Monday, July 30, 2007
One year after the war with Israel, triggered by Hezbollah's cross-border rocket attacks, Lebanon's roads are still in desperate need of repair. But the task of reconstruction has become doubly important. The rebuilding now taking place across the country is an intensely political race for the support of Lebanon's people. Almost unnoticed by the outside world, Iran has seized the chance to win popular approval.
"From the people of Iran to the people of Lebanon", reads the slogan carried on countless hoarding, all trumpeting achievements like "200 projects" and "510 km of roads". So far, Iran has rebuilt 200 schools, 150 places of worship, 30 clinics and 25 bridges. The official budget for this year is about £60 million.
Hezbollah runs most of the local councils in the areas where the projects operate. Here, construction work is given to local companies - but only those managed by Hezbollah supporters. More...
Friday, July 27, 2007
The United States Air Force is actively seeking "cyberspace attack scenarios," according to documents posted on a government Web site for contractors. The attack strategies should "disrupt, deny, degrade, destroy or deceive an adversary's information system," according to the Air Force Requests for Information (RFIs) obtained by ABC News. Experts say so much of military logistics are dependent on computer systems that any kind of disruption would give the attacker an advantage.
Earlier this year Estonia claimed that state-sponsored Russian hackers had attacked official Web sites in retaliation for the removal of a Soviet-era monument in its capital, Tallinn. Government e-mail and private online banking had to be shut down temporarily while telecommunications companies and news organizations were also affected. More...
During a high-level meeting in Riyadh in January, Saudi officials confronted a top American envoy with documents that seemed to suggest that Iraq's prime minister could not be trusted. One purported to be an early alert from the prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, to the radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr warning him to lie low during the coming American troop increase, which was aimed in part at Mr. Sadr's militia. Another document purported to offer proof that Mr. Maliki was an agent of Iran.
The American envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, immediately protested to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, contending that the documents were forged. But, said administration officials who provided an account of the exchange, the Saudis remained skeptical, adding to the deep rift between America's most powerful Sunni Arab ally, Saudi Arabia, and its Shiite neighbor, Iraq.
Now, Bush administration officials are voicing increasing anger at what they say has been Saudi Arabia's counterproductive role in the Iraq war. They say that beyond regarding Mr. Maliki as an Iranian agent, the Saudis have offered financial support to Sunni groups in Iraq. Of an estimated 60 to 80 foreign fighters who enter Iraq each month, American military and intelligence officials say nearly half are coming from Saudi Arabia. More...
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Old habits die hard: A yellow cross fixed by German NATO to the door of a Serbian house to show that Christians live there.
Hiding Genocide in Kosovo: A Crime against God and Humanity by Iseult Henry. The American Council for Kosovo says this about the book:
At a time when the Western powers -- foremost among them the United States -- prepare what they hope will be an endgame for their predetermined solution to the Serbian question, now comes a searing ray of truth that cuts through the fog of lies in which Kosovo has been shrouded.
While Western policymakers (the U.S., EU, UN, NATO, OSCE, etc.) delude themselves that they are buying the goodwill of the Muslim world by the sacrifice of a small Christian community in Kosovo, the perpetrators know this is yet another step toward Islamic dominance of all Europe. This is a struggle for the soul and future not just for Kosovo, not just for Serbia, but for an entire continent.
Recent kidnappings and other attacks indicate the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan is moving closer to Kabul. The Christian Science Monitor reported the kidnapping of 23 South Korean aid workers occurred on one of Afghanistan's major highways between Kabul and Kandahar. The insurgency, which resumed in areas bordering Pakistan, is spreading inland. The South Koreans were abducted in Ghazni, which has no border with Pakistan. The Monitor quoted Joanna Nathan, a Kabul-based security analyst for the International Crisis Group, as saying, "Ghazni is important as the gateway to Kabul, and control of that road is very important, both symbolically and practically."
Taleban says hostage talks in sensitive phase
Monday, July 23, 2007
While Osama bin Laden has been keeping a low profile—he may be ill, U.S. intel officials say—Zawahiri has moved aggressively to take operational control of the group. In so doing, Zawahiri has provoked a potentially serious ideological split within Al Qaeda over whether he is growing too powerful, and has become obsessed with toppling Musharraf.
Zawahiri's personal jihad has angered Al Qaeda's so-called Libyan faction, which intel officials believe may be led by the charismatic Abu Yahya al-Libi, who made a daring escape from an American high-security lockup at Baghram air base in 2005. The Libyan Islamists, along with bin Laden and other senior Qaeda leaders, would love to see Musharraf gone, too. But they fear that Zawahiri is inviting the Pakistani leader's wrath, prematurely opening up another battlefront.
John Arquilla, an intelligence expert at the Naval Postgraduate School who closely follows radical Islamist traffic, calls it "the battle for Al Qaeda's strategic soul. There is a profound strategic debate over whether to focus on overturning the government in Pakistan ... because that puts them in control of a nuclear capacity." More...
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Militants linked to al-Qaeda are reported to have staged a military parade in the village of Miqdadiya, in Diyala province north of Baghdad, to demonstrate their viability in the face of a massive US offensive in the area. Despite the presence of 10,000 US and Iraqi troops in the Sunni-dominated province, more than 250 militants took to the streets in a show of force, the news agency, Voices of Iraq, said. The terrorists marched through the al-Muallimin quarter of Miqdadiya, around 50 kilometres from Baaquba, the capital of the province where militants linked to al-Qaeda have been under attack.They reportedly marched in the streets thrusting their weapons in the air and carrying flags with 'Iraqi Islamic State' inscribed on them. More...
For two decades until his capture in 1994, Carlos the Jackal murdered, bombed and kidnapped his way to infamy, retaining the title of world’s most dangerous terrorist before Osama Bin Laden stole his crown.
But speaking from the Clairvaux prison in northeast France last week he berated terrorist cells said to have targeted Britain, criticising them for plotting to kill ordinary people. In his first telephone interview with a newspaper, the Venezuelan-born Vladimir Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, 57, said he was saddened by any loss of life in London, where he lived as a young man. He also attacked what he called a lack of professionalism in some cells linked to Al-Qaeda. He condemned Al-Qaeda followers without specific targets, saying: “They are not professionals. They’re not organised. They don’t even know how to make proper explosives or proper detonators.” More...
Thursday, July 19, 2007
US Col. Thomas Kelly reported finding four of the explosively-formed projectiles in Herat near the Iranian border and one a month ago in the capital Kabul. He said Taliban insurgents may have access to the device but may not yet know how to use them.
DEBKAfile reveal that the six Spanish peacekeepers killed in South Lebanon last month were not attacked by a suicide bomber but an early version of the armor-piercing EFP disguised as a rock. This model was developed by Hizballah and widely used with deadly effect against Israeli forces maintaining a security belt in South Lebanon in the 1980s.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in June that "substantial" quantities of Iranian weapons are flowing into Afghanistan and that it was difficult to believe the Iranian government was not aware of it.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Pakistani intelligence agencies may have played a role in derailing the Lal Masjid deal by jamming the mobile phone of slain radical cleric Maulana Abdul Rashid Ghazi when he virtually agreed to the demands of negotiators. A key negotiator has suspected the role of the agencies in bringing the last-minute negotiations with Ghazi to a halt. "After the repeated attempts in getting Ghazi on the phone failed, decision-makers decided to start the operation." More...
Hamas' control over the Gaza Strip is posing new challenges for Egypt. The least of these challenges is the concern that Hamas' rule over Gaza would benefit Egypt's banned Islamic movements, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas' control over Gaza brings to Egyptian borders two security threats that have been, for years, kept at bay. Hamas' seizure of Gaza is likely to grant Iran additional access to the core of the Middle East. The cornered Hamas is likely to consolidate its alliance with Iran, which would bring the rising tension between Iran, the United States and Israel closer to Egypt. More...
The FBI is investigating an alleged human smuggling operation based in Chaparral, N.M., that agents say is bringing "Iraqis and other Middle Eastern" individuals across the Rio Grande from Mexico. The FBI report, issued last week, says the smuggling organization "used to smuggle Mexicans, but decided to smuggle Iraqi or other Middle Eastern individuals because it was more lucrative." Each individual would be charged a fee of $20,000 to $25,000, according to the report. The people to be smuggled would "gather at a house on the Mexican side of the border" and then cross the Rio Grande into the U.S., the report says. "Unidentified individuals would then transport them to train stations in El Paso, Texas or Belen, New Mexico".Until recently, the United States has kept its doors all but shut to the estimated two million refugees fleeing the violence in Iraq. More...
Sunday, July 15, 2007
He himself said ‘By Him in Whose Hands my life is!I would love to attack and be martyred, then attack again and be martyred, then attack again and be martyred.’
The seal of the prophets and all messengers (reference to Prophet Mohammed), prayers and peace be upon him, wished this status. So be alert, be wise and think.What is this status that the best of mankind wished for himself? He wished to be a martyr. He wished upon himself this status. Happy is the one who was chosen by god as a martyr.
The remainder of the video includes various clips showing jihadist fighters reading their final wills, as well as statements from new Al Qaeda in Afghanistan commander Abu Yazid.
According to senior intelligence officials, the troops who finally took control discovered letters from Osama Bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri. They were written to Abdul Rashid Ghazi and Abdul Aziz, the brothers who ran the mosque and adjacent madrasah.
Government sources said up to 18 foreign fighters --including Uzbeks, Egyptians and several Afghans-- had arrived weeks before the final shootout and set up firing ranges to teach students, including children, how to handle weapons. More...
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Fearing a possible coded signal to attack, U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials are studying an unusual pattern of words in the latest audiotape from al Qaeda's No. 2 man, Ayman al Zawahri.
On the tape, posted on the Internet Wednesday, Zawahri repeats one phrase three times at the end of his message: Have I not conveyed? Oh God be my witness.
A new FBI analysis of al Qaeda messages, obtained by the Blotter on ABCNews.com, warns that "continued messages that convey their strategic intent to strike the U.S. homeland and U.S. interests worldwide should not be discounted as merely deceptive noise."
Intelligence analysts are also investigating technical clues that Zawahri's most recent audio message was phoned in via computer phone, using voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP.
Friday, July 13, 2007
The Afghan government and Nato have said publicly that figures for civilian casualties after military action are often exaggerated or fabricated.
Lt-Col Maria Carl gave a press conference alongside the Afghan defence ministry spokesman, Gen Zahir Azimi. Lt-Col Carl said accounts of civilian casualties after military engagements often turned out to be inflated or completely fabricated. She gave recent examples, including village elders' accounts of more than 100 civilian deaths in western Afghanistan a few days ago. Lt-Col Carl said it was now clear that no civilians had died there, saying that in fact foreign and Afghan forces had moved villagers to safety. Gen Azimi from the defence ministry said the Taleban regularly forced villagers to phone media outlets with inflated figures, threatening to behead them if they did not do so. More...
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
The self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq has given Iran a two-month ultimatum to stop meddling in Iraqi affairs or face all-out war, according to an audiotape posted on the Internet Monday. "We give ... the leaders of Iran a period of two months to stop all forms of support to the rejectionists of Iraq, and stop direct and indirect interference in the affairs of the Islamic state," said a voice attributed to the group's leader Abu Omar Al Baghdadi. The term rejectionists is used by Sunni militant groups to refer to Shiites. "Otherwise, expect a fierce war that will annihilate you, which we have been preparing for over the past four years and just waiting to issue the orders to wage the campaign," the voice said. The tape was posted on a Web site usually used by Islamist militant groups but its authenticity could not be verified. The Islamic State of Iraq is an alliance of Sunni groups led by Al Qaeda in Iraq. Iraq's Shiite Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki warned late June that Al Qaeda extremists in Iraq had "wide-ranging and dangerous plans" to destabilize neighboring countries. More...
Ceding the Fall of Pakistan - Steve Schippert
Thursday, July 5, 2007
A sociologist in the Iranian Ministry of Welfare, Sa’id Madani, believes that over the past three decades the level of poverty in Iranian society has widened greatly. According to Madani, 50% of Iranians lived under the poverty line in the 1980s, but since then this level has continued to rise, reaching 70-80% in recent years.
In a newspaper article, Madani wrote that the Iranian national income per capita at fixed price (excluding inflation) was lower in 2003 and 2004 than in 1977 and 1978 (before the Islamic revolution). More...
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
A suspected al Qaeda suicide bomber plowed his car Monday into a group of Spanish tourists visiting a temple linked to the ancient Queen of Sheba, killing seven Spaniards and two Yemenis in a part of Yemen known for its lawlessnessThe attack came less than two weeks after the U.S. Embassy warned Americans to avoid the area, which until recent years was rarely visited by tourists because of frequent kidnappings of foreigners.
The Queen of Sheba temple, which is known in Yemen by its Arabic name, Balqis, is about 85 miles east of the capital, Sanaa. More...
The channel report of Glasgow attack suggested they were staged by the UK government, in order to tarnish the image of Muslims enraged by the knighting of Salman Rushdie.
The website also included a "quick vote" poll - "Do you think the withdrawal of the occupation forces is the best solution to the restoration of peace in Iraq?" - but, as if to invite mockery, refused to allow users to see the results.
Inside Iran, meanwhile, the channel itself did not seem to be available at all. At the launch of Press TV, at the headquarters of state broadcaster IRIB, president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said its goal was to counter "propaganda" peddled by western channels. More...
A group rocks to reggae in front of a large star of David while a Jewish rabbi urges a return to the faith amid a cloud of smoke: welcome to a religious Woodstock on the West Bank.At least 1,000 people, from Orthodox youths wearing kippas to hippies sporting multi-colored ponchos, gathered on a summer night for the 8th edition of the "Festival of the End of Time." The setting is a pine forest in the Gush Etzion bloc of Jewish settlements. "This festival gives me spiritual power," gushes Elisheva, a 16-year-old girl from Jerusalem. "There are sparks of holiness in the air." Close to her, teenagers smoking narghiles sit on carpets, swaying to the music. A curtain is supposed to separate females and males during dancing but in the darkness the religious interdicts are quickly forgotten and everyone mixes freely. More...
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
He left Egypt for Afghanistan in 1988, and he is reported to have been a founding member of al-Qaeda in the same year. He accompanied bin Laden from Afghanistan to Sudan in 1991 and while there he served as the accountant for bin Laden's Sudan-based businesses—including his flagship company Wadi al-Aqiq. He also may have arranged the funding for the failed June 1995 assassination attempt by Egypt's Islamic Group against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa.
The veteran Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir recently said that Abu al-Yazid had just returned to Afghanistan from a two-year "jihadi mission" in Iraq. Given Abu al-Yazid's skill set, he probably assisted al-Qaeda in Iraq, and the nascent Islamic government of which it is a part, in strengthening their logistical, financial, media and administrative systems. More...
The Next Generation of Jihad
Sunday, July 1, 2007
Counter-terrorism analysts estimate that the apparently coordinated attacks in Great Britain are the work of a sleeper cell that could include as many as 20 individuals.
"You would need that many to pull off three different vehicle-borne explosions," said one former CIA official.
A massive manhunt is now underway across Great Britain for at least three suspects who officials say have been positively linked to the Friday attacks by surveillance photographs and forensic evidence, including fingerprints.
Adding to the intelligence failure, analysts said, is the fact that the driver of one of the failed car bombs had been arrested three years ago and released for lack of evidence. More...