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Showing posts from April, 2006

The Euros "celebrate" tollerance

Mark Steyn:

Over in Sweden, they've been investigating the Grand Mosque of Stockholm. Apparently, it's the one-stop shop for all your jihad needs: you can buy audio cassettes at the mosque encouraging you to become a martyr and sally forth to kill "the brothers of pigs and apes" -- i.e. Jews. So somebody filed a racial-incitement complaint and the coppers started looking into it, and then Sweden's chancellor of justice, Goran Lambertz, stepped in. And Mr. Lambertz decided to close down the investigation on the grounds that, even though the porcine-sibling stuff is "highly degrading," this kind of chit-chat "should be judged differently -- and therefore be regarded as permissible -- because they were used by one side in an ongoing and far-reaching conflict where calls to arms and insults are part of the everyday climate in the rhetoric that surrounds this conflict."In other words, if you threaten to kill people often enough, it will be seen as p…

Iran sends troops against Iraqi Kurds

AFP:

Baghdad has accused Iranian forces of having over the last 24 hours entered Iraqi territory and shelled Kurdish PKK guerrillas in the northern Arbil province. "Iranian forces hit a border area called Haj Umran and then entered five kilometers into Iraqi territory and hit the area of Lollan with heavy artillery with 180 shells targeting PKK positions," it said Sunday. No casualty figures were immediately available. The attack is the second Iranian offensive against the Kurdistan Workers' Party guerilla group (PKK) in 10 days. The group is fighting for the creation of an independent Kurdish state in southeastern Turkey.
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Hezballah bombs used in Iraq

Sunday Telegraph:

A multi-charged roadside bomb, developed by Hizbollah in Lebanon, is being used against British and American soldiers by Iraqi insurgents linked to Iran, according to military intelligence sources.The device consists of an array of up to five armour-piercing "explosively formed projectiles" or EFPs, also known as shaped charges. They are fired at different angles at coalition vehicles, resulting in almost certain death for at least some of the soldiers inside.The bombs are easier for insurgents to use because, unlike single EFP devices, they do not need to be carefully aimed and so can be planted beside a road within a few seconds. Their killing potential is also enhanced because more than one EFP is likely to hit a single vehicle.Some have been painted to look like concrete blocks - a modification of a tactic used by Iranian-backed Hizbollah, which hollowed out imitation rocks, bought in Beirut garden centres, to conceal bombs targeting Israeli vehicles.A …

War crimes fears impeding UK troops

Sunday Telegram:

British troops in Iraq "lack the confidence to open fire" because of a "fear of prosecution", says a confidential Ministry of Defence (MoD) report seen by The Sunday Telegraph.It confirms that soldiers believe that if they shoot dead insurgents they will become embroiled in a "protracted investigation" and if prosecuted will receive "no support from the chain of command"...."There is a widespread fear of being investigated for having opened fire, and of a protracted prosecution system that might ensue. Some believe that individual soldiers would not open fire as a result of this fear."In a section headed "Lack of Support from the Chain of Command", the report indicates "widespread feeling that whilst the battalion/regiment would support an individual, the wider chain of command (senior officers) provided insufficient support".The report follows persistent denials by the MoD of claims made by senior o…

How an airman won the Silver Star

The Item--South Carolina:

In April 2003, as the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division was storming toward Baghdad, a staff sergeant found himself in the middle of an ambush.

Iraqi soldiers in Soviet tanks emerged from the marshes near Karbala, inserting themselves between Army vehicles. The American and enemy vehicles were too close and intermingled to call down an air strike, so Staff Sgt. Travis Crosby resorted to more traditional means.

“Despite the constant rain of fire around his vehicle, Crosby was able to successfully empty his .50-caliber machine gun on the enemy soft-skin vehicles, killing more than 20 enemy personnel while simultaneously directing a precision strike by a flight of A-10s” against tanks farther down the road, his citation states.

Crosby won a Silver Star that day for gallantry in action. His citation for the award, as well as the Bronze Star Medal with Valor, reads like a screenplay for the story of a Marine or soldier portrayed in a John Wayne movie.

Crosby, though, isn’t …

"Judgement Day" for Iran

World Net Daily:

Tehran has recruited and funded eight Islamic fundamentalist organizations to undertake retaliatory strikes against U.S. and British military and economic interests across the Middle East – and perhaps in the U.S. and Europe – in the event Iran's nuclear facilities are attacked, reports a London Arab daily, Asharq Al-Awsat. The plan, which has been heavily funded and was created by a number of experts in guerilla warfare and terrorist operations, includes suicide attacks against U.S. and British targets in the region as well as their allies. According to information gleaned from a senior source in the Iranian armed forces' joint chief of staff, logistical support for the groups that would participate in the plan comes from Brigadier General Qassim Suleimani of the of the Revolutionary Guards' al Quds Brigades.
"Most of Iran's visitors in the last four months, including the leaders of revolutionary groups in Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon, as well as th…

Al Qaeda's retreat

Harold Hutchison:

Despite the many brickbats of the media, al Qaeda has been defeated in Iraq, and is now retreating to lick its wounds where it can. If it can. Just over four and a half years, al Qaeda has gone from being the dominant terrorist group in the world to a defeated shell of its former self. In trying to defeat the United States, al Qaeda made three big mistakes: They fought the last information war, they underestimated the American leadership, and they also managed to anger the Iraqi people.From the moment the United States and al Qaeda began fighting in Afghanistan, the terrorists were looking for a chance to re-create images similar to those of American troops being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu in 1993 or Walter Cronkite calling the Vietnam War a stalemate in 1968. It was hoped that such a moment would cause a dramatic drop in support for the war among the American people and force the United States out of Iraq. It did not happen.The first problem was that a…

Kerry wants to surrender by May 15

Mark Steyn:

John Kerry announced this week's John Kerry Iraq Policy of the Week the other day: "Iraqi politicians should be told that they have until May 15 to deal with these intransigent issues and at last put together an effective unity government or we will immediately withdraw our military." With a sulky pout perhaps? With hands on hips and a full flip of the hair?Did he get that from Churchill? "We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, at least until May 15, when I have a windsurfing engagement off Nantucket."Actually, no. He got it from Thomas Jefferson. "This is not the first time in American history when patriotism has been distorted to deflect criticism and mislead the nation," warned Sen. Kerry, placing his courage in the broader historical context. "No wonder Thomas Jefferson himself said: 'Dissent is…

Powell reveals how troop levels for Iraq were determined

AP/Fox News:

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell advised President Bush before the Iraq war to send more troops to the country, but the administration did not follow his recommendation, Powell said in an interview broadcast Sunday.

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Powell said he gave the advice to now retired Gen. Tommy Franks, who developed and executed the Iraq invasion plan, and Rumsfeld while the president was present."I made the case to Gen. Franks and Secretary Rumsfeld before the president that I was not sure we had enough troops," Powell said in an interview on Britain's ITV television, according to a transcript released by the network. "The case was made, it was listened to, it was considered. ... A judgment was made by those responsible that the troop strength was adequate."..."The president's military advisers felt that the size of the force was adequate, they may still feel that years later. Some of us don't, I don't," Powell said. "In my perspective,…

Monday is a good day to shop

Debra Saunders:

I am one American who will be moved in the direction not intended by sponsors of the May 1 National Day Without Immigrants Great American Boycott demonstrations.

When supporters of illegal immigration threaten to boycott all stores, it makes me feel like shopping. When I see TV reporters interview demonstrators, who announce that they are undocumented, I can only surmise that illegal immigrants have nothing to fear from immigration authorities. When demonstrators say that Americans should welcome them because they are willing to work at low wages, I notice that they have depressed wages for other low-skilled workers and made it harder for less-educated Americans to earn a living wage. I salute anyone who wants to work hard, but I cannot feel good about the fact that they do so by dragging down other people's ability to earn a decent living. When I read Mexican American Political Association flyers for the May 1 event that demand "immediate legalization without…

How the left lost the war in Vietnam

Robert F. Turner:

Today marks the 31st anniversary of that shameful day Col. Bui Tin led a column of North Vietnamese tanks into Saigon to complete the military conquest of South Vietnam. It didn't have to happen, and many contemporary critics of our involvement in Iraq are drawing the wrong "lessons" from that experience.
One of the most common myths is that President Johnson took America to war without congressional or popular support. Actually, Johnson sent combat units to Vietnam pursuant to a 1964 statute approved by a margin of more than 99? percent of Congress (which, on its own initiative, more than tripled his appropriations request) -- and Johnson's Gallup Poll approval rating shot up from 55 percent to 85 percent.
Another widely accepted misconception is that the war could not have been won. To be sure, there was a learning curve associated with guerrilla tactics, and the arrogant incompetence of Defense Secretary Robert McNamara -- who ignored the c…

Egyptian guilty of smuggling middle eastern men into US

AP/Houston Chronicle:

An Egyptian has pleaded guilty to smuggling at least 100 men from the Middle East into the United States, the government said. Ashraf Ahmed Abdallah Bashar, 37, admitted to leading a smuggling ring that brought in 100 or more men from April 2001 through January 2002, officials from the Justice Department and the Homeland Security Department said....Abdallah admitted arranging land transportation and guides into the United States, as well as safe houses in Guatemala and Mexico, for up to $8,000, according to the plea documents....
I hope we are getting some good intelligence as part of this plea bargain.

Chavez prevokes Peru

Washington Times:

Peru said yesterday it withdrew its ambassador to Venezuela for the second time this year over "persistent and flagrant interference" in the country's affairs by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
The Peruvian government cited Mr. Chavez's threat Friday to withdraw his ambassador to Lima and cut relations with Peru if former President Alan Garcia won the Peruvian presidential election. Mr. Chavez favors leftist Ollanta Humala.
"The Peruvian government has decided to withdraw its ambassador to the Republic of Venezuela with immediate effect, due to its persistent and flagrant interference in Peru's domestic affairs," the Foreign Ministry said.
Venezuelan officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
Mr. Chavez, a self-proclaimed socialist revolutionary sharply at odds with Washington, first clashed with Peru at the start of the year after openly backing Mr. Humala, who won the first round of the April 9 presidential…

Turkey, Israel in pipeline deal for Russian gas, oil

Washington Times:

Leaders in Israel and Turkey envision a network of four underwater pipelines for transporting Russian oil and natural gas, with feeder lines to Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and Lebanon.
The joint Turkish-Israeli development plan holds the promise of accelerating economic growth in the Middle East. A $50 million feasibility study is financed by the Luxembourg-based European Investment Bank, officials from Turkey and Israel say.
India is a main backer of the proposed network of pipelines because of the energy needs of its fast-growing economy.
Delivery of oil and natural gas by means of pipelines that traverse Turkey and Israel through conduits beneath the eastern Mediterranean is considered more practical than an overland route across turbulent Central Asia.
"Turkey gets most of its natural gas from Russia," said Gabriel Levy, a senior official at the Israeli Ministry of Infrastructure here, noting that a pipeline conveys the gas beneath the…

Thieves of honor

Washington Post:

The Congressional Medal of Honor Society reports that there are 113 living recipients of the nation's highest military award, but an FBI agent said impostors outnumber the true heroes."There are more and more of these impostors, and they are literally stealing the valor and acts of valor of the real guys," said Tom Cottone, who tracks such pretenders in addition to his work on an FBI violent crime squad in West Paterson, N.J.Some fakers merely brag about receiving the award -- and that's not illegal -- but some impostors wear military uniforms and bogus medals. "There are guys out there wearing the Medal of Honor who didn't earn it," he said.It's hard to know the exact number of impostors, but there are about 25 pending investigations, said Cottone, who has been investigating fakers since 1995.World War II Medal of Honor recipient Charles Coolidge of Signal Mountain, Tenn., got flimflammed out of his medal -- at a military reunion, o…

Trying the media for publishing classified information

Adam Liptak, NY Times:

Earlier administrations have fired and prosecuted government officials who provided classified information to the press. They have also tried to force reporters to identify their sources.

But the Bush administration is exploring a more radical measure to protect information it says is vital to national security: the criminal prosecution of reporters under the espionage laws.Such an approach would signal a thorough revision of the informal rules of engagement that have governed the relationship between the press and the government for many decades. Leaking in Washington is commonplace and typically entails tolerable risks for government officials and, at worst, the possibility of subpoenas to journalists seeking the identities of sources. But the Bush administration is putting pressure on the press as never before, and it is operating in a judicial climate that seems increasingly receptive to constraints on journalists.In the last year alone, a reporter for The New…

Zarqawi wants his own army in Iraq

Sunday Times:

THE leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, is attempting to set up his own mini-army and move away from individual suicide attacks to a more organised resistance movement, according to US intelligence sources. Faced with a shortage of foreign fighters willing to undertake suicide missions, Zarqawi wants to turn his group into a more traditional force mounting co-ordinated guerrilla raids on coalition targets. Al-Qaeda is sending training and planning experts to help to set up the force and infiltrate members into Iraq with the assistance of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, the sources said.
...The change of strategy will make it easier for Zarqawi to link up with Iraqi insurgents and evade the allied special operations teams trying to track him down....
Wrong. By being tied to a force of any size, it will be easier to find and destroy his forces. He survives now by using small cells that are independent of each other so that the discovery of one will not neces…

Overstating the movement of Iraqis for sectarian reasons

The NY Times and other sources are quoting Adel Abdul Mahdi, a Shiite leader selected as one of two vice presidents, who says that 100,000 families have been displaced. I think this is at best a WAG.

Multi-National Forces-Iraq tracks those numbers and has a much lower estimate. Maj. Gen Rick Lynch said just this week:

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Another indicator for civil war would be forced population movements. And we are extremely sensitive to that. We see reports of tens of thousands of families displaced here in Iraq, and we chase down each and every one of those reports. And I'll show you detail in a minute. But we have seen some displacement, pockets of families moving, but not in large numbers....

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And this is very important. We have not been asked for any assistance for displaced civilians. The provincial government has not asked, the local governments have not asked, the national government has not asked. So if there are indeed 36,000-plus families that have been displaced, we're not seei…

The Limbaugh deal

Radio Equalizer looks at the spin from much of the media on what from a legal standpoint is a terrific deal for Rush Limbaugh. He continues to maintain his innocents and the case will be dropped completely in a few months. If he were my client, I would recomend the deal in a heart beat. Whenever you can make a case go away for minimal costs, the deal is worth doing. This is far cheaper than fighting for an acquital, and the results is even better since the charges will be dismissed altogether if Rush just continues doing what he has been doing since the drug problem surfaced. From my perspective it looks like the prosecuter was trying to get a face saving out for the investment he made in a case that should never have been brought. Dittos from here Rush.

When war was not given a chance

Power Line:

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Reading Professor David Gelernter's "No more Vietnams" from the new issue of the Standard, I find Professor Gelernter quoting page 351 of Leebaert's book in connection with what Professor Gelernter deems "Lie #2" (of four) told about the Vietnam war: The Vietnam war was unwinnable. We had no business sending our men to a war they were bound to lose. The Communist Vietcong launched their first major coordinated offensive in January 1968--the "Tet offensive." "Tet was a military disaster for Hanoi," writes the historian Derek Leebaert. "Intended to destroy South Vietnamese officialdom and spark a popular uprising, Tet ironically had more of an effect in turning South Vietnam's people against the North." But America had been fighting ineffectively. In May 1968, Creighton Abrams replaced William Westmoreland as supreme American commander in Vietnam and U.S. strategy snapped to, immediately. With Abrams in charge, …

The left attack machine starts early on Sen. Allen

David Holman notes that the Ryan Lizza piece starts with a false statement.

When a reporter botches the facts in his very first sentence, is he sloppy or dishonest? I respect Ryan Lizza's work, and the meticulous research invested in his profile on Sen. George Allen. Yet from the first sentence, the perspective through which Lizza is reading Allen is clear: Allen's a Southern racist hick, and a fake at that.

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The article is a hit piece. Lizza brings up the old stories about Allen hanging a Confederate flag in his Earlysville home and a noose in his law office. He dutifully reports that Allen, like many Virginians, opposed placing Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Lee-Jackson Day. He joined a "Richmond social club with a well-known history of discrimination" (sounds like Augusta National).

Which part did TNR release to ABC? Lizza found Allen's high school yearbook picture, complete with Confederate flag lapel pin. He called up his acquaintances -- friends and enemies …

Terror chief escapes in Indonesia

AP/CNN:

One of Southeast Asia's most-wanted terrorists escaped capture when security forces launched a raid on his hideout early Saturday, sparking a gunbattle that left two militants dead, police said.Noordin Top, regarded as a key leader of the al-Qaida-linked group Jemaah Islamiyah, was not in the safe house in the Indonesian province of Central Java when heavily armed police arrived before dawn, national police chief Gen. Sutanto told reporters in Jakarta."Noordin M. Top was not found yet and we are still searching for him," he said after visiting the scene of the operation. "The four men captured dead and alive were very dangerous."Police recovered guns, ammunition, a computer and several boxes believed to contain explosives, Sutanto said.Authorities started staking out the location in Binangun, a village in Central Java, three months ago, "but when they launched their raid at around 3 a.m., he was gone," police spokesman Brig. Gen. Anton Bahrul A…

Arrested men were casing the capital

AP/MSNBC:

Two men charged last week in a terrorism case traveled to Washington D.C. to shoot "casing videos" of the Capitol building and other potential targets, a prosecutor alleged during a bail hearing.Prosecutors leveled the new allegations against Ehsanul Islam Sadequee and Syed Haris Ahmed while challenging a New York judge's earlier decision to release Sadequee to house arrest at his mother's residence in Roswell, Georgia on $250,000 bail.U.S. District Judge Sandra Townes reversed that ruling and ordered Sadequee, 19, held without bail after citing a pretrial report detailing the defendant's ties to Bangladesh, where he lived for the past several months and has a new bride.
"I feel that the risk of flight is just too great," Townes said.Sadequee, 19, a U.S. citizen who grew up near Atlanta, is accused of lying to federal authorities amid an ongoing FBI terrorism investigation. He was jailed in New York on Saturday following his extradition from Ban…

Al Qaeda "emir" of Samarra killed

Washington Post:

U.S. forces killed a local leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq and captured another in raids north of Baghdad on Thursday and Friday, dealing a blow to the insurgent organization's leadership in the violent city of Samarra, Iraqi police and U.S. military authorities said.U.S. troops tracked Hamadi al-Takhi al-Nissani, al-Qaeda's "emir" in Samarra, to a safe house north of the city Friday morning, the U.S. military said in a statement. As the soldiers approached the house, Nissani fled and was killed. Two other armed insurgents in the house were also killed, according to the statement.Police in Samarra who spoke on condition of anonymity gave a slightly different account, saying that the house was east of the city and that the three men were running to a getaway car when fire from an American helicopter killed them.On Thursday night, U.S. troops also arrested Abdul Qadir Makhool, another al-Qaeda leader in Samarra, and released a police officer who had been kid…

Minutemen object to al Jazeera interview

Washington Times:

The Minuteman Civil Defense Corps has canceled plans for an Al Jazeera news crew to interview volunteers patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border today after volunteers threatened to walk off their posts.
MCDC Sector Boss Connie Foust confirmed yesterday that the volunteers, many of them Vietnam, Korean and World War II veterans, refused to stay in camp if the Arab news organization, which some described as "anti-American," was given access to the site.
"They were very clear that this was something they would and could not condone and if it was going to go ahead anyway, despite their objection, they would pack up and leave," said Mrs. Foust during an interview at the group's remote desert campsite 50 miles southwest of Tucson.
More than 500 volunteers have been at the camp since the Minuteman border patrols began April 1 and, according to Mrs. Foust, more than 1,200 illegal aliens have been spotted crossing into the United States and were rep…

US ask for dismissal of suit meant to undercut war effort

NY Times:

The government asked a federal judge here Friday to dismiss a civil liberties lawsuit against the AT&T Corporation because of a possibility that military and state secrets would otherwise be disclosed. The lawsuit, accusing the company of illegally collaborating with the National Security Agency in a vast surveillance program, was filed in February by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group.The class-action suit, which seeks an end to the collaboration it alleges, is based in part on the testimony of Mark Klein, a retired technician for the company who says Internet data passing through an AT&T switching center in San Francisco is being diverted to a secret room. There, Mr. Klein says, the security agency has installed powerful computers to eavesdrop without warrants on the digital data and forward the information to an undisclosed place.The foundation has filed documents obtained by Mr. Klein that ostensibly show detailed technical informat…

Immigration raid near Washington called "scare tactic"

Washington Times:

Federal agents arrested 14 illegal aliens Thursday in Virginia, drawing criticism from local pro-immigration advocates who say the federal government is using the raids as a scare tactic.
Ernestine Fobbs, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said the agency has in custody 12 illegals who were arrested in a 3 a.m. raid in Leesburg, Va. Two others are awaiting trial before an immigration judge.
"We responded to a request by the Loudoun County Police Department [and] encountered 14 illegal aliens in a van," she said. "We are looking into the possibilities of [it being related] to smuggling. It's an ongoing investigation."
The raid, and word of others like it, sparked panic among local immigrants, advocates said yesterday.
ICE last week arrested nearly 1,200 illegals in 26 states at IFCO Systems North America Inc. plants, following an announcement that the agency would beef up enforcement.
Juan Carlos Ruiz, ge…

Threat of rule of law panics illegals

NY Times:

False rumors of random federal immigration raids have sent panic through immigrant communities around the country this week, emptying classrooms, work sites and shopping areas and sending thousands of people into hiding.Towns in New Jersey and on Long Island have been among those most affected by the snowballing fear, say immigrant advocates and public officials, who described terrified mothers pulling their children from a Head Start program in Freehold, N.J., and deserted streets in usually bustling areas of West Hempstead, N.Y. But the pattern of rumor and panic has played out nationwide. It was apparently set off by last week's announcement by Michael Chertoff, the secretary of Homeland Security, that the arrest of more than 1,180 employees of IFCO Systems of North America in 26 states was the start of a new crackdown on employers of illegal immigrants. Spanish-language television and radio accounts of rumored raids may have lent credence to people's fears, as did…

Zawahri cowers for the camera again

The AP has the story on al Qaeda's number two , who is too afraid to call a press briefing, but is willing to stand in front of a camera and act like he is leading a parade while his forces are being routed in Iraq and elsewhere.

Hundreds of suicide bombings in Iraq have "broken the back" of the U.S. military, al-Qaida's No. 2 said in a video posted Saturday - the latest in a series of messages from the terror network.The video by Ayman al-Zawahri, posted on an Islamic militant Web forum, came within the same week as an audiotape by al-Qaida's top leader Osama bin Laden and a video by the head of al-Qaida's branch in Iraq - a volley of messages by the group's most prominent figures.Al-Zawahri, an Egyptian militant believed to be hiding in Afghanistan or Pakistan, also denounced the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Iraq as "traitors" and called on Muslims to rise up to "confront them."He said that U.S. and British forces in Ira…

Zarqawi's latest close call

Sean Naylor, Marine Corps Times:

Just nine days before al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi released his latest video, a special operations raid killed five of his men, captured five others and apparently came within a couple of city blocks of nabbing Zarqawi himself.Then, the day Zarqawi’s video debuted, special ops forces killed 12 more of his troops in a second raid in the same town.The raids in Yusufiyah, 20 miles southwest of Baghdad in the heart of the Sunni Triangle, were the latest battles in a small, vicious war being waged largely in the shadows of the wider counterinsurgency effort. It is a war fought by a secretive organization called Task Force 145, made up of some of the most elite U.S. troops, including Delta Force and SEAL Team 6. They have one goal: hunting down Zarqawi, Iraq’s most wanted man, and destroying his al-Qaida in Iraq organization. Zarqawi’s escape in Yusufiyah was not the first time special ops troops have nearly had him. In early 2005, they came s…

Civil war watch in Iraq

Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch:

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We don't see Iraq on the verge of a civil war. I've talked to you about that before. And what I want to do is walk you through our thought process, the indicators that we're watching to see whether or not we're seeing significant increase of violence that could have the traits of a civil war. So I thought it would be helpful if I walked you through our thought process and what we're seeing. So there are indeed four indicators we're watching very closely, and I'll tell you what we see as of now. The first indicator is ethno-sectarian identities that are the overriding force driving decision-making. People are making decisions based on their particular sect -- Shi'a or Sunni or Kurd -- and not what's good for the people of Iraq. And what we saw with the forming -- with the Council of Representatives and the selection of the prime minister-designate, the Presidential Council and the speaker and his two deputies, was an indicatio…

Taliban paranoi strikes in Pakistan

LA Times:

Taliban militants and their allies are waging a dirty war in Pakistan's unruly tribal areas, kidnapping and executing people suspected of spying for U.S. forces across the border in Afghanistan.

Militants have killed at least 53 accused spies and pro-government elders in Pakistan over the last two years, according to the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Many of their bodies were found with notes that claimed the victims had visited U.S. military bases in Afghanistan. Local residents put the death toll from such executions at about 150.

The headless corpse of the latest victim, taxi driver Khun Majan, was found in a ditch Tuesday near the town of Angoor Adda, a suspected Taliban haven in the South Waziristan tribal region, eight days after relatives reported he had been kidnapped.

"He visited a U.S. forces base in the Birmal area, Paktika province of Afghanistan, and was providing information about mujahedin to our enemies," said a note on his body.

I…

Sistani says militias have to go

Washington Post:

Iraq's most revered Shiite Muslim cleric urged Prime Minister-designate Nouri al-Maliki in a meeting Thursday to deal quickly with sectarian militias blamed for widespread killings, and to ensure that Iraqi police and soldiers remain loyal to the country and not to political factions.Wading into what has emerged as the first major issue facing Maliki, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani said it had "become necessary to have weapons only in the hands of government forces," according to a statement released by his office.The government must also "rebuild these forces on sound, patriotic bases so that their allegiance shall be to the homeland alone, not to any other political or other groups," Sistani told Maliki, who was chosen by a coalition of Shiite religious parties. The two men met Thursday in the southern city of Najaf, home to Iraq's Shiite clerical leaders.Shiite militias such as the Mahdi Army, led by the firebrand cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, and…

Stars and Spites

Melanie Phillips:

The Independent (subscription required: don’t bother) chose today to illustrate a self-serving and repellent Robert Fisk interview with Stephen Walt (as in the infamous Mearsheimer/Walt paper on ‘The [Jewish] Lobby’ in America) with a picture of the American flag in which the stars of the union are replaced by Stars of David, under the headline: 'The United states of Israel?' The image makes the claim that America is run by the Jews. As such, it is merely a variant on the ‘Jewish conspiracy’ theory that has long been a defining feature of anti-Jewish prejudice. In these degraded times this particular trope, which once would have caused any publication which printed it to be treated as racist or a Nazi-style pariah, has become a commonplace of mainstream media discourse because now it is Israel which is treated as a Nazi-style pariah; and so vicious libels against the Jews are regarded as fair comment. (The illustration calls to mind the notorious New Statesman…

The taunting policy of Zarqawi

James Robbins:

There must have been high-fives this week around the media commission of the Mujahedin Shura Council. They were the outfit that produced the new video of al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The tape got monster coverage, which illustrates the most critical power of terrorists, the ability to gain attention. The Washington Post was emblematic — an above-the-fold headline with large centered color still from the video. The headline itself was instructive: "Zarqawi Taunts U.S. in Video." Taunts? Imagine if he had done something substantive. I was reminded of John Cleese's rude French man-at-arms in Monty Python and the Holy Grail: "Now go away or I shall taunt you a second time!"

That terrorist taunting is front-page news demonstrates the significant advantage the bad guys have in the information domain. Last month Secretary Rumsfeld said that the U.S. gets a "D or D+" in communicating in the battle of ideas. Small wonder when you …

There is something about Islam

Andrew McCarthy:

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... The past three decades have borne witness to a rising, global tide of terrorist atrocities, wrought by Muslims who proclaim without apology — indeed, with animating pride — that their actions are compelled by Islam. Nonetheless, the quickest ticket to oblivion on PC's pariah express is to suggest that the root cause of Islamic terrorism might be, well, Islam. That the possibility is utterable at all today owes exclusively to the sheer audacity of Muslim legions, who have rioted globally, on cue, based on what even their exhausted defenders must now concede are trifles (newspaper cartoons and a tall tale of Koran abuse at Guantanamo Bay leap to mind). But the largest obstacle to any examination of creed — larger even than a growing alphabet soup of Muslim interest groups — has been the same Western elites who are the prime targets of jihadist ire. In the most notable instance, President Bush absolved Islam of any culpability even as fires raged at the rema…