Posts Tagged ‘Al-Qaeda’

UAE sticks to ‘no terror’ angle in UPS plane crash

November 9, 2010 1 comment

(Allan Jacob)

7 November 2010, 7:02 AM

The UAE said it will review the possibility that a bomb caused a UPS cargo plane to crash in Dubai although no proof has emerged, as Al Qaeda said it had put a device on board.

DUBAI – In a development linked to last weekend’s foiled parcel bomb plots, Al Qaeda’s Yemen wing has also claimed responsibility for the UPS cargo plane crash in Dubai on September 3, a claim which has been taken ‘seriously’ by the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) probing the incident.

The GCAA, however, maintained that evidence from the black box did not support a terror angle to the incident.

“Investigations carried out and the details collected from the wreckage, as well as the eyewitness accounts did not prove the incidence of any explosion on board the US cargo plane UPS, which crashed in Dubai earlier in September this year,’’ a GCAA statement said.

There was no vocal or graphic evidence from the black boxes that an explosion took place on board the flight which killed both pilots, according to the civil aviation authority.

Early findings showed a fire on board the stricken aircraft before it went down in Nad Al Sheba military base.

UPS Media Manager Mike Mangeot told this newspaper the company was backing the GCAA-led probe, which did not reveal an explosion on the aircraft.

“On October 31, the GCAA issued a statement in which they “eliminated the possibility of an onboard explosion following a detailed on site investigation of the wreckage”.

The GCAA also reported that they had “thoroughly analysed the technical data and has concluded that there was no presence of acoustic evidence or any forensic signature supporting the detonation of an explosive device”.

Officials in the United States have also said publicly there is no evidence the crash of the UPS plane was caused by an onboard explosion.

“We continue to participate in the investigation into last week’s suspicious package incident and are working actively to protect the security of our people, aircraft and customers’ shipments,’’ Mangeot said.

Earlier, Al Qaeda’s Yemen-based wing known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AGAP) said it was responsible for sending explosive parcels to the United States last week, and for the crash of the UPS Boeing 747 in Dubai.

“Because the act was not attributed to us, we were able to wait until we could return and strike again,” AQAP said.

The statement from the dreaded terrorist group that appeared on websites on Friday, also promised fresh strikes on the United States.

“We say to Obama, we have struck your jets three times in one year and we will continue, God willing, to strike the interests of America and its allies.”

Saudi Arabia also bore the brunt of the group’s verbal fury. “Our devices were headed to Jewish Zionist temples but you intervened with your treachery to protect them,” it said.

Commenting on the AQAP modus operandi, Dr Christian Koch of the Gulf Research Center, said the group was good at exposing weak links in the system that could be manipulated for terrorist activities.

“This they have done in these incidents when it comes to cargo shipments. If it was a dry run, it is likely not to work as authorities have now been alerted to this method.’’



The Definition of Insanity

November 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Sunday 07 November 2010

by: Barry Eisler, t r u t h o u t | Op-ed

(Photo: The National Guard)

Last month, the Washington Post published an op-ed by Jack Devine, former CIA deputy director of operations and chief of the CIA Afghan Task Force. When I read it, I thought it was perhaps the most insane op-ed I’d ever come across. But leave it to David Broder, “Dean of the Washington Press Corps,” to try to one-up it just three weeks later.

Let’s take Devine’s piece first. Devine argues that our top priority in Afghanistan must be capturing or killing bin Laden. Devine asks, “We have entered into two problematic wars and have expended a great deal of blood and treasure since Sept. 11. What was it all about, if not capturing bin Laden?”

I think I know now why invading Iraq was “problematic.” You see, bin Laden wasn’t in Iraq. No wonder we can’t find the guy.

But wait a minute. Back in 2002, when the Bush administration was selling America on the benefits of invading Iraq, it was all about WMDs and mushroom clouds as smoking guns. When it turned out there were no WMDs, the Bush administration realized the war was actually about building a stable democracy in the Middle East. Now that the new, improved rationale has itself turned to ashes, Devine offers the silliest and most ahistorical yet: we invaded Iraq to capture bin Laden. The good news – for Devine – is that, if you accept his premise, capturing or killing bin Laden will mean we’ve won in Iraq.

If only that meant we’d be leaving Iraq, it might redeem Devine’s bizarre claim. But it doesn’t.

Devine’s reasoning degenerates further as he plows on. He argues that if “elements within the Pakistani government [are] an impediment to [bin Laden’s] capture, we should forget about nation-building in Afghanistan and, like Sherman marching across Georgia during the Civil War, march our army across eastern Afghanistan, pressing forward even into Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier, and continue the march until we capture him.”

Let’s put this a little more plainly. Devine is proposing that if Pakistan thwarts us, we should destroy Afghanistan.

If we were talking about individuals, I believe Devine’s approach would be known as executing a hostage. At the national level, I don’t know how to describe a threat to destroy Country A in order to punish Country B, other than to call it state terrorism. Sherman’s March, after all, otherwise known as a “scorched earth” campaign, otherwise known as “total war,” was a campaign of infrastructure destruction intended to break the South’s will to fight. It involved the annihilation of railroads, bridges, farms and manufacturing infrastructure. Sherman’s army provided for itself by taking whatever it needed from the southern farms it pillaged and destroyed. This was called “foraging.”

This is what Devine urges we do to Afghanistan. To punish Pakistan. At least when Sherman did it, he was destroying the territory of the population whose will the North sought to break.

But wait, as the Ginsu commercial used to say – there’s still more! Devine doesn’t want the US army to do a Sherman’s March across Afghanistan only. He wants the army to “press forward” into Pakistan and “continue the march” until we capture bin Laden. I’d like to think that, if bin Laden doesn’t turn up during the march (maybe he’s in Iraq after all?), our armies would stop marching before they invaded India or China. But Devine doesn’t say, and because he seems enamored of the notion of destroying one country to punish another, one is left to wonder.

One of my favorite aspects of Devine’s piece is his linguistic dexterity. Not once does he use the word “invade” or any derivation thereof. Instead, we will simply “march” and “press forward” and “continue.” Euphemisms, Orwellian doublespeak, and other such mealymouthedness are hallmarks of this species of op-ed because they serve to conceal the naked brutality of the author’s proposal. It would be much more difficult for the Devines of the world to call for “destroying” or “invading” Pakistan, or “burning it to the ground.” Orwell wrote masterfully about this style of obfuscation in his essay “Politics and the English Language.”

In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of the political parties. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenceless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers. People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements. Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them.

The Orwellianisms get thicker as Devine goes on, so thick that one senses the judgment they’re most effectively suppressing is his own. “We should advise the Pakistani government of our intention in no uncertain terms” means we should threaten to invade and destroy the country. In response to this threat, Pakistani officials would “surely fuss,” which doesn’t sound like all that much (babies fuss, right? and they never hurt anyone) until you consider that Pakistan has nuclear weapons. Anyway, Devine soothes us, Pakistani officials also “fussed” in response to a recent uptick in Predator drone attacks. Which is extremely reassuring for anyone who believes Pakistan’s reaction to covert drone strikes is a reliable predictor of how the country would respond to an overt invasion with the explicit aim of destroying it.

If any of this sounds worrisome to you, fear not: “it’s a pretty good bet that we would have bin Laden’s head on a platter before we got anywhere near the Pakistani border.” It’s good to know we would only be destroying Afghanistan and wouldn’t have to “continue” any further, because for a moment, I had this nagging sense that our invasions of even non-nuclear-armed countries have sometimes gone not precisely in accordance with the predictions of invasion cheerleaders. And look, Devine isn’t a complete madman. He acknowledges that “this is not traditionally how we deal with important allies, and it is not a formula for routine diplomatic discourse.” Prudent of him to place a restraining hand on any hotheads out there who would argue for the efficacy of applying his model to other nuclear-armed allies, like Britain or France. He recognizes, after all, that these are “exceptional circumstances,” but notes that, in exceptional circumstances, “hardball is called for” – “hardball” being the traditionally favored nomenclature for threats to invade and destroy nuclear-armed, allied nations.

Finally, sensitive always that some nervous nelly might be reading his piece, he reassures readers that “I also suspect the fallout would be far less damaging and more ephemeral than many might suggest.” Amusing use of the word “fallout” under the circumstances, though I’m reasonably confident Devine didn’t intend the effect. The main thing to remember is that our threat to destroy Afghanistan and invade and destroy Pakistan, and the invasion and destruction itself, would be ephemeral, as such operations historically always are. Really, the worst that might happen from Pakistani fussing is that we could get our hair mussed.

Just in case you got overly giddy at the prospect of laying waste to two countries, Devine brings it all into focus again, reminding us that the whole thing is just about bin Laden, because “putting him to rest would provide a truly meaningful rationale for leaving” (I love that euphemism, “putting him to rest.” It’s almost kind). He even acknowledges that “the most recent publicly available intelligence reports show that there are few al-Qaeda terrorists remaining in the region; many have moved elsewhere, including to Yemen.”

So Devine wants to lay waste to at least two countries, one of them an ally and nuclear-armed, not even in pursuit of al Qaeda, but merely in pursuit of a single man. Seems like a sensible, proportionate plan to me. Anyway, what could possibly go wrong?

And now, Broder.

There’s less to say about Broder’s piece, but only because he expresses his insanity more succinctly than does Devine. First, he lays out his premise: war and peace are the only forces influencing the economy that the president can control. Second, his evidence: World War II resolved the Great Depression. Finally, his slam dunk conclusion: Obama should take America to war with Iran (Congressional declarations of war are so pre-9/11) because war with Iran will improve America’s economy.

There are several things I love about Broder’s piece.

First, I love the euphemisms. Like Devine, Broder would never be so gauche and unsophisticated as to use a word like “invasion” to describe an invasion, and we should pause for a moment in recognition of the talent it takes to pen a whole op-ed about invading a country without once mentioning an actual invasion. Instead, Broder argues for “challenging Iran’s ambition” and “orchestrating a showdown” and “confronting the threat” and “containing Iran’s nuclear ambitions.” None of that sounds so bad, does it? I admit I’d feel a little better if Broder could reassure me, as Devine does, that Iran wouldn’t “fuss” overly much in response, and that it’s a “good bet” the whole thing would never happen anyway, or, if it does, that the effects would be “ephemeral,” but given that the chief effect of invading Iran would almost certainly be nothing more than an economic uptick, perhaps such reassurances would be redundant.

Another part I love is the traditional boilerplate disclaimer: “I am not suggesting, of course, that the president incite a war to get reelected.” This is such a nimble dodge that I really think we should honor the mind behind it by calling such mealymouthedness “Broderian.” You see, Broder doesn’t suggest that the president “incite” a war only because Broder has already done such splendid work in inciting it himself.

Broder spends his whole article calculating the politics that will be in play in 2012, argues that “orchestrating a showdown with the mullahs … will help [Obama] politically,” and concludes that an invasion of Iran will be good for the US economy. Then he assures us in his last paragraph, almost as a weird afterthought, that, hey, it’s not all about the economy and politics, that we should remember too that “Iran is the greatest threat to the world in the young century.” Oh, and that if Obama invades Iran, he “will have made the world safer and may be regarded as one of the most successful presidents in history.”

Is there a benefit an invasion of Iran wouldn’t achieve? Broder seems to have covered everything he could think of: improve the economy, political gain to the president, good for national security, good for non-proliferation, historical icon status for the president. Incite? When food is as tasty, abundant and nutritious as Broder’s promises – and he’s done such fine work in stoking appetites – diners don’t need to be incited. They’ll be knocking down the restaurant doors.

Still, let no one suggest that Broder wants war to be “incited.” That would be crass and unfair. After all, he explicitly says he is not calling for incitement, and in the complicated, sophisticated business of calling for war in an op-ed, it’s understood that the one-line disclaimer trumps everything else in the op-ed itself. Or at least that’s how it works on the TV shows the Broders of the world get invited on after the wars actually begin, at which point everyone (most of all, the op-ed writer himself) has forgotten everything else he wrote, and the writer gets to waive his disclaimer like a bank robber holding a bundle of loot in one hand and a get-out-jail-free card in the other.

But my favorite part of the whole thing is Broder’s argument itself: war is good for the economy. You know what I’m going to say, right? It’s so stunningly obvious, I know I don’t need to. Still:

We’ve been at war in Afghanistan since 2001. In Iraq since 2003. Broder’s own paper reports that we have covert forces operating in 75 countries. And in the midst of all this warfare, our economy plunged into what has become widely known as the Great Recession.

But in the mind of David Broder, none of this is relevant. Our trillion dollar deficit and 13 trillion dollar national debt don’t even exist. Bloodshed and death don’t even merit a casual mention. He skips past all of it, past the Cold War, Vietnam, and Korea, too, to locate a historically unique instance of a global recession meeting a global war, then uses it to argue that war is ipso facto good for the economy.

You could argue that all the wars we’ve been waging for the last decade didn’t cause the recession. But even if all that war hasn’t hurt the economy, it’s a hell of a logical leap to suggest that one more war would cause economic improvement. And yet that’s precisely what Broder argues.

No one wants to be called a warmonger, and certainly no one ever cops to the charge. But when someone demonstrates this much ability to ignore glaringly obvious evidence that utterly undercuts his rationale for war, when he blithely ticks off numerous imagined benefits of war and not once mentions blood – not even the blood of his countrymen – as part of his calculus, it’s fair to ask if the person in question might be suffering from a morbid attachment to war itself.

What Broder is calling for is so insane, and so potentially destructive, that the personal disgrace he ought to feel for having suggested it is nearly beside the point. Still, I wish someone would take him gently by the arm and lead him into a quiet retirement before he embarrasses himself further, or, worse, gets someone to actually take him seriously. Given the lineup on the Post’s op-ed page, however, and given that Broder’s piece provides such a perfect companion to Devine’s, I expect Broder will be around for as long as the lunatics are running the asylum.

Do you think my references to insanity are too much? I use them deliberately. Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Have another look at Devine’s and Broder’s pieces, and tell me these men are other than by definition insane.

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Why Yemen? Is the West choosing a new target?

November 4, 2010 1 comment

Boris Volkhonsky
1.11.2010, 16:10

Last weeks attempted attacks – either at US-bound aircraft or some synagogues somewhere in the US, presumably in Chicago – remain the hottest topic in Western media.

The pure facts run as follows. Last Friday two packages containing explosives were found on cargo planes which initially flew from Sanaa, Yemen, with destination in the US. One package was found in Dubai, the other one in East Midlands Airport near Nottingham, England. Both packages – one carried by UPS, the other one by FedEx – were addressed to synagogues in Chicago. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attempted attacks, but the security official were very quick in attributing the plot to the Yemeni section of Al-Qaeda.

The incident was followed by intense search of all cargo and passengers’ baggage in several US airports. Also, reports show that 26 more suspicious packages were detained in Yemen. On Saturday, Yemeni officials arrested a 22-yerar-old woman Hanan al-Samawi, a suspect in the plot. But later on Sunday, she was released on bail after it turned out that someone stole and used her identity card to plant the packages containing explosives.

Meanwhile, the panic has stricken the US and Western Europe. Most countries of the West upgraded the level of terrorist alert. Great Britain even declared a ban on any aircraft that started its flight in Yemen, to kland on Britain’s territory.

The whole story needs some clarification.

First, why Yemen?

The fact is that the Yemeni authorities have a very poor control over their territory, and definitely have lesser desire to fight international terrorism than their Saudi neighbors. As a result, some notorious figures in the terrorist movement have found a safe haven in Yemen, especially after Afghanistan and Pakistan ceased to be such as a result of constant military activities.

Second, why now, and why Chicago?

Actually, the timing for the attacks (or, attempted attacks, or, presumably attempted attacks) was chosen very carefully. The United States face the mid-term elections, and the Democratic administration is heading for a worst defeat in decades. If we look back at a not so distant past, we can remember that a highly resonant terrorist attack is probably the best way to raise the rating of the ruling administration. And an attack uncovered befor3e it was executed gives additional points to the authorities. So, whatever the real motives of the terrorists, the whole uncovered plot is designed to give Barack Obama and the Democrats a couple of points due to ‘voting out of compassion’. The fact that the explosives were addressed to synagogues in Chicago (Obama’s native town) speaks for itself.

Then, what follows next?

A most obvious answer would be that Obama’s administration is looking at a new point of applying its attempts and initiatives. After the obvious failure in Iraq and Afghanistan, they may be looking at Yemen as a new venue of their geopolitical Great Game. The strategic importance of that country is hardly to be over-estimated. The power that controls Yemen, would control the most vital sea routes from Europe to Middle East, South and Southeast Asia. At the moment, if anyone controls this vital region are the Somali pirates. For the US, taking hold of a territory there with prospects of building its military bases, would mean a return to the scene that, due to the failures of the recent one or two decades, seems at present lost.

But then, there is another and probably most crucial question. What means the US is ready to use against a force that from the very beginning was a pure US invention, i.e. Al-Qaeda?

By now, military measures have proved their complete futility, both in Iraq and Afghanistan. More so, if Yemen has really become a safe haven for extremists, it is due only to the American-led invasion of those two countries. So, a military operation against Yemen may result only in one thing: Al-Qaeda will shift its operations to another area, and hence, the seeds of terrorism will be further disseminated.

Of course, the clock of history cannot be reversed and turned backwards. But learning from the past seems to be very useful. And looking back at the 1980s, we may state that it was the US who, by supporting the mujahedeen forces in Afghanistan, created the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Now, by violently fighting them in the Middle East, they are turning the whole Muslim world against themselves and their allies. What will they achieve by spreading their military activities to yet another area in that volatile region, is a question, the answer to which hardly anyone would like to hear.

:: Article nr. 71486 sent on 04-nov-2010 16:41 ECT


Greece intercepts parcel bomb addressed to Sarkozy

November 1, 2010 1 comment

French president, Nicolas Sarkozy

French president, Nicolas Sarkozy

Main Image
Main Image
Main Image

A police explosives expert arrives to detonate a suspicious package in Athens November 1, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Eurokinissi/Tatiana Bolari

ATHENS | Mon Nov 1, 2010 3:41pm EDT

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greek police intercepted a booby-trapped parcel addressed to French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday, after another package exploded at a courier company in Athens, slightly wounding an employee.

Police suspect the parcels were linked to Greek leftist guerrilla groups. Greece has been rocked by a wave of gas canister and bomb attacks, usually claimed by leftist groups, since the police killing of a teenager in Athens in 2008 sparked the country’s worst riots in decades.

The parcel that exploded in the hands of a female employee was addressed to the Mexican embassy in Athens, police said.

Shortly after the explosion, police arrested two suspects and detonated two more makeshift parcel bombs they carried and a third one found at another deliver company.

“One of the explosive devices that the suspects were carrying was addressed to the president of the French Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy,” police spokesman Thanassis Kokkalakis said, adding the other packages were addressed to the Belgian and Dutch embassies in Athens.

“It is not clear what the motive behind these attacks was,” he said.

Another police official said the quantity of explosives used in the parcel bombs was too small to kill.

In June, a booby-trapped package exploded at the ministry in charge of police, killing one of the minister’s closest aides.

On Friday, two air cargo packages containing bombs, both sent from Yemen and addressed to synagogues in Chicago, were intercepted in Britain and Dubai.

Kokkalakis said police believed Monday’s events in Greece were not linked to this. “We don’t see a link with al Qaeda, but we are still investigating,” he said.

The suspects, aged 22 and 24, were carrying weapons and one was wearing a bullet-proof jacket, police said. The youngest is suspected to be a member of a Greek leftist guerrilla group known as the Fire Conspiracy Cells.

The Dutch Foreign Ministry confirmed that a parcel was addressed to the Dutch embassy but declined to comment on the type of explosives or the reason the embassy was targeted.

(Reporting by Renee Maltezou; Editing by Ingrid Melander and Janet Lawrence)


Sanaa: The United States Plans to Occupy Yemen

November 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Monday, November 1, 2010
WASHINGTON: Yemeni politician accused the United States of planning to occupy Yemen, at the time condemned the MPs, including his American exaggeration in the case of suspicious packages which arrested the background Yemeni named Hanan heavenly released later.
Salah said the Secretary-General Sayadi People’s Democratic Party of the island that the United States seeking a foothold in Yemen, and not aimed at his Government’s cooperation in the fight against “terrorism.”

He added, “Yemen has been subjected to the pressures of direct U.S. military intervention to fight al Qaeda, and remained the Yemeni government resist these pressures, so it came to bargaining on the island of Socotra.”
He warned to be suspicious packages like a ship captain when the British occupied Aden Haines in the eighteenth century, or the argument that it is based on, and Washington to justify the future work against Yemen.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced his rejection of outside interference in the affairs of his country, said in a news conference the day before yesterday, “We do not want and will not allow one to interfere in Yemeni affairs and the pursuit of terrorist elements of al Qaeda in Yemen.

Direct military intervention:
He pointed to American statements in the past of perception of Yemen “powerless” or “not serious” in fighting terrorism, and considered that these are steps that lead to direct military intervention.
“The Americans are trying to control the Bab, and the island of Socotra in the Indian Ocean, it also appears that the region is coming to a big event we do not know what it is, and I think that Yemen will be part of this great event.

Dramatize the U.S.:

The Yemeni Parliament has witnessed a heated debate yesterday, dominated by the media hype about the incident said to have been booby-trapped parcels were sent from Yemen to target synagogues in Chicago.
A statement by the parliament, “Yemen rejected any outside interference in its internal affairs,” he said.  MP Ali al-Ansi said of the great hype of the incident of suspicious packages, “you may worry and dismay  all Yemenis”, and sent serious letters.
He added: “Yemen is a collaborator in the fight against terrorism, and I hope there will be no targeting of Yemen, and not to do harm to the international community to Yemen,” to ask “What is intended to Yemen?”.

A hidden agenda:
For his part, Abdul-Malik Al Fahidi, editor in chief of the ruling party’s mail, to inflate the U.S. administration to the subject parcel has a hidden agenda, as it tries to interfere in Yemen, under the name of war on “terrorism”.
He said that Yemen has signed an important strategic and geopolitical, and oversees the main fjord is the Bab, and “perhaps out of President Obama to talk about the incident suspicious packages confirms that behind the hill and beyond.

Fears of many:
Authorities confirm that the official Yemeni American intervention to combat “terrorism” is limited to training for Yemeni forces only, but many concerns of those who revolve in the corridors of political government did not announce clearly the desire of the United States in direct intervention.
Dr. Rashad al-Alimi, Deputy Prime Minister for Defense and Security Affairs and Minister of Local Administration, said in an interview with the newspaper field of Yemen, that any U.S. military intervention directly in Yemen can strengthen al Qaeda, not vice versa, indicating that the Yemenis are hoping and confirming the structured cooperation with Washington in the fight against “terrorism” on the training, arming and exchange of information only.
Dr Abu Bakr al-Minister of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that Yemen rejects any intervention on its territory in order to combat terrorism, and said: “The fight against terrorism in any country must be based on the armed forces and national security, and does not depend on foreign troops coming to the country concerned.
However, he affirmed that Yemen hopes of the Americans training the Yemeni forces and the provision of equipment, or combat capability and sophisticated weapons and modern means of transport, pointing out that the resolution, however, the Yemeni government in this regard.

Source Article


America and Obama Hit Bottom: Pressuring Child Soldier to Plead Guilty to Murder Violates International Law and Decency

October 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Photo of Omar Khadr, copyright released into t...

Photo of Omar Khadr, copyright released into the public domain by the Khadr family in Toronto.

Original Content at

October 25, 2010


By Dave Lindorff

As the author of The Case for Impeachment (St. Martin’s Press, 2006), I never thought in my lifetime that I would see a president reach the depth of moral decay and depravity of President George W. Bush, but sad to say, our current president, Barack Obama, has managed to do it, and what makes it worse, as a former Constitutional law professor, he knows better.

This president’s moral nadir was hit yesterday, when he allowed a military tribunal based at Guantanamo to pressure Omar Khadr, a Canadian captured, gravely wounded, and arrested at the age of 15 in Afghanistan, and held at Guantanamo now for nine years, to plead guilty to murder.

Khadr’s crime? He was in a house that was struck by a US air strike and then raided by US special forces during the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2002. The gravely wounded Khadr was accused of tossing a grenade at advancing US troops, which killed US Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer, and caused another soldier to lose an eye.

Although Khadr, after nine years of harsh confinement in Guantanamo, and facing a military tribunal, has pleaded guilty in a plea bargain, after insisting for nine years that he did not throw the grenade (there is no living witness to his having done so), one issue here is that even if he did toss it, that action would have been seen as that heroic act of a gravely-wounded young fighter facing a superior enemy force, but for the fact that the US is claiming Khadr was not a legitimate soldier, but rather a “terrorist.”

This is a rather spurious claim, since the US says it went to “war” in Afghanistan to go after Al Qaeda forces there, who had been set up with CIA assistance initially to help the Mujahadeen fight the Soviet occupiers. So the force that Khadr was supposedly fighting with was a legitimate fighting force once, but became not a fighting force when the enemy was the US. Clearly, such fine distinctions would have meant nothing to a 15-year-old boy who had been “drafted” into the war at 14 by his Al Qaeda-member father, who was later killed by US fire. Note too that the US can say its soldiers, who have been killing a prodigious number of civilians in Afghanistan, cannot be charged with murder or manslaughter because they are soldiers, but the enemy they are fighting can be charged with murder if they fight back, because they are supposedly not legitimate soldiers.

But Alice-in-Wonderland semantic games aside, in any case, the biggest outrage in this case is that Khadr was 15 when he was captured. Under the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child , a treaty that was signed by the US and that is thus part of US law, all children under the age of 18 captured while fighting in wars are to be offered “special protection” and treated as victims, not as combatants.

The “special treatment” afforded to Khadr after his capture, however, was to be tortured, as has been recounted even by US military witnesses, who have described his being chained with his arms above his head, despite being seriously wounded, threatened with rape, interrogated only hours after being operated on for his wounds, kept in solitary confinement, and so on.

This is simply a disgusting case that offends any sense of decency, and makes both America and this president look no better than Iraq under Saddam Hussein.

When Barack Obama was running for president, he vowed to shut down the concentration camp at Guantanamo. He has not done that. He said, furthermore, that the very existence of that facility was harming America’s image around the world. He was absolutely correct.

How outrageous then that he not only left the offshore prison in place but that for the first test of his new supposedly “fair” military tribunal process, he allowed the military prosecutors to choose the now 24-year-old Khadr.

Khadr should have been immediately released and repatriated to his native Canada when the president took office. Instead he now faces more time imprisoned at Guantanamo (he may eventually be released to Canadian authorities under the terms of his plea agreement, which has not been disclosed yet, but would face at least another year in Guantanamo’s hell).

There is no good way to spin this atrocity. President Obama now stands guilty of a war crime–the abuse of a child soldier. Khadr’s initial arrest and torture happened on Bush’s watch, but of course, as with the rest of the torture that occurred during the Bush/Cheney years, President Obama has done nothing to prosecute the criminals who engaged in it or ordered it, or allowed it to happen. That dereliction of duty in itself by the current commander in chief, under the Geneva Conventions, is a war crime.

But all legal arguments aside, it is simply an abomination that this president has allowed the Pentagon to prosecute and force an admission of “guilt” from a child soldier who has literally grown up in the hellish environs of Guantanamo’s concentration camp.

The guilty plea is a bad joke, designed to put lipstick on the ugly pig that is the president’s war tribunal policy. As Khadr’s attorney said, “There’s not much choice. He either pleads guilty to avoid trial, or he goes to trial (in a military tribunal where the jury is composed of US military officers), and the trial is an unfair process.” Military tribunals, significantly, allow testimony that has been obtained through torture, while such evidence is inadmissible in any American court of law.

When I wrote The Case for Impeachment, I warned that if Congress did not impeach the president and vice president for their myriad crimes, including massive serial violations of the Geneva Conventions, any future president would feel completely free to continue committing those crimes.

In the Khadr case, we see that very thing happening.

Our leaders, from the president on down, are moral reprobates and war criminals, and as we Americans allow this kind of grotesque violation of our fundamental principals to occur without protest, we become no different from or better than the Germans of World War II.

DAVE LINDORFF is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, the new independent, collectively-owned, journalistically-run online alternative newspaper. His work, and that of colleagues John Grant, Linn Washington and Charles Young, can be found at ThisCantBeHappening!

Author’s Bio: Dave Lindorff is a founding member of the collectively-owned, journalist-run online newspaper He is a columnist for Counterpunch, is author of several recent books (“This Can’t Be Happening! Resisting the Disintegration of American Democracy” and “Killing Time: An Investigation into the Death Penalty Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal”). His latest book, coauthored with Barbara Olshanshky, is “The Case for Impeachment: The Legal Argument for Removing President George W. Bush from Office (St. Martin’s Press, May 2006).


The Odyssey of David Coleman Headley

October 24, 2010 Leave a comment

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From DEA informant to al-Qaeda terrorist by Justin Raimondo

When the city of Mumbai, India, was attacked by terrorists allegedly from the Lashkar-i- Taiba (LeT) group – a Muslim separatist organization fighting for independence for Kashmir from Indian occupiers – the CIA chief at the time, Gen. Michael Hayden, reportedly confronted his Pakistani counterpart, Lieutenant Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, and, according to Bob Woodward, said:

“’We’ve got to get to the bottom of this. This is a big deal.’ He urged Pasha to come clean and disclose all.”

With the revelation that David Coleman Headley, the “scout” who visited Mumbai and did reconnaissance work for LeT prior to the attack, was an informant for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), one might say pretty much the same thing to Hayden and his successor: come clean and disclose all.

According to a report published in and the Washington Post:

“Three years before Pakistani terrorists struck Mumbai in 2008, federal agents in New York City investigated a tip that an American businessman was training in Pakistan with the group that later executed the attack.”

When Headley’s wife found out that he had another wife in Pakistan, she went to the FBI and reported his activities on behalf of LeT, his presence at Pakistani training camps, and his shopping for night vision goggles and other items that a terrorist might find handy. US government officials claim they investigated, but the accusations were too vague to be acted on. After being arrested as a result of the domestic dispute with his wife, he was freed, whereupon he roamed the world – Pakistan, India, New York, Chicago – meeting with terrorists while still claiming to be a DEA informant.

If ever there was a “terrorist” suspect whose bona fides stunk to high heaven, it was Headley. Born Daood Sayed Gilani, in Washington, D.C., the son of a prominent Pakistani broadcaster and an American mother from a wealthy Philadelphia family, he went to an elite military school in Pakistan. Upon his return to the US, at the age of 17, he married and soon became a heroin addict. He was arrested in 1988, and received a slap on the wrist for smuggling heroin in from Pakistan, getting a mere 4 years in prison while his partner in crime received 10. He was arrested again, in 1997, received a few months in prison, and emerged as a “prized DEA informant,” according to the official story.

Here is where it gets interesting: soon after his arrest and release, but while he was still on probation, he received permission to go to Pakistan to get married. As ProPublica puts it:

“Previously casual about his Muslim faith, he became radicalized. He sought out new recruits and raised funds for Lashkar and began preparing for its mountain training camps, getting corrective eye surgery and taking horse riding lessons, according to a person close to the case who requested anonymity.

“Gilani’s mix of extremism and Pakistani nationalism pushed him toward Lashkar, because of its popularity in Pakistan and its fight against India, anti-terror officials say. Although Lashkar is a longtime al Qaeda ally, it still functions largely unscathed in Pakistan, officials say.”

Let’s stop here and consider: how is it that someone who has been a heroin addict, and a DEA informant, who regularly travels to Pakistan on the US government’s dime, is all of a sudden “radicalized”? Here is someone who has lived in the United States as an adult for years, and works for the government, turning on a dime and becoming enamored with the cause of an obscure Muslim separatist group. It’s a murky picture made murkier by the comments of anonymous “anti-terror” officials, as reported in ProPublica:

“Court documents and interviews depict Headley, who is now 50, as a chameleon-like figure with a taste for risk and a talent for deception. Because of his sophistication and unusual profile, he was a valuable asset to police, spies, criminals and terrorists, officials say. ‘Headley’s a fascinating study,’ the U.S. anti-terror official said. ‘I see him as a mercenary, not ideologically driven. He’s not an Islamic terrorist in the classic sense.’”

So what happened to his “radicalization,” if he wasn’t “ideologically driven”? A mercenary is paid – but who was paying Gilani-Headley? According to him, as ProPublica reports, his paymaster was Uncle Sam:

“After the September 11 attacks, Gilani told associates that he planned to train with Lashkar as part of a secret mission for the U.S. government, [a] person close to the case said. ‘The FBI and DEA have joined forces and I am going to work for them,’ this person quoted him as saying. ‘I want to do something important in my life. I want to do something for my country.’”

Court records seem to verify he’s been doing exactly that since 2001: although scheduled to be released from probation in 2004, he was discharged early – in December 2001. The feds wasted no time in deploying him: “Within two months he was training in Pakistan with Lashkar, which had just been designated a terrorist organization by the United States and Pakistan, documents say.”

Mr. Headley, who changed his name just before his leap into terrorist activities, apparently had three wives – simultaneously – two of whom turned him in to US authorities. In 2005, his Moroccan wife went to the US embassy in Pakistan to report him for his association with LeT: she claimed he was planning a terrorist attack. US officials did nothing.

As the New York Times reports:

“In several interviews in her home, Mr. Headley’s Moroccan wife, Faiza Outalha, described the warnings she gave to American officials less than a year before gunmen attacked several popular tourist attractions in Mumbai. She claims she even showed the embassy officials a photo of Mr. Headley and herself in the Taj Mahal Hotel, where they stayed twice in April and May 2007. Hotel records confirm their stay.

“Ms. Outalha, 27, said that in two meetings with American officials at the United States Embassy in Islamabad, she told the authorities that her husband had many friends who were known members of Lashkar-e-Taiba. She said she told them that he was passionately anti-Indian, but that he traveled to India all the time for business deals that never seemed to amount to much.

“And she said she told them Mr. Headley assumed different identities: as a devout Muslim who went by the name Daood when he was in Pakistan, and as an American playboy named David, when he was in India.

“’I told them, he’s either a terrorist, or he’s working for you,’ she recalled saying to American officials at the United States Embassy in Islamabad. ‘Indirectly, they told me to get lost.’”

He’s either a terrorist, or he’s working for you. Here’s another possibility which you’ll pardon Ms. Outalha for not posing: he’s a terrorist and he’s working for us.

Two warnings from people close to him, and yet US officials do nothing while Headley-Gilani travels all over the world meeting with terrorists, free as a bird, with no visible source of income and plenty of help from various “friends.” The help he received, according to his court testimony, came from ex-officials of Pakistan’s spy agency – a group with longtime ties to the US military and intelligence agencies. Headley, we are told, is “cooperating” with authorities, but isn’t that what he’s always done?

The campaign to target Pakistan, and specifically Pakistan’s ISI intelligence agency, as the real sponsor of the Mumbai attacks, and the shadowy force behind al-Qaeda, has picked up a lot of steam since President Obama took office. You’ll recall Obama directly threatened Pakistan even before he took office, during the campaign, and once in the White House has escalated attacks on Pakistani sovereignty that provoked a rebuke from Islamabad.

If the Headley case isn’t an attempted frame-up of the Pakistanis, then it is a very good imitation. The big problem for the US, however, is that Headley’s wives – who know where the bodies are buried – are talking.

As I write, India’s army of occupation in Kashmir – numbering some 700,000 – is murdering unarmed civilians, who are protesting in the streets because the Indian army is killing their sons. The ongoing “peace” talks have gotten nowhere, and were broken off by New Delhi in response to the Mumbai incident. The rise of Hindu ultra-nationalism, and the determination of the government to hold on to Muslim-majority Kashmir, have brought the long-simmering conflict between India and Pakistan to the boiling point. Having fought three wars, India and Pakistan are on the brink of fighting a fourth, with the former taking full advantage of US pressure on Islamabad to cement an alliance with Washington against their old enemies. Into this cauldron of bubbling tensions the Mumbai terror attack dropped like a packet of C-4 explosives.

In Obama’s Wars, Woodward relates an episode in which the former US ambassador to Afghanistan, and longtime neoconservative apparatchik Zalmay Khalilzad had a dinner discussion with Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari, in the course of which Zardari “dropped his diplomatic mask” and revealed his true beliefs about the terrorist attacks that are an everyday occurrence in his country:

“He suggested that one of two countries was arranging the attacks by the Pakistani Taliban inside his country: either India or the US. Zardari didn’t think India could be that clever, but the US could. [Afghan President Hamid] Karzai had told him the US was behind the attacks, confirming claims made by the Pakistani ISI.”

Woodward’s disdain is all too palpable: Khalilzad, he tells us, “listened calmly, even though the claims struck him as madness. The US was using the Taliban to topple the Pakistani government? Ridiculous. But Khalilzad knew Afghanistan’s President Karzai also believed in this conspiracy theory, more evidence that this region of the world and its leaders were dysfunctional.”

So “dysfunctional” that they have to be replaced with more competent – and compliant – sock-puppets. However, in light of the US government’s strong connection to Headley, perhaps Zardari and Karzai are a bit too functional for their own good.

Of course, any imputation of US wrongdoing can always be construed as a “conspiracy theory.” This is meant to divert attention away from the obvious question, which is: how and why was Headley-Gilani allowed to travel freely from Chicago to New York to training camps in the wilds of Pakistan, to Mumbai and other cities in India, all the while in the pay of the US government?

A known US spy turns up as an accomplice in the most dramatic and bloody terrorist attack since 9/11, and no one – not the US media, not a single member of Congress, not one prominent public figure – suspects there may be something to the Zardari-Karzai “conspiracy theory.” Is it something in the water, or are Americans so inured to the crimes of their government that they no longer care?

Submitted by dan fey