Paul Sperry writes: President Obama says don’t worry, the Orlando terrorist was just another “lone actor” operating in isolation, unconnected to any larger group of supporters. In fact, these so-called “lone wolves” are running in packs, and suggesting otherwise gives the public a false sense of security.
Yet Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson echoed Obama, saying Omar Mateen was “self-radicalized” without any religious, ideological or operational support from friends, family or others in the Muslim community.
“What we do know at this point is it appears this was a case of self-radicalization,” Johnson said. “He does not appear to have been part of any group.”
A more accurate picture is that Mateen, an Afghan-American, was part of a disturbingly large Muslim family of sympathizers, supporters and even co-conspirators.
For starters, his wife could face criminal charges in the attack on the gay Orlando nightclub, the deadliest act of terrorism in the US since 9/11. Noor Zahi Salman, who wed Mateen in 2011, reportedly told the FBI she knew about her husband’s planned attack and even drove him to the site of the massacre as part of a scouting operation. She also is said to have helped him case the Disney Springs shopping complex. What’s more, Salman allegedly was with Mateen when he bought ammo and a holster used in the attack.
Prosecutors have convened a grand jury to present evidence against Salman, a Palestinian immigrant, who ultimately could be indicted as an accessory to the murders of 49 people and the attempted murders of 53 others. Possible other charges include failing to report a terrorist attack and lying to federal agents.
It appears the seeds of Mateen’s hatred were planted at home.
His Afghan immigrant father, who founded a nonprofit group to support the Taliban, preached gays should be punished. In a video Seddique Mir Mateen posted on the Web, he expresses gratitude toward the Afghan Taliban, who stone homosexuals to death, calling them “our warrior brothers.”
Other statements make it clear the elder Mateen could have passed anti-gay views onto his son.
“God will punish those involved in homosexuality,” the elder Mateen said in the wake of his son’s rampage. He seemed to rationalize the targeting of gays by pointing out that his son was offended by two gay men kissing in front of his 3-year-old son during a recent family trip to Miami. Read the rest of this entry »
Kabul (AFP) – From ridiculing warlords to poking fun at the political elite, a crop of covertly run Afghan satirical outlets are resonating widely with disenchanted citizens — and provoking the ire of officials.
Afghanistan’s spy agency last month rounded up journalists suspected of running “Kabul Taxi“, accusing the satirical Facebook page of imperilling national security.
“You can try to restrict satirists, even imprison them, but you cannot stop the flow of satire.”
The crackdown, which catapulted the little-known page to fame, triggered outrage and defiant Internet memes such as “I am Kabul Taxi!”, spotlighting a new generation of clandestine political satirists.
A blend of humor and scathing wit, the page launched by an unknown Afghan in April depicted a yellow Toyota taxi with its motto scrawled on its rear windscreen: “Life is bitter and the future uncertain”.
It tapped into widespread angst over corruption and political dysfunction.
“The booming genre of political satire has a special place in Afghanistan, where all major problems plaguing the country — militancy, warlordism and corruption –- seem linked to what many describe as the venality of politics.”
Posts depicted high-profile politicians and bureaucrats squeezing into the back seat and descending into petty bickering and mocking conversations.
“Politicians are widely berated as insincere, power hungry and concerned only about the welfare of their own ethnic groups.”
Passengers have included President Ashraf Ghani and his ally in the national unity government, Abdullah Abdullah. But the Facebook page invited trouble when it targeted Hanif Atmar, the powerful national security adviser.
A Kabul Taxi post describes picking up Atmar and his 27 children, who are introduced as part of an oversized entourage of advisers hired on hefty salaries.
“The role of satire in Afghanistan is to keep influential people, especially politicians, on their toes. It is to make them aware that they are being watched with an eagle eye — if not by corrupt authorities then by the public who can expose them.”
— Anonymous co-founder of Afghan Onion, a new English-language satirical website that pays tribute to the US website of the same name.
The post mocks a recruitment process seen by Afghans as nepotistic and prone to favouritism.
Atmar was not amused, ordering the grilling of journalists rumoured to be behind Kabul Taxi on suspicion of exposing state secrets by naming his advisers.
“The crackdown on Kabul Taxi has raised concerns over free speech in Afghanistan, which ranks 122nd out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.”
Defenders in the Afghan media pointed out the names of Atmar’s staff were already posted on a government Facebook page — along with their photos.
“The government considers satire as terrorism,” Kabul Taxi wrote in the aftermath of the controversy, which sent its fan base soaring with the number of “likes” nearly doubling to 60,000 and provoking an outpouring of public support before it was suddenly taken down. Read the rest of this entry »
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A Taliban suicide bomber struck the entrance to the Afghan parliament on Monday and gunmen tried to storm the heavily guarded compound, setting off a gunbattle with police that left two people dead as lawmakers were meeting inside to vote on the appointment of a new defense minister.
“Targeting innocent people in the holy month of Ramadan is a clear act of hostility against the religion of Islam,” his office said in a statement, adding that the perpetrators “are criminals who are bound by no creed or religion.”
Afghan security forces managed to repel the attack, killing all seven gunmen and ensuring that no members of parliament were harmed. But the audacious assault came as the Taliban captured two districts in as many days in the country’s north, displaying their ability to operate on multiple fronts.
Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said the attack began with a car bomb explosion near the entrance to parliament. Gunmen then attempted to storm the compound but were pushed back by security forces and eventually corralled into a nearby building that was under construction.
Sediqqi later said all seven attackers were killed by police and that no members of parliament were harmed. “It is over now,” he said.
Sediqqi said a woman and a 10-year-old girl were killed. Health Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ismail Kahousi said 31 civilians were wounded in the parliament attack, including two women and two children.
Sidiqa Mubarez, a member of parliament, said the building was rocked by the large explosion and that some people were wounded by flying glass. She said the explosion happened shortly after Masoom Stanekzai had arrived to be confirmed as defense minister, a post that has been vacant for nine months. The vote was delayed by the attack.
The Taliban claimed the attack. The militant group’s spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, told The Associated Press by telephone that it targeted Stanekzai and the parliament itself. He said the assault showed the “capability of the mujahedeen, who can even attack the parliament in the capital.”
An AP reporter who witnessed part of the assault heard heavy gunfire outside parliament and saw black smoke billowing from the entrance as ambulances raced to the scene. The reporter later heard sporadic shooting from the building where the militants were said to be holed up. Read the rest of this entry »
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A suicide bomber attacked a volleyball tournament in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday, killing at least 45 people, officials said.
Dozens more were wounded when the bomber, who was on foot and mingling with the crowd, detonated his explosives, said Mokhis Afgha, the spokesman for the governor of Paktika province.
“There were too many people gathered in the one place to watch the game. Dozens of others are wounded and we have reports that many of them are in critical condition.”
He said the attack happened during an inter-district volleyball tournament attended by large crowed in Yahyakhail district late Sunday afternoon.
“We need urgent help from the central government because we might need to transfer wounded people to Kabul for treatment.”
“There were too many people gathered in the one place to watch the game. Dozens of others are wounded and we have reports that many of them are in critical condition,” Afghan said. Read the rest of this entry »
“It was a philosophical speech. It was not a commander-in-chief speaking to his troops. And you saw the reception. I mean, it was pretty icy.”
Clancy did not criticize the substance of President Obama’s speech outlining a shift in tactics, specifically as it relates to America’s approach to fighting terrorist groups.
[And Allapundit‘s brilliantly-headlined item: Obama leads America to glorious victory over straw men at West Point at HOT AIR]
However, he did think that the defining of a new foreign policy doctrine was not something the attendees wanted to hear…(read more)
The White House inadvertently included the name of the top CIA official in Afghanistan on a list of participants in a military briefing with President Barack Obama that was distributed to reporters on Sunday, the Washington Post reported.
“Initially, the press office raised no objection, apparently because military officials had provided the list to distribute to news organizations…”
The newspaper said the official, identified as “Chief of Station” in Kabul, was named as being among those at a briefing with Obama during the president’s trip to Bagram Air Base near the Afghan capital.
“…But senior White House officials realized the mistake and scrambled to issue an updated list without the CIA officer’s name.”
The list of names was sent by email to reporters traveling with Obama on his surprise Afghanistan visit and included in a “pool report” shared with correspondents and others not on the trip.
The Post said the White House issued a revised list deleting the CIA official’s name after it recognized the mistake. Read the rest of this entry »
ABC News reports: An Afghan security guard opened fire on a group of doctors at a Kabul hospital on Thursday, killing three American doctors and leaving two other people wounded, officials said. A father and son were among the victims, ABC News has learned.
According to Kabul police, a female American nurse was also wounded in the attack.
The victims’ identities are not yet known, but the U.S. Embassy in Kabul confirmed that they are Americans. Read the rest of this entry »
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An Afghan police commander opened fire Friday on two Associated Press journalists inside a security forces base in eastern Afghanistan, killing prize-winning photographer Anja Niedringhaus and wounding veteran correspondent Kathy Gannon.
“Anja was a vibrant, dynamic journalist well-loved for her insightful photographs, her warm heart and joy for life. We are heartbroken at her loss.”
— AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll
Niedringhaus, 48, who had covered conflict zones from the Balkans in the 1990s to Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan and was part of a team of AP photographers who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005, died instantly of her wounds.
Gannon, who for many years was the news organization’s Afghanistan bureau chief and currently is a special correspondent for the region, was shot three times in the wrists and shoulder. After surgery, she was in stable condition and spoke to medical personnel before being flown to Kabul. Read the rest of this entry »
Afghan opium cultivation has reached a record level, with more than 200,000 hectares planted with the poppy for the first time, the United Nations says.
The UNODC report said the harvest was 36% up on last year, and if fully realised would outstrip global demand.
Most of the rise was in Helmand province, where British troops are preparing to withdraw.
One of the main reasons the UK sent troops to Helmand was to cut opium production.
The head of the UN office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Kabul, Jean-Luc Lemahieu, said that production was likely to rise again next year, amid uncertainty over the withdrawal of most foreign troops and the presidential election.