Saturday, July 24, 2004

According to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), almost 80 percent of the country's estimated eligible voters have now registered to vote in the national polls scheduled for October.
Afghan security forces broke into the office of Iranian radio's Voice and Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Kabul on Tuesday, threatened the Iranian and Afghan staff, hauled them out of their office, and detained them in a security HQ in Kabul. The incident took place after an Afghan news source reported that US soldiers had sexually harassed some Afghan interpreters at Bagram air base to the north of Kabul. Apparently, the Iranian radio's employees in Kabul were detained for reporting the incident and their detention was a way of protesting against the dissemination of the report.
(Uncorroborated report)
Camilla Barry's trip to Afghanistan last year left her hungry for more.
"It was successful beyond my wildest dreams," said Barry, 50, a Mill Valley science teacher, who brought her passion for science and education to young children thirsty for knowledge. Barry will continue to share her love of education with more Afghan schoolchildren this summer. She left this week for about five weeks of working with students and teachers there. She'll be working with teachers at a school in Ghazni, Afghanistan, that has a sister classroom relationship with fifth-graders at Tyrrell Elementary School in South Hayward.
Aid workers and Afghan officials are struggling to avert a looming humanitarian crisis as thousands of Afghan refugees living in Pakistan pour across the border. Over 20,000 refugees have already crossed the border into Afghanistan's insurgency-hit south-eastern provinces, many of them leaving Pakistan after decades with only hours to pack what little they can carry, aid workers said.
Suspected Taliban rebels opened fire at Afghan troops and election workers in two attacks in Helmand late Thursday. The attacks sparked shootouts in which four fighters were killed, said Haji Wali, a spokesman for the Helmand governor. The first attack occurred late Thursday at Mama Karez as the soldiers patrolled in a pickup truck. Three Taliban were killed during the gun battle that ensued. Later, two Taliban opened fire on two pickup trucks carrying Afghan election workers in Lashkargah, Wali said. Security guards accompanying the election officials returned fire, killing one attacker, he said.
(Daily Times-Pakistan)
Security and political analysts said Washington had been unable to root out the terror threat from the region and bring real stability to Afghanistan, where Taliban fighters and their Islamic militant allies carry out deadly attacks almost daily.
"The war on terrorism is being lost by the Western alliance. Al Qaeda and their local allies today are much stronger in Pakistan," author and Afghan expert Ahmed Rashid told Reuters. He added that the Taliban were stronger in Afghanistan than at any time since their ouster to U.S.-led forces in late 2001. "The Taliban are determined to disrupt the elections. Iraq has diverted the Western military intelligence resources that should have sustained a long-term and consistent counter-terrorism strategy in this region," he said.
A remote-controlled bomb tore through an Afghan street as a US military convoy passed, wounding at least one US soldier, the American military said. But Afghan officials say the blast left four blood-covered US soldiers lying in the road...The US military said in a statement that a roadside bomb caused the blast. It said the wounded soldier, whose name wasn't released, was in stable condition and awaiting evacuation to Germany's Landstuhl Regional Medical Centre. It said the vehicle he'd been in was damaged. Afghan police and government officials said the bomb appeared to be hidden in a taxi on the roadside.
"When our forces reached the scene of the explosion, they saw four American soldiers lying on the road covered in blood. They were seriously wounded," said the deputy police chief of Kandahar province, General Salim Khan. Khalid Pashtun, a spokesman for Kandahar's governor, also said four soldiers were injured, as did another policeman at the scene, Tor Jan, and several Afghan witnesses.
It wasn't immediately possible to clarify the discrepancy between their account and the US military's.
It is unlikely that bin Laden could have returned to Afghanistan had Pakistan disapproved, said the report made public yesterday.
"The Pakistani military intelligence service probably had advance knowledge of his coming, and its officers may have facilitated his travel.
"During his entire time in Sudan, he had maintained guest houses and training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan. These were part of a larger network used by diverse organisations for recruiting and training fighters for Islamic insurgencies in such places as Tajikistan, Kashmir and Chechnya," it said.
The report said Pakistani intelligence officers reportedly introduced bin Laden to Taliban leaders in Kandahar to aid his reassertion of control over camps near Khowst, out of an apparent hope that he would now expand the camps and make them available for training Kashmiri militants.
Acting CIA Director John McLaughlin has pledged recently that Bin Laden would be caught. “We have pins on a map. We have reports,’ said a second senior CIA official, speaking of Bin Laden’s whereabouts. The officials briefed reporters at the CIA headquarters about a highly critical report released on Thursday by the presidential commission investigating the September 11 attacks...
Even today, intelligence veterans have said, the agency had no useful idea about where Bin Laden might be. “They have a general idea, but they don’t have specifics. They can put a pin on a map, but that pin is going to cover 40 square miles, and there is no guarantee he is in the specified area,” said Vince Cannistraro, a former CIA counter terrorism chief.
The forms of religiosity in Islam today are more or less the same as those found in Catholicism, Protestantism, and even Judaism. Contemporary adherents insist more on personal faith and individual spiritual experience. Such “born again” believers rebuild their identities through their rediscovery of religion.

With Islamic fundamentalism, too, we are not witnessing a traditional religion asserting itself against the Christian West. When the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan in 1996, they initially had excellent relations with the Americans, and Westerners could travel freely in Afghanistan between 1996 and 1998. The Taliban were not fighting Western culture, but traditional Afghan culture. Why forbid owning songbirds? Why ban kites? The rationale is common to all forms of fundamentalism: this world exists to prepare believers for salvation. The state’s role is not to ensure social justice and the rule of law, but to create opportunities — even through coercion — for believers to find salvation.
The Taliban’s argument was simple: if your bird starts singing while you are praying, you will be distracted and your prayer will be nullified. If you are a good Muslim, you will start again from the beginning. But, because we are unsure that you are a good Muslim, it is easier to forbid owning songbirds, so that they cannot jeopardise your salvation.
NATO today approved plans to provide extra help, including up to 1800 more troops, to Afghanistan to reinforce security before the presidential election due on October 9. The force will consist of a Spanish and an Italian battalion, who will join the 6500 NATO forces troops already deployed.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Gen Dostum, who was deputy defence minister in Afghanistan's first post-Taliban administration, remains a major powerbroker in the nation's affairs. He has retained effective control over large portions of the north of the country since the defeat of the Taliban in 2001. In April, Gen Dostum was accused by Mr Karzai's allies of driving a Kabul-appointed governor from a neighbouring north-eastern province. A former communist, Gen Dostum - a burly, moustachioed figure - has been an adept switcher of sides in the numerous invasions and civil wars which have ravaged Afghanistan since the Russians arrived in 1979.
The Army's Inspector General reported Thursday that 94 incidents of confirmed or possible detainee abuse had occurred in U.S. prison facilities throughout Iraq and Afghanistan, but it added that the incidents did not result from "systemic" problems, even though a months-long inspection found soldiers were inadequately trained and lacked proper supervision and clear orders.
THE Army's attempt to hold itself accountable for the abuse of foreign prisoners is off to a terrible start.
(Washington Post editorial)
Hundreds of alleged members of al-Qaeda, including 18 of its top leaders, and other terror groups are living in Iran, some under tight security, Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported Thursday. "More than 384 members of al-Qaeda and other terrorist organisations are present in Iran, including 18 senior leaders of Osama bin Laden’s network," the London-based daily said, citing a senior source in the Iranian presidency.
It takes 10 hours by car to travel 90 miles on the nauseatingly bad road to the Bamiyan Valley. The first stretch of the highway is quite smooth—it was built recently to shuttle American troops between Kabul and the massive military base at Bagram—but thereafter it turns into a rutted, cratered nightmare over a mountain pass.
(Slate dispatch 3)
600 troops from across Western Canada were busy packing and spending time with loved ones as they prepared to replace a battalion from the Quebec-based Royal 22nd Regiment. The task force of light armour, infantry and other troops is to provide reconnaissance support in Kabul and help the U.S. military train the Afghan national army.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Residents in Shakai said that security forces had moved further towards Santoi, Mantoi and Dand where several locations had been secured. The PAF warplanes also dropped bombs on the peaks of the forested Bosh Ghar mountain. Reports said that intense fighting was underway between the security forces and militants who were hiding in the mountains on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and using rockets, missiles, mortar shells and heavy machine-guns against the troops. Local people said that despite massive shellings and bombings, the militants were offering tough resistance to paramilitary forces and regular troops. Due to the bombing and artillery fire, incidents of forest fire had been reported from the Bosh Ghar area, posing threat to pine-nut trees.
All signs now point to another offensive, but this time Islamabad and Washington have agreed that US troops stationed across the border in Afghanistan will take an active part in the action on Pakistani soil, rather than wait for suspects to be flushed out into their waiting arms. Similarly, Pakistani troops will be able to engage in hot-pursuit operations into Afghan territory.
The evening meal in the dining tent was quieter than usual the day Cpl. David Fraise was killed. Soldiers traversed the gravel roads on Kandahar Air Field a bit slower. Everyone talked softly or remained silent, jaws clenched. The camp had been punched in the gut. A roadside bomb destroyed Fraise's armored Humvee that afternoon, wounding two other soldiers and taking his life. For Company A, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, this was its first casualty. The unit recently returned from Operation Blue Candle -- a week of missions disrupting the efforts of the Taliban -- which concluded without incident. I covered Company A, 1st and 3rd platoons, during Blue Candle, but Fraise belonged to 2nd Platoon, which was attached to another unit north of Kandahar. I didn't know Fraise, but I had met his friends. I had interviewed his commander and talked with soldiers who knew him. I felt connected somehow, even if obscurely.
Because I am not part of their unit -- I am in the National Guard and in public affairs -- I didn't know my place. Should I tell that story? Should I take pictures? Would I be intruding?
There are many strong believers in Company C, men who find solace in God's word and believe they will be saved regardless of what happens in combat. Some quote Scripture, others sit and read tabbed passages in their palm-size, military-issue, camou- flaged Bibles. They attend religious services at the Enduring Freedom Chapel on base, standing together to sing songs of praise.
It brings them peace.
"I have a calm assurance knowing God is with me," said 1st Lt. Steele McGonegal, 37, of Virginia Beach. "Thus, I have never felt nervous or the fear I have heard described."
Bamiyan, the Afghanistan territory made infamous when the Taliban destroyed magnificent Buddha statues carved into a gorge, is now the country's safest region. The central province, home to the Hazara minority, is seen by Britain, America and the peacekeepers of Nato as a model for other areas.
In a lengthy pretrial statement to the media, Mr. Idema claimed he was working with the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, a relatively new position established by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in the lead-up to the Iraq war.
At his trial, set to resume in about two weeks, Idema said he would produce recordings of phone conversations, e-mail records, and faxes to prove his claims. He named Heather Anderson, the acting director of security for Stephen Cambone, the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, as his main point of contact.
"We were in touch with the Pentagon, at the highest level, sometimes five times a day," said Idema, who wore military khakis and dark sunglasses. "Miss Anderson in fact applauded our efforts and told us in a phone conversation that in fact they wanted to place us under contract."
A Pentagon official in Washington, who requested anonymity, says "the only communication between the Department and Mr. Idema occurred when a routine security check was made to determine his status. That's it."
The background check was triggered by Idema's attempts to contact the Department of Defense, the official says.
If Idema's allegations are true, it could be a major embarrassment to the Bush administration, already stung by the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal in Iraq. As the trial in Kabul began Wednesday, three of the Afghans detained by Idema testified that they had been beaten, doused in boiling water, and fed only scraps of bread.
Mr. Cambone, an aide to Rumsfeld and the first ever undersecretary of defense for intelligence, has supported the use of private contractors in investigative work, according to published statements. He came under fire when the Abu Ghraib prison inquiry broke when it came to light that his office had approved interrogation practices that human rights activists say violate the Geneva Convention.
Thirsty US soldiers will be able to drink their own urine thanks to a revolutionary new pouch. American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan have been issued with the pouches that filter contaminated water making it fit to drink. The HydroPack means that soldiers can reduce the weight they have to carry around. Water can be taken from a septic tanks or toilet and within two hours it is turned into a litre of best quality water. Gerald Darsch, director of the US Defence Department's Combat Feeding Directorate, said: "Anything that can cut the weight down is literally a life-saver." The plastic bag inside the pouch filters 99.9% of microbes and toxic chemicals from the dirty water.
(Sky News-UK)
In another sign of stress on the military, the army has been forced to bring more new recruits immediately into the ranks to meet recruiting goals for 2004, instead of allowing them to defer entry until the next accounting year, which starts in October. As a result, recruiters will enter the new year without the usual cushion of incoming soldiers, making it that much harder to make their quotas for 2005.
The U.S. military has spent most of the $65 billion that Congress approved for fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and is scrambling to find $12.3 billion more from within the Defense Department to finance the wars through the end of the fiscal year, federal investigators said yesterday. The report from the Government Accountability Office, Congress's independent investigative arm, warned that the budget crunch is having an adverse impact on the military as it shifts resources to Iraq and away from training and maintenance in other parts of the world. The study -- the most detailed examination to date of the military's funding problems -- appears to contradict White House assurances that the services have enough money to get through the calendar year.
The U.S. military has assembled the most sophisticated fighting arsenal in the world with satellite-guided weapons and unmanned aerial vehicles that shoot Hellfire missiles. But as billions of dollars have poured into the technology for futuristic warfare, the government has fallen behind on more mundane needs -- such as bullets. The protracted conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and heightened combat training with live ammunition have left the military short of small-caliber bullets. To offset the squeeze, the Army is taking unusual stopgap measures such as buying ammunition from Britain and Israel. It is also working to increase domestic production.
I flew in to Kabul on Air Inshallah, also known as Ariana Afghan Airlines, where, by some quirk of fate (they needed the economy seats for some extra baggage), I was bumped to first-class. When I wandered back to the bathrooms midflight, I found all the flight attendants standing around smoking cigarettes.
(Slate dispatch 1)
There are so many agencies operating here, and so much cloak and dagger posturing, that it is quite easy for such a character to act with impunity. Nobody will ask a Westerner in fatigues who is carrying a machine gun what he is up to on the streets of Kabul...Trying to figure out the truth of a story through the web of agendas in Afghanistan is nearly impossible.
(Slate pt. 2)
A powerful Afghan warlord will challenge President Hamid Karzai in the country's historic October elections, his spokesman said Thursday. Abdul Rashid Dostum decided to run after securing support across the war-riven country's deep ethnic divides, his spokesman Faizullah Zaki said. He also was feted by thousands of supporters at a rally Thursday in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif.
Thousands of Afghan refugees have been forced from their homes in the border areas of Pakistan as the Pakistani Army, backed by United States intelligence and surveillance, has intensified its operations against supporters of Al Qaeda taking shelter in the mountainous region. Some 25,000 people have poured into Afghanistan in the last few weeks from the tribal agency of South Waziristan where Pakistani forces, with American help, are battling a major concentration of foreign fighters and sympathetic local tribesmen, refugee officials said...The Pakistani military has hardened its position against Afghan refugees living in the area in recent weeks, officials in Afghanistan said. Refugees have been given as little as two hours notice and their houses have been bulldozed, officials of the United Nations' refugee office said. Some have arrived with no belongings and are homeless once again, back in their native Afghanistan.
The Afghan defense ministry on Thursday said that its troops had arrested a top Taliban commander, who is among the U S most wanted terrorist suspects, in the southern province of Helmand. Zahir Azimy, the spokesman for the defense minister, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA) that Kaka Sardar, one of the Taliban top commanders, was arrested in the Bagran district of the southern province of Helmand yesterday...The top Taliban commander arrested yesterday was about to leave for the western province of Ghor when the Afghan troops arrested him, said Azimy. He was arrested with a pistol, a satellite telephone and a motorcycle, according to Azimy.
U.S. Marines have pulled out of a Taliban stronghold in southern Afghanistan after killing more than 100 enemy fighters, their commander said Thursday. The 2,400-strong force, which lost just one Marine, has withdrawn to an American air base in the southern city of Kandahar and is preparing to leave the country, Col. Frank McKenzie said. The withdrawal already had been announced. The Marines were returning to American warships ``to await further orders,'' military spokesman Maj. Rick Peat said. He said there were no indications that the Marines would be redeployed in Iraq but said he didn't know where the ships were.
The helicopters flew south at 7,500 feet over 100 miles of unchanging landscape of high desert valleys and dusty mountains and scattered patches of green trees and farmland. An hour later, the two helicopters released flares and banked sharply back and forth in a precautionary evasive maneuver after flying past a suspected Taliban surface-to-air missile site. The helicopters landed without incident and the soldiers filed into Camp Ghazni, a small, concrete-walled compound where the Virginia guardsmen are replacing the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment.
A conservative Iranian analyst in Tehran said it was not in Iran's interest to crack down entirely on al-Qaeda unless there was a wider rapprochement with Washington. "Al-Qaeda is like a dangerous snake," he said. "If you see it attacking someone who says he is your enemy, you will not attract the snake's attention so it attacks you. With this snake, there are no effective half measures - either you kill it or leave it free, as wounding it will make it angry and more dangerous."
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has removed three powerful militia leaders from their posts as army commanders as part of a shake-up aimed at ensuring a presidential election in October is safe and fair, a spokesman said on Tuesday. The three militia commanders include General Ustad Atta Mohammad, whose men have often clashed with ethnic-Uzbek forces of a rival commander. He is one of Afghanistan's most powerful faction commanders and helped defeat the Taliban in 2001...The other two commanders who lost their army corps jobs are General Hazrat Ali, whose forces have helped U.S. troops in their hunt for al Qaeda and Taliban leaders. He will become police chief of Nangarhar province in the east, Ludin said. In the south, General Khan Mohammad Khan, a prominent guerrilla chief during the war against Soviet forces in the 1980s, lost his corps and will become Kandahar province police chief.
Suspected Taliban fighters attacked a convoy carrying foreign construction workers on Friday killing two Afghan government soldiers and an Afghan driver, officials said. None of the foreigners travelling in the convoy near Qalat, the provincial capital of the southern Zabul province, were hurt, they said.
Coalition forces came under heavy enemy fire on July 20th near Deh Rawud in Oruzgan Province. Approx. 40 enemy forces engaged the coalition Soldiers who were conducting operations in the area. Approximately ten enemy forces were killed in action, and five were wounded and captured. The wounded were taken into U.S. custody for treatment and for further questioning. Additionally, roughly twenty people were detained for questioning. Approximately fifteen were subsequently released. Five Afghan National Army soldiers were wounded during the fire fight. The injured ANA were transported to the Kandahar Airfield hospital and are expected to make a full recovery. Coalition forces found weapons and various other military equipment in the vicinity of the fire fight.
Major Rick Peat
Deputy Public Affairs Officer
Combined Forces Command - Afghanistan

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Eight Afghan villagers and soldiers were injured last week when US-led forces blew up a heavy weapons store in Qarabagh district north of Kabul, an Afghan commander said on Monday. Five civilians and three Afghan soldiers were injured on Friday when American troops dynamited a weapons depot 33 kilometres north of the city near US-led coalition headquarters at Bagram air base, Gen Abdul Rezaq said. "The store was 500 metres away from the village of 300 families and the explosion injured eight people," the commander of the first brigade of the eighth military division said. Gen Rezaq said the heavy weapons had been stored in a house in the Qala-i-Mossa village that was too near the village to be blown up safely.
When people think of supply, usually the first item that comes to mind isn’t water. And yet, for the team of supply airmen here, that’s a weighty part of their job in the arid Afghanistan environment -- to the tune of 15 pallets each week. Upwards of 25,000 bottles of bottled water is used every week by the more than 600 Airmen deployed to Bagram for Operation Enduring Freedom.
Part of the Bedford-based Virginia National Guard unit is being stationed in Ghazni province, which is along the eastern edge of the Central Mountains only about 100 miles from the Pakistan border. Eastern Afghanistan is far enough east that, on occasion, it can get effects from the annual monsoon season that's currently soaking India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. The effects are not of the same magnitude as they are along the Indian Ocean, but can bring unusual humidity and rainfall.
Afghanistan's government pledged to crack down on voter registration fraud after finding civil and military officials have been buying electoral registration cards in provinces outside Kabul. "Civil and military government officials in some regions are going around and collecting voter registration cards from people either via money or in the name of Hamid Karzai," President Karzai's office said in a statement on Monday.
Afghanistan's coming elections are in jeopardy, and not just because of a revived Taliban. The warlord armies that Washington used to oust the Taliban in 2001 now pose an even greater danger. President George W. Bush is largely responsible for this situation, having first decided to fight the war against the Taliban on the cheap and then leaving the job of nation-building undone while he diverted U.S. forces to Iraq. Now the administration must heed the warnings from Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai, and do much more to help him curb these private armies and the exploding opium business that finances them. Bush's blunders in Afghanistan followed decades of shortsighted U.S. policies that built up the power of these warlords. Many of them got their start in the U.S.-financed guerrilla movement that forced Soviet occupation troops out of Afghanistan a decade and a half ago. Soon after, they began fighting one another, terrorizing civilians and opening the way for the Taliban.
(New York Times editorial)
Foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah is an anomaly in the Afghan cabinet. As an intellectual, he stands out among his mostly warlord colleagues. But they all, however, share a relationship with books on some level: He reads them. They burn them. Dr Abdullah is the only cabinet member - apart from President Karzai - who doesn’t command a private militia of his own that could give him political muscle. And it says a lot about his political skills that he managed to remain in his position as the regime’s top diplomat for over two years and a half.
U.S. commanders in Afghanistan are shifting forces and resources away from the hunt for Osama bin Laden to help support Afghanistan’s upcoming national elections.
“We’re going from the specific objective of searching out and killing the enemy to going out and protecting the election process,” said Maj. Robert Ault, a senior operations planner for Combined Joint Task Force 76, the main warfighting headquarters in Afghanistan.
“This is a huge shift for us,” he said.
Called “Operation Lightning Resolve,” the new focus of effort is designed to shore up the United Nation’s push to register voters for the country’s first post-Taliban elections since U.S. forces toppled the regime in late 2001.
A U.S. fighter pilot found guilty of dereliction of duty in the mistaken bombing that killed four Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan in 2002 has lost his appeal. Lieutenant-General Bruce Carlson, who handed down the verdict against Major Harry Schmidt, said in a letter of reprimand that Major Schmidt “acted shamefully” and exhibited “arrogance and a lack of flight discipline” in the bombing.
In Kabul, political parties are developing in a climate of free expression. But the UN says this is far from being the case in other regions. In the western Herat Province, for example, parties are forced to meet in hiding for fear of reprisal from local governor Ismail Khan.
Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan, told RFE/RL that Washington will not attempt to influence the country's presidential elections in October.
The three Americans who were arrested by the Afghan police on July 5 on suspicion of operating an illegal jail in Kabul appeared in court here and, at a preliminary hearing, were also charged with robbing, beating and torturing their detainees. The three men, wearing plain clothes and U.S. Army combat boots, said on Sunday they were Jack Idema, a former member of the U.S. special forces; Edward Caraballo, a journalist; and Brent Bennett, who gave no profession. Idema said he intended to call high-level Afghan officials, generals, corps commanders and ambassadors in his defense. He said he had been working with Afghan and U.S. forces, contentions that Afghan and U.S. officials have denied. "We were working directly with them and for them," Idema said, referring to the officials he said he wanted to call as witnesses.
The Afghan government freed 65 suspected Pakistani militants on Monday, the latest group to be released after being caught fighting for the Taliban during the U.S.-led war in late 2001. Looking exhausted but relieved, the bearded prisoners were freed from the notorious Pul-i-Charki jail just outside Kabul. "I am happy that I am free now," said Hashmat Ali, following his release. "But I am upset about my other friends who are still in jail." According to the Pakistani government, around 500 more Pakistani nationals are in Afghan prisons.
Former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani on Monday criticised the postponement of a parliamentary election until April, saying it was against the spirit of the constitution and nurtured public mistrust.
The Afghan defence ministry has arrested two members of the former Taliban regime here, a spokesman for Nato-led peacekeeping forces said on Sunday. Chris Henderson of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) told reporters that the arrest was made last Wednesday afternoon in Kabul near the Olympic stadium. ISAF troops also supported defence ministry personnel with a sniffer dog team from ISAF's Kabul Multinational Brigade, which was dispatched to the scene to search the suspects and vehicles. Personnel from the ministry found a small bag of explosives and ignition wires during the search.
Taliban Supreme Leader Mulla Mohammad Omar Akhund has claimed of establishing his rule over most parts of Orazgan and Zabul provinces and his followers are making advancement in Qandahar and Ghazni provinces of Afghanistan.
No one either from allied forces or their local supporters could come out on roads in night time on Ghazni-Qandahar Road. Mulla Mohammad Omar made these remarks through a Press statement circulated here in Peshawar on Sunday. The statement is written in Pushto. Mulla Mohammad Omar has expressed satisfaction over what he called Jihad against the allied forces and its installed regime in Afghanistan. He termed the allied forces as Saleebi Ittehad (Christians alliance) and said that Jihad against the allied forces is must for Muslims.
Gunmen wounded an Afghan military commander on Monday in an early morning attack on his car in the capital, Kabul, officials said. Commander Zareen Khan was taken to hospital with multiple bullet wounds, the officials said. Three suspects were arrested. Defence Ministry spokesman General Zahir Azimy said the attackers were from the eastern province of Kunar, where Khan has been serving as a division commander. Azimy said the attack was not linked to Islamic militants and said it could be the result of a local feud. In Afghanistan these disputes can often boil over into violence.
Jundullah is a purely militant outfit whose objective is to target Pakistan's pro-US rulers and US and British interests in the country. Members receive training in Afghanistan and South Waziristan, and it is now actively recruiting. The organization produces propaganda literature, including documentary films, and has a studio named Ummat. It does similar work for al-Qaeda's media wing, which is called the al-Sahab Foundation. These media outlets incite the sentiments of Muslim youths by producing films showing Western - particularly Israeli and US - "atrocities" against Muslim communities. This is the basic tool through which a new generation of jihadis is being raised.
Pakistan sent gunship and transport helicopters over forested mountains near the Afghan border Monday in its hunt for al Qaeda-linked foreign militants, officials and residents said. The military reported three militants killed and six wounded in clashes starting Sunday morning around the Santoi and Mantoi valleys near Wana, the main town in the South Waziristan tribal area where foreign fighters have been most active.
Taliban attacked an Afghan National Army convoy and destroyed three military vehicles in Kandahar vehicles. According to Radio Tehran on Sunday the spokesman for Taliban Mufti Hakeemullah Khan has confirmed the reports. He said that the other day Taliban forces attacked three Afghan military vehicles in Southern Afghanistan. The military convoy was on its way to Kandhar. He said that all three vehicles were destroyed in the attack, however no loss of life was reported.
(Pak Tribune)

It was Iran, not Iraq, that helped some of the hijackers involved in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, by allowing them to bypass border controls. But there is no evidence that Tehran actually knew about the plot, U.S. and Iranian officials said yesterday.
At least eight of the 19 hijackers moved from Afghan training camps through Iran without getting their passports stamped, which helped cover their tracks, top U.S. counterterrorism officials confirmed, a day after it emerged that the information will be included in this week's final report from the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks.
According to Time and Newsweek, which both published details about the Iranian link, Tehran offered to collaborate with Osama bin Laden after the successful bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in late 2000. The al-Qaeda leader declined, but Iranian border officials were told to allow al-Qaeda operatives to enter and leave freely Iran without having their passports stamped, according to the reports.
Police chief Basir Salangi said American soldiers surrounded Hotak's house in a village near the provincial capital, Maydan Shahr, after dark on Saturday. "Helicopters came in the morning and took him away," Salangi said. Salangi said up to 700 people spent nine hours demonstrating in front of government offices in Maydan Shahr on Sunday, chanting for Hotak's release. A powerful local leader, Hotak switched allegiance to the Taliban as they conquered much of Afghanistan in the mid-1990s and was a front-line commander against the opposing Northern Alliance. Many supporters of the hard-line regime fled after a U.S. bombardment turned the tables against it in late 2001. But Hotak returned to his village, pledged allegiance to President Hamid Karzai and tried unsuccessfully to get himself appointed governor. Officers from the U.S. military as well as the international peacekeeping force attended a ceremony on May 5 when Hotak's men handed over hundreds of assault rifles, machine-guns and rockets.

Monday, July 19, 2004

At least one suspected Taliban operative was injured Saturday as the US-led coalition troops engaged in fire with militants in Wardak province, a US military officer said Sunday. "Coalition troops came in contact with anti-coalition elements yesterday at 9 am in a place 35km south west of Kabul as a result of which one enemy fighter was injured," Rick Peat told Xinhua through his interpreter.
Muslima cradles a scared chicken in her arms, tending to it with all the careful treatment due a precious object. She gently hands it to her teacher, Farima, who is lecturing a roomful of about 25 women on the best way to care for the bird. Farima's students, all widows, are eagerly attentive. Although long past school age, these women - most of whom have children of their own - have never been to school themselves. This dark, mud-walled room in Muslima's home is their first classroom. They sit on the floor leaning against the walls, their faces lined in concentration. This poultry-raising class has the potential to guide them from unemployment to self-sufficiency.
Poland could send troops to Afghanistan as part of a planned pullback from Iraq, Prime Minister Marek Belka said Monday, but not in time to boost security for milestone October elections here.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Blasts go off in the early mornings and sometimes late at night. They leave crater-size holes where land mines were buried. Polish military engineers have been contracted to detonate the mines. Despite their progress, nearly half of this U.S. military base still is covered with the deadly devices and warning signs. Those sections are cordoned off with barbed wire. "You have to be very aware of signs. Don't step off the beaten path," said Capt. Juanita Chang, a public-affairs officer with Combined Task Force Thunder.
Taliban attacked a convoy of U.S. and Afghan soldiers on patrol along a highway in southern Afghanistan on Friday, triggering a shootout that killed an Afghan and an insurgent, police said. No U.S. soldiers were hurt, said Ghulam Jilani, a deputy police chief. The Taliban fled the scene. The attack occurred on the Kandahar-Kabul highway near the Spin Aghbarqa area in Zabul province, 70 miles northeast of Kandahar.
Soon after he arrived at Afghanistan's Kandahar Airfield in December 2001, Army Sgt. 1st Class Chris Mackey learned that the training that he and his fellow interrogators had received at the army's top intelligence school was useless in persuading supporters of al-Qaida and the Taliban to talk. The captives easily rebuffed the textbook approaches taught at Fort Huachuca, Ariz. Confident that Americans would treat them with restraint, hundreds of prisoners simply repeated the same implausible cover stories. They'd come to Afghanistan to live a purer Islamic life. They were looking for a good Muslim bride. They were studying the Quran. They said they couldn't remember names, dates or places. The creative use of props and psychological ploys yielded some breakthroughs. But as the months wore on, the men and women of Task Force 500 were forced to acknowledge an ugly reality. "The harder we were on the prisoners, the more likely they were to tell the truth," recalled Mackey, a 30-year-old tax accountant who ended up supervising interrogations at Kandahar and at the Bagram airfield outside the Afghan capital of Kabul while serving as a reservist during the first half of 2002.
US military in Afghanistan rejected the reports of sexual abuse of local staff working for the US-led coalition as Taliban propaganda to defame US military. "It is absolutely a rumor, a lie crafted by Taliban to discredit coalition and other international forces helping Afghanistan," Jon Siepmann, spokesman for coalition told journalists here Saturday. Reports circulating among Afghans for the last two weeks suggest that local interpreters working for US military have been sexually abused by their employers at Bagram Airbase near Kabul. "There is no truth in the rumors whatsoever. The coalition interviewed its interpreters in Bagram but not a single has said it is true," added the spokesman.
Three people were killed and four wounded in a shootout between troops and Al-Qaeda-linked militants in Pakistan’s tribal west near the Afghan border, officials and residents said yesterday. The shootout began late on Friday after militants attacked a paramilitary fort with rockets and mortars in Khaisor, a village about 25 km (16 miles) northeast of Wana, the main town in the South Waziristan tribal region.
At least 16 people have been killed and more than 200 houses destroyed in severe flooding in northern Afghanistan, state media reported on Saturday. Eight people were killed in the northern Badakhshan province and another eight in Baghlan in heavy rainfall this week that also affected Samangan province, state news agency Bakhtar reported.
Police arrested an Afghan national and seized explosives and arms from a bus-stand here (Peshawar) on Friday. The SHO of the Gulbahar police station, Shafiullah, said that acting on a tip-off the police arrested the Afghan, Abdul Wahab , who came to the city for terrorist activities. The police recovered two 9mm pistols, three chargers, 83 electric detonators, 482 bullets of various calibres and 28 CDs, he added. Meanwhile, a former Afghan commander claimed that on Thursday night some armed men, belonging to the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, opened fire on him when he came out of his house in Hayatabad Phase VI and received bullet injuries. Mohammad Anwar, a resident of Shakardara district of Kabul province, told Tatara police that he was a commander in the Afghan capital during the Najibullah government. He later established differences with the Northern Alliance and left the country.

A member of a US-led force in Afghanistan has been punished for striking an Afghan government soldier, a US commander said on Saturday...The Afghan government soldier was struck on the shin with a stick and did not suffer a serious injury. The official who hit him had been fined, and the incident would have implications for his career, Brigadier-General Thomas Mancino told reporters.
The Afghan pilot forced to fly a hijacked aircraft from Kabul to London has condemned a British court's decision to allow the hijackers to live in luxury in England.
Afghanistan’s new US-trained army is a match for any of the warlord militias which control much of the country, an American general said on Saturday. The Afghan National Army, built up under American guidance since the fall of the Taliban in late 2001, now numbers some 13,000 men, Brig. Gen. Thomas Mancino said.
"I can tell you that the current Central Corps is well-trained, well-equipped, professional and able to defeat any regional force."
A local employee of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) was killed and two others were injured Friday after suspected Taliban ambushed their convoy, a US military statement said July 17. "One Afghan civilian was killed and two were injured at about 1:30 pm Friday when their two-vehicle convoy was attacked by unknown terrorists about 10km north of Qalat," the statement said. Zabul's provincial capital Qalat and adjoining areas has been the scene of increasing spate of violence for the last three months in which over 250 civilians, rebels, US and Afghan troops as well as aid workers have been killed.
"At about 4:30 pm on July 14 two 107-mm rockets were found in the Qarghah area in the west end of the city (Kabul). Both the rockets were in a firing position and rigged with a crude mechanical ignition device," Chris Henderson, the spokesman for ISAF, told reporters here. Kabul police immediately rushed to the site and disabled the ordnance. No one has been detained so far as the suspected terrorists fled the area. "There were no arrest made in conjunction with this discovery as the perpetrators had arranged the rockets so they would fire remotely," he noted.
Part of the Virginia Army National Guard's 3rd Battalion will soon transfer to a mountainous southeastern province where they will patrol villages, gather intelligence, support reconstruction and conduct other tasks, Army intelligence officials said Saturday. The guardsmen will replace the 3rd Battalion of the 6th Marine Regiment at a forward operating base in the province of Ghazni, where Taliban and other Islamic extremists continue to operate.
Three Americans accused of detaining and abusing Afghans on an independent hunt for terrorists appeared in court Sunday, insisting they had contacts with the U.S. Defense Department, while acknowledging that they ran an illegal jail, a judge said.
U.S. forces have detained a former Taliban commander near the Afghan capital, two months after feting him for backing the country's new order, officials said Sunday. American troops seized Ghulam Mohammed Hotak in Wardak province, southwest of Kabul, on Saturday.
Canadian troops in Kabul begin pullout as a new contingent starts arriving.
A rocket has been fired into the Afghan capital, Kabul, killing an Afghan women, a spokeswoman for NATO-led peacekeepers say. The rocket landed in the city centre, about 800 metres from the headquarters of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), and behind the Italian embassy, the spokeswoman said on Sunday. Witnesses at the scene said as well as the one woman killed by shrapnel, one man had been wounded. One or two rockets or mortar bombs also landed on open ground to the north of Kabul airport, said the ISAF spokeswoman, Major Rita LePage. There were no reports of casualties in those blasts. Fighters loyal to the ousted Taliban regime are blamed for occasional rocket attacks on Kabul. They rarely inflict serious casualties.
Weblog Commenting by HaloScan.com

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?