Target Centermass

9/28/2006

Al Qaeda in Iraq Leader Speaks, Calls for Help

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:24 pm

4000 foreign fighters slain

More than 4000 foreign fighters have been killed in Iraq while fighting US-led forces and the American-backed government, al Qaeda’s leader in Iraq said in an audio tape issued on the internet today.

“More than 4000 muhajir (foreign fighters) and many more of the supporters of righteousness (Iraqi fighters) have given their blood to Iraq,” said the speaker, identified as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir.

Iraqi al-Qaida chief calls for kidnapping foreigners

Abu Ayyub al-Masri, chief of the al-Qaida in Iraq, called on his followers to capture foreigners in a bid to free a Muslim cleric jailed in the United States, said an audio tape issued on Internet Thursday.

“I call on every holy fighter in Iraq to strive during this holy month (of Ramadan) … to capture some Western Christians to exchange them for our imprisoned sheikh,” al-Masri said in the tape whose authenticity could not be verified.

He was referring to the Egyptian cleric Omar Abdel-Rahman, who was jailed in the United States since 1995 over charges linked to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York.

Al-Masri also urged Muslims to make the holy month of Ramadan a “month of holy war”. Ramadan began last weekend across the Muslim world.

Al-Qaida seeks to recruit nuclear scientists

The new leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, in an audio message posted on a website yesterday, called for explosives experts and nuclear scientists to join his group’s holy war against the West.

“The field of jihad (holy war) can satisfy your scientific ambitions, and the large American bases (in Iraq) are good places to test your unconventional weapons, whether biological or dirty, as they call them,” said the man, who identified himself as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir — also known as Abu Ayyub al-Masri — the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq.

They are bleeding, and rather badly at that, but they are desperate and dangerous and always looking to up the stakes.

In the Bullpen‘s Chad Evans has a good bit more analysis on the tape and also looks at an apparent splintering in Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi “army.”

Beijing Secretly Fires Lasers to Disable U.S. Satellites

Filed under: — Gunner @ 12:51 am

If this is accurate, then it is a surprisingly huge provocative move by the Chinese.

China has secretly fired powerful laser weapons designed to disable American spy satellites by “blinding” their sensitive surveillance devices, it was reported yesterday.

The hitherto unreported attacks have been kept secret by the Bush administration for fear that it would damage attempts to co-opt China in diplomatic offensives against North Korea and Iran.

Sources told the military affairs publication Defense News that there had been a fierce internal battle within Washington over whether to make the attacks public. In the end, the Pentagon’s annual assessment of the growing Chinese military build-up barely mentioned the threat.

“After a contentious debate, the White House directed the Pentagon to limit its concern to one line,” Defense News said.

The document said that China could blind American satellites with a ground-based laser firing a beam of light to prevent spy photography as they pass over China.

According to senior American officials: “China not only has the capability, but has exercised it.” American satellites like the giant Keyhole craft have come under attack “several times” in recent years.

Although the Chinese tests do not aim to destroy American satellites, the laser attacks could make them useless over Chinese territory.

The American military has been so alarmed by the Chinese activity that it has begun test attacks against its own satellites to determine the severity of the threat.

Satellites are especially vulnerable to attack because they have predetermined orbits, allowing an enemy to know where they will appear.

“The Chinese are very strategically minded and are extremely active in this arena. They really believe all the stuff written in the 1980s about the high frontier,” said one senior former Pentagon official.

There has been increasing alarm in parts of the American military establishment over China’s growing military ambitions.

Military experts have already noted that Chinese military expenditure is increasingly designed to challenge American military pre-eminence by investing in weaponry that can attack key systems such as aircraft carriers and satellites.

At the same time, China is engaged in a large-scale espionage effort against American high-tech firms working on projects such as the multibillion-pound DD(X) destroyer programme.

While at times the Chinese may find itself on the same side of an issue as the U.S., that in no ways paints them as friends or even tepid allies. One could argue that this is just a response eventually to be expected by a historically secretive China, but Taiwan and any other nations currently enjoying a relatively stable Asia Pacific should be sweating, especially coupled with the recent Chinese effort to modernize their military. Taiwan’s security is based solely upon the ability to fend off any invasion; should China be able to establish a toehold on the island and defend its logistical lines, if only briefly, then Taiwan is lost. The ability of the U.S. to support Taiwan in such an engagement lies only in prevention — our naval and air forces can only defend the island and our current military can not evict the Chinese from a conquered Taiwan.

Key to all of this is either complete surprise by the Chinese or an established ability to withstand an initial American naval response. China is now working to blind our eyes in space and they have already confronted our intel gathering by air on their borders, and their ability to successfully confront the U.S. Navy on and below the high seas is increasing.

Yes, their intentions are not good. No, we are not keeping pace with or even really seeming to realize their rapidly growing challenge.

9/27/2006

Nato ‘Must Speed up Reaction’ to Taliban

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:31 pm

The British defense minister, deservedly peeved at the lack of timely support coming from the bulk of the non-English-speaking NATO members while his countrymen fight, criticized the alliance today for its inability to rapidly respond in the Afghan theater.

Nato takes too long to build forces for its missions and needs to be able to respond more rapidly to requests for troops, Des Browne, the UK’s defence minister, said on Wednesday.

Speaking the day before a meeting of defence ministers of the 26-member alliance in Slovenia that is set to discuss a military request for more Nato troops in Afghanistan, Mr Browne said Nato faced a short-term test in getting “boots on the ground or the equipment in to support them” in Afghanistan.

He said Nato was rising to the challenge in Afghanistan, where it has more than 20,000 troops in place, but has struggled to find extra forces to meet unexpectedly fierce resistance from the Taliban militia. But he said there were lessons to be learnt from the deployment and he would tell the other ministers that Nato needed to modernise the way it generated its forces.

“It needs to look at its structures and its bureaucracy so that it can generate force in a way that responds in real time to the needs. I think it’s becoming apparent in Afghanistan that the process of discussion is more complex than it needs to be,” he said in a telephone interview from Manchester where he was attending the Labour party’s annual conference.

UK officials said each country needed to look at its own operations but said too many Nato troops were still tied up in headquarters operations, for example.

Mr Browne said Nato’s operations in southern Afghanistan, both those led by the Canadians in Kandahar and the British in Helmand, had been successful, but work was needed in reconstruction to improve the way the country was governed and to build economic opportunities.

Mr Browne said Nato needed to build a more comprehensive approach to its missions, bringing civilian agencies more closely into its operations. Officials said this would require closer co-operation with other bodies such as the United Nations and the World Bank.

Frankly, NATO needs a great many improvements that take precedence over any notion of closer cooperation with the UN. After all, we’re talking about an alliance that suffers delays while just creating a rapid reaction force.

9/26/2006

EU Pressed on Illegal African Immigrants

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:47 pm

It seems that the problem of illegal immigration is not one that is the sole possession of the United States. It also seems that, of countries currently facing the issue, some have voluntarily placed themselves in a position that forces them to seek externally for approval to deal with their own immigration conundrums.

The leaders of Italy, France and Spain sent a letter to the European Union on Monday, urging the bloc to approve measures to help them cope with the flood of illegal migrants from Africa.

EU justice and interior ministers differed over how to tackle the problem during two-day talks last week in Tampere, Finland, meant to boost efforts to achieve a common immigration and asylum policy by 2010.

Premier Romano Prodi, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and French President Jacques Chirac proposed organizing a conference in Libya between the EU and the African Union and asked for additional financing, Prodi’s office said in a statement.

The letter was sent to Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

“The basis for this joint initiative … is an awareness that the phenomenon requires measures that go well beyond those that are available to single member states, and requires a collective effort on the part of the EU,” the statement said.

France, Italy and Spain also asked that “special attention” be paid to plans for joint maritime patrols in the Mediterranean and urged financial and technical aid for the migrants’ countries of origin.

The three asked that the proposals be discussed at an informal summit of European leaders scheduled Oct. 20 in the Finnish town of Lahti.

Prodi’s office said the letter, which followed “intense contacts” between Rome, Paris and Madrid, also was signed by Greece, Cyprus, Malta, Portugal and Slovenia.

More than 23,000 migrants have made dangerous ocean crossings from northwest Africa to Spain’s Canary Islands so far this year, leading to the drowning of many and a near-collapse of the system of holding facilities on the islands.

These may seem to be small numbers compared to what the U.S. is inundated with from our far too open borders. However, noticably absent from this story is the nature of these illegals. The countries of Europe are already having issues controlling the radical Islamist nature that has prevailed in many parts of the North African enclaves that have stemmed from their generous immigration policies; even less hope for assimilation can be assumed for those choosing to illegally enter into these three states. The possibility for improvement on the issue for France, Italy and Spain is reduced further by the fact that they feel the need to turn to the EU for “measures” to secure their own sovereign borders.

They crawdad to Islamist terror. They coddle local radical enclaves by handling riotous behaviour with an easily misinterpreted (or perhaps properly interpreted) kids-glove approach. They surrender the ability to enforce their own immigration policies to a “greater” collection of countries. These are no longer independent countries; rather, they are milestones to be checked off by our radical expansionist Islamist enemies.

Here’s hoping a touch of national spine arises amongst them before Europe is lost to Eurabia.

British Troops Kill al Qaeda Fugitive

Filed under: — Gunner @ 12:12 am

The bastard escaped captivity in Afghanistan only to reach his own death in Iraq.

British forces killed a top terrorist leader yesterday, an al Qaeda leader who escaped from a US prison in Afghanistan and returned to Iraq.

Omar al Faruq was killed in a predawn raid on his home in Basra by 250 troops from the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment. He was killed after he opened fire on British soldiers entering his home, said Major Charlie Burbridge, a British forces spokesman.

The Ministry of Defence said al Faruq was closely linked to terrorist activity such as murders and kidnappings.

“We had information that a terrorist of considerable significance was hiding in Basra. As a result of that information we conducted an operation in an attempt to arrest him,” Burbridge said.

“During the attempted arrest Omar Faruq was killed, which is regrettable because we wanted to arrest him.”

He said he could not comment on whether Faruq was the leader of al Qaeda’s southeast Asia operations.

However, a Basra police officer said it was the same man, adding al Faruq was an expert bomb-maker.

The officer said al Faruq was living in Basra under the name Mahmoud Ahmed and had entered Iraq three months ago.

Neighbours said al Faruq was a member of al Qaeda and had received training in camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Al Faruq was one of four al Qaeda suspects who broke out of the prison in Bagram, the main US base in Afghanistan, in July 2005. The escape was an embarrassment for the US military, and the Pentagon waited until November to confirm it.

Al Faruq and three other escapees later appeared in a video sent to the Dubai-based television station Al Arabiya and boasted of their feat.

The story rang familiar and piqued my curiousity and, yes, I had blogged the original news of the escape. At the time, I stated that I hoped to be able to follow up on this story. Well, here I am and here, more than fourteen months later, is the follow-up: scratch one bad guy.

It does appear that al Faruq, a.k.a. Mahmood Ahmad from Kuwait, was a bigger dog in the fight than we realized at the time. That, or he was just a rapid promotee in opening-rich environment that we have bloodily provided the terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan. Oh yeah, despite some that insist that the conflict in Iraq is still a separate fight than the war against Islamist terror in the Afghan theater, this little story of an enemy’s commute to a new office should end such an argument … but sadly it won’t.

9/25/2006

Hariri Probe Uncovers Links to Other Assassinations

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:40 pm

The sticky strands of a murderous web are on the verge of being brought into light as an assassination investigation leads to links of others in Lebanon.

A U.N. investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri has established links to 14 other political killings in Lebanon. A new report on the status of the probe says investigators are developing new leads as they move closer to pressing formal charges.

An interim report by Belgian prosecutor Serge Brammertz confirms that a suicide bomber detonated the massive truck bomb that killed Rafik Hariri. The 22-page report says crime scene evidence indicates the bomber was a man in his early twenties who probably was not from Lebanon.

Mr. Hariri and 22 others died in a massive blast in a Beirut suburb on February 14, 2005.

Earlier reports by Brammertz’s predecessor Detlev Mehlis had implicated Syrian intelligence officials in the attack. Mehlis criticized authorities in Damascus for failing to cooperate with investigators. Syria has staunchly denied involvement, and condemned the assassination.

The latest Brammertz report avoids naming suspects, and says Syria’s cooperation in recent months has been generally satisfactory.

Brammertz does, however, confirm earlier indications that the assassination was a carefully orchestrated operation carried out by a team of professionals. He says his investigators have uncovered evidence of what he calls “a complex network of telecommunications traffic between a large number” of suspects.

Brammertz also suggests the possibility of high-level involvement, saying his probe is closing in on what he calls “those who participated at different levels”.

The Security Council, which authorized the probe, earlier gave Brammertz permission to expand its scope to include other political killings in Lebanon at about the same time. America’s U.N. Ambassador John Bolton says the latest report establishes clear links that may shed light on who is behind all the assassinations.

“The evidence coming out in the investigation about the linkages among these 15 assassinations is significant,” said John Bolton. “This is something that Mr. Brammertz himself has deemed to be important because evidence that one can uncover about all 15 investigations can have a cumulative effect in showing the pattern, the activity and perhaps the direction and control of who actually ordered the assassinations as well as how they were carried out, and who carried them out.”

Bolton says the investigation appears to be moving into the final phase, when the prosecutor will present his evidence in a Lebanese court.

Yes, it certainly appears that the investigation is muddling through a rather sprawling web of bloodshed and victims. Anybody want to guess who is the spider lurking in the middle amongst the Lebanese bodies?

It should also be noted that, besides the expected fingering of Syria that should stem from this investigation, the bold assassination also resulted in the surprising backblast that was the Cedar Revolution. That was certainly a miscalculation that I’m sure is greatly regretted by some key folk in Damascus.

Somalis Killed in Protests against Islamic Militiamen

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:21 pm

Obviously, violence and madness in Somalia is nothing new. Black Hawk Down, anyone? However, things have changed of late, as radical Islamists move ever closer to taking complete control of the strife-ridden country. I have been negligent in pointing this out, so here’s the latest bit o’ news that should boost the Somali tourist industry.

Islamic fighters in the Somali port of Kismayo opened fire yesterday on residents who were burning tyres, throwing stones and chanting to protest against their takeover of the city hours earlier.

A 13-year-old boy was shot dead and two other people were injured as violence raged for several hours in Somalia’s third biggest city, witnesses said.
Click to learn more…

“We have been taken over by extremists, the Islamic courts have taken us by force, and now they are firing at us,” said Dahabo Dirie, a protester.

The Mogadishu-based Islamic militiamen poured into Kismayo overnight to extend their grip on south-central Somalia and effectively flank the powerless central government on three sides.

Ministers accused the militias of mounting the offensive using fighters from Eritrea, Pakistan and Yemen.

“There are foreign forces … which attacked Kismayo,” Hussein Mohamed Farah Aideed, the Somali interior minister said.

A militia official, who spoke to a crowd in Kismayo before the protests began, said the movement was receiving help from abroad, but did not specify.

Unfortunately, the kinds of tourists that developments such as this will draw are the radical Islamist expansionists and jihadists. Indeed, while the media blasts the clarion call of a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan, that resurgence has only led to them dying by the bushel in much the same manner that they have in every one of their annual spring offensivepaloozas since they were swept from power. The only obvious differences this year is that they’ve garnered far more press for their strengthening and they are becoming martyrs in great numbers at the hands of so-called “second rate crusaders.”

Iran is an obvious problem, and its rulers seem willing to work with the al Queda-type terrorist groups … to a degree. They share a common enemy in the Great Satan, but both have extremely different views about their hopes for the world and the Middle East in the event of success.

Obviously, the radical Islamists that once found a home in Afghanistan, a home that harbored their training camps and allowed them to project their terror, are under too much pressure there now to be anything more than a threat against the westerners in that country. Likewise, they cannot find a strong base for their own growth in the long term in Iran. At this point, an Islamist seizure of Somalia would seem to be the best hope for a new base from which to train the jihadists and expand the bloodshed. Luckily, any such shift is something that has been in our game-planning for some time now.

Quote of the Week, 25 SEP 06

Filed under: — Gunner @ 9:27 am

Anyone who has to fight, even with the most modern weapons, against an enemy in complete command of the air, fights like a savage against modern European troops, under the same handicaps and with the same chances of success.

-Erwin Rommel

9/21/2006

A Must Read: ‘You’ll Never Know What We Did’

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:55 pm

Often times I have bemoaned the coverage of our efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq by our media. I’ve repeatedly pointed out the wealth of words for every setback, the ignoring or twisting of any success, the near void that is the coverage of our heroes and the harsh brass trumpeting of our villains and their misdeeds.

I’m man enough to admit that I have also overlooked an important piece of our efforts — the contractors. Callimachus at Done with Mirrors has a personal tie to the scene and brings us an up-close-and-personally-bitter look at this unreported story.

My friend, Kat, worked in and around Iraq for roughly two years, for a U.S.-based contractor doing reconstruction work there.

I’ve picked up bits and pieces of her story as she’s written to me from abroad, but recently she’s been back in a place with regular Internet access and some time on her hands, and I finally got to ask her some questions and she got to write some full answers. We’ve talked a lot about her experience over there, and the more I read the more I wanted to tell it. She gave me permission to distill down some of her letters and our chats into a post.

Reconstruction is the eternally under-reported third leg of the Iraq story (the other two are overthrow of Saddam and removal of his threat, and establishing a stable Iraqi popular control of the country). It was part of what we went in there to do, and its success or failure is part of the full measure of success or failure of our entire operation.

Yet on this important story, our media blew it. Who can name a single contractor who did work in Iraq, besides the one that begins with “H” and maybe Blackwater USA? How many people can describe accurately the relationship between Halliburton and KBR? How many faces of Iraq contractors did you ever see in the news, except the ones who got kidnapped and beheaded? How many were the subject of news stories, or were quoted in any of them?

With that intro, Callimachus essentially hands the reigns over to his contractor friend. At times, it’s a tale only an accountant would love. At others, when the job description fades and the emotion seeps in, it becomes a personal tale that must be read but you’ll probably never find in newsprint. Here’s a little tidbit:

I know that in comparative numbers there really won’t be enough of us coming back from Iraq to confront or challenge the MSM. Even if we all gathered together in Washington for a week to bitch and moan about it, we still couldn’t assure that we were covered. We know you’ll never know what we did.

So what many of us are left with is a really nasty taste in our mouths. It’s hurt me almost as much to be telling this as it has been to live through it, and I know I’m not alone in my feelings. I feel so very sorry for and protective of the soldiers and marines who protected me. They’re all my little brothers now, and I feel the same towards the inexperienced Iraqi soldiers who put themselves in harm’s way for me.

Okay, one more:

Beyond a couple of poorly received White House briefings that went all but completely ignored, I never saw a thing mentioned about the massive reconstruction projects underway in Iraq. There were no fact-filled and hard-hitting stories on those jobs. By and large, the US and European publics are completely clueless about the rebuilding process and the complexities that have been involved in it. Because the press ignored it completely.

Instead they waited like vultures for the first monetary discrepancies to hit, under Halliburton of course. Because of Dick Cheney, it’s what everybody on the left was wanting to hear, and nothing else mattered. The press lept on that with full claws fully extended, never paying a moment’s notice to the realities of large-scale construction projects.

[…]

Within weeks of my arrival in Iraq, I knew exactly what would happen to US public opinion if media coverage continued as it was at the time.

Seriously, go read it already. Hat tip to Gates of Vienna.

Citizen Soldier: a Slick Short

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:37 pm

I first mentioned the short film “Citizen-Soldier,” a two-minute public relations movie by the Army National Guard that recently ran in about 2,000 theaters, back in August. Until today, I had not had the good fortune to see any of it.

RTO Trainer at Signaleer has almost all of it available, and I must say I’m impressed. Go watch your citizen soldiers, their actions and their motivations. Hooah!

While your visiting, RTO Trainer has also collected several slides demonstrating the planned reorganization for the Guard. You know, if you care about that sort of thing or are just really into slides with colorful states all over them.

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