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 »
Bergdahl is charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy and could face life in prison.
The case was referred to court-martial by Gen. Robert Abrams, commanding general of Forces Command and the court-martial convening authority in the case.
A date for his arraignment hearing has not been announced. The hearing is expected to take place at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where FORSCOM has its headquarters.
“The convening authority did not follow the advice of the preliminary hearing officer who heard the witnesses,” Bergdahl’s lawyer, Eugene Fidell, said in a statement.
Bergdahl’s defense team “had hoped the case would not go in this direction. We will continue to defend Sgt. Bergdahl as the case proceeds.”
The Army’s announcement comes days after “Serial,” one of the nation’s most popular podcasts, launched its series on Bergdahl. The first episode of the series features snippets of conversations between the soldier and filmmaker Mark Boal, who worked as a writer and producer on “Zero Dark Thirty” and “The Hurt Locker.”
It’s the first time the public will hear directly from Bergdahl, at length, about his ordeal.
Bergdahl spent five years as a captive under the Taliban and was released last year in a controversial prisoner swap.
He was captured after disappearing from Combat Outpost Mest-Lalak in Paktika province, Afghanistan, on June 30, 2009. He has been accused of leaving his patrol base alone and intentionally before he was captured by Taliban insurgents. He was freed in a May 31, 2014, prisoner swap that also freed five Taliban leaders from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Bergdahl was charged March 25 with one count of desertion with intent to shirk important or hazardous duty, and one count of misbehavior before the enemy by endangering the safety of a command, unit or place. Read the rest of this entry »
The report is titled ‘Report On The Inquiry Into: The Department of Defense’s May 2014 Transfer to Qatar of Five law-of-war Detainees In Connection With the Recovery Of A Captive U.S. Soldier.’
Mary Chasten reports: The House Armed Services Committee has concluded that President Barack Obama “misled the public” and broke several laws when he swapped five Taliban leaders for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
“Our report finds that the Administration clearly broke the law in not notifying Congress of the transfer,” declared committee chairman
“Leading up to the transfer, DOD officials misled Congress as to the status of negotiations. Pentagon officials best positioned to assess the national security risks were left out of the process, which increases the chances of dangerous consequences from the transfer.”
The committee presented several findings in its report.
The transfer of the Taliban Five violated several laws, including the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014. The constitutional arguments offered to justify the Department of Defense’s failure to provide the legally-required notification to the Committee 30 days in advance are incomplete and unconvincing. The violation of law also threatens constitutional separation of powers…
The Committee was misled about the extent and scope of efforts to arrange the Taliban Five transfer before it took place. The Department of Defense’s failure to communicate complete and accurate information severely harmed its relationship with the Committee, and threatens to upend a longstanding history and tradition of cooperation and comity.
The prisoners learned about their transfer on May 29, 2014, while Congress knew nothing. The department finally alerted Congress on May 31, “less than two hours” before the terrorists departed from GTMO.
The Committee also found that the five prisoners resumed their activities once they reached Qatar. “It is irresponsible to put these terrorists that much closer to the battlefield to settle a campaign promise and unconscionable to mislead Congress in the process,” said Thornberry.
During its investigation, the committee was told by the Pentagon’s serving General Counsel, Stephen Preston, that the Department of Justice “believed the president’s ‘constitutional authority’ over service members could permit the president to act notwithstanding the 30-day notification requirement.” Read the rest of this entry »
Avi Selk reports: After finally meeting President Obama last night, Ahmed Mohamed and his family plan to leave the United States for the foreseeable future.
“We are going to move to a place where my kids can study and learn and all of them being accepted by that country.”
— Ahmed’s father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed
Schools from across the country have made offers to Ahmed since he was arrested at Irving’s MacArthur High last month—his homemade clock confused with a hoax bomb, transforming him into a symbol of perceived anti-Muslim bias.
The family’s full statement follows:
But apparently it was an offer from the Middle East that most intrigued the family. The Mohameds announced today that they’ve accepted a foundation’s offer to pay for the 14-year-old’s high school and college in Doha, Qatar, which Ahmed visited a few weeks ago as he began a world tour.
“Looking at all the great offers we’ve had, it’s the best decision. They even have Texas A&M at Qatar … It’s basically like America.”
“Looking at all the great offers we’ve had, it’s the best decision,” said Eyman, 18. “They even have Texas A&M at Qatar … It’s basically like America.”
She spoke as the family boarded an airplane from Washington, where Ahmed concluded his world tour at the White House this week, back to their smallish house in Irving.
But they’ll only be here for a few days, Eyman said, before they jet off to a new life on the other side of the world.
Not that their story in the United States is done. Before leaving Washington, Ahmed appeared with a U.S. Congressman who, along with nearly 30 other members of congress, have asked the federal government to investigate whether anti-Muslim discrmination prompted Ahmed’s arrest. 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 »
Misbehavior before the enemy violates Article 99 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and includes grotesquely dishonorable behavior, including running away, ‘shamefully’ abandoning any place that it is his ‘duty to defend,’ ‘cowardly conduct,’ or endangering the safety of his unit through his own ‘disobedience, neglect, or intentional misconduct.’
Military prosecutors have reached into a section of military law seldom used since World War II in the politically fraught case against Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the soldier held prisoner for years by the Taliban after leaving his post in Afghanistan.
Observers wondered for months if Bergdahl would be charged with desertion after the deal brokered by the U.S. to bring him home. He was — but he was also charged with misbehavior before the enemy, a much rarer offense that carries a stiffer potential penalty in this case.
“The maximum penalty is death, but it’s highly unlikely that the Army will seek to execute Bergdahl.”
Misbehavior before the enemy violates Article 99 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and includes grotesquely dishonorable behavior, including running away, “shamefully” abandoning any place that it is his “duty to defend,” “cowardly conduct,” or endangering the safety of his unit through his own “disobedience, neglect, or intentional misconduct.” Read the rest of this entry »
Killing sparks renewed fears of growing radicalization of Islamic fundamentalists
DHAKA, Bangladesh— Syed Zain Al-Mahmood reports: Another Bangladeshi blogger was hacked to death in Dhaka on Friday—the fourth such attack on writers who had been critical of Islam this year—raising renewed fears about growing radicalization in the South Asian country.
Police and family members said 40-year-old Niloy Chattopadhyay, who wrote under the pen name Niloy Neel, was killed by machete-wielding assailants who entered his home in the capital on Friday afternoon.
His wife, Asha Moni, said four men entered their two-room apartment under the pretext of renting a room and attacked her husband.
Krishnapada Roy, a joint commissioner of police in Dhaka, said the attack appeared to be “a targeted killing” and that police would pursue all leads.
Mr. Chattopadhyay is the fourth blogger critical of Islam to be murdered in Bangladesh this year. American-Bangladeshi writer Avijit Roy, who championed atheism through his Mukto-Mona [Freethinker] blog, was killed in a machete attack in February. Two other writers, both admirers of Mr. Roy, were killed by suspected Islamic militants in similar attacks in March and May.
The rise of religious extremism in Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority nation of 160 million people, could affect regional stability, analysts say. 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 »
“Although the Obama administration’s public messaging is that it still wants to ‘degrade and ultimately defeat’ ISIS, in reality, many in the Pentagon view the real objective as just running out the clock.”
Margherita Stancati reports: Afghanistan’s most prominent peace envoy held secret talks with former Taliban officials in China last week, accelerating regional efforts to bring the insurgency to the negotiating table, according to individuals briefed on the matter by the warring parties.
The two-day meeting, which took place in the northwestern Chinese city of Urumqi, was aimed at discussing preconditions for a possible peace process, those people said.
“These were talks about talks,” one diplomat said.
The meeting was significant for another reason: It was facilitated by Pakistan’s intelligence agency in an apparent show of goodwill aimed at a negotiated solution to the insurgency. Read the rest of this entry »
The White House Portrait of a Crumbling Terror Group is Contradicted by Documents Seized in the Bin Laden RaidPosted: March 5, 2015
How America Was Misled on al Qaeda’s Demise
Stephen Hayes and Tomas Joscelyn write: In the early-morning hours of May 2, 2011, a small team of American military and intelligence professionals landed inside the high white walls of a mysterious compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The team’s mission, code-named Operation Neptune Spear, had two primary objectives: capture or kill Osama bin Laden and gather as much intelligence as possible about the al Qaeda leader and his network. A bullet to bin Laden’s head accomplished the first; the quick work of the Sensitive Site Exploitation team accomplished the second.
“The leadership down at Central Command wanted to know what were we learning from these documents. We were still facing a growing al Qaeda threat. And it was not just Pakistan and Afghanistan and Iraq. But we saw it growing in Yemen. We clearly saw it growing still in East Africa…The threat wasn’t going away, and we wanted to know: What can we learn from these documents?”
— Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency
It was quite a haul: 10 hard drives, nearly 100 thumb drives and a dozen cellphones. There were DVDs, audio and video tapes, data cards, reams of handwritten materials, newspapers and magazines. At a Pentagon briefing days after the raid, a senior military intelligence official described it as “the single largest collection of senior terrorist materials ever.”
The United States had gotten its hands on al Qaeda’s playbook—its recent history, its current operations, its future plans. An interagency team led by the Central Intelligence Agency got the first look at the cache. They performed a hasty scrub—a “triage”—on a small sliver of the document collection, looking for actionable intelligence. According to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, the team produced more than 400 separate reports based on information in the documents.
But it is what happened next that is truly stunning: nothing. The analysis of the materials—the “document exploitation,” in the parlance of intelligence professionals—came to an abrupt stop. According to five senior U.S. intelligence officials, the documents sat largely untouched for months—perhaps as long as a year.
In spring 2012, a year after the raid that killed bin Laden and six months before the 2012 presidential election, the Obama administration launched a concerted campaign to persuade the American people that the long war with al Qaeda was ending.
“At precisely the time Mr. Obama was campaigning on the imminent death of al Qaeda, those with access to the bin Laden documents were seeing, in bin Laden’s own words, that the opposite was true. Says Lt. Gen. Flynn: ‘By that time, they probably had grown by about—I’d say close to doubling by that time. And we knew that.’”
In a speech commemorating the anniversary of the raid, John Brennan , Mr. Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser and later his CIA director, predicted the imminent demise of al Qaeda. The next day, on May 1, 2012, Mr. Obama made a bold claim: “The goal that I set—to defeat al Qaeda and deny it a chance to rebuild—is now within our reach.”
The White House provided 17 handpicked documents to the Combatting Terror Center at the West Point military academy, where a team of analysts reached the conclusion the Obama administration wanted. Bin Laden, they found, had been isolated and relatively powerless, a sad and lonely man sitting atop a crumbling terror network.
“This wasn’t what the Obama White House wanted to hear. So the administration cut off DIA access to the documents and instructed DIA officials to stop producing analyses based on them.”
It was a reassuring portrayal. It was also wrong. And those responsible for winning the war—as opposed to an election—couldn’t afford to engage in such dangerous self-delusion. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] State Department’s Harf: ‘We Cannot Kill Our Way Out of this War’ with ISIS, ‘We’re Not in a Time of War’ Says Eric HolderPosted: February 17, 2015
From Andrew Johnson:
…on last night’s Hardball with Chris Matthews, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf stopped by to argue that the solution to defeating the Islamic State is finding economic opportunity for young Muslim men, because “we cannot kill our way out of this war.”
“If I were ISIS, I wouldn’t be afraid right now. Nothing we do right now seems to be directed at stopping this.”
— Chris Matthews
Harf’s appearance came after a weekend that saw 21 Coptic Christians beheaded and a gunman open fire at a free-speech debate in Copenhagen, as Brendan notes. Matthews pressed Harf on the lack of a strong and meaningful response to the growing threat of Islamic extremism worldwide.
“If I were ISIS, I wouldn’t be afraid right now,” Matthews said. “Nothing we do right now seems to be directed at stopping this.”
— National Review (@NRO) February 18, 2015
While Harf assured viewers that “a lot” of Islamic State fighters have been killed, she also claimed that force isn’t the most effective strategy for combatting ISIS. “We cannot win this war by killing them — we cannot kill our way out of this war,” she said.
Instead, she argued that…(read more)
Holder: ‘We’re Not in a Time of War’
Brendan Bordelon has this:
With 10,000 American soldiers patrolling the mountains and deserts of Afghanistan, thousands more deployed to Iraq, and U.S. military aircraft conducting daily strikes in both those countries and Syria, Attorney General Eric Holder claimed the nation is “not in a time of war.”
Holder made the comments Tuesday during a talk to journalists at the National Press Club, broadcast on C-SPAN. Asked about the Obama administration’s zealous prosecution of reporters for allegedly endangering national security by publishing sensitive material or refusing to reveal sources, the nation’s top law enforcement officer inadvertently provided insight into how the White House views America’s overseas engagements….(read more)
Chris Matthews: America Being ‘Morally Humiliated’ by ISIS
Brendan Bordelon has more:
Liberal cable news host Chris Matthews called out American apathy in the wake of the latest Islamic State massacre, saying the United States is being “morally humiliated” by the terrorists.
Islamists associated with the Islamic State murdered 21 innocent Egyptian Christians in Libya on February 15, filming their mass beheading and posting the video online. The Egyptian government responded the following day, with warplanes striking targets in Libyan cities controlled by the Islamic State.
“I know, we all know we need a plan. We need a route that takes us to a destroyed ISIS, because the alternative is too sick, too un-American, too un-human. We can’t see people killed like this in our face and simply flip to the sports page or the financial news or what’s at the movies or who’s going to win the Oscars and act like America, our country, is not being morally humiliated.”
Often skeptical of American intervention, on Monday night Matthews expressed his desire that the latest atrocity not go unpunished. “Can we do nothing?” Read the rest of this entry »
For teachers like Tabinda, going to work unarmed no longer feels like an option
PESHAWAR, Pakistan – When Pakistani Taliban militants stormed a Peshawar school and massacred 150 children and teachers, nobody could fight back. Shabnam Tabinda and some of her fellow teachers want to change that — and are practicing how to shoot terrorists.
“Yes. Whoever kills innocents, God willing I will shoot them.”
Government authorities in Pakistan’s northwest frontier have given permission for teachers to carry concealed firearms in response to the Dec. 16 attack in Peshawar that became one of the deadliest terrorist strikes in Pakistani history. Many educators reject the idea of arming teachers as reckless and counterproductive, reflecting the kind of arguments in U.S. school systems overshadowed by their own occasional mass shootings.
But for teachers like 37-year-old Tabinda, going to work unarmed no longer feels like an option. She and 10 other female teachers at the Frontier College for Women are taking pride in their newfound marksmanship with handguns, and plan to carry them to help protect their students aged 16 to 21.
Asked whether she felt confident of killing a terrorist at her school, Tabinda was emphatic in reply: “Yes. Whoever kills innocents, God willing I will shoot them.”
Mushtuq Ghani, the higher education minister in the Khyber Paktunkhwa provincial government based in Peshawar, says its Cabinet supports the arming of teachers as a logical measure given the reality that the region’s 65,000 police are stretched too thin to provide a first line of defense to nearly 50,000 schools. Terrorists need to know that schools aren’t defenseless, and armed teachers could potentially hold off gunmen and buy time for police reinforcements to arrive, he said. Teachers would need to provide their own legally licensed firearms, which many already possess to defend their homes.
“We’re at war,” he said.
The Pakistani Taliban have killed tens of thousands over the past decade as it seeks to overthrow the government and impose its own harsh brand of Islam. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] THIS WEEK: Taliban Butchers 130 Schoolchildren; Sets Teacher on Fire In Front of Class | LAST WEEK: Hillary Clinton Claims We Need to ‘Empathize With’ Our EnemiesPosted: December 16, 2014
…the group of Taliban militants who were behind the shooting of Malala Yousafzai in 2012 have been arrested. Until now, not a single person had been arrested. According to the army’s press officer, 10 attackers have been identified and arrested. Malala is now based in Britain, but is not able to return home to Pakistan because of Taliban threats to kill her and her family members. Two other girls were wounded in the attack…(read more)
(at the Avis Frank Gallery,
Poll: Obama’s Choice in Neckties Hits Record Highs, Leadership, Foreign Policy, Economy, Health Care, Competence, Not So GoodPosted: June 18, 2014
Though the President’s taste in fine’s menswear is enjoying its highest approval rating since 2012, especially his ties, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll reveals that President Obama’s disapproval ratings on leadership, foreign policy, and competence, are among his worst ever.
After a slight rebound last month in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, President Obama is back to his previous overall job approval low of 41% (a drop of 3%) and hit record lows on his handling of foreign policy and overall competence…
“It all comes back to one word: leadership.”
— Democratic pollster Peter Hart
…A full 57% (a record high for this poll) disapprove of the way Obama is handling foreign policy. Only 37% approve. Read the rest of this entry »
For The Daily Caller, Chuck Ross reports: One of the main claims that the Obama administration made to justify giving up five Taliban commanders in exchange for Army sergeant Bowe Bergdahl has been undermined, according to U.S. officials who say he is “physically sound.”
Obama administration officials have said that Bergdahl’s health was deteriorating rapidly and that he was in imminent danger after being held captive by the Haqqani network for nearly five years.
Because of his condition, a deal to free him from captivity was fast-tracked, the administration has maintained.
But U.S. officials who have been briefed on Bergdahl’s condition since his return into U.S. hands told The New York Times that he is healthier than expected.
According to the report, the officials said that Bergahl is not malnourished. He weighs 160 pounds, a healthy weight for his 5-foot-9 frame. Read the rest of this entry »
“We’re measuring them by the size of their mistakes, and that is amateur hour.”
From NRO‘s Molly Wharton: Former Navy SEAL and FBI special agent Jonathan Gilliam thinks that the Obama administration has shown it’s not up for the task of effectively and safely overseeing America’s wars, and the recent prisoner exchange of five high-level Taliban generals for American Bowe Bergdahl is just the latest example…
“I just don’t know where their politics end and their legality and their war-fighting start.”
The video, e-mailed to media on Wednesday, shows Bergdahl in traditional Afghan clothing sitting in a pickup truck parked on a hillside. More than a dozen Taliban fighters with machineguns stand around the truck and on the hillside…(read more)
Recently, President Obama exchanged five Taliban leaders for an American POW, Bowe Bergdahl. One prisoner for five is an iffy trade to begin with — but even moreso when it was revealed that Bergdahl had deserted his post. So, Obama got his man, but there was a lot of collateral damage — it kind of reminds us of a movie we once saw…
Hot Air’s ALLAHPUNDIT comments:
“…As for Todd’s point about the White House expecting “euphoria,” there are only two possibilities. One: Despite a Pentagon investigation in 2010 into Bergdahl’s disappearance, despite Michael Hastings’s article two years ago in Rolling Stone, despite the fact that Bergdahl apparently left a note confirming his desertion, somehow everyone in the administration who had input into this prisoner swap missed the longstanding accusations against him. They thought they were bringing home a guy who was captured heroically in combat and have now been caught completely by surprise. I don’t buy that, although I’ve had a few dozen conservative pals warn me on Twitter over the past 24 hours to never underestimate Hopenchange’s ignorance and incompetence. Point taken, and if this were purely a policy matter, I might go along. It isn’t. It’s a political landmine too and O’s usually careful to protect his own political capital. Someone surely looked into Bergdahl’s disappearance and signed off on this knowing the allegations against him.
Which brings us to the other possibility. Namely, Obama expected “euphoria” over Bergdahl’s release not because he didn’t know about the desertion claims but because he assumed that most of the public would never find out. I think he expected the media to go face-first into the tank in ignoring the desertion angle in the interest of (a) protecting the White House and (b) playing up the gauzy “POW reunited with parents” human-interest stuff. And you know what? That was a reasonable expectation. They probably thought that any desertion claims against Bergdahl would be confined to Fox and a few problematic segments on Jake Tapper’s show, all of which could be ignored and ghettoized as some new right-wing bugaboo (sorry, Jake) that no one else need take seriously. Michael Tomasky was way out in front of that yesterday morning. But then all sorts of big-media outlets dug in — the Times, WaPo, NBC, ABC, and on and on — and that made the “politicization” defense too difficult (although the left, God love ‘em, is still trying). I’m shocked by how eagerly the media went after it, frankly, although not as shocked as the White House. The X factor they didn’t anticipate, I’ll bet, is that soldiers like Cody Full would come forward and risk retaliation for putting his name to the “deserter” theory. It’s one thing to call a Republican a hack, it’s another to call a veteran who was there and who lost friends in the hunt for Bergdahl one. They’ve been left with no counter.
“I think that it’s very important that the Army pursue this.”
“If you’re going to do the swap that we did for this kind of guy, where there is a question whether he left on his own or not or what the motives were, you absolutely have to bring military justice to bear.”
— Charles Krauthammer on Tuesday’s Special Report
The Weekly Standard has profiled these jihadists previously on multiple occasions, and what follows below is culled from these accounts. Here are short bios for each of the five Taliban commanders. All quotes are drawn from declassified and leaked documents prepared at Guantanamo.
Mullah Mohammad Fazl (Taliban army chief of staff): Fazl is “wanted by the UN for possible war crimes including the murder of thousands of Shiites.” Fazl “was associated with terrorist groups currently opposing U.S. and Coalition forces including al Qaeda, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG), and an Anti-Coalition Militia group known as Harakat-i-Inqilab-i-Islami.” In addition to being one of the Taliban’s most experienced military commanders, Fazl worked closely with a top al Qaeda commander named Abdul Hadi al Iraqi, who headed al Qaeda’s main fighting unit in Afghanistan prior to 9/11 and is currently detained at Guantanamo.
Mullah Norullah Noori (senior Taliban military commander): Like Fazl, Noori is “wanted by the United Nations (UN) for possible war crimes including the murder of thousands of Shiite Muslims.” Beginning in the mid-1990s, Noori “fought alongside al Qaeda as a Taliban military general, against the Northern alliance.” He continued to work closely with al Qaeda in the years that followed.
Abdul Haq Wasiq (Taliban deputy minister of intelligence): Wasiq arranged for al Qaeda members to provide crucial intelligence training prior to 9/11. The training was headed by Hamza Zubayr, an al Qaeda instructor who was killed during the same September 2002 raid that netted Ramzi Binalshibh, the point man for the 9/11 operation. Wasiq “was central to the Taliban’s efforts to form alliances with other Islamic fundamentalist groups to fight alongside the Taliban against U.S. and Coalition forces after the 11 September 2001 attacks,” according to a leaked JTF-GTMO threat assessment.
Khairullah Khairkhwa (Taliban governor of the Herat province and former interior minister): Khairkhwa was the governor of Afghanistan’s westernmost province prior to 9/11. In that capacity, he executed sensitive missions for Mullah Omar, including helping to broker a secret deal with the Iranians. For much of the pre-9/11 period, Iran and the Taliban were bitter foes. But a Taliban delegation that included Kharikhwa helped secure Iran’s support for the Taliban’s efforts against the American-led coalition in late 2001. JTF-GTMO found that Khairkhwa was likely a major drug trafficker and deeply in bed with al Qaeda. He allegedly oversaw one of Osama bin Laden’s training facilities in Herat. Read the rest of this entry »
First purchase of legal marijuana in Colorado, 2014
Astronauts go for a walk
A young Afghan woman shows her face in public for the first time after 5 years of Taliban Sharia law, 2001.
John Nolte writes: Between documentaries and narrative feature films, Hollywood delivered somewhere close to two dozen box office bombs during the Bush Administration — all of them attacking President George W. Bush and various elements of the War on Terror. Not one of these films was anything other than a critical and commercial humiliation. That, however, didn’t stop Hollywood from making them. The entertainment industry’s anti-American agenda will always trump greed. This weekend, though, with “Lone Survivor,” Hollywood finally as a hit war movie on its hands.
According to Deadline, “Lone Survivor” is expected to top the weekend box office with a take of $33 million to $35 million — which is well above industry expectations and double the expectations of its distributor, Universal.
Mohammad Anwar reports: An Afghan army special forces commander has defected to an insurgent group allied with the Taliban in a Humvee truck packed with his team’s guns and high-tech equipment, officials in the eastern Kunar province said on Sunday.
Monsif Khan, who raided the supplies of his 20-man team in Kunar’s capital Asadabad over the Eid al-Adha religious holiday, is the first special forces commander to switch sides, joining the Hezb-e-Islami organisation.
“He sent some of his comrades on leave and paid others to go out sightseeing, and then escaped with up to 30 guns, night-vision goggles, binoculars and a Humvee,” said Shuja ul-Mulkh Jalala, the governor of Kunar.
Zubair Sediqi, a spokesman for Hezb-e-Islami, confirmed that Khan had joined the group, saying he had brought 15 guns and high-tech equipment. Read the rest of this entry »
Even the Taliban is mocking the U.S. government over the shutdown.
In a statement released to AFP, the (fundamentalist women-torturing baby-killing mono-theistic, civilian-murdering, militant, bloodthirsty extremist) terrorist group accused American lawmakers of “sucking the blood of their own people.”
“The American people should realize that their politicians play with their destinies as well as the destinies of other oppressed nations for the sake of their personal vested interests,” the Taliban said in a statement. Read the rest of this entry »
From sharia unveiled: Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai was shot last year by the Taliban for campaigning for defying a ban on female education – and now the group is again threatening to kill her.
Pakistani Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said the group stands by its decision to target 16-year-old Malala who he said has “targeted and criticised Islam”.
“She accepted that she attacked Islam so we we tried to kill her, and if we get another chance we will definitely kill her and that will make us feel proud. Islam prohibits killing women, but except those that support the infidels in their war against our religion,” he added.
The new death threat came as Malala was named among the favourites to win the Nobel Peace Prize, which will be revealed on Friday. Read the rest of this entry »
Hussain Afzal reports: A Taliban suicide bomber rammed a car packed with explosives into the compound of a rival militant commander in northwest Pakistan on Thursday, killing 15 people, a government official said.
The commander, Nabi Hanfi, was not present at the time of the attack, said Wajid Khan, a local government administrator. Hanfi has been battling the Pakistani Taliban in the Orakzai tribal area where the bombing occurred.
Gunmen first fired shots at Hanfi’s compound in Balandkhel village, and then the suicide bomber detonated his vehicle, said Khan. The blast killed 15 people and wounded six others, he said.
Pakistani Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid claimed responsibility for the attack, saying five militants targeted Hanfi because he formed a militant group to fight them.
“Mullah Nabi had been our target, and he will remain on our target list,” Shahid told The Associated Press by telephone from an undisclosed location.
A local tribal leader, Malik Nek Marjaan, said the Pakistani government has been supporting Hanfi’s group in its battle against the Taliban.
The government has backed anti-Taliban militias throughout the northwest. But many of the militia members have been killed in attacks.
The Taliban have been waging a decade-long insurgency that has killed thousands of people in an attempt to impose Islamic law in Pakistan and end the country’s unpopular alliance with the United States.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has pushed peace talks with the militants as the best way to end the insurgency. But the Taliban have demanded the government release all militant prisoners and begin withdrawing troops from the tribal region before they will participate in negotiations.
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – A Pakistani girl who survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban is being honored as Harvard University’s humanitarian of the year.
Malala Yousafzai (mah-LAH’-lah YOO’-suhf-zeye) is an outspoken proponent for girls’ education. She was at Harvard on Friday to accept the 2013 Peter J. Gomes Humanitarian Award.
Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust says she was pleased to welcome Malala because of their shared interest in education.
The 16-year-old Malala says she’s hoping to become a politician because politicians can have influence on a broad scale. She spoke nostalgically about her home region, the Swat Valley. She says she hopes to return someday.
Malala was shot in the head last October. Militants say she was attacked because she was critical of the Taliban, not because of her views on education.