with residents saying that gangs took to the streets apparently seeking revenge for a Muslim attack on a Christian primary school.
The wave of violence began in the northern city of Maiduguri on Saturday after protests against Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad spread and 30 churches were razed to the ground. Eighteen people, mostly Christians, were killed. Similar sectarian violence recurred on Monday and Tuesday in the northern city of Bauchi, where Red Cross officials say 25 people were killed when Muslim mobs attacked Christians. In Onitsha, residents and witnesses said two mosques were burned down and least 30 people were killed on Tuesday, most of them northern Muslims. Several local newspapers reported 30 to 35 dead as a result of the violence, apparently a response to the earlier attacks on Christians. Thousands of Muslims, originally from the north of the country, fled to the citys military barracks. One Onitsha resident, Isotonu Achor, said: "There are reports that some of the northerners attacked a primary school near the barracks this morning and killed some children".
"Schools have quickly closed and thousands of people carrying machetes, some with guns, are rushing toward the military barracks. It could be bloody," he said.
Thousands of Bahraini Shiites organized several marches that lasted well into the night on Wednesday hours after Iraqs top Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, called for demonstrations over the bombings that destroyed the shrine of Imam Ali al-Mahdi and Hassan al-Askari in Samarra, Iraq.
Thousands took part in the protest that was organized in the capital Manama, but at least three other protests organized in Shiite villages attracted several hundred people.
Protesters blasted the bombing of Samarras Golden Mosque, which is dedicated to the imams Ali al-Hadi and his son Hassan al-Askari. The bombings destroyed the famous dome on the mosque, one of the four holiest Shiite sites in Iraq.
The angry protesters shouted slogans against Al-Qaeda and its supporters, accusing them of attempts to fuel sectarian hatred.
Many marched holding pictures showing the damaged dome and placards equating the attacks with the controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed published in Danish press.
In Manama, one protester shouted through a microphone that only those who have no love for the Prophet Mohammed would attack the resting places of his own blood.
The anger of protesters taking part in the spontaneous marches was also evident by top Shiite clerics in Bahrain.
Shiite Olama Islamic Council (OIC) chairman, Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qasem, during a ceremony held Wednesday night screamed Labeek ya Hussan, Labeek Ya Hadi, which means we will answer your calls Imam Hussan and Imam Hadi, sending the crowds into a frenzy as they shouted it out with him.
Eleven Bahraini Shiite Islamic societies issued a combined statement condemning the bombing and describing it as a cowardly and criminal act carried out by Takfeereah, which are groups that seek to paint Muslims who differ with them as infidels.
Bahrains Supreme Islamic Council (SIC), which represents Sunni and Shiite clerics, also condemned the attacks in a separate statement.
Both statements warned that those who carried out the attacks seek to destroy Sunni and Shiite unity.
Bahrain, which is ruled by a Sunni government, has a large Shiite population that reacts closely with developments affecting Shiites in the region particularly in Iran and Iraq because of the historical links.
You just don't have a major mosque pop its top and everyone just goes on with the day to day. Maybe the Shiites should develop a watch network that will start isolating the terrorists. They have the martyr thing down. Now they need to learn how to live.
This is a defining moment for Iraq. Al Q and the Iranians are doing their best effort to sink Iraq. The stakes for EVERYONE, friend and foe, have never been higher.
Posted by: Al-Aska Paul ||
02/23/2006 15:53 Comments ||
I wonder if these are the guys referred to in the Debka article? Or are they a second bunch?
The 17 are accused of forming an armed gang to carry out criminal acts against Americans in Yemen and Yemenis cooperating with Americans. They are alleged to have taken orders from the Al-Qaeda leader in Iraq, Jordanian Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi.
Prosecutors told the court the group had planned to carry out attacks on places frequented by Americans living in Yemen, including a five-star hotel in the southern port city of Aden. Some of the accused had returned from Iraq after Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi gave them orders to carry out attacks against Americans in Yemen, prosecutor Khaled Al-Mawri told the court. He said the suspects had prepared weapons, explosives and forged identity cards for the attacks, and that they had surveyed the targeted locations and drawn up maps.
Advance disclosure: Seven of 23 convicted al Qaeda terrorists who tunneled their way out of Yemen prison are captured They include Jamal Badawi, mastermind of the Oct. 12 2000 bombing attack on the USS Cole in which 17 US sailors perished. When a Yemeni force picked the escapees up in desolate Hadhramauth, ancestral homeland of their master, Osama bin Laden, it came upon a new 14-man al Qaeda network, geared ready in bomb vests for attacks on Western targets in Yemen.
I have a friend that is married to a Yemeni and lives there. Very successful business couple. Nice kids. 4 story house, big wall around the whole compound, bodyguards. The whole 9 yards. Power is spotty, water and sewer not reliable. With enough money, they buy and supply what they cannot get from municipal govt, which is everything. They do quite well, but always have to watch their collective sixes.
Posted by: Al-Aska Paul ||
02/23/2006 16:12 Comments ||
Alaska Paul, I'm gladder and gladder that Mr. Wife didn't take that assignment in Yemen. I tend not to notice bad people, so I probably would have done even worse there than your usual nice Jewish girl, daughter of a minor Israeli war hero would've done. Which would have annoyed the bodyguards no end, even if I did give them tea, after. ;-)
Police in Chechnya have detained several rebel suspects allegedly involved in attacks on Russian security forces, a source at the republic's Interior Ministry said Wednesday.
One of the detainees is suspected of complicity in an attack on a police car near the village of Tangi-Chu, in the southern province of Urus Martan, on October 2001, which left one policeman dead and one other wounded, the source said.
Also, according to the source, a cache with arms and ammunition has been found in the town of Argun, near the border with Georgia. About 30 kilograms of a substance resembling TNT has been uncovered here along with several grenade launchers and mines. The substance is now being identified by forensic specialists, and a search operation is on to track down the cache's owners.
PETER Costello has called for a tougher US-style citizenship oath that demands loyalty to the Australian "compact" as he outlined his vision for a more muscular nationalism.
Lambasting the spread of "mushy multiculturalism", the Treasurer has bluntly called for hard-line Muslims and others who don't observe Australian values to be stripped of their citizenship.
And he said people coming to Australia should have the same respect for Australian values as visitors to a mosque who are asked to take off their shoes.
In another provocative speech by a senior Government figure, Mr Costello warned of a second generation of immigrants from the Middle East living in a "twilight zone", unable to properly distinguish between the values of their parents' old country and Australia.
"To deal with this we must clearly state the values of Australia and explain how we expect them to be respected," he said.
"I suspect there would be more respect for these values if we made more of the demanding requirements of citizenship."
Addressing the Sydney Institute last night, the Prime Ministerial aspirant again criticised those who wanted to live under sharia law, saying Australia's citizenship pledge should act as a "big flashing warning sign". "A person who does not acknowledge the supremacy of civil law laid down by democratic processes cannot truthfully take the pledge of allegiance," he said.
"As such they do not meet the pre-condition for citizenship."
He said Australia would have a problem if a second generation of immigrants lived "in a twilight zone where the values of their parents old country have been lost but the values of the new country not fully embraced".
To address these concerns, Mr Costello suggested the Government may consider toughening up the present citizenship oath.
"I suspect there would be more respect for (Australian) values if we made more of the demanding requirements of citizenship," he said.
The Treasurer's speech, coming on the eve of the Coalition's tenth anniversary in power, shows him trying to broaden his image. The speech will appeal to conservative elements in the Coalition, amid concerns that Mr Costello needs to shed his 'small l' liberal image.
His comments come just weeks after angry muslims rioted when the prophet Mohammed was depicted in cartoons in Europe.
In a veiled reference to these riots, Mr Costello said he did not like "putrid representations" like Piss Christ, the controversial photograph of a crucifix submerged in urine that was displayed in Melbourne in 1997.
Laying down a template for religious tolerance, Mr Costello said he did not think galleries should show such displays.
"But I do recognise they should be able to practice their offensive taste without fear of violence or a riot.
"Muslims do not like representation of the Prophet. But so too they must recognise this does not justify violence against newspapers, or countries that allow newspapers to publish them."
Mr Costello's speech comes just days after The Australian published comments by John Howard, who also railed against fragments of muslim society that were "utterly antagonistic" to Australian values.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister hailed Australia as the "least-discriminatory country in the world".
"We welcome people from the four corners of the earth. The only thing we ask of them is that when they come here they become Australians before anything else," he said.
French 'anti-Jew gang chief' held
The suspected head of an anti-Semitic gang which kidnapped, tortured and killed a young French Jew near Paris has been arrested in Ivory Coast. Youssouf Fofana, 26, is in the custody of French police who went to Ivory Coast to question him. The French authorities had issued an international warrant for his arrest after he had left the country.
Victim Ilan Halimi died after being found naked, bound and gagged in a crime that shocked France. The 23-year-old man had been held for ransom for three weeks. He was dumped near the Sainte-Genevieve-des-Bois train station near Paris on 13 February, and found lying in agony with horrific injuries to his body. He died on the way to hospital.
French ministers believe he may have been a victim of anti-Semitism.
'Brains of the barbarians'
President Jacques Chirac is expected to lead mourners at a memorial service for Mr Halimi in Paris later on Thursday. More than 1,000 people, mostly Jews, marched in the capital on Sunday to condemn the killing.
Mr Fofana, who is of Ivorian origin, is believed to have fled France before police made several arrests last week.
Mr Halimi's family were sent ransom demands by e-mail and text messages from the kidnap gang, whose leader called himself "brains of the barbarians". Prosecutors initially ruled out anti-Semitism, saying the gang - believed to be behind six other botched kidnappings - were unemployed and motivated by money.
But Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin told a meeting of Jewish community leaders on Monday that the judge handling the case was investigating leads pointing to an anti-Semitic attack. "We will do everything we can to arrest the authors of this barbarous crime and bring them to justice," he added.
Times are changing... about 20 years ago, after the Carpentras jewish cemetary desacration, 300-500 000 peoples marched on the streets in protest.
Of course, then it was blamed on the far right, with the National Front in mind (desacration was much later, after real sleazy political powerplays and rumors campaigns, found out to have been made by a small gang of drunken skinheads, but I repeat myself, in "honor" of the birth/death of hitler, can't remember).
Nowadays, antisemitism comes from the left (jews = nazis) and from the victims-of-racist-society "youths" (who commit about 93% of the actuals assaults, arsons,... according to police intelligence).
Cognitive dissonance at its best.
All of us barbarians have brains, Mike. Some of us even use them. This guy isn't a barbarian, he's simply an anti-Semitic Muslim bigot.
It takes both brains and brawn to be a true barbarian in a "civilized" world. The United States is lucky to have a fairly large number of people who can very quickly shed the trappings of "civilization" against those that would enslave and destroy us. It's looking more and more likely that they (we) will be needed, and soon.
Posted by: Old Patriot ||
02/23/2006 22:49 Comments ||
THE Liverpool man accused of financing an al-Qaida cell has been linked to a Lithuanian nuclear power plant terror threat, the Daily Post can reveal. Mohammed Benhammedi, owner and director of Sara Properties and Ozlam properties in Wavertree, was named by the US treasury as a "key financier" for Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.
Now the family of his mistress in Lithuania are being investigated because her father is a senior security manager at the country's major power plant. They fear the link between them could pose a security threat.
Victoria Zakuko spoke exclusively to the Daily Post about her lover who shares his time between his wife and seven children and her.
The story has been front-page news in Lithuania's national newspapers after the government launched an investigation into the suspected links to their country.
Russian-born Sergey Zakurko, Victoria's father, has been suspended from his job at the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (INPP) while the investigation continues. Now the 47-year-old former policeman, who has worked at the plant since 1997, is considering leaving his post. He told Lithuania's main daily newspaper: "I am considering if I should write my resignation letter to my employers.
"I don't want to cause problems for my superiors and colleagues at the plant. I am ready for a very open talk.
"If I resign I will emigrate to the UK. I would learn English and work in the building industry. But now, when my surname is in every paper in both countries, will I ever get a job?
"The thing I wish most is to go to my motherland. Some day I will definitely go back to Russia for good." The security official had met Benhammedi, known to his friends as Ben, on a previous trip to Liverpool. He said he did not know that Benhammedi was married with children and had been told by the couple that he was divorced from his wife.
A different shade of green from Islam, but terror is terror.
Tucson environmental activist Rodney Adam Coronado was arrested here Wednesday after being indicted in California on a charge of demonstrating how to use a destructive device. Coronado, 39, a self-proclaimed member of the Earth Liberation Front, taught and demonstrated the making and use of the device on Aug. 1, 2003, at a public gathering in San Diego with the intent that it be used to commit arson, according to a news releasefrom the U.S. Attorney's Office.
The one-count indictment was issued by a federal grand jury in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of California.
The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, arrested Coronado Wednesday, the release said.
If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine.
Oh-oh. Looks like Rodney's one of them...recividists.
USA v. Rodney Adam Coronado: 93-CR-116-RAE
Synopsis: An animal rights activist with ties to the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), Rodney Adam Coronado, was thought responsible for acts of vandalism and theft at university labs where animal testing was being conducted. On behalf of ALF, Coronado started a fire at Oregon State University in the mink research sheds.
The FBI linked Coronado to:
a fire at the Northwest Farms Food Cooperative in Edmonds, Washington;
the destruction of records in the office of a mink researcher at Washington State University,
a fire that destroyed the processing building at a mink farm in Oregon,
an un-detonated fire bomb at the Fur Breeders Agriculture Cooperative in Utah;
a fire that destroyed records and equipment at Michigan State University; and
a burglary and fire at the Utah State University animal disease control facility. Coronado struck a plea agreement with federal prosecutors. He avoided charges tied to damage at Utah State University, Oregon State and Washington State Universities, as well as the mink farm and food cooperative.
He pleaded guilty to one count and was found guilty on 18 USC § 844-aiding and abetting arson at Michigan State University. He was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $2.5 million in restitution to institutions and businesses damaged by ALF. Coronado was also sentenced to 600 hours of community service upon release. The Fur Commission USA reports that Coronado has since renounced ALF, stating: "My actions were illegal, radical and extreme, and caused great pain to others."
Stake him naked to the top of Pikes Peak - from about January through late March. Let "Mother Nature" take loving care of him. Reclaim the chains when the snow melts and the wind drops to a pleasant 40mph.
Posted by: Old Patriot ||
02/23/2006 22:52 Comments ||
I was under the impression it would take him a couple days to die of thirst, or more likely less than an hour to die of exposure in those conditions.
Tree Huggers: Georgia Pacific and Weyerhouser are the most prolific tree-planters on the planet. And they give thousands of college students Summer work in planting. If you can make a profit from replenishing the planet, the better for everyone.
Posted by: ToughLove Not Hate ||
02/23/2006 18:33 Comments ||
Yes, and while old growth forest is important for the conservation of certain flora and fauna, it's the trees in their first twenty years of life that sequester the most carbon dioxide, and under which the most wildflowers and berry-producing shrubs grow (because the sunlight can get down to the ground between the smaller trees, that's why). The Progressive motto: why think when you have feeeeeeeeelings!
Nine people, some of them U.S. Marines, have been arrested for stealing bulletproof vests intended for American troops in Iraq and trying to sell them to international arms merchants, Homeland Security officials said on Wednesday.
they're not true Marines, they just wear the uniform
Authorities said they had busted a group that stole ballistic vests, helmets and protective plates from the Camp Pendleton Marine base in San Diego, California, and sold them on the Internet. Several additional suspects are believed to be serving with the U.S. military in Iraq.
"At a time when our troops in Iraq need all the body armor they can get, it is extremely troubling to see bulletproof vests destined for those troops being stolen from our military bases at home for resale to the public," said Julie Myers, assistant secretary for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with the Department of Homeland Security. "It is even more troubling that individuals would try to sell these items for profit to people they believed were international arms dealers," Myers said in a statement.
One San Diego resident, Erika Jardine, was sentenced on Wednesday to six months in prison by a federal court in Philadelphia for selling U.S. property.
Not long enough.
ICE agents began investigating Jardine in June 2004 after she was discovered selling 18 stolen ballistic vests on eBay to agents posing as overseas arms dealers. Their investigation led them to several U.S. Marines stationed at Camp Pendleton who had sold equipment to Jardine. Eight people, some of them Marines and several civilians, have since been arrested on charges of stealing government property and other arrests are expected.
ICE agents said they had recovered or purchased items worth more than $63,000 including tactical vests, protective inserts, helmets, gas masks, M-16 assault rifle magazines and more than 100,000 Iraqi dinars.
Without insulting Rantburg's atheists and agnostics, the statement stands on its own as Without a moral compass, people become assholes. We see from the riots and the murders that religion alone doesn't guide people to proper behaviour, if they choose an immoral religion.
I just posted an article on p.2 about the same case, which emphasizes that it wasn't a crime gang, but a dozen guys who all had the same bright idea. Compare and contrast, and decide for youselves, ladies and gents.
BEIJING: Pakistan will stand by China if the US ever tries to besiege it, Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad has said. He said this while talking to a private television channel in Beijing on Wednesday.
Rashid said that President Pervez Musharrafs visit to China will open new avenues of development and cooperation between the two countries in all sectors. Pakistan and China have signed 42 bilateral agreements during the presidents current visit, 13 of which have been reached at the government level and 27 are between the traders and entrepreneurs of both countries.
These accords are aimed at boosting cooperation in economy, defence, trade and the social sector. The information minister said that Pakistan and China are jointly manufacturing an F-17 thunder combat aircraft. He said that the test-flight of a second combat plane, an F-10, is scheduled for today (Thursday).
He said that Musharraf told the Chinese leadership that Pakistan wanted full membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). He said that Russian President Vladimir Putin, due to visit China next month, along with the Chinese leadership will help Pakistan acquire SCO membership. Cooperation of other SCO members Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan will also be sought, he said.
The president also expressed condolences for the killing of three Chinese engineers in Balochistan, he said. agencies
The Chinese really despise those that offer them "useful fealty".
To them, it means the barbarians are saying first that they think China is weak, second, that they, the barbarians, think that they have something that the Chinese need, and third, that they think themselves peers of the Chinese. It sounds weasely and insulting.
The typical Chinese response to this is to put on an elaborate show for the barbarian to impress them, and behaving all sweetness and light.
If, however, the Chinese respect or fear a barbarian, they are very taciturn and businesslike, and the last thing they will do is show their hand.
The anti-terrorism appellate (ATA) bench of the Sindh High Court (SHC) upheld on Wednesday the death sentence of two activists of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ) and enhanced to death the life term of a third for killing a director of laboratories of the ministry of defence in 2001.
Maybe an appeal wasn't a good move?
Mohammad Shahid Hanif was awarded a life term while Talah Hussain and Khalil Ahmed were handed down the death sentence by Judge Arshad Noor Khan of the Anti-Terrorism Court-III on April 15, 2002. The appellants, who were, according to the prosecution, riding a bike, had shot dead Syed Zafar Hussain, the director laboratories of the ministry of defence, while he was on his way to work from his house in the limits of Gulberg police station on July 30, 2001.
That'll put a stop to that cycle of violence...
Safdar Hussain Shah, the director's driver, had identified the accused during the identification parade as well as during the trial. The trial court, on the evidence of Safdar Hussain Shah, who was also an eyewitness to the crime, had convicted all of the accused, but awarded Mohammad Shahid Hanif lesser punishment. The trial court had held that since Mohammad Shahid was driving the bike, he could not have participated in the firing on the car.
If the bike hadn't been driven, then they would have had to fire on the car from the sidewalk.
However, the SHC's ATA bench comprising Justice Mohammad Afzal Soomro and Justice Rehmat Hussain Jaferi, rejected this reasoning of the trial judge for awarding a lesser punishment to Mohammad Shahid and enhanced his life term to death while holding that his intention was common to that of the two convicts who were awarded the death sentence. The ATA bench dismissed the appeals of Talah Hussain and Khalil Ahmed and modified the sentence of Mohammad Shahid through a short order, the reason for which was to be recorded later on.
Indian security forces clashed Wednesday with suspected militants in three separate gunfights in Jammu and Kashmir, leaving 11 people dead. The first battle broke out when rebels opened fire on soldiers and police searching the remote mountains of the Udhampur district of India's Jammu-Kashmir state, said Colonel D K Badola, an army spokesman. The soldiers and police were cordoning off the area when the fighting began, and "after a two-hour long gunbattle, three militants and an army soldier were killed while another soldier was injured," Badola said.
Elsewhere in Kashmir, two militants were killed in a separate shootout Wednesday in the Mendher region of the Poonch district, northwest of Jammu, Badola said. Two more militants were killed in a separate gunfight between militants and army soldiers also in Poonch district, he said. The police were investigating which militant groups the dead men belonged to, Badola said.
Meanwhile the police said four people, including two children, were killed on Wednesday when gunmen and soldiers exchanged fire in Indian Kashmir. The shooting took place in Doodipora village near Handwara town, 80 km north of Srinagar.
GUJRANWALA: The All Pakistan Clerks Association (APCA) passed a resolution terming the publication of blasphemous caricatures of the Holy Prophet (PTUI pbuh) a war against Islam, an APCA press release said. The APCA and Muttahida-Ustad-Mahaz announced Rs 500,000 prize money for killing those responsible for the publication of the caricatures. Muhammad Iqbal Gondal, the secretary general APCA Gujranwala, appealed to people to boycott Western products.
Thinking about cartoons, my dad while in the service used to draw cartoons on duffle bags for guys, and when I was a kid growing up, he painted an Indian with a tomahawk coming right at you in my brother's bedroom.
I still have one of his duffle bags :)
Suspected militants shot and dead killed prominent pro-government tribal elder Arsala Khan in South Waziristan on Wednesday, where security has gone from bad to worse in recent months. Witnesses said that Arsala's car was sprayed with bullets in Wana bazaar, leaving him dead and two others injured. "He died on the spot, while two other passengers were also wounded in the attack," witnesses told Daily Times. The indiscriminant firing also injured a passer-by. One of the three wounded civilians was rushed to hospital in Dera Ismail Khan where he was said to be in serious condition.
Suspected militants ambushed a military convoy in Balochistan on Wednesday, killing two soldiers and wounding four, officials said. Insurgents positioned on mountains overlooking a road attacked the convoy with rockets and machine guns at Pinjra Pull, 70 kilometers southeast of Quetta, a security official said. The troops, who were on their way to nearby Sibi for a routine deployment, retaliated and the exchange of gunfire continued for about half an hour, the official speaking on condition of anonymity, said. At least one soldier died and five others were wounded, the official said, adding that the casualties occurred after a military vehicle was hit. The attackers fled into the mountains after the ambush, he said. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.
In a separate incident, four soldiers were injured when a landmine planted by suspected rebels exploded beneath a military vehicle in Sibi on Tuesday, officials said. Attackers also blew up small pipelines feeding natural gas from two wells to a filtration plant, the second such attack in two days in Balochistans Dera Bugti district, they said. Saboteurs blew up the pipeline from Well No 23 of the Pirkoh Gas Field and stole valves from Wells 13 and 16 on Wednesday
The womens wing of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) on Wednesday staged a demonstration at Aabpara Chowk against cartoons of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) published in newspapers across Europe. Over 1,000 veiled women gathered at Aapara and shouted slogans against President Pervez Musharraf, claiming that the government reaction to the cartoons, deemed blasphemous by Muslims, did not represent that of Muslims. They held banners and placards demanding punishment for the editor of the Danish newspaper which published the cartoons first and an end to diplomatic and trade ties with European countries where the cartoons were published later. They burned the Danish prime ministers effigy. Senator Dr Kausar Firdous, Samia Raheel Qazi and others led the procession. Most of the women protestors were seminary students. Some of them also brought their children with them. Students of Jamia Hafsa Al Banat were dominant among the demonstrators near Lal Masjid.
We condemn the blasphemous cartoons strongly and demand the government take note of the situation, Senator Firdous, who is also former chief of the Islami Jamiat-e-Talabat, said. She said women condemned the cartoons and the inadequate measures taken by the government against countries where they were published. She claimed the present government had deviated from the real spirit of the teachings of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). Samia Raheel Qazi called for a joint strategy of Muslim countries under the umbrella of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) on the cartoon issue. She said the government should play its part in the revival of the Muslim civilisation and stop all western and anti-Islamic traditions.
A Pakistani cleric who offered $1 million and a car for the death of cartoonists who made carricatures of the Prophet Muhammad (May his drip clear up without medication peace be upon him) said yesterday that suicide bombers had volunteered to kill the blasphemers. Yousaf Qureshi, the imam, at the 300-year-old Moonbat Mohabat Khan Mosque in the northwestern city of Peshawar, announced the reward on Friday. The Prophet Muhammads blasphemers will not live and there are mujahedeen who visited me to assure that such people will not be allowed to live for their unpardonable act, the cleric told a news conference. Mujahedeen suicide bombers have contacted us and they are ready for this mission. They are college and university students.
I guess that's one way to get out of exams. Thought of it myself, back when I was taking statistics...
Five people died in Pakistan last week during a wave of violent protests against the cartoons printed in a Danish newspaper and other European publications.
That'd be the cartoons that mocked Islamists for their propensity for violence...
"So you can just shut yer fudge up or yer car'll go boom. That's in the Koran, too!"
He said the Danish foreign minister lost sense after he realized the strength of the Muslim worlds reaction to the cartoons. The only solution to the crisis was the trial of the blasphemers under Islamic laws, Qureshi said. Nothing else is accepted than capital punishment under Islamic laws to the cartoonists, he said.
Is it still considered a clash of civilizations when one side isn't a civilization?
A Pakistani cleric who offered $1 million and a car for the death of cartoonists who made carricatures of the Prophet Muhammad (May his drip clear up without medication peace be upon him) said yesterday that suicide bombers had volunteered to kill the blasphemers.
A fat lot of good a million bucks and a car would be to a SUICIDE BOMBER who fulfilled the contract...
Iraqi Shiites bent on retribution rampaged against Sunni Arabs up and down the country Wednesday, Feb. 22, after bombers destroyed the gold dome of the 1,200-year old Askariya shrine in Samarra. The attack against one of four Shiite holy places has brought the country to the brink of sectarian civil war. More than 100 Sunni mosques were destroyed.
DEBKAfiles sources: The bombing was carried out by a small squad trained by Abu Musab al Zarqawi especially for the operation. Four-to-six men entered the Askariya mosque Tuesday night and placed explosive charges around the interior of the gold dome so as to bring it crashing down on the sacred tombs below.
Samarra police have made 10 arrests, among them foreigners, as would be typical of al Qaeda.
Shortly after the disaster in Samarra, Irans spiritual leader ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran, in contrast to the US presidents effort to calm the flames, accused US forces and Israeli intelligence of responsibility.
The Islamic republic is quite willing to exploit the destruction of a Shiite shrine to fuel the fire of sectarian conflict, in the hope of expediting the US forces exit from Iraq. The thousands of Iranian agents operating clandestinely in Iraq can be expected to aggravate civil strife in Iraq by agitation and leading attacks on Sunnis.
Some Shiite leaders blamed the United States for not protecting their shrine and are demanding a bigger security role for religious militias. But voices were also raised in an attempt to pull the country back from the brink: US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad warned the bombings were a deliberate provocation to foment sectarian tension and civil war. Key Sunni groups condemned the destruction of the Shiite mosques dome. The Sunni clerical association of Muslim Scholars called the bombing a criminal act.
"DEBKAfile's sources" places this bombing in the hands of Abu Musab al Zarqawi. Perhaps. But there is no credible evidence available to support that claim. But I guess it is comforting to some to keep believing that all of this strife is being brought about by 'foreign fighters' and not the Iraqis themselves. I think it is time to face the reality that Iraq is teetering on the brink of full scale civil war. Many of my friends and I with war college training feared this scenario prior to the U.S. engagement in this war. We spoke of caution and tried to explain that ridding Iraq of Saddam without having another authoritative replacement (such as an Iraqi General)to replace him was opening the country to civil war. We tried to explain the deep religious and political divides that separated the Shia, Sunni and Kurds. But we were consistently shouted down and called wimps by our neo-con friends. Most of those neo-cons that we encountered were short statured soft-bellied young men that never had to hump anything heavier than a bag of donuts. And God knows they were way to good to serve in the military. Hell that's for the rest of us to do. Yep, they had this whole thing all figured out.
Well boys it ain't lookin' too good right now. It appears those old 9'th century grudges between the Shia and the Sunni are about to meet head on here in the 21'st century and we got our boots stuck right in the middle of this shit heap.
Put your donut down chub-chub. What's the plan now ?
Buzzsaw is probably a journalism major, since the primary qualification seems to be extensive ignorance of as many topics as possible.
The media is currently full of talk about a civil war. A civil war requires as a pre-requisite that neither side is capable of inflicting a decisive defeat on the other side. This is not the case in Iraq, and hence there will not be a civil war there.
I can still do my several dozen real sit-ups (no wimpy crunches for this girl!), and a couple one-arm push-ups if I cross my eyes really hard. But otherwise the description fits... except for the donut and the male bits, of course, but I'm sure Buzzsaw was stymied by that whole English as a default masculine language thingy.
The point of this exercise in nation-building is to give them a chance to come out of the 9th century. After all, they've had the benefit of two generations under real, honest-to-god mid-20th century totalitarian fascism, so Bush thought they might be ready to progress. And given that 14 of the 17 provinces are peacefully being run by Iraqis for Iraq, with hardly a Western boot in sight, there is a bit of a glimmer of a hope that they are, indeed, progressing.
But I never went to War College (just audited at Rantburg U.), so I'm likely totally off base here.
(Phil_b, really good point about civil wars. In my unschooled ignorance I hadn't thought of that.)
Hey,,, I was in UNL. That's a football college. Isn't that kind of the same? Of course.... we sold or season tickets to pay cover at the ZOOBAR for long nights with Muddy Waters and the like... but that was 70s and the ROTC bldg still stunk from being burned so nah.. no war college or neo-con experience here.
However, we did approach Jakarta harbor and dock in the middle of their revolution and had to take on refugees for India and I did wander the bazzars of Karachi and watched anti-british riots just before Aden became the Peoples Republic of ... and I was bounced on the knees of the Flying Tigers (CAT - Air Am) when born and lived only....
MORE than 50 bullet-riddled bodies were found overnight in Iraq as sectarian violence surged after the bombing of a revered Shiite shrine sparked revenge attacks against Sunni mosques.
Amid warnings the sectarian bloodshed could spiral inro all out civil war, Iraqi political and religious leaders were set to meet with President Jalal Talabani.
A total of 53 bodies were recovered in Baghdad and its suburbs, an interior ministry official said today.
The upsurge in killings came after suspected al-Qaeda linked militants yesterday morning bombed the 1000-year-old Imam Ali al-Hadi mausoleum, one of the countries' main Shiite shrines, in the town of Samarra, north of Baghdad.
Early today the police reported finding the bodies of three Iraqi journalists working for Dubai-based Arabiya satellite television who were kidnapped near Samarra last night while reporting on the shrine bombing.
"The bodies of the presenter Atwar Bahjat, of cameraman Adnan Abdallah and of soundman Khaled Mohsen were found early this morning some 15km north of Samarra," police said.
The bombing prompted global condemnation and appeals for calm, but large-scale demonstrations turned violent, leading to the killings of at least six Sunnis in the capital and attacks on a number of Sunni mosques nationwide.
Two people were also killed in an attack on offices of a Sunni political party in Iraq's mainly Shiite city of Basra, while gunmen stormed a prison in the southern port city and lynched 10 suspected Sunni militants from Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
The latest bloodshed came as Shiite and Sunni political factions bicker over the formation of a national unity government, amid anxiety that further delay in setting up a cabinet could lead the country into chaos.
The bomb attack on the shrine destroyed the dome of one of the Shiite Islam's holiest shrines where Shiites believe their 12th Imam disappeared in the 9th century AD.
In Baghdad, mobs killed three clerics and three worshippers in assaults on 27 Sunni mosques, an Iraqi security officer said.
Gunmen opened fire on Sunni religious sanctuaries and torched at least one, the officer added.
"We ask the Marjaiya (Shiite grand ayatollahs) to intervene before it is too late," Sunni-based Islamic Party's chief Tareq al-Hashimi said.
Iraq's top Shiite religious authority, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, urged his community to remain calm and to refrain from seeking vengeance.
But at least 2000 Shiite demonstrators took to the streets of Kut, 175km southeast of the capital, today shouting "vengeance, vengeance".
Waving the green flags of Islam and the national Iraqi colours, thousands of Shiites yesterday had also taken to the streets, vowing to punish those responsible for the attack.
Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari has proclaimed three days of national mourning and decreed that Thursday would be a public holiday.
Mr Jaafari called on Iraqis to denounce sectarian attacks and "close the road to those who want to undermine national unity".
"They are trying to push us into killing one another," the Government said in a statement.
The head of one of the most powerful Shiite parties in Iraq, Abdel Aziz Hakim, attributed part of the blame for the bombing on US ambassador Zalmay Khalizad, two days after the US diplomat offered a veiled rebuke to Shiite parties.
"These statements were a reason for more pressure and gave the green light to terrorist groups. Certainly he is partly responsible for what happened," Mr Hakim said.
Mr Khalilzad, who has repeatedly warned against growing sectarian tension, enraged Mr Hakim on Monday with a suggestion that the United States would curtail funds if Iraq's next government were run on a sectarian basis.
The supreme leader of neighbouring Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, also blamed Washington. But he too called on Iraqi Shiites not to seek revenge.
The Samarra bombing, carried out by men dressed in police commando uniforms, bore the hallmarks of supporters of al-Qaeda's Iraq frontman Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who has declared war on the country's Shiites.
US President George W. Bush called on Iraqis to act with restraint.
Amen to all of the preceeding - they're not incompatible views. I certainly hope that they've had their fill of death. BH6's observation yesterday regards how quiet Anbar has become was welcome news. As what's left of the "insurgency" become focused, so can the efforts to end it. Seems to me, from afar, that most of the Iraqis are acquitting themselves well, overall, in the fight.
I do not think it's just tiredness that justifies the idea that this act will NOT lead to a civil war. It is in neither groups interest to start one.
If there is anything rational about the process, the Shia just got a stronger hand finalizing the government as they can point to this atrocity and explain that their constituents now demand more. If I were a Sunni politician I'd be scared at the backlash and more willing to lock in a deal rather than hold out longer.
Beside, I believe the shrine had some clerics buried there that were important to the Sunni too.
What's interesting is how quickly the retaliation against sunni mosques came. I would be interested to know details as to how well planned and organized these attacks were. They could have been spontaneous or they could have been organized by Al Queda or Iran for various reasons.
You might want to check this post at Healing Iraq.
Or they could have been on the shelf plans that were implemented quickly so that the Sunnis' nose could be blooded but Sistani would look like the peace maker. Nothing over there would surprise me, especially as they are still in the process of negotiating the new government. Also interesting Tater was out of town.
And even if this was an al-Q attack, what are the chances the trainting and AAR occur in Iran?
A powerful bomb shattered the golden dome at one of Iraq's most revered Shiite shrines on Wednesday morning, setting off a day of sectarian fury in which mobs formed across Iraq to chant for revenge and attacked dozens of Sunni mosques.
The bombing, at the Askariya shrine in Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, wounded no one but left the famous golden mosque dome at the site in ruins. Coming after two days of bloody attacks that have left dozens of Shiite civilians dead, the attack ignited a nationwide outpouring of rage and panic that seemed to bring Iraq closer than ever to open civil conflict.
Shiite militia members flooded the streets of Baghdad, firing rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns at Sunni mosques while Iraqi army soldiers who had been called out to stop the violence stood nearby. By the day's end, mobs had struck or destroyed 27 Sunni mosques in the capital alone, killing three imams and kidnapping a fourth, Interior Ministry officials said. In all, at least 15 people were killed in related violence across the country.
Thousands of grief-stricken people in Samarra crowded into the shrine's courtyard after the bombing, some weeping and kissing the fallen stones, others angrily chanting, "Our blood and souls we sacrifice for you, imams!"
Iraq's major political and religious leaders issued urgent appeals for restraint, and Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari called for a three-day mourning period in a televised address. Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's most senior Shiite cleric, released an unusually strong statement in which he said, "If the government's security forces cannot provide the necessary protection, the believers will do it."
Most Iraqi leaders attributed the attack to terrorists bent on exploiting sectarian rifts, but some also blamed the United States for failing to prevent it. Even the leader of Iraq's main Shiite political alliance said he thought Zalmay Khalilzad, the American ambassador to Iraq, bore some responsibility. The Shiite leader, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, said Khalilzad's veiled threat on Monday to withdraw American support if Iraqis cannot form a nonsectarian government helped provoke the bombing.
"This declaration gave a green light for these groups to do their operation, so he is responsible for a part of that," Hakim said at a news conference.
The attack in Samarra began at 7 a.m., when a dozen men dressed in paramilitary uniforms entered the shrine and handcuffed four guards who were sleeping in a back room, a spokesman for the provincial governor's office said. The attackers then placed a bomb in the dome and detonated it, collapsing most of the structure and damaging an adjoining wall.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but some Iraqi officials quickly pointed a finger at al-Qaida in Mesopotamia, the terrorist group believed to be responsible for many of the attacks on Shiite civilians and mosques in the past two years.
Samarra's population is mostly Sunni Arab, and it was a haven for insurgents until 2004, when American and Iraqi troops carried out a major operation to retake the city and the Golden Mosque from guerrilla fighters. But the insurgents have filtered back since then, and American troops in and around the city are now regularly attacked.
Shops soon closed across the country as angry mobs filled the streets. Far to the north in Kirkuk, about 1,000 Shiites marched in the streets, chanting slogans against America, members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, and Takfiris, a word used to describe militant Islamists who denounce other Muslims as infidels. Similar demonstrations broke out in Baquba, Najaf, Karbala and other cities.
In Sadr City, the vast Shiite slum in Baghdad, flatbed trucks bristled with black-clad militia fighters carrying guns. Men with grenade launchers leaned out car windows, pointing at them menacingly.
"If I could find the people who did this, I would cut him into pieces," said Abdel Jaleel al-Sudani, a 50-year-old employee of the Health Ministry, who said he had marched in a demonstration earlier.
I would not be surprised if the ten people caught were just the first 'likely suspects' the police could find and grab, just like cops do everywhere. Not necessarily any evidence relating them to THIS crime, but guys the cops figure are guilty of SOMETHING.
That said, it sure sucks to be them right now.
Forty-seven people were killed in Baghdad in the 24 hours since the bombing of a major Shi'ite shrine sparked the worst sectarian violence the country has seen since the fall of Saddam Hussein, police said on Thursday.
Gunmen sprayed a Sunni mosque in the city of Baquba, northeast of the capital, killing one person in the latest of dozens of such incidents that have left religious and political leaders scrambling to halt a descent into all-out civil war.
Three journalists working for Al-Arabiya television were found shot dead after being attacked while filming in Samarra, where the bloodless but highly symbolic bombing of the Golden Mosque at dawn on Wednesday provoked widespread protest.
In the bloodiest apparent reprisal for the attack on one of Shi'ite Islam's holiest site, men in police uniform seized 12 Sunni rebel suspects, including two Egyptians, from a prison in the mainly Shi'ite city of Basra and killed 11 of them.
President Jalal Talabani summoned leaders of all sides to a summit at 10:30 a.m. (0730 GMT) after the bombing provoked outrage among majority Shi'ites that surpassed the anger caused by thousands of killings by Sunni militants since U.S. forces toppled Saddam's Sunni-dominated government three years ago.
One man just stood silently inside the gutted Abdel Rahman mosque in central Baghdad. A veiled woman said she saw assailants throw grenades at the Sunni mosque and then open fire and set it alight, one of several badly damaged overnight.
U.S. President George W. Bush, whose diplomats and military commanders are pressing Shi'ite leaders to accept Sunnis in a national unity government after they took part in an election in December, urged Iraqis not to rise to the bait of what U.S. and Iraqi officials called an al Qaeda attempt to fuel civil strife.
"Violence will only contribute to what the terrorists sought to achieve," he said in a statement, as 130,000 U.S. troops stood by to back up Iraq's new security forces and keep order.
A policeman guarding a Sunni mosque in the southern Shi'ite city of Diwaniya was killed in an attack by Shi'ite militants. Three Sunni clerics were among those killed on Wednesday.
The United Nations Security Council, rarely able to find a common voice on Iraq since its bitter divisions over the U.S. invasion in 2003, sounded a note of alarm in calling on Iraqis to rally behind a non-sectarian government.
"The members of the Security Council understand the anguish caused by the attacks but urge the people of Iraq to defy its perpetrators by showing restraint and unity," it said.
"We don't know what could happen in the next few days," said Mohammed Tariq, standing in a long line outside a bread shop in Baghdad as residents hurried home after the government declared three days of mourning that will keep businesses closed. "I will buy as much as I can because of the security situation."
Washington wants stability to help it extract its forces but Shi'ite political leaders renewed sharp criticisms of its calls for them to give Sunnis key posts in government, with one party leader accusing the U.S. ambassador of encouraging the bombers by supporting Sunni demands for a share of power this week.
Talabani, an ethnic Kurd, accused the bombers, who dressed as policemen, of trying to derail talks on a national unity coalition: "We must...work together against...the danger of civil war," he told Iraqis in a televised address.
The Shi'ites' reclusive and aging senior cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani made a rare, if silent, television appearance that underlined the gravity of the crisis. He called in a statement for protests but restraint as protesters outside his office in Najaf chanted: "Rise up Shi'ites! Take revenge!"
Since U.S. forces toppled Saddam's Sunni-dominated government in 2003, Sistani has helped hold in check anger many Shi'ites feel against al Qaeda and other Sunni militants as the Shi'ite majority tastes power after years of oppression.
Sunnis accuse police of running death squads against them and some powerful Shi'ites, buoyed by success in December's election, have said only Sistani has prevented more violence.
Militiamen loyal to radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr patrolled streets in Baghdad and clashed in Basra and elsewhere with Sunnis. A Sadr aide said: "If the Iraqi government does not do its job to defend the Iraqi people we are ready to do so."
Sadr himself also called for national unity.
Talks on the government's composition have exposed divisions among Shi'ite leaders, with Sadr gaining influence, and mixed responses to the crisis may reflect jockeying for power.
After gunmen attacked offices of his party in Baghdad and Basra, Sunni political leader Tareq al-Hashimi of the Iraqi Islamic Party said: "We will pursue anyone who attacks Sunnis."
"For the Shi'ites...this is a major assault comparable to an attack on Mecca for all Muslims," said Hazim al-Naimi, a political scientist at Baghdad's Mustansiriya University.
"It could push the country closer to civil war."
Amid the calls for calm, government-run Iraqiya television included in its evening schedule a graphic music video hailing 9th-century Shi'ite leaders' battles against Sunni dominance.
Christ, I hope they've got swarms of *reliable* guards around Sistani right now. The worst possible thing would be a nominally-Sunni assassination or assassination attempt on the Grand Ayatollah. I'm half-way suspicious of the Samarra shrine bombing being a false-flag as it is - it's too convenient for certain elements of the UIA to have a Sheat-unifiying atrocity (with no actual initial casualties!) at the exact moment that the attack occurred.
Posted by: Mitch H. ||
02/23/2006 8:28 Comments ||
THE United States suspects al-Qaeda is behind today's bombing in Iraq which destroyed the dome of one of the world's holiest Shiite shrines, a senior US official said.
"We believe this can be traced back to the al-Qaeda movement," James Jeffrey, the State Department's coordinator for Iraq, said of the blast that sparked a wave of reprisal attacks against Sunni mosques in Baghdad.
Mr Jeffrey said the Americans had no definite proof against al-Qaeda but had concluded the bombing of the Shiite mosque in the northern town of Samarra fit a pattern of the movement's past threats and actions.
"They would be the first target (for suspicion) you would look at and frankly there aren't too many other obvious ones," Mr Jeffrey told a small group of reporters at the State Department.
He dismissed suggestions that Iran might be involved, saying, "I think we should focus on al-Qaeda at this point. There are plenty of reasons to focus on Iran on other issues".
Foreign Islamic fighters, including al-Qaeda members led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, represent a small element of the insurgency battling to chase some 150,000 US troops from Iraq. But they have drawn most US attention.
Mr Jeffrey said if nobody claimed responsibility for the bombing, it might be because Zarqawi had been criticised by al-Qaeda's top leadership for spilling too much Iraqi blood.
"Recently no one is claiming credit for these attacks on the Shia. We suspect that that's a tactical ploy to avoid further criticism emanating from the al-Qaeda central," Mr Jeffrey said.
Global Jihad and Al Qaeda based in Jordan have stepped up their attempts to infiltrate Israel and were in close contact with Palestinian terror cells based in West Bank, OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh revealed on Wednesday.
"We recently caught several local terror cells that were in touch with the international Global Jihad based in Jordan," Naveh told a closed meeting at the Jerusalem Center of Public Affairs. Naveh would not say for certain that the al-Qaeda camp in Jordan worked under the direction of the movement's Iraqi leader Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, but, he said, "Al Qaeda was working to tighten its grip on the ground" in Jordan and Israel.
Jordan, the high-ranking officer said, should be particularly concerned with the Hamas takeover of the Palestinian Authority. Naveh predicted that Hamas would spread out to the other side of the Jordan River and might even succeed in toppling the Jordanian government.
"Hamas is gathering strength and a dangerous axis starting in Iran, continuing through Iraq and Jordan is in the process of conception," Naveh told the audience including former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Dr. Dore Gold and Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror - former head of research at Military Intelligence. "I don't want to be a prophet but I am not sure there will be another king after King Abdullah."
While the IDF has reported attempts in the past by Al Qaeda to infiltrate the Gaza Strip, Naveh's remarks on Wednesday was the first time the IDF revealed that cells in the West Bank were also operating in conjunction with the international terror organization.
"Zarqawi and his men are trying to get a better grip in Jordan," Naveh continued. "They are in the midst of trying to create ideological and religious cells in Gaza and the West Bank and their next stage is to connect themselves to local terror cells."
The Jordan Valley, Naveh said, was a "strategic security asset" that created a barrier between Israel and terrorism from around the world. "The Jordan Valley allows for shoulder-to-shoulder fighting alongside the Jordanians against terrorism," the IDF chief said adding that in his opinion the Jordanians preferred that Israel held on to the Jordan Valley and not relinquish it under a final status agreement with the Palestinians.
Moving to the Hamas, Naveh said he expected the radical group would continue perpetrating attacks against Israel even after it completed forming a new PA government. "Hamas, in my opinion, will agree to a 3-4 year hudna [ceasefire] during which it will continue carrying out attacks under the disguise of other groups," the senior officer said. "In the long term they will not change since the global process that is going on including Iran and Syria supports them."
Hamas, he said, would not carry out suicide bombings on buses in Tel Aviv, but would use the next few years to garner Palestinian public support with the ultimate goal of spreading Islam throughout the Middle East. "Over the next few years the Hamas will try to win over the hearts of the Palestinians," Naveh said. "A dangerous route is in formulating and it begins in Iran, continues to Iraq, to Jordan and then to Israel."
Palestinian terror groups, he said, received funding, sometimes up to hundreds of thousands of dollars, through Western Union branches in the territories. While Islamic Jihad would escalate is terror activity to try and vanguard the Palestinian struggle, the Fatah, the commander predicted, would also step up its attacks against Israel to "try and become legitimate in the eyes of Hamas."
The IDF, Naveh said, was facing a difficult period which included questions as to what its relationship would be with the PA security forces following the formation of a new Hamas-led government. The transfer of security control over PA cities, the commander said, was currently irrelevant and off the table.
"If Hamas will take over the security forces we won't be able to hold regular meetings with the PA brigade commanders like we do now," he said. "When we go into Jenin to arrest terror suspects we also won't be able to give them heads up before we come in."
Fences, Naveh said, made good neighbors and he called for a continued effort to "separate" from the Palestinians in the West Bank from a security standpoint. "Every place there is a fence we have good neighbors," he said. "I am in favor of continuing to build the [West Bank] security fence and separate roads for the Palestinians so there will be less friction and less terror."
Naveh also became the first senior IDF official to admit the military's failure to accurately predict the PA election results and Hamas's victory. He also said that the Military Intelligence needed to run an in-house inspection to determine how it failed to predict the elections. "I was surprised with the results," he said. "I thought the Hamas would get 40 percent of the vote since it was clear the [Palestinian] public was fed up with corruption."
Hamas's victory, Naveh said, demonstrated that the Palestinians were not just fed up with PA corruption but also believed that the armed struggle was the only way to achieve their diplomatic goals. "A simple citizen might not want to be personally involved in terror but as a concept he believes that the armed struggle is the way to achieve his goals," he said.
I was going to say that YJCMTSU, but unfortunately the pattern is so clear we all could -- we just don't have to, it's happening in the real world
Malaysia has reprimanded one of its biggest daily newspapers for printing a cartoon lampooning the global controversy over caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad.
The government's move has fanned a hot debate in this mainly Muslim country about where to draw the line between press freedom and respect of religion, because this time it involves a newspaper closely aligned with mainstream Muslim opinion.
The English-language New Straits Times had defended its right this week to publish the cartoon, which featured a street artist offering "caricatures of Muhammad while you wait."
But the government, a prominent voice in the Islamic world, felt it crossed the line and its internal security ministry had given the daily three days to explain itself, the New Straits Times said on its front page on Thursday.
"The ministry said the cartoon had breached the conditions of the newspaper's publishing permit," the paper said.
"It added that the sketch was inappropriate and could invite negative reactions in the country, especially among Muslims."
Malaysia, led by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, an Islamic scholar, has banned the Danish newspaper cartoons at the heart of the row and has suspended the publishing licences of two newspapers for publishing some of them.
Muslims enraged by the cartoons have rampaged in several countries, killing Christians in Nigeria, destroying Western businesses in Pakistan and torching embassies in the Middle East. More than 50 people have been killed in the protests.
The offending cartoon published by the New Straits Times on Monday was one of the globally syndicated Non Sequitur series by Wiley Miller.
In an editorial on Wednesday, the newspaper responded to complaints about the cartoon, saying the Prophet had not been depicted.
In the editorial, it asked rhetorically whether the complaints were politically motivated to cow the newspaper's editors. "When the truth gets reported, some get hurt. The powerful ones will seek to protect themselves with whatever means at their disposal," the editorial said without elaborating.
The controversy is the latest episode in a public spat between the newspaper and elements of the ruling party, which has objected to the New Straits Times' reporting on sensitive issues of race and religion and its criticism of government policy.
PlaneDan, Not to worry, it's still peaceful there ; the problem is one of mental attitude and worldview made difficult by the official pro islamo slant in everything official and the accompanying hypocrisy ensuing from that.
Malaysia, led by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, an Islamic scholar, has banned the Danish newspaper cartoons at the heart of the row and has suspended the publishing licences of two newspapers for publishing some of them.
Heck, not much different from here. What's the count up to now on US dailies that actually printed the cartoons themselves? Three?
he Jemaah Islamiah terror network survived the death of its master bomb-maker last year, and is now splintered into independent cells which continue to recruit suicide bombers in Indonesia, a confidential government report says.
The document by the country's intelligence agency, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, says senior figures in the organisation have "ongoing links" with fellow militants in Afghanistan, the Philippines and Thailand as well as those in jail inside Indonesia.
Jemaah Islamiah, which once had cells throughout Southeast Asia and allegedly received funding from al-Qaeda, is blamed in a score of bloody bombings and failed plots in the region, including five suicide bombings in Indonesia that together killed more than 240 people.
Authorities have arrested scores of the group's operatives in the last four years, and in November police killed Azahari Husin, a top leader who allegedly made many of the bombs used in the attacks, during a raid on his hideout.
The report said that after Azahari's death, Jemaah Islamiah went further underground, forming small cells of terrorists comprising mostly of young people recruited through Islamic study groups.
The cells are called "Thaifah Mansurah" (or Winning Team), and operate independently, according to the confidential 33-page document, which was drafted earlier this month.
"'Thaifah Mansurah' are the main resource for JI when it is looking for suicide bombers," the report said.
Noordin Top, the group's alleged operational chief and head recruiter, remains at large.
Nasir Abbas, who was a key Jemaah Islamiah operative until his arrest in 2003, said the new, loose structure of the group would make it even harder for police to track down Noordin.
"If police caught a regional head, it's unlikely he could identify other members of the group, or reveal the whereabouts of Noordin," said Abbas, who now works with authorities.
Iran's Supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has announced a week of mourning following the attack Wednesday morning on one of the holiest Shiite shrines at Samarra in Iraq, and accused the Americans and Israelis of responsibility. In a statement, the Iranian leader says those behind the attack were "the occupation forces and Zionism, which seeing their plans for Iraq dissolve, have planned this atrocity to sew hate between Muslims and fuel divisions between Sunnis and Shiites". In Iran, where 90 per cent of the population is Shiite, the attack against the shrine has caused disgust and consternation.
Ayatollah Khamenei went on to appeal to Shiites to "not fall into the enemy trap by attacking mosques and sacred places of [their] Sunni brothers".
"The enemy", Khamenei concludes "wants nothing more than weakening the Islamic front, right as Muslims with a single voice have been protesting against the continual provocations of their enemies", an apparent reference to protests around the Muslim world at Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.
"The attack this morning in Samarra had one aim, to divide Muslims" said the Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, Hamid Reza Asefi. This attack shows on one hand that the aim is to cause divisions within the ummah (global Muslim community) trying to turn Shiites against their Sunni brothers. "On the other it is a clear sign that the occupying armies are incapable of guaranteeing the security of Iraq or fighting terrorism" Asefi added.
Iranian imams will be invited to dedicate their Friday sermons to the attack.
The United States called the bombers "enemies of all faiths and of all humanity" and vowed to hunt down those behind the blast.
Washington's ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, and the top US commander in the country, General George Casey, issued a joint statement saying the US would contribute to the shrine's reconstruction.
IT COULD be any employment contract stating salary, paid holidays, home leave and grievance procedures - except in this case the employer is al-Qaeda and the recruit's job is "carrying out jihad".
By signing the contract, the recruit commits himself to al-Qaeda's objectives: "Support God's religion, establishment of Islamic rule, and restoration of the Islamic Caliphate, God willing".
The contract is one of thousands of documents captured by US forces, mostly in Afghanistan and Iraq, and stored on a Pentagon database known as Harmony.
An initial sample of 28 has been declassified and published by the Combating Terrorism Centre, part of the US Military Academy at West Point.
The documents set out the internal structure of al-Qaeda and illuminate disputes over tactics. They also analyse past failures, such as the crushing of an Islamist uprising in Syria in 1982, speculate on new regions for jihad and bemoan the lack of publicity about al-Qaeda's role in driving the US out of Somalia.
Some documents reveal dismay over the loss of al-Qaeda's bastion in Afghanistan. One writer, Abdel-Halim Adl, wrote to a man identified as "Mukhtar", in June 2002, complaining of Osama bin Laden's stubbornness and "the capture of a large number of brothers".
"We will become the laughing stock of the world," he says. He urges al-Qaeda to "stop rushing into action and take time out to consider all the fatal and successive disasters that have afflicted us during a period of no more than six months".
West Point academics say the documents add significantly to knowledge about al-Qaeda.
The most striking reveal al-Qaeda's personnel policies. The "employment contract" lists many requirements of recruits: obedience, secrecy, avoiding all links to other groups, being physically healthy, having integrity on matters of religion and morality and reciting the pledge to al-Qaeda.
A draft of al-Qaeda "bylaws" stipulates extra pay of 700 rupees a month for each additional wife as well as 20,000 rupees for married members to buy furniture and free health care.
The bylaws describe an organisational structure headed by an "emir" and "command council", which in turn oversee an "external relations branch" and "executive council", a "military committee", "security committee" and "political committee".
The military committee has a special "nuclear weapons" section, but there are no further details.
Job descriptions are set out in detail. To qualify as "emir", the leader (presumably bin Laden) should not be "too anxious to be an emir" and must have "adequate knowledge to qualify him to carry out the responsibilities".
The chairman of the military committee must be, among other things, older than 40 and "a university graduate, preferably from a military academy".
Jarret Brachman, the terrorism centre's director of research, said he believes some extremist groups, such as al-Qaeda's branch in Saudi Arabia or Jemaah Islamiah in South-East Asia, still use formal contracts.
Al-Qaeda's attention to publicity is apparent. A memo to bin Laden by "Abu Huthayfa" in Kandahar in June 2000 stresses the importance of better propaganda. He praises bin Laden as a "star", but complains that al-Qaeda suffers from "a political vacuum".
...Paris Hilton? That is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoo 2003.
Posted by: Mike Kozlowski ||
02/23/2006 6:47 Comments ||
Umm... I do have a life, B-whatever. Several of them, in one of which I was an AF E-6. Also a website of my own, where commercial, off-topic, comment spam is deleted ruthlessly. The management of Rantburg is equally vigilant about maintaining the same high standards.
We've been having connectivity problems for much of the day at the provider level, as you've probably noticed.
Please welcome the fine anuses at 18.104.22.168, 22.214.171.124. 126.96.36.199, and 188.8.131.52 to our list of banned IPs. Give 'em a big hand for their help in keeping my blood pressure from getting too low.
Fred - on a Linux system you can change the default sshd port to something other than 22. It won't stop a determined hacker from attacking (after first port-scanning). But it'll keep the random script kiddies out.
My servers have that problem too, but it can be tempered by limiting the grace time from connect to login to something like 30 seconds and max 2 attempt. That way those dictionary attackss will go way down.
And since this is a remote machine you'll have to reboot the machine for the changes to take affect.
Serious execute man sshd_config for all the options. sshd is wonderful work of unix technology.
A multi-volume chronology and reference guide set detailing three years of the Mexican Drug War between 2010 and 2012.
Rantburg.com and borderlandbeat.com correspondent and author Chris Covert presents his first non-fiction work detailing
the drug and gang related violence in Mexico.
Chris gives us Mexican press dispatches of drug and gang war violence
over three years, presented in a multi volume set intended to chronicle the death, violence and mayhem which has
dominated Mexico for six years.