Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Terrorists Given ‘Full Sight’ of Spy Methods by Snowden Leak, Warns Counter-Terrorism Official (Telegraph)

By Tom Whitehead

Stephen Phipson of the British Office for Security and Counter Terrorism (OSCT) says that the leaks by National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden have given terrorists knowledge of government surveillance techniques–information he says they have used to alter their communications methods. Phipson added that terrorists have substantially reduced their use of traditional communication methods that can be monitored by mass surveillance methods in aftermath of the leaks. “The leaks we have seen in the press have made the work of the OSCT, intelligence agencies and other apparatus of government much, much, much more difficult,” Phipson said at a recent counterterrorism conference. In the same talk, Phipson called Syria the “front line of terrorism” and said that fighters returning from the conflict in that country pose as much of a threat to the U.K. as extremists from Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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Peter Bergen: Rapping for al Qaeda in Syria

CNN) — In August, al Qaeda’s propaganda arm released a video starring the German rapper Deso Dogg.

Wearing combat fatigues and standing next to a waterfall in Syria, Deso Dogg raps in German calling on others to join the jihad and “to make an effort for Paradise.”

Deso Dogg, whose real name is Denis Cuspert, is one of several dozen German citizens who have fought in Syria.

Their move to Syria marks an important shift in the focus of global jihadists. Videos by German militants training with groups associated with al Qaeda during 2009 and 2010 were invariably taped in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region.

Peter Bergen
Peter Bergen

That region now is largely shunned by foreign militants partly because of effective CIA drones strikes and partly because Syria is now the destination choice for jihadists from around the world.

Deso Dogg is one of the many thousands of foreign fighters who have been drawn to the jihad in Syria against the regime of Bashar al-Assad over the past three years.

This group includes an estimated 800 to 900 from Europe, mostly from Germany, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands and Belgium. A handful of Americans have also fought in Syria.

The concern, of course, is that these militants will swap business cards and will acquire arms training and bomb-making skills and will return to Western countries and carry out acts of terrorism.

This is what happened after the war in Afghanistan during the 1980s. Arab veterans of those wars formed the heart of al Qaeda and affiliated groups. Osama bin Laden fought in the Afghan War against the Soviets and then founded al Qaeda, which subsequently, of course, launched the 9/11 attacks. The failure to pay adequate attention to the so-called “Afghan Arabs” such as bin Laden proved an expensive one for the United Sates and her allies.

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It’s 2013, and in 15 countries, stoning is still happening

From an important website on stoning by Rhiannon Redpath.  Read more at http://www.policymic.com

On July 11, Arifa Bibi, a young mother of two, was stoned to death in Pakistan. Her only “crime” was possessing a cellphone.  In response to Bibi’s killing, and others like it, a movement is building. More than 10,000 people have signed a petition calling on the UN to eradicate this inhumane punishment. As Arifa’s story shows, stoning is as prevalent today as it has ever been. Understanding why and how this practice occurs is crucial to tackling it. Here are the answers to common questions about stoning. You can learn more about the fight to eradicate stoning by visiting Women Living Under Muslim Laws.

1. What is stoning?

Stoning (also known as lapidation) is a form of execution. It is a method by which a group throws stones at a person until they are dead.

2. Surely that doesn’t happen anymore? It’s 2013…

Stoning still happens today. There are 15 countries in which stoning is either practiced or authorized by law, even if it has never been practiced. In Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria (in one-third of the country’s states), Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen, stoning is a legal punishment. However, out of these countries, only in Iran, Pakistan and Somalia have stonings actually occurred, and all instances in Pakistan have occurred outside the legal system.

By comparison, three of the remaining five countries (Afghanistan, Iraq, and Mali) do not condone stoning in national legislation, but sentences and executions have been carried out by non-state actors. In the Aceh region of Indonesia and Malaysia, stoning is sanctioned regionally but banned nationally.

3. Who is stoned to death, and why?

Stoning is used as a punishment for adultery, or zina. It is a method used to control the sexuality and bodies of both men and women, but women are more often the victims.

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November 6, 2013 · 11:33 am

Feds arrest four Southern Calif. men in terror plots

LOS ANGELES Four Southern California men have been charged with plotting to kill Americans and destroy U.S. targets overseas by joining al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, federal officials said Monday.

The defendants, including a man who served in the U.S. Air Force, were arrested for plotting to bomb military bases and government facilities, and for planning to engage in “violent jihad,” FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said in a release.

A federal complaint unsealed Monday says 34-year-old Sohiel Omar Kabir of Pomona introduced two of the other men to the radical Islamist doctrine of Anwar al-Awlaki, a deceased al Qaeda leader. Kabir served in the Air Force from 2000 to 2001.

The other two — 23-year-old Ralph Deleon of Ontario and 21-year-old Miguel Alejandro Santana Vidriales of Upland — converted to Islam in 2010 and began engaging with Kabir and others online in discussions about jihad, including posting radical content to Facebook and expressing extremist views in comments.

They later recruited 21-year-old Arifeen David Gojali of Riverside.

Authorities allege that in Skype calls from Afghanistan, Kabir told the trio he would arrange their meetings with terrorists. Kabir added the would-be jihadists could sleep in mosques or the homes of fellow jihadists once they arrived in Afghanistan.

The trio made plans to depart in mid-November to carry out plots in Afghanistan, primarily, and Yemen, after they sold off belongings to scrape together enough cash to buy plane tickets and made passport arrangements.

In one online conversation, Santana told an FBI undercover agent that he wanted to commit jihad and expressed interest in a jihadist training camp in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.

The complaint also alleges the men went to a shooting range several times, including a Sept. 10 trip in which Deleon told a confidential FBI source that he wanted to be on the front lines overseas and use C-4, an explosive, in an attack. Santana agreed.

“I wanna do C-4s if I could put one of these trucks right here with my, with that. Just drive into, like, the baddest military base,” Santana said, according to the complaint.

Santana added he wanted to use a large quantity of the explosive. “If I’m gonna do that, I’m gonna take out a whole base. Might as well make it, like, big, ya know,” he said.

According to the complaint, at the shooting range that day both Santana and Deleon told a confidential FBI source they were excited about the rewards from becoming a shaheed, which is Arabic for martyr.

Ten days later, during another trip to the shooting range to fire assault-style rifles, Santana told the source he had been around gangs and had no problem taking a life.

On Sept. 30, Gojali was recruited to the plot after he was asked if he had it in him to kill in jihad. Gojali answered, “Yeah, of course.”

“I watch videos on the Internet, and I see what they are doing to our brothers and sisters. … It makes me cry, and it gets like I’m, like, so angered with them,” Gojali said, according to the complaint.

The men wiped their Facebook pages of radical Islamist content and photos of themselves in traditional Muslim attire, and devised a cover story that they were going to Afghanistan to attend Kabir’s wedding.

Federal authorities said the trio and the FBI’s confidential source bought airplane tickets last week for a Sunday flight from Mexico City to Istanbul, with plans to later continue to Kabul.

After Kabir began talking to him about Islam, Santana said he “accepted Islam without knowing anything about it besides it being the truth” and that he believed the religion would help him “fit in and actually be able to fight for something that’s right,” according to the complaint.

If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum of 15 years in federal prison.

Kabir is being detained in Afghanistan. The other three appeared for a detention hearing Monday in Riverside, and all but Gojali were remanded to federal custody with no bail. His detention hearing was delayed.

After-hours calls left for the men’s attorneys were not immediately returned Monday.

A preliminary hearing is slated for Dec. 3, and an arraignment is set for Dec. 5.

Kabir is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Afghanistan. Santana was born in Mexico, while Deleon was born in the Philippines. Both are lawful, permanent U.S. residents. Gojali is a U.S. citizen.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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My Latest Column for Huffington Post

A HERO FROM PROVIDENCE

by Anthony Amore

Remember the story from a few weeks back about how United States military in Afghanistan burned a bunch of Korans?

How could you not? The story was plastered all over the place, with incessant stories about 1) how negligent the military was to let this happen; 2) the apology issued by President Obama; and 3) the violence that resulted from the blunder, including the death of six U.S. military personnel and 30 Afghans. That’s right: At least 36 people were killed because some books were accidentally burned. As is typical of the media, little mention was made that the Korans at issue were taken from prisoners because they were being used to communicate extremist messages.

Apparently, using the book to fuel hate isn’t sacrilegious or cause for protest, but accidentally disposing of a few of them is. At least that’s the view of senior Afghan clerics who issued a statement after a meeting with President Hamid Karzai, saying: “This evil action cannot be forgiven by apologizing. The perpetrators of the mentioned crime should be put on a public trial as soon as possible.”

Yes, you read that right: a public trial for accidentally burning books. Never mind that an inquiry into the matter proved that the disposal was clearly an accident. Or that one of the ways prescribed by Muslims to dispose of the Koran includes burning those that have been corrupted in order to prevent the message from being defiled. None of that seemed to matter. The only message out of Afghanistan seemed to be “Americans must pay.”
Correct me if I’m wrong, but haven’t a large number of Americans already paid — with their lives — to bring freedom from zealous theocracy to the oppressed people of Afghanistan? Allow me to introduce just one.

Last week, as a U.S. military convoy was making its way through Laghman Province in Afghanistan when a 29 year old National Guardsman from Providence, R.I., noticed a young girl trying to retrieve an item from under an armored vehicle that was about to take off. Sgt. Dennis Weichel Jr. leapt into action and moved the girl to safety, saving her life. Sgt. Weichel, however, wasn’t able to do so without sacrificing his own, and was struck and killed by the armored vehicle. It’s hard to imagine a more heroic act than giving your life to save a child. And so it’s hard to imagine someone more heroic than Sgt. Weichel. That he died saving a young girl in a land where girls are so notoriously undervalued and mistreated, should be emblematic of what we have spent ten years trying to accomplish.

Sgt. Weichel’s sacrifice is typical of the work so many Americans have put into the U.S. efforts in Afghanistan. What is also typical, though, is how little attention such heroism and sacrifice receives in the media. Sure, there’s the usual 100-word story culled from the military’s press release buried on the websites of the local news, and maybe Sgt. Weichel will receive mention on the 11 o’clock news sometime after the second commercial break. But accidentally burn a few books? Somehow that warrants an apology from the Oval Office and all the attention that the media has to offer. And that’s incredibly disheartening.

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My Latest on Huffington Post

CONTEMPT FOR THE CORPS AT BROWN

This week, Brown University president Ruth Simmons announced that her campus would continue its policy of excluding the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. Simmons cited the opinion of many from the Brown community, who, according the Boston Globe, felt that currently military policies were “not in line with the university’s values.”

I wonder if the family of Kyle Coutu would agree with that. In February of 2010, Kyle, a 20 year old soldier from Pawtucket, Rhode Island — a mere minutes’ drive from Brown — was killed in Afghanistan during combat operations in…[MORE]

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Inside Al Qaeda’s hard drives

By Renny McPherson in the Boston Globe

When Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden at his Abbottabad, Pakistan, compound on May 2, the ensuing coverage focused on how the death of Al Qaeda’s leader might undercut terrorism worldwide. But the raid accomplished more than bin Laden’s removal: It yielded several computers, nearly a dozen hard drives, and about 100 other data-storage devices. Speaking on “Meet the Press” the weekend after the raid, presidential national security adviser Tom Donilon called it “the largest cache of intelligence derived from the scene of any single terrorist.”

After combing over this huge pool of data, a task force of analysts has already produced hundreds of intelligence reports geared to a primary goal: hunting down Al Qaeda operatives. Meanwhile, however, there is a second and longer-term task ahead. If studied diligently enough, the captured data is likely to provide an unparalleled look at how Al Qaeda functions. And that information may be as essential to disrupting Al Qaeda’s activities as it was to kill bin Laden.

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BREAKING: Terrorists attack luxury hotel in Kabul

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) — Fighters armed with bombs and small arms attacked Kabul’s InterContinental Hotel, where they fought Tuesday with Afghan security forces, Chief of Criminal Investigation Mohammed Zahir told CNN.

Among the attackers were suicide bombers, he said.

Taliban bombers were responsible for the 10 p.m. attack on the hotel, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said.

The hotel is popular among international guests.

Initial reports indicate that multiple suicide bombers, mostly likely wearing explosive vests, carried out the attack, a U.S. military official told CNN. There were no indications that U.S. military or diplomatic personnel were at the hotel, the official said.

Police Chief Lt. Gen. Ayoub Salangi said Kabul police were on the grounds of the hotel, but had not been able to communicate with anyone inside, since the phone lines were down. He could not confirm any casualties.

A news conference had been scheduled to take place Wednesday in the hotel to discuss the planned transition of security from international to Afghan forces announced last week by U.S. President Barack Obama.

The hotel is on a hill on the outskirts of Kabul and is typically protected by heavy security. Three Taliban penetrated that security, and one of them detonated an explosion on the second floor, said Erin Cunningham, a journalist in Kabul for The National. “We’re continuing to hear small-arms fire right now,” she told CNN from a vantage about 500 meters (a third of a mile) from the hotel. Several snipers were on the roof firing at Afghan security forces.

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(Target: America) Conspiracy to Bomb Metro Stations in the Washington DC Area

On October 27, 2010, Farooque Ahmed, a 34-year old, naturalized U.S. citizen originally from Pakistan, was arrested after a six-month FBI controlled operation for attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization. The FBI became aware of Ahmed after receiving a tip in January 2010 that Ahmed and an unnamed associate were making inquiries about contacting a terrorist organization in order to travel to Afghanistan and/or Pakistan to fight coalition forces. An agent from the Washington, DC FBI field office initiated contact with Ahmed via email, posing as a representative of a terrorist organization, which Ahmed presumed to be al-Qaida. Ahmed agreed to gather intelligence and conduct surveillance on Northern Virginia Metro stations and a hotel in Washington, DC as part of the pre-operational planning for simultaneous bomb attacks he believed would result in multiple deaths and injuries. (Read More)


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An update on Bibi Aisha

This update on Bibi, from The Austrian, continues the story of the young woman whose nose and ears were cut off in Afghanistan by her in-laws (who became her in-laws when she reached puberty and was married off to a soldier fighting against the US).  It’s an indicator of the important humanitarian work the US forces have done in Afghanistan, and a reminder of the way the Taliban operates.

Bibi as she appears today:

AN illiterate young woman from a village in southern Afghanistan has travelled to a vast city decorated with brightly lit evergreen trees and giant pictures of men and women in tightly fitted clothing.

Bibi Aisha, 20, who was mutilated last year and abandoned on a mountainside in the Oruzgan province, and who then became one of the most famous Afghan women in the world, was visiting Manhattan last month.

She had been to see a show off Broadway, part of a trilogy entitled The Great Game, about Western involvement in Afghanistan since 1842. When the actors arrived on stage she was asked to be quiet.

“She didn’t know she couldn’t speak in a loud voice while the theatre was on,” said Esther Hyneman, a trustee of Women For Afghan Women, the organisation that helped to bring her to the US.

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