War News for Sunday, July 17, 2005
Bring 'em on: US soldier killed and two wounded by roadside bomb in Kirkuk
Bring 'em on: Six civilians killed in suicide bomb attack on US convoy in Mahmoudiya
Bring 'em on: Two police commandos and one civilian killed in suicide bomb attack on a police convoy in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: One police commando killed and three injured in car bomb attack in west Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Death toll not stands at seventy in yesterday's truck bomb attack in Musayyib
New investigations by the Saudi Arabian government and an Israeli think tank - both of which painstakingly analyzed the backgrounds and motivations of hundreds of foreigners entering Iraq to fight the United States - have found that the vast majority of these foreign fighters are not former terrorists and became radicalized by the war itself.
The studies, which together provide the most detailed picture available of foreign fighters, cast serious doubt on President Bush's claim that those responsible for some of the worst violence are terrorists who seized on the opportunity to make Iraq the "central front" in a battle against the United States.
Interrogations of nearly 300 Saudis captured while trying to sneak into Iraq and case studies of more than three dozen others who blew themselves up in suicide attacks show that most were heeding the calls from clerics and activists to drive infidels out of Arab land, according to a study by Saudi investigator Nawaf Obaid, a U.S.-trained analyst who was commissioned by the Saudi government and given access to Saudi officials and intelligence.
A separate Israeli analysis of 154 foreign fighters compiled by a leading terrorism researcher found that despite the presence of some senior Al-Qaida operatives who are organizing the volunteers, "the vast majority of 1/8-non-Iraqi, 3/8-Arabs killed in Iraq have never taken part in any terrorist activity prior to their arrival in Iraq."
"Only a few were involved in past Islamic insurgencies in Afghanistan, Bosnia, or Chechnya," the Israeli study says. Out of the 154 fighters analyzed, only a handful had past associations with terrorism, including six who had fathers who fought the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, said the report, compiled by the Global Research in International Affairs Center in Herzliya, Israel.
Suspicions focus on Kurds in yesterday's bomb
attack in Turkish resort, who may have brought in large amounts of explosives from Iraq.
No Blacks, Irish, Jews and Iraqis
need to apply: On the way out of Camp Lima Base were two latrines, one marked "Iraqis Only" and the other "No Iraqis -- Americans Only". Asked for an explanation, Major Booth replied that this was due to 'cultural differences'.
Opinion and Commentary
That three of the suspected perpetrators of the bomb attacks on London on July 7 were British youths of Pakistani origin should not only have been no surprise to British intelligence, it should have been anticipated: the radicalization of Britain's Muslim youth of Pakistani origin began in the mid-1990s with the full knowledge and complicity of British and US intelligence agencies.
In the mid-1990s, the Pakistan-based jihadi group Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM - previously known as the Harkat-ul-Ansar, HUA ) sent a contingent to help Bosnian Muslims in their fight against the Serbs. They were sent by the government of Benazir Bhutto at the request of the Bill Clinton administration. The contingent, which was raised and trained by Lieutenant General (retired) Hamid Gul, former director general of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), who himself used to visit Bosnia, included a large number of British Muslims of Pakistani origin.
According to estimates, about 200 Muslims of Pakistani origin living in the United Kingdom went to Pakistan, received training in the camps of the HUA, and joined the HUA in Bosnia with the blessings of London and Washington. Among them was Omar Sheikh, who went on to mastermind the murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002.
A decade before Bosnia, the CIA had raised and funded a large corps of jihadis of Arab origin - including Osama bin-Laden - to help the Afghan mujahideen in their jihad against Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
By the time of the Serbian crisis, these Arabs of Afghanistan vintage had already started creating mayhem beyond Afghanistan, notably in Indian-held Kashmir, so Western intelligence wanted to avoid the use of Arabs in Bosnia. They turned to Pakistanis, particularly Pakistanis living in Britain and other countries in Western Europe. Thus began the radicalization process of Muslim youth of Pakistani origin in western Europe.
Blair is angry
One of Britain's most senior former diplomats has branded the US invasion of Iraq "politically illegitimate" in an incendiary new book that the government has moved to block, a British newspaper reported.
Sir Jeremy Greenstock, who was British ambassador to the United Nations during the run-up to the 2003 invasion, makes the comments in a book entitled "The Cost of War", excerpts of which were quoted in Sunday's The Observer.
UN negotiations "never rose over the level of awkward diversion for the US administration", he charges in an extract published in the paper.
While "honourable decisions" were made to remove former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, the opportunities of the post-conflict period were wasted by "poor policy analysis and narrow-minded execution," he charges.
The Observer claims that the book is being held up by Prime Minister Tony Blair's office and the Foreign Office, which it says have asked Greenstock to strike out a number of passages.
Officials are said to have been "deeply shocked" by his candid accounts of talks with Blair and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and of deliberations at the UN Security Council, the paper reports.
Greenstock, who was Blair's special representative to Iraq in the aftermath of the war, has apparently been asked to remove all these sections.
"Some people are really surprised that someone like Sir Jeremy has done this," an unidentified source told the paper.
"In particular the way he has quoted private conversations with the prime minister."
A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "Civil service regulations which apply to all members of the diplomatic service require that any retired officials must obtain clearance in respect of any publication in relation to their service.
"Sir Jeremy Greenstock's proposed book is being dealt with under this procedure."
The Saturday before last saw the bombardment of Chechal village in eastern Afghanistan by US forces. At least 17 people were killed in the air strike, including women and children. According to initial reports, the US Air Force indiscriminately bombed the village in retaliation for the US loss of a Special Forces unit. While some villagers went to help recover bodies and aid the wounded, the air force launched a second raid, killing in the process many of those who had gone to help. Later, ground troops were sent to find out who the victims were and determine if any of them had actually been "terrorists". A few days later, the US issued a short statement acknowledging that civilians had in fact been killed. No wall-to-wall coverage for the fathers, mothers, sons and daughters killed then. No strong, united protests of condemnation or impartial inquiries either. But it did make a few lines in the daily news. Dehumanize, eh?
Perhaps we are all guilty of falling for the illusion that is the concoction of propaganda and concealment. Telling where the truth is and what the facts really are, admittedly, is an uphill struggle.
But surely, if we have been asleep before, now is the time to awaken from the slumber. It is not a time for more spin, lies and the clever redefinition and application of terminology.
Terror is terror, regardless of the means chosen to deliver it. As we have found out to our detriment, sometimes it is meted out with bombs on a train. And other times it adopts the guise of destructive weapons. We must have the honesty and integrity to call a spade a spade.
Let us bring sincerity to a much-needed discussion. Let us debate openly the causes of terror and put under the microscope the policies of government. Nay, let us even ponder the values that Blair believes to be under attack and consider their real meaning and impact. It may be that under this critical analysis we begin to question their very suitability as a panacea to the problems of humankind. It is a beginning at least. And one would hope, by rising to this challenge, we may even confound the magician by turning the tables when it matters. Surely, that is a thought worth holding on to.