Thursday, December 27, 2007

Pakistan: Al-Qaeda claims Bhutto's death

Karachi, 27 Dec. (AKI) - (by Syed Saleem Shahzad) - A spokesperson for the al-Qaeda terrorist network has claimed responsibility for the death on Thursday of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

“We terminated the most precious American asset which vowed to defeat [the] mujahadeen,” Al-Qaeda’s commander and main spokesperson Mustafa Abu Al-Yazid told Adnkronos International (AKI) in a phone call from an unknown location, speaking in faltering English. Al-Yazid is the main al-Qaeda commander in Afghanistan.

It is believed that the decision to kill Bhutto, who is the leader of the opposition Pakistan People's Party (PPP), was made by al-Qaeda No. 2, the Egyptian doctor, Ayman al-Zawahiri in October.

Death squads were allegedly constituted for the mission and ultimately one cell comprising a defunct Lashkar-i-Jhangvi’s Punjabi volunteer succeeded in killing Bhutto.

Bhutto had just addressed a pre-election rally on Thursday in the garrison town of Rawalpindi when the bomb went off.

She had come to Rawalpindi after finishing a rapid election campaign, ahead of the January polls, in Pakistan's volatile North West Frontier Province (NWFP) where she had talked about a war against terrorism and al-Qaeda.

Reports say at least 15 other people were killed in the attack and several others injured.

As news of Bhutto's death spread throughout the country, there are reports that people have taken to the streets to protest the death of the leader of the PPP, which has the largest support of any party in Pakistan.

In the southern port city of Karachi, Bhutto's hometown, residents reportedly threw stones at cars and burnt tyres.

Via AKI, whoever they are. H/T to Konservo.


Hmm... Now that I've looked into this, I'm extremely skeptical. The only news agencies reporting that Yazid was responsible are AKI and Asia Times Online, not exactly media giants. Both claim to have been contacted personally by Yazid. Why would he contact them and not, say, Al Jazeera, or the Associated Press, or some other group with actual readers? Furthermore, the Pakistani government is making contradictory claims (which, needless to say, are also suspect). I smell BS.

Monday, December 24, 2007

My question for Zawahri

In the glorious Qur'an, it says:
"It is not for a believer to take a believer's life except by mistake; and he who kills a believer by mistake should free a slave who is a believer, and pay blood-money to the victim's family unless they forego it as an act of charity. If he belonged to a community hostile to you but was himself a believer, then a slave who is a believer should be freed. In case he belonged to a people with whom you have a treaty, then give blood-money to his family and free a believing slave. But he who has no means (to do so) should fast for a period of two months continuously to have his sins forgiven by God, and God is all-knowing and all-wise. Any one who kills a believer intentionally will be cast into Hell to abide there for ever, and suffer God's anger and damnation. For him a greater punishment awaits." (4:92-3)
On September 11, 2001, the following believers were killed:

Samad Afridi
Ashraf Ahmad
Shabbir Ahmad
Umar Ahmad
Azam Ahsan
Ahmed Ali
Tariq Amanullah
Touri Bolourchi
Salauddin Ahmad Chaudhury
Abdul K. Chowdhury
Mohammad S. Chowdhury
Jamal Legesse Desantis
Ramzi Attallah Douani
SaleemUllah Farooqi
Syed Fatha
Osman Gani
Mohammad Hamdani
Salman Hamdani
Aisha Harris
Shakila Hoque
Nabid Hossain
Shahzad Hussain
Talat Hussain
Mohammad Shah Jahan
Yasmeen Jamal
Mohammed Jawarta
Arslan Khan Khakwani
Asim Khan
Ataullah Khan
Ayub Khan
Qasim Ali Khan
Sarah Khan
Taimour Khan
Yasmeen Khan
Zahida Khan
Badruddin Lakhani
Omar Malick
Nurul Hoque Miah
Mubarak Mohammad
Boyie Mohammed
Raza Mujtaba
Omar Namoos
Mujeb Qazi
Tarranum Rahim
Ehtesham U. Raja
Ameenia Rasool
Naveed Rehman
Yusuf Saad
Rahma Salie & unborn child
Shoman Samad
Asad Samir
Khalid Shahid
Mohammed Shajahan
Naseema Simjee
Jamil Swaati
Sanober Syed
Robert Elias Talhami
Michael Theodoridis
W. Wahid

Has Osama bin Laden undertaken to fast for ten years, as is required by the most generous interpretation of Qur'anic law?

And what of those killed in the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq? The suicide bombing tactics you use produce many civilian casualties. These are undeniably intentionally killed believers. Does this not mean that those who carry out such attacks, and those who facilitate them by such means as procuring the explosives and administering the organizations, are destined for hell?


Now all I need to do is figure out how to submit it.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Zawahiri invites media questions

Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's second most senior leader, is to answer questions submitted by journalists, the outlawed group's media outlet has said. "Anyone who would like to ask him a question must be concise and precise," a statement published on December 16 by media outlets As-Sahab and Al-Fajr said.

People are invited to pose questions to al-Zawahiri in writing via the two websites before January 16 and both media organisations and individuals are welcome to take part, it said. Al-Zawahiri will then answer the questions "as much as he is able and at the soonest possible occasion".

It did not say whether the answers would be in writing or on video or audiotape. Al-Zawahri, a former eye surgeon born in Egypt, is second-in-command to Osama Bin Laden.

Media presence

Al-Zawahiri has become more prominent in the media than his leader in recent months, releasing at least 16 videos this year in comparison to four from Bin Laden. Last week al-Zawahiri released a video in which he said the British handover of security in Iraq's southern Basra province proved that fighters in Iraq are gaining the upper hand.
He also criticised the US-sponsored Middle East peace conference in a separate video earlier this month, calling it a "betrayal". Al-Zawahiri and Bin Laden are both thought to be in hiding along the Afghan-Pakistan border. The US, which has indicted him in relation to his alleged role in the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, is offering a $25 million reward for his capture.

Via Al Jazeera.


I may well take him up on this. Any suggestions on what to ask?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Al-Zawahri: Annapolis a 'betrayal'

Ayman al-Zawahri, al-Qaeda's second-in-command, has purportedly condemned Arab leaders who attended the recent US-sponsored Middle East conference in the US city of Annapolis.

In an audiotape posted on the internet, a voice said to be that of al-Zawahri labelled the talks a "betrayal" to Palestinians.

Al-Zawahri said: "The Annapolis meeting was held to turn Palestine into a Jewish state."

"The tsar of Washington, the crusader, brought together 16 Arab countries and their paralysed league [as well as] Amr Moussa, the secretary-general, to sit at a table with the Israelis."

He also denounced the government of Hosni Mubarak, the president of Egypt, saying he had turned the country into a "base to supply the crusader war on Muslims and Islam."

The message was the 15th tape or video released by al-Zawahri this year, following an audiotape released in November in which he criticised Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, and announced that fighters in Libya were joining ranks with al-Qaeda.

However, the latest 20-minute statement has not been independently verified.

Via Al Jazeera.


The "tsar" of Washington. Now there's an interesting choice of words. Is al-Qaeda perhaps trying to emphasize its roots in the Afghan jihad? I'll have to keep an eye out for any future references.

Closer to home, it's crunch time here at UC Berkeley. If I don't seem to be posting as much, it's because I'm trying to memorize the spelling of Cuauhtémoc in preparation for my final.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Joint assault on Taliban-held town

Afghan and Nato troops have launched a major offensive on a town in southern Afghanistan. Musa Qala in Helmand province has been under the Taliban's control for 10 months. The country's defence ministry said troops had surrounded the area and were using heavy fire and air strikes to regain control of the town.

A Nato soldier, two children and a dozen "terrorists" were killed in battles to reclaim the area from the Taliban, the defence ministry said. Ground troops were approaching Musa Qala, which is in the middle of the country's poppy-growing belt, from three directions, the ministry said.

Between 200 and 300 civilians had fled the fighting in the area, it said. The two children were killed when a vehicle they were travelling in was caught up in a gun battle, said General Mohammad Zahir Azimi, adding five civilians were also wounded in the incident. The Nao soldier was reportedly killed by a landmine. Musa Qala had become a base for "foreign terrorists," Azimi said. "Hundreds of terrorists had massed there." However, A Taliban spokesman downplayed its importance as a base. Qari Mohammad Yousef Ahmadi told Al Jazeera: "Musa Qala is not the only district for our Mujahideen to be there, we have bases in other districts that are still in our control".

Heavy fighting

The Taliban took control of Musa Qala in February and the town and the region around it have seen heavy fighting this year.

A deal which saw British troops hand control of the area back to tribal elders lasted only a few months before the Taliban returned. They briefly imprisoned the elders. Afghan and international troops have been keeping a watchful eye on Musa Qala ever since. Speaking to Al Jazeera on Saturday, Lutfullah Mashal of the Security Council of Afghanistan said: "The Afghan nation army is the lead element in this operation. "We are sure that with the co-operation of the local tribes, the Afghan national forces will be able to recover the area from the foreign terrorists who are holding the people of Musa Qala hostage."



Musa Qala has been one of the few (indeed, nearly the only) districts in Afghanistan that the media has openly admitted are in Taliban hands. It is good to see that it is finally being retaken.

It is also interesting that the Taliban spokesman said, "Musa Qala is not the only district for our Mujahideen to be there, we have bases in other districts that are still in our control". This does not seem like the language the Taliban would use if they were in control of half the country, as SENLIS has claimed.