Friday, March 30, 2007

Sample map

This is an incomplete incident map for week 288 of the War on Terror. As it is right now it's too ambiguous, so I'm trying to come up with a way to show if each incident represents a "victory" or a "defeat". I'm also going to switch to a more detailed map, and meddle with the transparency levels of the smoke some more. Thoughts?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Fighting in Pakistan's Tribal Area Leaves 160 Dead

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Clashes between Pakistani tribesmen and foreign militants near the Afghan border this week have left up to 160 people dead, including about 130 Uzbek and Chechen fighters, the provincial governor said Friday.

Ali Mohammed Jan Aurakzai, the top government official in Northwest Frontier Province, said between 25 and 30 tribesmen also had died in fighting that started Monday in the South Waziristan tribal region and was continuing Friday.

The government says the bloodletting shows the success of its decision to use local tribesmen to root out foreign militants linked to Al Qaeda. However, experts say it also exposes authorities' lack of control of a region also used by the Taliban to support attacks in Afghanistan.

Aurakzai, a retired Pakistani army general, said tribal militants had captured another 63 foreigners and were hunting 200 more who had scattered into the area's mountains.

"Our forces are not involved. Local tribesmen are not allowing foreigners to live in their areas," he told reporters at his British colonial-era residence in the regional capital, Peshawar.

The death toll from the fighting in several towns in South Waziristan has risen rapidly, and had stood at about 135 on Thursday. Officials say the two sides have observed brief truces to allow for the burial of dead, but that attempts by local militant leaders to broker an agreement to halt the fighting had failed.

Hundreds of Central Asian and Arab militants linked to Al Qaeda fled to this semiautonomous region after the collapse of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and forged alliances with local tribes. Other Uzbek Islamists opposed to the regime of President Islam Karimov in their homeland have reportedly since joined them from Uzbekistan.

Aurakzai said that Tahir Yuldash, the leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, a militant opposition group, was in the area when fighting started but would not say what had happened to him.

As part of its support of the U.S.-led war on terror, Pakistan launched military operations in 2004 to wipe the foreign militants out. They succeeded in busting camps used by Al Qaeda but suffered hundreds of casualties and failed to expel the foreign fighters.

The military said at the time that Yuldash, one of Uzbekistan's most wanted men, was wounded but escaped during a raid on a suspected Al Qaeda camp near Wana, South Waziristan's main town.

More recently, Pakistan has cut deals with pro-Taliban militants and urged local tribal elders to police the region themselves.

That has sparked concern that Taliban and other militants now have freer rein to launch crossborder attacks into Afghanistan on U.S. and NATO forces. American officials are also worried it has allowed Al Qaeda to regroup.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Wednesday that the fighting between tribal groups and foreign fighters could help defeat extremists.

Some analysts, however, say militants with links to Taliban and Al Qaeda are involved on both sides of the current conflict, which also pits local tribes against each other, and that blood feuds could deepen insecurity in a region viewed as a possible hiding place for Usama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri.

This is very interesting. It looks like al Qaeda may be starting to run out of places to hide. Something similar is happening in 'Iraq, where two tribes recently joined a Sunni tribal alliance dedicated to evicting al Qaeda.

Via FOX News.

Friday, March 23, 2007

British troops kill Afghan boy

A funeral has been held for a 12-year-old boy shot dead by British soldiers while he was travelling in a car with his family.
Nato officials have told Al Jazeera they "deeply regretted the loss of life" and had launched an investigation into the incident in the capital Kabul on Thursday.

British troops opened fire on the car as the boy and his family were driving home from a family gathering, James Bays, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Afghanistan, said.
Cradling the body of his dead son, the boy's father, Zemarai, said: "They killed my son - I can never get him back."

'Innocent victim'
Zemarai said he was driving seven of his relatives home and was several hundreds metres away from the soldiers' vehicles when they opened fire.

Speaking from his home before the burial of his son Zaryalai on Friday, he said: "All of a sudden they opened fire at our vehicle.

"The first three bullets hit my car and the fourth one hit my 12-year old son in the side of his head."

The Afghan interior ministry said Nato troops had opened fire on a minivan "which apparently tried to overtake the troops or maybe the car was too close to the troops".

Zemarai has denied trying to overtake the convoy and said he was unaware of any warning shots.

Bays said he later counted four bullet holes in the bodywork of the damaged vehicle.

"The boy is the latest innocent victim of a Nato mistake and his father has said he would join the Taliban or any other group that would force foreign troops from his country," Bays said.

'Deeply disturbed'

The area's police chief told Al Jazeera he was "deeply disturbed" by the incident involving International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) troops.

He said: "We've had this sort of problem all over Afghanistan.

"I hope the Afghan government deal with this seriously."

Bays said the police chief was later threatened with dismissal for speaking out over the killing.

A child was also hit and killed by a Nato vehicle in a convoy in the eastern province of Khost after he ran out from the side of the road, Isaf said in a statement late on Thursday.

Via Al Jazeera.

This is one of the problems involved in overstretching our resources. While I have not seen any figures (yet), I believe that it is primarily troops who have been deployed multiple times without any time in between to recuperate who do this. The father's comment that he would be willing to join the Taliban because of this demonstrates how crucial it is that we stop this practice of treating our soldiers like machines.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Uzbek fighters killed in Waziristan

Up to 30 people have been killed in fighting over the past two days on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, officials said on Tuesday.
The clashes, which started on Monday are said to be between foreign fighters, mostly Uzbeks, and the area's Pashtun tribesmen.

The conflict started near the town of Wana in south Waziristan.
"The number of casualties is rising and we have reports of 25 to 30 dead," Major-General Waheed Arshad, a Pakistan military spokesman, said.

Fighting had previously broken out between the two groups on March 6.

The conflict came after the government tried to convince tribal elders to keep order and stop militant raids into Afghanistan.
The tribesmen had been known for their tradition of providing sanctuary to those fighting against US-led forces in Afghanistan.

Government security forces were not involved, Arshad said.

Amid the fighting, three children were reportedly killed and about 20 more wounded when a stray mortar hit their school bus.

Tribal refuge

Hundreds of foreign fighters, including Uzbeks, Chechens and Arabs, fled to the semi-autonomous tribal lands on the Pakistani side of the border after US-led forces overthrew the Taliban government in Afghanistan in 2001.

Most of the tribesmen, who inhabit both sides of the Pakistani-Afghan border, have given refuge to the men despite government efforts to remove them.

The fighting this month indicates that, in at least one area, relations have broken down.

Arshad said: "It's a success of the government strategy ... the tribesmen are fed up with them because they and their activities adversely affect their lives and business."

An intelligence official in Wana said the Uzbek fighters had cut off a road to the west of the town and security forces would take action to clear it if they did not withdraw in 24 hours.

Seventeen people, most of them Uzbeks, were killed in the March 6 battle that broke out after the men tried to kill a pro-government tribal leader.

The cause of the latest fighting was not clear, but the tribal leader and his men had been demanding that the foreign militants lay down their arms, a security official in the area said.

The militants have killed many people across the region over the past few years, including pro-government tribal leaders and people they accuse of spying for US forces in Afghanistan.

Via al Jazeera.

Friday, March 16, 2007

USS Cole attack: Sudan ruled guilty

Sudan is responsible for the bombing of the USS Cole which killed 17 sailors in 2000, a US judge has ruled.

Robert Doumar, a district judge, said: "There is substantial evidence in this case presented by the expert testimony that the government of Sudan induced the particular bombing."

The victims' relatives had argued in the civil trial that the attack could not have happened without Sudan's support.
Sudan sought unsuccessfully to dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds that too much time had passed between the bombing and the filing of the lawsuit in 2004.

Suicide bombings

Sudan is accused of providing economic support, places for the suicide bombers to train and false documents.

The judge is still to decide on the amount of compensation

Experts testified that Sudan had given safe haven to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terrorist network since 1991 – long before Yemeni operatives blasted a 12m hole in the side of the USS Cole in Yemen's port of Aden on October 12, 2000.

Lawyers representing the Sudanese government declined to comment after Wednesday's ruling.

Doumar said that he would issue a written opinion later to fully explain his ruling.

Damages demanded

Shalala Swenchonis-Wood, whose brother died in the attack, said on Wednesday: "Words can't express the loss my family has gone through.

"It's not financial, it's not material, it's always the things, the little things you don't see."

The families want $105m in damages, but potential damages could be reduced to $35m.

The judge, however, has said he is inclined to apply the 'Death on the High Seas Act', which permits compensation for economic losses but not for pain and suffering.

Four experts on terrorism, including R. James Woolsey, CIA director from 1993 to 1995, also testified to support the families' position that al-Qaeda needed the African nation's help to carry out the attack.

Intelligence report

"It would not have been as easy - it might have been possible - but it would not have been as easy,'' Woolsey said in a videotaped statement.

The experts cited testimony from other trials, a declassified Canadian intelligence report, US state department reports and their own studies as they testified that Sudan let terrorist training camps operate within its borders.

They also accused Sudan of giving al-Qaeda members diplomatic passports so they could travel without scrutiny and diplomatic pouches to ship explosives and weapons without being searched.

The US has listed Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism since 1993.

Via al Jazeera.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

US families sue Sudan over USS Cole

The families of US sailors killed in the bombing of USS Cole in 2000, are suing the Sudanese government for $105 million in damages, arguing that it facilitated the attack.
The trial opened on Tuesday in Virginia, as lawyers sought to prove that without Sudan's alleged support for the al-Qaeda network, the bombing would not have been possible.

"Sudan's material support ... including continuous flow of funding, money, weapons, logistical support, diplomatic passports and religious blessing, was crucial in enabling the attack on the USS Cole," lawyers for the families said in court papers outlining their case.

Sudan, which the US has listed as a state sponsor of terrorism since 1993, had sought unsuccessfully to dismiss the civil lawsuit on the grounds that too much time had passed between the bombing and the filing of the lawsuit in 2004.
Lawyers are seeking to prove that Sudan granted safe haven to al-Qaeda since 1991, long before the attack on the Cole in Yemen's Aden harbor in October 2000.

They also hope to show that the operatives were trained at camps operated by al-Qaeda within Sudan's borders and with Sudan's permission; that Sudan's military provided al-Qaeda with at least four crates of weapons and explosives for use in terrorist activities in Yemen.
They hope to show that Osama bin Laden and Sudan's government owned businesses that provided cover for the procurement of explosives, weapons and chemicals and that Sudan gave al-Qaeda diplomatic pouches to ship explosives and weapons internationally without being searched.
Lawyers for Sudan did not offer opening statements.
Louge Gunn, whose son, Cherone Louis Gunn, was killed in the attack on the Cole, testified that he had considered suicide after learning of his son's death.
Gunn, a grief counselor by profession, described how he had thrown a chair out of the window of his Washington DC office and punched holes in the wall until his fingers bled.
"I fell to the floor on my knees. It was the most devastating thing that had ever happened to me. I felt like somebody had put their hand in the inside of my body and pulled my skin out," he said.
Andrew C Hall, an attorney for the families, opened the trial with a video recreation of the attack and actual photographs of the damage.
Hall said he expects the trial to last two to three days, with testimony by six family members and one or two experts.
Lorenzo Vidino, a terrorism expert, testified that Sudan was a safe haven for "terrorists" and that hundreds of fighters from Yemen went to the African nation for training.
"Sudan, the whole country, was a perfect sanctuary," he said.

Via al Jazeera

New format

I'm shifting the way this blog is run. From now on, the summaries will be weekly, not daily, and will be released with the maps (which are almost ready). In between I will post articles relevant to the War on Terror, such as the one in the following post.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Day 2,008

The Taliban attacked police in Andar district, Ghazni province. Both sides claimed victory, and between three and five people were killed.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Day 2,007

This post will be updated later. I am planing to post a map every week showing the attacks, but it's taking a little longer than I had anticipated.

I do remember reading on al Jazeera that Zawahri, Osama bin Laden's right-hand man, had issued a statement saying that Hamas had "surrendered" in the recent Mecca talks. Hamas protested that it had done no such thing.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Day 2,006

It has been determined that the man captured in 'Iraq yesterday was not al-Baghdadi but the leader of an al-Qaeda group distinct from the Islamic State of 'Iraq.

In Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden celebrated his 50th birthday, with Taliban troops around the country praying for him to live another "200 years". A spokesman for the Taliban described the prayers as "long"¹. The Taliban has also stated that it will "slaughter" a captured journalist unless two of its spokesmen are released and the Italian government sets a withdrawal date. It has given Italy one week to comply. The journalist, Daniele Mastrogicomo, has been accused of being a coalition spy, a charge his colleagues deny.

¹Source: Al-Jazeera

Friday, March 9, 2007

Day 2,005

In the most important development in the "surge" so far, the 'Iraqi military has captured Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the leader of al-Qaeda in 'Iraq. He succeeded the legendary Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and also implemented stage stage two of the Zawahri plan, that of creating an Islamic state. This "state" has met with limited success, largely because of his failure to complete stage one of the plan, i.e. evict the Zionist crusader infidel wreckers of Islam from 'Iraq. Al-Baghdadi's capture serves to drive home the importance of carefully reading the directions.

Speaking of reading, Pakistan has threatened to "curtail or completely stop its cooperation with the United States" in the War on Terror if Congress passes a law making aid contingent on cooperation in the War on Terror.

RAND has said that the Pakistani government may be secretly backing the Taliban.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Day 2,003

The Taliban stated today that it has kidnapped an Italian journalist named Daniele Mastrogiacomo.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Day 2,002

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb today claimed responsibility for an attack on Monday that killed seven policemen near the capital of Algeria.

In Afghanistan, Coalition forces began Operation Achilles, a major attempt to regain control of the south. One British soldier has been killed so far. The operation has already begun to yield fruit, in the form of several captures of Taliban and al-Qaeda officials.

One of the officials, Taliban commander Mullah Mahmud, was apprehended while demonstrating a surprising trend towards a more tolerant view of sexual mores on the part of the Taliban, as al-Jazeera has reported he was dressed in, of all things, a burqa. It is unknown what attitude his wife has taken towards his cross-dressing.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Day 2,001

Two children, two men, and five women were killed in a NATO counterstrike in Nijrab district, Kapisa province (north of Kabul). NATO forces had come under attack from somewheres in the area and ordered an airstrike and artillery barrage, which destroyed the house the civilians were in.

Source: al-Jazeera

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Day 2,000

Today is the two thousandth day since the September 11 terrorist attacks.

A US convoy was attacked by a suicide minivan today in Jalalabad. It caused no injuries, but the US soldiers panicked, opening fire on surrounding civilians, including cars passing by on the freeway. The final toll was 8-10 killed, 35 wounded. The incident was followed by large protests.

It was later discovered that the Coalition, which has denied wrongdoing, attempted to suppress video evidence of the incident.

Al Jazeera correspondent John Cookson said in reference to the incident, "The bombers are hoping to destabilize Afghanistan further and cause fear and unease among the general population. Meanwhile, the Taliban are consolidating control of the south and promising security."

Endangering the civilian population and then offering to protect or rebuild is a fairly popular tactic among terrorist organizations, for reasons that elude me.