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March 31, 2006

Disservice: Media Panting on Iran's Claimed Test

The unending panting over a claimed missile test we know nothing about is frustrating on many levels. Consider the following headline:

This story, without further aid from the Iranians, has now progressed from a radar-evading rocket test to a stealth missile test to a MIRV ICBM test to, ultimately a ‘Nuke Test’.

This is getting out of hand.

From CBS’ own text:

State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said he had no technical details on the test firing, but "I think it demonstrates that Iran has a very active and aggressive military program under way."

Read that again:

Adam Ereli said he had no technical details on the test firing…

From this, the headline leads with “Iran’s Nuke Test”?

Enough.

We at ThreatsWatch have consistently been waving the Red Flag on Iran since we began just four short months ago. There is enough information available to make the case against the Iranian regime without the need to manufacture a story or even to embellish one.

There is absolutely no need for this panicked panting over phantom Iranian MIRV's they can't even properly arm to justify confronting the Epicenter of Terrorism that the Iranian mullah regime is. In fact, it is a gross disservice to those who work endless hours burning midnight oil, paid or on their own dime, to communicate the true nature of the Iranian regime’s threat – past, present and future.

Just to name a few:

That’s hardly even a beginning. Needless to say, if one needs a phantom MIRV ICBM to be compelled to take note, then close enough attention is simply not being paid. This should be corrected.

Note: We missed EagleSpeak on the same subject earlier. You should not. We agree: "Let's see the footage."

IBD: Enforcement -Again- falls to US on Iran

Commentary in Investor's Business Daily nails the issue with an effective economy of words. From Tackling Tehran:

The U.N.'s toothless response to Iran's defiance on nuclear weapons tells Iran it can do what it wants with no consequences. Once again, the U.S. is in the lonely position of telling a rogue state "no."

The rest of the commentary is correct justification for that position, but the opening paragraph nails it without the need of further elaboration.

700-ton Bunker-Busting Message to Iran

In the first week of June, the US military will test a 700-ton explosive charge in a mine in another bunker-busting weapons development test, this one called 'Divine Strake'.

"I don't want to sound glib here but it is the first time in Nevada that you'll see a mushroom cloud over Las Vegas since we stopped testing nuclear weapons," said James Tegnelia, head of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

Tegnelia said the test was part of a US effort to develop weapons capable of destroying deeply buried bunkers housing nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.

"We have several very large penetrators we're developing," he told defense reporters.

"We also have -- are you ready for this - a 700-tonne explosively formed charge that we're going to be putting in a tunnel in Nevada," he said.

The Russians have been notified, and they are in negotiations with...

Well, the Nevada desert looks a lot like this.

March 30, 2006

Beaten Pakistani Terrorist has Lodi Ties

Earlier in the week, it was reported that Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil was abducted, beaten and dumped on the side of the road outside Islamabad. The Acorn applies logic to determine that, simply by his survival, it was a message sent.

It is not hard to guess at who those attackers were. Debt collecters they certainly were not. Rival jihadis would not stop at simply knocking him out. That leaves the ISI — who may just have wanted to teach an uppity jihadi leader a lesson on who is boss.

And who is the Jihadi of the Week, Maulana Fazalur Rehman Khalil? None other than the jihadi who apparently ran the terrorist training camp attended by Umer Hayat of Lodi, California, infamy.

Interestingly, Maulana Fazalur Rehman, who according to Umer Hayat runs the Rawalpindi religious school, happens to be the opposition leader in the National Assembly of Pakistan besides being the head of a religio-political party, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI). However, well-informed government sources claimed the Rawalpindi training camp was being run by Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil, leader of a leading Pakistani jehadi outfit, Harkatul Mujahideen (HuM) and not by Maulana Fazalur Rehman. The HuM leader, Maulana Khalil has been closely aligned to Pakistan's premier intelligence agency, the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), since the days of the Afghan jehad and had been siding with the Taliban against the Northern Alliance troops even after the US-led Allied Forces attacked Afghanistan in October 2001, following the 9/11 terror attacks.

March 29, 2006

Text of Permanent Five Agreement on Iran

The IAEA has no enforcement mechanism. While the IAEA has no teeth, the Security Council, at least at this point, also refuses to bark.

As noted earlier, the agreement ultimately reached by the Permanent Five members of the United Nations Security Council is one of no consequences (Permanent Five Agree on Iran: No Consequences, Please). The language is diluted sufficiently to the point of being wholly non-binding in nature. Iran's dossier will be effectively kicked back to the IAEA for 30 days of Iranian tapdancing.

Vital Perspective has obtained the text of the seven-point statement that has reportedly been agreed to by the P-5 and will be formally voted on by the full Security Council later this week and presumably approved.

Of the eight points, items of immediate note:

3. The Security Council also notes with serious concern that the Director General's report of 27 February 2006 (GOV/2006/15) list a number of outstanding issues and concerns, including topics which could have a military nuclear dimension, and that the IAEA is unable to conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran.

See: InBrief: 'Green Salt Project': Iran Admits Another Nuclear Deception

5. The Security Council calls upon Iran to take the steps required by the IAEA Board of Governors, notably in the first operative paragraph of its resolution GOV/2006/14, which are essential to build confidence in the exclusively peaceful purpose of its nuclear programme and to resolve outstanding questions, and underlines, in this regard, the particular importance of re-establishing full and sustained suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development, to be verified by the IAEA.

See: InBrief: Iran Orders IAEA Cameras Out

7. The Security Council strongly supports the role of the IAEA Board of Governors and commends and encourages the Director General of the IAEA and its Secretariat for their ongoing professional and impartial efforts to resolve outstanding issues in Iran, and underlines the necessity of the IAEA continuing its work to clarify all outstanding issues relating to Iran's nuclear programme.

8. The Security Council requests in 30 days a report from the Director General of the IAEA on the process of Iranian compliance with the steps required by the IAEA Board, to the IAEA Board of Governors and in parallel to the Security Council for its consideration.

See also as referenced: IAEA Resolution - GOV/2006/14

The statement points out the right issues, but the language has been watered down and carries no weight in its current form. Simply put, after three years of the IAEA investigating the Iranian nuclear program with regular deception revealed and secretive programs uncovered, there remains not a single consequence. All the while, Iran chugs forward undeterred.

If you are keeping score, it's another in a string of Iranian victories.

March 28, 2006

Iran Is at War with Us

Has anyone noticed?

In early March, to take one recent example, several vehicles crossed from Iranian Kurdistan into Iraqi Kurdistan. The Iraqis stopped them. There was a firefight. The leader of the intruding group was captured and is now in prison, held by one of the Kurdish factions. The Kurds say that the vehicles contained poison gas, which they have in their possession. They say they informed the Turks, who said they did not want to know anything about it (the Turks don’t want anything to do with the Kurds, period, and they shrink from confrontation with the mullahs).

The Kurds holding this man say that he confessed to working for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Apparently they have his confession. They say they are willing to make him available to U.S. military personnel. But the Pentagon, which has all this information, has not pursued the matter. This is just one of many cases in which the Iranians believe they see the Americans running away from confrontation.

Read on.

al-Qaeda, Zarqawi and Israel

An interesting post today at RedState on 'al-Qaeda's Next Jihad'.

Within days, al-Qaeda in Iraq ceased posting messages on the Internet. It was thought that Zarqawi would head the new council however, the local jihadi became confused, when on Jan. 20, the council named its new leader, Abdullah Rashid al-Baghdadi.

With the stage one seemingly under way, the expulsion of the United States from Iraq, and stage two also being put into place, that being establishing Iraqis in the government, including al-Baghdadi, it was time to initiate stage three.

More on this later, as time is very limitted today. In the mean time, be sure to read the first comment as well, Gordon Taylor's addendum.

The 'Army of Davids' Needs 'Lords of Discipline'

With more and more documents being made public by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, more and more people are combing over them. The value in the number are the varying skill sets and backgrounds. Indeed, one with a limited professional background offers value often purely in the form of the absence of biases, which should not be underestimated when an objective review is a goal.

But this also opens the possibility of inaccuracies and deficiencies. One such weakness is presented clearly by John Hinderaker of Powerline with What Does It Prove? Nothing, Yet, as he provides two vastly differing translations of an Iraqi intelligence document to illustrate a weakness.

Key section of Translation #1:

  • 1. On 8/21/2002, the undertaking of an American delegation visiting the district of Afshariyya to visit the HQ of the Iraqi Communist Party to (the district of) Shaqlawa. A representative of the Communist Party urged that the Iraqi Government be prepared to conceal elements (‘anasir) of the organization al-Qa’ida in the district of Salman Pak, in addition to elements of the Turkish Workers’ Party and the Mujahidin Khalq Iraniyya, and that they are studying the use of chemical weapons. Iraq will (use them?) in case a military strike is directed toward them.

Same key section of Translation #2:

  • 1. On 7/21/2002 an American delegation visited the _______ area headquarters of the Iraqi Communist Party in Shaqlauah. A representative of the Communist Party accused the Iraqi government of hiding elements of the organization of Al-Qaeda in the region of Salman Pak, plus elements of the Turkish Workers Party and the Iranian Mujahideen Khalq and that they were studying the use of chemical weapons and whether Iraq will use them in case of ___________________.

The difference between 'urged' and 'accused' can not be more significant.

Especially when dealing with translations, but also when dealing with hyper-focused individual pieces of data potentially without context, the 'Army of Davids' must exercise restraint and patience to avoid a reactionary error. Discipline is in high demand.

Those who fail in exercising discipline (by seeking a second translation or a second, third and fourth knowledgeable opinion on seemingly damning data) will contribute greatly to cheapening the effort to understand the facts as they exist(ed).

If one is looking to the documents to prove or disprove a position or perception, objectivity is lost and analysis seriously weakened. This is the challenge before the foot soldiers in this 'Army of Davids'.

In a private conversation early on in the document release process, Marvin Hutchens made perhaps the most astute observation on this yet when he said, "I think that one of the problems of the 'Army of Davids' is that everyone is running to find something. Sometimes there is nothing."

March 27, 2006

Uncharted Territory: The Iranian Regime's Threat

In full agreeance with Jack Kelly, this most certainly may be the best Charles Krauthammer has ever written. He opens by laying down the history that no nuclear power, not even Stalin's agressive Soviet Union, used nuclear weapons since their first and only combat use in World War II.

But that's the point. We're now at the dawn of an era in which an extreme and fanatical religious ideology, undeterred by the usual calculations of prudence and self-preservation, is wielding state power and will soon be wielding nuclear power.

We have difficulty understanding the mentality of Iran's newest rulers. Then again, we don't understand the mentality of the men who flew into the World Trade Center or the mobs in Damascus and Tehran who chant "Death to America"--and Denmark(!)--and embrace the glory and romance of martyrdom.

This atavistic love of blood and death and, indeed, self-immolation in the name of God may not be new--medieval Europe had an abundance of millennial Christian sects--but until now it has never had the means to carry out its apocalyptic ends.

He clearly Understands Ahmadinejad. Too few do...or perhaps want to admit that they do.

Danish Flag Banned at London Free Expression Rally?

Curiously, in the ‘March For Free Expression’ demonstration intended in part to show solidarity with Denmark, the London police were out in force, overtly photographing participants (described as ‘a very intimidating presence’) and demanding that Danish and American flags be brought down. Michael Totten asks, ”What free expression?” He offers photographs and links to other on-site coverage in a follow-up, London Policing.

The display of foreign flags did not seem to be of much concern during the May 2004 Al-Nakba Demonstration in London.

Perhaps the standard is equally applied since the 2005 London bombings. To be fair to the London authorities, they did videotape the London Muhammed cartoon protesters, yet their signs with "Massacre those who insult Islam" and "Europe you will pay, your 9/11 will come" were not demanded taken down.

But the Danish flag is?

Rice, Iraqi Documents and Russian Espionage

In an appearance on NBC's Meet the Press, Condoleezza Rice said that she sees value in the recently released documents obtained during the invasion of Iraq. Stephen Hayes notes that this contradicts claims from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

"We're going to find some important and surprising things in these documents," Rice said.

Hayes uses various media sources' analysis of some of the documents in question to illustrate how the Russians gave Hussein information on the Coalition invasion and advance toward Baghdad.

Rice also addressed revelations, important but not surprising, that former Russian ambassador to Iraq, Vladimir Teterenko, passed the U.S. war plan to Iraq shortly before the war began. The charges, based largely on two Iraqi documents captured in postwar Iraq, came in a report issued by the Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia, and released by the Pentagon late last week. Rice said she is not in a position to confirm or deny the claims but vowed to take "a hard look at the reports" of Russian betrayal.

Required Mopnday reading.

March 26, 2006

Team Coverage: al-Iraqiya TV and al-Sadr's Mahdi Army

al-Iraqiya TV quickly aired images of the dead inside the al-Moustafa mosque. All of the dead appear to have been either Mahdi Army fighters or persons in the mosque killed in the crossfire. Zeyad shares a translation of part of what he saw on Iraqi television at Healing Iraq. al-Iraqiya and al-Sadr's Mahdi Army appear quite chummy. The al-Iraqiya cameraman refers to the Madhi Army dead as "our guys".

Someone in the background was asking the cameraman to film grenades lying around the corpses, to which the cameraman responded: "I can't show our guys' grenades."

"No, these are American grenades," the man in the background explained.

"Oh, okay I'll film them."

Al-Iraqiya TV was very critical of the attack, and is describing those killed as martyrs.

Unexploded American or American-supplied Iraqi ordnance left at the scene? A very curious detail, to say the least.

Iraq: US & Iraqi Troops Storm al-Moustafa Mosque

At current, it is being reported that possibly more than 20 have been killed after US and Iraqi troops opened fire at the al-Moustafa mosque in Baghdad.

The US and Iraqi military sources are not saying much yet about the incident, but from piecing together a few television reports and limited info from the web, it appears that US and Iraqi troops went to the Sadr City Shi'ite mosque to arrest the imam. Members of al-Sadr's Mahdi Army resisted and opened fire. When the firing stopped, about 20 were dead. The US and Iraqi forces have yet to announce any casualties.

Muqtada al-Sadr's people are claiming that the attack was unprovoked and are putting out numerous releases to that effect already. al-Sadr's Najaf home was nearly struck by a mortar a few hours before the Baghdad incident.

The arrest of an Imam is significant, and likely the most important detail not yet reported is why the Imam was under arrest.

It is worthy of note that in September of 2005, an Imam of that mosque was shot and killed by gunmen.

UPDATE:
Security Watchtower points out a new DoD release that clarifies that no mosque was raided and that the operation was conducted by Iraqi troops, killed 16, captured 15, freed a hostage and destroyed explosives caches.

Perhaps Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari would like to take back his open condemnation of the 'attacks' on Iraqis?

March 25, 2006

A Day in Baghdad: Lynchings and Holy Wars

Zeyad describes a very difficult day in Baghdad with Lynchings and Holy Wars from Healing Iraq.

Today it was all out war in Baghdad.

Please don’t ask me whether I believe Iraq is on the verge of civil war yet or not. I have never experienced a civil war before, only regular ones. All I see is that both sides are engaged in tit-for-tat lynchings and summary executions. I see governmental forces openly taking sides or stepping aside. I see an occupation force that is clueless about what is going on in the country. I see politicians that distrust each other and continue to flame the situation for their own personal interests. I see Islamic clerics delivering fiery sermons against each other, then smile and hug each other at the end of the day in staged PR stunts. I see the country breaking into pieces. The frontlines between different districts of Baghdad are already clearly demarked and ready for the battle. I was stopped in my own neighbourhood yesterday by a watch team and questioned where I live and what I was doing in that area. I see other people curiously staring in each other’s faces on the street. I see hundreds of people disappearing in the middle of the night and their corpses surfacing next day with electric drill holes in them. I see people blown up to smithereens because a brainwashed virgin seeker targeted a crowded market or cafe. I see all that and more.

Don’t you dare chastise me for writing about what I see in my country.

Read his entire post.

March 24, 2006

Sons of al-Anbar Cycle Through to Secure Ramadi

This morning, 220 new Iraqi Police recruits left the Ramadi Glass Factory for initial training in Baghdad just as 196 stepped off a bus returning from their successful completion of the same in the constant effort to bring security to their slice of the Sunni Triangle.

PoliceSays Capt. Roger Churchwell, “I receive a lot of self satisfaction in helping to rebuild the Iraqi Police Force in Al Anbar. We are securing the future of Ramadi and making history at the same time. We currently have over 900 Iraqi Policemen going through the IP Training Academies in Baghdad and Jordon, and this group will take us over 1,100. A few months ago achieving these numbers was just a dream, and the dream has become reality.” As more and more continue to cycle through at increasing rates, the Iraqi Police force continues to grow in both size and experienced effectiveness...as critical in Ramadi as anywhere in Iraq.

The following is the partial text of a press release on the newly graduated Ramadi IP's return home to Ramadi. It is proof once again that, while often difficult, there is more to a day in Iraq than IED's and suicide attacks.

_____________________________________

RAMADI, Iraq – “We are the future of Iraq, each and everyone of us. We believe in our cause. The conditions we are living in now; with the insurgency and terrorist around us, is no way to live life. We will make a difference for our sons and daughters,” said a newly appointed Iraqi Policeman, as he stepped off the bus at the Ramadi Glass Factory, on the morning of March 24, 2006. [...]

“There is no difference between Sunni and Shia, we are all Iraqis. One thing we learned at the police academy is that we must work as one family to win against the insurgency,” said a police graduate.

In the coming days, these IP graduates will be measured for their uniforms and will receive the following: work boots, individual body armor, and weapons. Additionally, they will receive additional training designed to introduce them to patrolling the neighborhoods of Ramadi.

“When the buses pulled in this morning I walked up to the first bus, opened the bus door and welcomed home the Sons of Al Anbar. To me, opening that bus door signified opening the door to their futures, and a new start for the Iraqi Police to create a stable and secure environment for their fellow citizens of Iraq,” said Capt. Roger Churchwell, a resident of Kansas City, and the Iraqi Police Liaison for the 2/28 BCT.

Krauthammer: Of Course It's a Civil War

Charles Krauthammer is on point again.

This whole debate about civil war is surreal. What is the insurgency if not a war supported by one (minority) part of Iraqi society fighting to prevent the birth of the new Iraqi state supported by another (majority) part of Iraqi society?

By definition that is civil war, and there's nothing new about it. As I noted here in November 2004: "People keep warning about the danger of civil war. This is absurd. There already is a civil war. It is raging before our eyes. Problem is, only one side" -- the Sunni insurgency -- "is fighting it."

Indeed, until very recently that has been the case: ex-Baathist insurgents (aided by the foreign jihadists) fighting on one side, with the United States fighting back in defense of a new Iraq dominated by Shiites and Kurds.

Now all of a sudden everyone is shocked to find Iraqis going after Iraqis. But is it not our entire counterinsurgency strategy to get Iraqis who believe in the new Iraq to fight Iraqis who want to restore Baathism or impose Taliban-like rule? Does not everyone who wishes us well support the strategy of standing up the Iraqis so we can stand down? And does that not mean getting the Iraqis to fight the civil war themselves?

Hence the gradual transfer of war-making responsibility. Hence the decline of American casualties. Hence the rise of Iraqi casualties.

He continues and notes that what we don't need are the likes of al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army determining that they will be the deciding factor as well as the problems experienced within some of the Iraqi Police units. As he says, a decisive Sunni shift will only occur with a military stick and a political carrot.

March 23, 2006

From Versailles to Dubai

Two interesting subjects are discussed briefly at American Future. In looking back at the geopolitical landscape wrought by the World Wars of the 20th century, Marc Schulman first wonders, "What Century Is It?"

We now know that the spread of terrorism to our shores and to the countries of Western Europe is connected to the Balkan wars of the 1990s. Having booted the Soviets out of Afghanistan, the unemployed mujahadeen migrated to the Balkans to assist their Muslim brethren in their fight against the Serbs. So, long before 9/11 (and before the 1998 African embassy bombings), Al-Qaeda was in Europe, albeit in southeast Europe. That's where the Clash of Civilizations began. At the time, we didn't see it that way: it was in the Balkans (so who really cares), and the aggressors were the Serbs (not exactly the banner-carriers of Western civilization).

What, then, are we witnessing? Nothing less than the unraveling of the world created by the Treaty of Versailles. ...

In Moving Forward, Dr. Demarche looks back at the not-so-distant past with deep regret at how the Dubai Ports World situation was (mis)handled.

The idea that any other foreign interest should not be involved in managing our infrastructure is probably the correct one (setting aside the fact that we currently lack the ability to manage our own ports). Our handling of this issue, however, was childish and dangerous. We singled out Dubai from among the many nations managing our ports because it is an Arab nation, plain and simple. What message do you think the average citizen on the "Arab street" took away from this? The fact that no rational voice arose from either side of the political aisle calling for a calm appraisal of the situation does not bode well for the future relationship between the United States and the Arab world. While I am well aware that Dubai is not a model of democracy or freedom, it is far and away one of the most liberal countries in the region, and our military presence in the Middle East depends in large part on our relationship with the government of the emirate. ...

American Future is an especially apt name today. How can you possibly know where you're going if you've know idea where you have been?

Jobs and Jihad in Israel

At a time when the Palestinian Economy needs Israel more than ever, it is on a path to get less and less on a collision course with economic abstinance on the part of Israeli employers. brought on primarily through the uncompromising boldness of a governing Hamas, Elizabeth Young brings this economic reality into clear view with Palestinian Economic Dependence on Israel.

According to the World Bank, in 2000 the Palestinian economy was one of the most remittance-dependent economies in the world, with income outside the territories comprising 21 percent of Palestinian Gross National Income (GNI). While the World Bank has noted that it is important that Palestinians move “away from a dependency on labor exports to Israel to a growth-path based on the export of goods and services to Israel and other countries,” it also acknowledges that in the interim period “a priority must be given to preserving employment.” It estimates that every additional 10,000 Palestinians allowed to work in Israel would generate $120 million for the Palestinian economy and increase the GNI by 2.5 percent. This would have significant effects on the Palestinian economy, where unemployment stands at 22 percent, poverty remains at 43 percent, and 15 percent of the population lives in “deep poverty” such that they cannot meet subsistence needs.

Israel has announced plans to decrease the overall number of foreign workers and to phase out all Palestinian work permits by the end of 2007. Present regulations require all workers to be older than thirty-five and married with children. The current political situation may accelerate this process. Due to heightened concerns of a terror attack during the Jewish holiday of Purim and the Israeli elections, no Palestinian workers have been allowed into Israel since March 11, and Mofaz indicates that this will continue until further notice.

It has always struck as ironic when groups like Hamas would, with a backdrop of a charter that calls for the Jewsih state's destruction, attack Israel physically and verbally while, nearly in the same breath, also demand that it is their right to travel to and earn wages within their economy.

Perhaps they should choose one or the other. Israel has done just that for them.

Congress Fails to Fully Fund Iran Democracy Efforts

From the House Committee on Appropriations comes word of the failure to fully fund the $75M requested by the administration to assist in broadcast/telecast/satellite communication efforts into the people of Iran.

  • Promotion of Democracy in Iran - The committee did not fund the $75 million requested by the Administration for the promotion of democracy in Iran because it was poorly justified. Instead, $56 million was provided through proven, existing programs that will have an immediate, positive impact on the fostering of democratic ideals in Iran.

We aggree with Regime Change Iran and share mutual concern over the future of not only the above bill, but the sincerity of peaceful efforts to empower the people via information and peacefully attempt to change the current regime.

The $75M was not enough and, as it was, decades late in the game. To see Congress slash the belated efforts by nearly one-third out of the gate, in light of the current urgency, borders on disconcerting.

March 22, 2006

Violence on the Border

A ThreatsWatch reader and blogger has relocated from the East Coast to San Antonio, Texas and has undertaken covering US Border Security and the situation he is witnessing from his new vantage point. Recently, he took a look at the violence in Nuevo Loredo, Mexico, a city up against the US-Mexico border that is the scene of a major drug cartel turf battle that routinely spills north of the border. With that as a backdrop, the US Border Patrol Tactical Unit gets a look. His post Border Security - BORTAC and the "Zetas" is worth reading, as is closer inspection of HR-4437: The Immigration and Nationality Act Amendment (Library of Congress)

al-Qaeda and Spain's 3/11

The AP report got wide play: "Madrid train bombings probe finds no al-Qaeda link". That thinking displays little more than Willful Ignorance and a fundamental (and dangerous) misunderstanding of the threat of global terrorism today.

Most importantly, the March 11 Commission identified former Egyptian army explosives expert Rabei Osman Sayed Ahmed as one of the planners of the Madrid bombings. According to an arrest warrant issued by Spanish judge Juan del Olmo, Ahmed is "a suspected member of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad" who "took over leadership of a group of followers of extremist Islamist ideology, supporters of the Jihad and of Osama bin Laden" while living in Madrid. Now on trial in Milan for international terrorism, Ahmed was wiretapped by Italian authorities telling an associate that "The Madrid attack is my project and those who died as martyrs are my dearest friends."

Given that Egyptian Islamic Jihad is currently headed by al Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri, one would think that such a statement from one of its members, to say nothing of various statements from senior Spanish and Italian law enforcement and judicial officials, would settle the issue of al Qaeda involvement in the Madrid train bombings once and for all.

There simply are not a whole lot of dots to connect and, further, that they are not neatly arranged in hierarchical administrative unitary divisions should not be necessary.

Belarus: Post-Election Direction

Though the crowd in the square may seem small, wisdom dictates that one consider the environment in Belarus before dismissing anything. Dismissal is precisely what Lukashenko is banking on, both domestically and internationally. Publius Pundit (Robert Mayer) nails it.

The reason there are only a few hundred people left on the square is because those are the most fearless, most adamant demonstrators who have vowed to hold the square. Milinkevich has announced that Saturday, March 25, will be the day when everyone will return to the square. No matter what the immediate result, it will not be a finale, but the beginning of Lukashenko’s end. While the press is pessimistic on the numbers, it doesn’t go into the reasons why this is so. I’m not sure if these writers assume that Belarus is a country where people can freely organize or what, but there are many strategic factors impeding the protest.

Lukashenko has taken up a strategy rather different than that of Ukraine’s Kuchma — where the crowds were actually allowed to gather — or Uzbekistan’s Karimov — where the crowd was massacred. Instead of breaking up the protestors, he is simply blockading them. Riot police were sent to all surrounding neighborhoods to prevent anyone from joining the protest or bring the current demonstrators food. Likewise, if anyone left the protest, they’d be arrested immediately and not allowed to return. Police were also stationed at the train terminals, searching anyone who might have a tent or other materials that would help the opposition. That’s why the protest never grew to more than 7000 at time — nobody was allowed to join!

However, something can be said about the number of people trying to join...

Bingo. Now...go finish reading.

Arab Identity - Muslim Challenge

Syrian poet Adonis, in an interview with Dubai TV, addresses democracy and the Arab people. Watch the video or read the transcript - both available at MEMRI. Nouri offers an excellent commentary on the interview (via Terrorism Unveiled).

Adonis, Ali Ahmad Sa'id, is asked of his view of the "Greater Middle East" plan. In his response, he states that if "Arabs are so inept that they cannot be democratic by themselves, they can never be democratic through the intervention of others." And goes on to state that the a precondition of that is the re-evaluation of religion so that it becomes "a personal and spiritual experience." He also lays challenge to the Arab fear of personal freedom and to address Arab extinction - "We have become extinct. We have the quantity. We have the masses of people, but a people becomes extinct when it no longer has a creative capacity, and the capacity to change its world."

And then the heart of the intellectual crisis behind the Arabs' predicament - "The Muslims today - forgive me for saying this - with their accepted interpretation [of the religious text], are the first to destroy Islam, whereas those who criticize the Muslims - the non-believers, the infidels, as they call them - are the ones who perceive in Islam the vitality that could adapt it to life. These infidels serve Islam better than the believers."

In the summer of 2004, when Shibley Telhami wrote in the LA Times about the "Growing Muslim Identity" (no longer available at the LATimes site but found here), it was apparent to me that the problem is not Muslims who identified more with their faith than their nationality or ethnicity. From my viewpoint, it was that so much of what it is to be Arab has become the what it is to be a Muslim.

As Adonis makes clear, being a Muslim should be a personal choice and further, it should not in any way limit the believer's ability to support a free society - even if that society permits (or encourages) others live outside the bounds of his faith. Democracy in the Palestinian Territories or in Iraq is a good thing. Yet if it is abused to create a religious state or to subjugate those of another (or no) faith - it should be clear that the principles behind successful democratic societies are not yet shared by those people. And that must be addressed from within.

Muslims, not Arabs, must be at the forefront of rejecting intolerance in the name of their faith. They must find or reclaim the values and principles of their religion and, when necessary, build upon them in defense of personal responsibility before their god.

Being more Arab than Muslim didn't happen overnight. And the fall and rebirth of an Arab society of Muslims and non-Muslims will not be delivered at the hands of a foreign nation. But as Nouri notes, our prompting, encouragement and support of those who've begun the long journey will serve a purpose. Even if it is only to spur the discussion.

March 21, 2006

DOCEX Unveils Attrocities

ThreatsWatch's Dan Darling has written Republic of Fear, published online by The Weekly Standard. He looks at some of the Iraqi documents recently released by DOCEX, including one ordering the use of Kuwaiti prisoners as human shields against US bombing and another drawing up plans for chemical attacks on the Kurds.

March 20, 2006

Iraq Is Not Vietnam, Part XXVII

There are many reasons Iraq is not Vietnam, as has been chronicled in many places. Yet, the Vietnam parallels are tirelessly strewn about. In fact, the dreaded Vietnam-esque 'quagmire' meme breathed its first breath of life before the first American boot even hit soil in Afghanistan.

Yet, for those charged with prosecuting and winning the conflict of our time, they do so beyond the seemingly disinterested cameras and microphones. Such is the unglorious nature of warfighters, bound only by a sense of duty to secure victory from the jaws of perception. With regard to incessant Vietnam comparisons, they choose to draw perpendiculars when appropriate rather than accept parallels when self-defeating.

Greg Jaffe writes of one such group of men in The Wall Street Journal, and one in particular: The U.S. Army's LTC John Nagl.

The embrace of these Vietnam histories reflects an emerging consensus in the Army that in order to move forward in Iraq, it must better understand the mistakes of Vietnam.

In the past, it was commonly held in military circles that the Army failed in Vietnam because civilian leaders forced it to fight a limited war instead of the all-out assault it longed to wage. That belief helped shape the doctrine espoused in the 1980s by Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Colin Powell. They argued that the military should fight only wars in which it could apply quick, overwhelming force to destroy the enemy.

The newer analyses of Vietnam are now supplanting that theory -- and changing the way the Army fights. The argument that the military must exercise restraint is a central point of the Army's new counterinsurgency doctrine. The doctrine, which runs about 120 pages and is still in draft form, is a handbook on how to wage guerrilla wars.

It offers Army and Marine Corps officers advice on everything from strategy development to intelligence gathering. Col. Nagl is among the four primary authors of the doctrine. Conrad Crane, a historian at the U.S. Army War College, is overseeing the effort.

LTC Nagl's book can be found here:

...and if he ever had time for a web presence, perhaps he would be well at home here:

Free Trade and Middle East Allies

After the heated, passionate and sometimes even disingenuous port security debate last month...Define Irony:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Free trade talks between the United Arab Emirates and the United States should resume at the end of April, UAE Economy Minister Sheikha Lubna al-Qassimi and the U.S. Trade Representative's office said on Monday.

Yes, a Balkan Base for al-Qaeda

Julia Gorin introduces the idea of a Balkan stronghold for al-Qaeda to many who may be unsuspecting by writing A Balkan Base for Al Qaeda?

She offers a hard dose of reality, including the following:

But to perpetuate the version of events we were sold from the beginning, all these connections have gone purposefully unmade by our nation’s “journalists,” who were gung-ho supporters of our 1999 offensive against a historical ally and the culmination of our pro-terror policies in 1990s Yugoslavia. How many Americans know that the terrorists who carried out a spate of suicide attacks in Iraq in August 2004 were trained in Bosnia, or that al Qaeda’s top Balkans operative, al-Zawahiri’s brother Mohammed, had a high position with our terrorist KLA "allies"? And who wants to bring up what former Canadian ambassador to Yugoslavia James Bissett has--that in Bosnia we'd fought alongside at least two of the 9/11 hijackers. The American public certainly won't hear that Bosnian charities have been raided for funding terrorism or that in 1992 Bosnia issued passports to Osama bin Laden and al-Zawahiri. We’ll never know that Bosnia today is the European “one-stop shop” for all the terrorism needs--weapons, money, shelter, documents--of Chechen and Afghani fighters passing through Europe before heading to Iraq. Or that at an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan, troops recovered one Albanian Kosovar’s application, reading, “I have Kosovo Liberation Army combat experience against Serb and American forces. ...I recommend operations against parks like Disney.”

It is strongly suggested that readers consider visiting Global Terrorism Alert and not leave without attaining viewing this clip and attaining a copy of Kohlmann's book, al-Qaida's Jihad in Europe: The Afghan-Bosnian Network.

New Chart of Iraq's Sunni Insurgents & Terrorists

The Counterterrorism Blog's Evan Kohlmann has produced another graphic chart, visually organizing the various Sunni terrorist & insurgent militant groups currently chewing dirt in Iraq.

A new analytical chart is available for download from Globalterroralert.com titled, "Major Sunni Militant Groups in Iraq: March 2006." The document helps decipher the complex web of groups at the heart of the Sunni insurgency in Iraq and the larger role played by Al-Qaida and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The groups featured in this chart include Zarqawi's Mujahideen Shura Council (MSC), the Iraqi Factions of Jihad, the Fatihin Army, the Islamic Army in Iraq (IAI), the Rashideen Army, the Mujahideen Army, the Ansar al-Sunnah Army, the 1920 Revolution Brigades, the Iraqi Islamic Resistance Front (JAAMI), and more.

It's an excellent visual. His chart can be downloaded here for viewing (pdf).

March 19, 2006

An Army of Analysts

Michael Tanji, of one of our favorite new spots, GroupIntel, has written an excellent article for the Daily Standard called An Army of Analysts. It is definitely worth a few minutes of your day to read his words, especially if you have followed or contributed to the analysis and/or translation to the recent releases of Iraqi, al-Qaeda and Guantanamo Bay detainees documents.

And, as Michael says, let's give credit to the man responsible for all the heavy lifting.

Testing Afghani Freedom

This is definitely a true test of the newfound Afghani freedom, plain and simple. Call it Afghanistan's own Dubai Ports World test.

March 18, 2006

Iran Threatens Europe & an Ayatollah Breaks Ranks

At The American Thinker, James Lewis thinks the West would be wise to take the threats tossed Europe's way by Iran at the UN the other day rather seriously.

The story quotes a “Western diplomat” saying that the message “was difficult to interpret.” Oh, yeah? In recent days Ahmadinejad and his gang have threatened the flow of oil to the West (which means attacking tankers in the Persian Gulf). They have repeatedly threatened to wipe Israel off the map. They have promised “pain and suffering” to the United States. And they have threatened terrorist assaults abroad, just like the ones Ahmadinejad ran as head of the al Qods Brigade in Lebanon, Israel and Iraq. That includes blowing up the US Marine barracks in 1981, sponsoring Hezbollah terror attacks in Israel and Lebanon, and today, making shaped-charge IEDs to blow holes in US tanks in Iraq.

For another interesting look at the divisions becoming more visible in Iran regarding the mullah regime's nuclear sprint, Marc Schulman highlights an interview with the secretary of the Qom Seminaries Association of Researchers and Instructors. Qom is the holiest city in Iran and its religious leaders speak with authority.

There are those that would prefer Ahmadinejad reeled in. Some, as the above interview shows, believe the race is a dangerous one. Others would have him reeled in because he simply speaks too much of their intent, flying right into the radar rather than above or below it. In either case, it will be interesting to see how successful either camp will be - if at all - in toning him down in the coming weeks & months.

Saddam and Abu Sayyaf

Stephen Hayes looks at some of the infromation available from the recently released Iraqi documents in a Weekly Standard column, Saddam's Philippines Terror Connection. In it, he notes (again) the connection between the Hussein regime and Abu Sayyaf.

Security Watchtower has taken a look as well.

Hisham Hussein, the second secretary of the Iraqi Embassy in Manila, was expelled from the Philippines on 13 February 2003 after he was linked to two bombings that killed two people, including an American soldier. Two Indonesian members of Jemaah Islamiyah and a Jordanian with links to Hamas were also involved in the attacks.

Phone records also revealed contacts between Hussein and Abu Sayyaf. He was in fact, continuing tactics first used by Iraq during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, when the IIS plotted attacks against U.S. targets in several nations, including the Philippines.

March 17, 2006

al-Sadr's Shadow Government in Sadr City?

Has Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army created a shadow government in the Sadr City section of Baghdad? That's what a Kurd has told a Kurdish daily newspaper, according to Italy's AKI.

The source alleged that "the health and transport ministers, which both are headed by minsiters from the Sadr faction, have been completely monopolised by followers of this movement" adding that "in Sadr City the police forces, for example the local police, take their orders from Moqtada al-Sadr and not from the interior ministry." [...]

The former government of Iyad Allawi and the movement of al-Sadr,. who has headed two lengthly revolts against the US-led coalition forces, clashed over these courts, which have special police forces and prisons. When the authorities in Baghdad tried to close them down and disband the militias they failed.

al-Sadr's boys are suspected of much of the sectarian violence since the destruction of the 'Golden Dome' mosque in Samarra and to what extent they are in the Samarra area, very well may be partly the target of the operations in the villages north of Samarra.

If the US and Iraqi forces are picking up Farsi chatter as Operation Swarmer puts the squeeze on bad actors in the area, it is probable that some elements of al-Sadr's Mahdi Army are among them, as al-Sadr has openly stated that he and his army are 'at the service of Iran'.

This is pure speculation, but if Operation Swarmer's true targets are Iranian in origin, this would explain their sudden call for talks.

Perhaps Iran did not think the United States would do such a thing out of fear of opening a Pandora's Box wrapped in Iranian threats.

Perhaps, they now may understand, they were wrong. Perhaps.

March 16, 2006

National Security Strategy - 2006 Text

The text of the new National Security Strategy is now posted by The White House.

Of particular interest regarding Iran is the following:

The Administration has worked with the international community in confronting nuclear proliferation.

We may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran. For almost 20 years, the Iranian regime hid many of its key nuclear efforts from the international community. Yet the regime continues to claim that it does not seek to develop nuclear weapons. The Iranian regime’s true intentions are clearly revealed by the regime’s refusal to negotiate in good faith; its refusal to come into compliance with its international obligations by providing the IAEA access to nuclear sites and resolving troubling questions; and the aggressive statements of its President calling for Israel to “be wiped off the face of the earth.” The United States has joined with our EU partners and Russia to pressure Iran to meet its international obligations and provide objective guarantees that its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes. This diplomatic effort must succeed if confrontation is to be avoided.

As important as are these nuclear issues, the United States has broader concerns regarding Iran. The Iranian regime sponsors terrorism; threatens Israel; seeks to thwart Middle East peace; disrupts democracy in Iraq; and denies the aspirations of its people for freedom. The nuclear issue and our other concerns can ultimately be resolved only if the Iranian regime makes the strategic decision to change these policies, open up its political system, and afford freedom to its people. This is the ultimate goal of U.S. policy. In the interim, we will continue to take all necessary measures to protect our national and economic security against the adverse effects of their bad conduct. The problems lie with the illicit behavior and dangerous ambition of the Iranian regime, not the legitimate aspirations and interests of the Iranian people. Our strategy is to block the threats posed by the regime while expanding our engagement and outreach to the people the regime is oppressing. [TW Emphasis Added]

Collection of Iraqi & al-Qaeda Documents from DOCEX

GroupIntel provides a link to the Foreign Military Studies Office Joint Reserve Intelligence Center's released Document Exploitation Documents obtained during Operation Iraqi Freedom as well as a considerable collection of al-Qaeda documents.

Of note are Iraqi documents on "French law for funding and financing election campaigns" and "Instructions from IIS to all sections of the MIC for procedures to follow in the event of UN visits."

Below the Iraqi documents is a collection of captured al-Qaeda documents that comprise part of the Department of Defense’s Harmony database.

For those who are still jumping up and down regarding the cancellation of the UAE ports agreement, this list includes a 2002 letter from al-Qaeda that was "A warning to the officials of the United Arab Emirates to stop detaining Mujahideen sympathizers", a practice that the UAE did not abandon despite the threat.

US Help Only Hurts Iranians

That is the notion clearly put forth by The Washington Post in U.S. Push for Democracy Could Backfire Inside Iran.

TEHRAN -- Prominent activists inside Iran say President Bush's plan to spend tens of millions of dollars to promote democracy here is the kind of help they don't need, warning that mere announcement of the U.S. program endangers human rights advocates by tainting them as American agents.

In a case that advocates fear is directly linked to Bush's announcement, the government has jailed two Iranians who traveled outside the country to attend what was billed as a series of workshops on human rights. Two others who attended were interrogated for three days.

The article goes on, graph after graph, detailing why finally aiding dissidents in their peaceful dissent is both unwanted and dangerous.

Beaten to the punch by Michael Ledeen, a proper fisking has already been completed.

Some Iranian dissidents attended workshops in Dubai last spring, and, with that ominous vagueness that so often characterizes reporting on things Iranian, at “about the time” that the administration announced it would support pro-democracy forces inside Iran, they were arrested. The Post seems not to have inquired about the treatment inside the regime’s prisons, but Vick and Finkel got a catchy quotation from Emad Baghi: “We are under pressure here both from hard-liners in the judiciary and that stupid George Bush.”

I love the moral equivalence: Bush wants to help them acquire freedom, while the regime (neatly reduced to a couple of bad guys in the Ministry of Injustice) crushes them. And Bush is the stupid one.

March 15, 2006

China's Ticking Time Bombs

If you missed it yesterday, be sure to take a look at China's Ticking Time Bombs at Winds of Change. While many of us often concentrate on the external Chinese role of military, geopolitical and energy competitors, Joe Katzman reminds that China's more critical challenges are social and internal in nature.

No, this isn't about Chinese militarism, or nationalism. Instead, it underlines some points made in Winds of Change.NET's long look at China's possible futures.

The projections re: China's "inevitable" economic rise to surpass the USA by 2040 or whatever fool date miss a whole lot of things, but here are two:

  • The rural time bomb
  • The demographic / pension problem - which points toward the real second time bomb

Have a look. One of my favorite posts/articles of the week, driven by thought and not the current news cycle.

Car Bomb in Paris? French Violence is Back

There is a report with no detail yet of a car bomb exploding in Paris, killing at least one, as protests flare up again in France.

Only known report thus far: Sky News: 'Car Bomb' Explodes In Paris

To keep tabs: Check here for new releases.

Developing...

UPDATE: One killed in Paris 'car bomb' - CNN

A judicial source said Paris's anti-terrorist unit had not been called in and for now ruled out the possibility of a terrorist attack.

"It is a criminal act, apparently a booby-trapped car," a police spokesman told Reuters, adding that police had not discounted the incident being a settling of scores.

LCI television reported the car's owner was previously known to the police.

Condi Rice in Indonesia

US Secretary of State visited Indonesia, whose capital city Jakarta is no stranger to terrorist attacks. As usual, Jeff at Gateway Pundit has an excellent report with Condoleezza Rice Meets with Moderate Leaders from Indonesia. From Islamic protesters to a handshake with Elmo, it was certainly an interesting visit.

Canadian PM Bolsters Troops in Afghanistan

Prime Minister Stephen Harper told Canadian troops in Afghanistan that Canada Will Not Cut and Run.

"Of course, standing up for these core Canadian values may not always be easy at times. It’s never easy for the men and women on the front lines. And there may be some who want to cut and run. But cutting and running is not your way. It’s not my way. And it’s not the Canadian way."

Despite critics back home in Canada, PM Harper said, “We don’t make a commitment and then run away at the first sign of trouble. We don’t and we will not, as long as I’m leading this country.”

Refreshing words from new Canadian leadership.

March 14, 2006

New ThreatsWatch Combined RSS Feed

Administrative Note:

For RSS subscribers currently subscribed to the various RSS feeds available for each of our sections, there is now a Combined Feed available that covers all of the current individual feeds, allowing for a more convenient way to monitor publication under each of the written sections (RapidRecon, InBrief, PrincipalAnalysis and Commentary).

The link below will allow you to eliminate the multiple individual feeds:

We hope that the addition of the Combined Feed is a valuable convenience.

Also, much work has gone into enhancing navigation and the addition of multiple resources. We expect these enhancements to go live soon. When they do, just as we value your readership, we also appreciate your feedback.

Jericho Prison Raid: Who Israel Sought

Once again, Vital Perspective has the details, complete with some good background information.

During the length of their incarceration in Jericho, Saadat and Ghoulmi continued to conduct and direct the PFLP from within the prison walls. Their location in prison became a site of pilgrimage for members of the PFLP and others identifying with the two. These visits provided an opportunity to recruit individuals to the organization, carry out ideological indoctrination, and give out orders for activity in the field.

From implication in the intercepted Karin-A shipment of Iranian arms to the assassination of Israel's Minister of Tourism, it is no wonder that Israel moved in when prison security weakened to the point that international observers left the facility.

For any who may doubt that Saadat was able to effectively direct PFLP terror operations from the Palestinian prison, consider that he was able to campaign and win a seat in the Palestinian parliament this past January.

Recall Olmert's warning that no member of the Palestinain parliament will be immune from attack if he is involved in terrorist attacks...even if from prison.

Not exactly the prison break Saadat & Co. envisioned, to be sure.

March 13, 2006

FISA Hearings are Coming

Congress intends to hold public hearings on the FISA court. The Strata-Sphere notes, "From House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence we find this conclusion:"

Fourth, the Committee expects to hold a public hearing on general issues relating to the FISA process and FISA modernization in the near future. There has been widespread misunderstanding and misinformation circulating about FISA. It is important that the public have an opportunity to understand, to the extent possible in an open session, what is myth and what is reality. These will be comprehensive efforts to review not just issues relating to the program described by the President, but also equally or more pressing issues relating to FISA that may be hindering our nation’s ability to conduct foreign [surveillance].

March 12, 2006

Saddam Never Expected US Tanks in Baghdad

A report on pre-war and early-war Iraq reveals that Saddam Hussein never expected American forces to push all the way to Baghdad in a complete invasion. Security Watchtower highlights a New York Times article that reveals some of the contents of a Joint Forces Command report titled Iraqi Perspectives on Operation Iraqi Freedom, Major Combat Operations. In it, Saddam's greatest fear was another Shi'ite uprising in the south, expecting the Americans to push in and take the oil fields and stop.

"We didn't believe it would go all the way to Baghdad," a senior Republican Guard staff officer later told his interrogators. "We thought the coalition would go to Basra, maybe to Amara, and then the war would end."

Hussein was so distrustful of his own military that only Republican Guard units were allowed inside Baghdad, with the regular army sent primarily well north and southeast. But even the Republican Guard units were not allowed to communicate with each other, resorting to their own recon to determine the position of sister units on their flank.

Meanwhile...

March 11, 2006

Desert Fox and 9/11 Connection?

Was the timing of the late-1998 Operation Desert Fox bombing of Iraq related to the inspiration for and planning of 9/11? Security Watchtower brings to the fore a report by Scott Malensek: Media Reports Connect Saddam to 9/11 Plot. In it, he uses various media reports surrounding the events to support the possibility.

We echo C.S. Scott at Security Watchtower, who says to his reaqders, "I'll leave you to arrive at your own conclusions after reading it, but Malensek is a serious researcher who has a great deal of knowledge and information on both the topics of al Qaeda and Iraq and in this case, lays out ties using nothing more than media reports and a known timeline of events."

After setting the background of Desert Fox and a Presidential Daily Brief that warned of a plot to hijack airliners, a key paragraph:

According to numerous U.S. media sources, including ABC News, Time, Newsweek, and The Guardian, the threat of Al Qaeda retaliation upon the U.S. was more than sympathy. It was cooperation. All four reported that on or about December 21, 1998, (right in the middle of the 150-hour period when the plot was apparently set in motion) Iraq asked bin Laden to move his headquarters to Iraq. The 9/11 Commission confirms this as well. Those same four media sources also declared that in the days when the 9/11 plot was set in motion, Iraq and bin Laden had decided to work together.

March 10, 2006

On Predicting Iran's Nuclear Progress

Varifrank has looked back at predictions past regarding the developing nuclear programs of China, Pakistan, the Soviet Union...and juxtaposes this against the current distant predictions of Iran's nuclear capabilities.

From Just a passing thought...:

"It will take decades for the Soviets to get an Atomic Bomb" - Spoken in 1945.

1949. Boom.

"China does not have the economic capabilty to produce an atomic bomb for atleast another 30 years". - spoken in 1960.

1964. Boom.

Excellent points in an excellent piece. I had missed it. You should not.

Those Who Face the Threats...

...are still the Most-Admired US Institution.

They face them in our name, on our behalf and for our benefit, be we left or right, for or against, alert or asleep.

March 9, 2006

Signing the Patriot Act

The major cable news outlets may have had a tough call to make. Keep the cameras on Democratic Senators and their response to the news of DPW selling P&O's interest in US ports or switch to the President's ceremonial signing of the USA Patriot Improvement and Reauthorization Act (The Patriot Act).

Senator Harry Reid made it easy for them. His opening remarks included the following statements.

"We want an up or down vote."
"The devil is in the detail. We want a vote."
"The American people have been shocked by what this administration has been doing. We can run through a list of things the American people have come to realize is basic incompetence. Katrina. Prescription drugs. The war in Iraq. Leave no child behind. And, of course, now - this Dubai ports scandle."

Reid on DPW or Bush and the Patriot Act. Not a tough call after all.

DPW to Sell US Interests in P&O

Senator John Warner announced on the Senate floor that Dubai Ports World will "transfer fully the operations of U.S. ports to a U.S. entity."

The AP and Reuters have early reports with limited details currently available. It appears that the six US ports involved in the purchase of P&O by DPW will be sold to an unnamed American company.

At this moment the press is eagerly awaiting a Democratic press conference to discuss the deal. The political fighting now appears ready to move from opposition to the deal to taking credit for what appears to be a solution. Or perhaps to opposition to foreign ownership of airlines.

March 7, 2006

Iran, Iraq and Information Warfare

Contentious exchanges between Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and members of the media occurred during a Pentagon press conference. Aptly titled Center of gravity, the latest at The Belmont Club suggests one read the entire transcript rather than just media reports from those who may have a dog in the fight. When asked if he thought the media reporting on the recent violence in Iraq was one-sided...

SEC. RUMSFELD: Yeah, the interesting thing about it is they all seem to be of a kind. All the things that have later been corrected or need to be corrected or that he believes were exaggerated all seem to be on one side of the equation. We don't see the similar thing on the other side, which you normally would get in some kind of a random spread, one would think.

Though his brief but potent post should be read in its entirety, Wretchard concludes with a perfect closing two sentences:

The enemy may have failed to win the Sunni insurgency; been unable to plunge Iraq into civil war; proved incapable of stopping the formation of a new Iraqi army and state. But none of that will matter if the three themes of 'ongoing civil war', a Shi'ite insurgency and the need to engage in headlong retreat are successfully promoted in "the capitals of the Western world".

In the absence of more eloquent language..."Bingo".

Port Security: Dan Darling Television Interview Tonight

ThreatsWatch's Dan Darling is scheduled to appear on It's Your Call with Lynn Doyle tonight at 9:00 PM (EST) on Comcast's CN8.

Dan has been asked to appear to discuss the Dubai Ports World controversy. He has also written Dubai Dealings: The pros and cons of the UAE ports deal at The Weekly Standard on the issue.

The CN8 channel is widely available on the East Coast from Philadelphia region to the New York City region and elsewhere.

Act of Terror or 'Attempted Murder'

Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar rented a Jeep SUV, by his own account the bigest he could get to inflict the greatest damage. He openly declared the he ran down UNC students in campus courtyard in order to protest the US government's 'mistreatment of Muslims' in the world. Yet, the charges against him are no more than attempted murder.

Ed Morrisey asks simpy, Can We Call This Terrorism Yet?

Astoundingly, the initial defense of not bringing terrorism charges against him was because he was not linked to a known terrorist group.

Perhaps someone could inform those who argue that reasoning that terrorism is an act - such as running down students in the name of Islam - and not a club. If this is the case, then terrorism charges against Timothy McVeigh should be dropped post-humously.

This is terrorism, club or no club.

March 6, 2006

Hamas and the Line in the Sand

Following the same logic presented in today's Triangulating Hamas, Abbas and al-Qaeda regarding the al-Qaeda-Hamas relationship, in The Strip Club: al Qaeda and Hamas in Gaza at National Review Online, James Robbins takes a closer look at the historical ideological differences between the two. Today's PrincipleAnalysis did not present this contrast. Robbins still arrives at the same essential and important conclusion.

Some analysts observe that it is in Fatah’s interest, as well as Israel’s, to associate Hamas with al Qaeda, in order to discredit them; they thus seek to discount the potential links, or even al Qaeda presence, as propaganda. But the evidence is slowly mounting that al Qaeda is active in the Palestinian Authority, doing what they have been promising to do for years. It is odd indeed to be arguing which of three terrorist organizations is the most extreme, and how that reflects on the others. Would we somehow think less of Hamas if they were consorting with al Qaeda? The two groups have virtually identical worldviews, programs, and propensities to kill the innocent. We should not think much of Hamas in any case. However, the possibility that the Islamic Resistance Movement is aligning with our principle enemy in the global war on terrorism should give pause to those who, in this country and elsewhere, seek to secure millions of dollars in aid money for the PA. The U.S. and its Coalition partners have spent years developing the tools necessary to disrupt terrorist financing; we should not indirectly become the terrorists’ new state sponsors.

Any distance Hamas attempts to put between their terror organization and al-Qaeda's terror organization should be essentially meaningless. The difference between them is merely the geographic scope of their operations and scale of attack.

When Mahmoud Zahar, the Hamas leader in the Palestinian Territories, said after the Palestinian elections, "The Western nations can take their aid and get lost," the West should grant him and Hamas precisely that and force them to openly align with those who support their terrorism, such as Iran. We should not support them in any way.

The line in the sand can be no clearer.

March 4, 2006

The 'so-called war on terror'?

Those who authored this have apparently not been able to bring themselves to read this book.

Congressman Speaks to Iranians via Satellite TV

Now this is precisely what has been missing for decades. An Iranian woman asked Congressman Curt Weldon “why the US is staying idyll [sic] in
reference to the plight of Iranians?”
Publius Pundit has his response and coverage of Iranian women publicly protesting their ban at a soccer match at Tehran's Azadi stadium.

March 3, 2006

Inspired by the Kurds ...Deeply

Few peoples have endured and survived a more brutal and sadistic ethnic purge through the means of murder, rape and torture as the Kurds of Northern Iraq at the hands of Saddam Hussein and his henchmen. Michael Totten conveys the Kurds' plight and emergence by sharing a gripping, haunting tour through a Kurdish museum commemorating their darkest days, lest anyone among them in future generations be tempted by complacency to forget. Unspeakable horror assaults visitors in every room, through every hallway and upon every wall.

The Head of the Snake is a must read. Through an economy of words and graciously shared images, Michael provides what may be the only way most will ever be able to experience what the Kurds endured, survived and all too vividly remember.

Yet, as horrifying and haunting as the images that the pictures and words create in one's mind are [left etched by a child on the wall of a children's torture chamber: “Dear Mom and Dad. I am going to be executed by the Baath. I will not see you again.”], the blackness of the experience is inspiring. Almost disturbingly so. For through it all, carrying deep wounds that transcend the scars of terror and a pain that can only possibly be imagined, the Kurds have not turned their victory into revenge, lurching violently and understandably outwards.

No, they have turned inwards, rebuilding their own lives and families, entrusting to their own rule of law, following instead their drive toward economic prosperity and building their Dream Cities, ensuring they are home to the Safest City in Iraq rather than become home to dark and bloody revenge.

Thank you, Kurds. Thank you for your leadership by example. May the world take careful, thoughtful note.

Can there possibly be any doubt: Kurdistan the Model.

Espionage Carcharhinidae

Considering the recent RapidRecon entry regarding China's submarine force ambitions, an interesting new countermeasure may come in the form of an interesting Pentagon research project. (Originally noticed from a new member to the RapidRecon blogroll, GroupIntel.)

Swimming in a ship's wake, a remote-controlled _______ could track an enemy vessel's movements without being noticed, and under its own power.

The navy also hopes to exploit _______ natural ability to sense delicate electrical gradients and follow chemical trails left by a vessel.

Who says writing on National Security (and its Threats) is dry and dull?

March 2, 2006

Arrest Warrant for al-Sadr?

From Zeyad at Healing Iraq:

Saddam's insignificant trial went on today. I didn't hear anyone mentioning it on the street. Why do they bother keeping up that charade? I would have cared if some other people today were standing trial. There was an arrest warrant issued for a certain young cleric, which the official Al-Iraqiya TV is now calling 'His Eminence, Sayyid Muqtada Al-Sadr, may Allah preserve his glory,' during newscasts.

I guess I am just sick and disgusted of it all.

...'His Eminence, Sayyid Muqtada Al-Sadr, may Allah preserve his glory'...interesting. Not very reassuring, but interesting.

Mohammed at Iraq the Model noted the pictures in Zeyad's post and wondered, "Am I supposed to feel safe when I see this?"

I have not seen anything else noting an arrest warrant issued for al-Sadr, but that would be a rather significant move. If there is something that has been missed, please share a link in the Feedback section.

Iran Reverses Course Again

Just days after Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said from Brussels that Iran's “contacts with the European Union will no longer be held with the EU-3, but with the different countries of the European Union,” Iran has once again reversed course in it's diplomatic misdirections designed to buy time.

With the Russian talks having concluded predictably without progress, Iran now seeks to once again sit at the table with that very same EU-3.

The ministerial-level talks with the participation of Ali Larijani, Head of the Supreme National Security Council, are planned for this coming Friday, the high-ranking diplomat pointed out.

He said Iran itself had requested the meeting. "We will listen to what Iran has to say but we have no new proposals," the Foreign Office spokesman added.

What does Iran want to accomplish with the last-minute meetings with the EU-3 they had just days ago rebuffed from Moscow? If there were any questions about the Iranian tactics...

Iranian chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani told Reuters news agency that discussions with the EU3, scheduled to take place in Vienna on Friday, were being held "to say we [Iran] are in favour of holding constructive negotiations".

Iran's tactics are purely and plainly delay. The EU-3 should outright reject the request and refuse to play the game. There is nothing constructive about calling an official meeting to repeat lines uttered at a press conference.

The only consistency from Iran is their insistance on enrichment. All else has more shifts, twists and tap dances than a St. Patrick's Day River Dance special performance.

Any questions?

March 1, 2006

Beneath the Surface, China Surges

As China grows in both power and desire, one of its greatest military weaknesses is being addressed in a big way. The PLAN toyed with the concept of developing a competitive carrier force. Having seemingly shelved that ambition after bearing little fruit at great expense, their submarine ambitions are both great and progressing.

The Heritage Foundation's John J. Tkacik, Jr. attempts to alert the American public to this growing threat as it dives beneath the surface in China's Submarine Challenge.

Sea-power trends in the Pacific Ocean are ominous. By 2025, China’s navy could rule the waves of the Pacific. By some estimates, Chinese attack submarines will outnumber U.S. submarines in the Pacific by five to one and Chinese nuclear ballistic missile submarines will prowl America’s Western littoral, each closely tailed by two U.S. attack submarines that have better things to do. The United States, meanwhile, will likely struggle to build enough submarines to meet this challenge.

A misplaced diplomacy leaves some U.S. Navy commanders reluctant to admit publicly that China’s rapidly expanding submarine force in the Pacific is a threat, but if the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) and the latest Pentagon “Report on the Military Power of the People’s Republic of China” (MPPRC Report) are any indication, they are undoubtedly thinking it. [Emphasis added]

For another important work from The Heritage Foundation, see also China’s Influence in Africa: Implications for the United States.

No Breakthrough Iran-Russia Nuke Talks

Filed under: 'You don't say.'

After a fruitless Wednesday session for talks that conclude tomorrow, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak said, “There was a constructive and serious discussion but many questions remain unresolved.”

What questions, you ask?

“I want to say that the process of enrichment is the sovereign right of any country. You should not take away this right from nations which have a peaceful nuclear program.” (Ali Larijani)

There will be no negotiated settlement unless the West concedes enrichment on Iranian soil. All of the talks to date have died on that point.

It's not complicated, no matter the color nor timing of the various Iranian smoke signals. It's not to the Iranians. It shouldn't appear so to observers.

That Iran refuses to prove their program is peaceful puts them in the same pickle Saddam Hussein found himself in during the years preceding his removal. He played shell games with the inspectors and his bluff was eventually called.

So too will it eventually be for Iran. The bluff may or may not be called in the same manner, but the bluff will be called.

Iraq's Political State

After reading Dan Darling's analysis of the sectarian violence in Iraq and Iraq's future - visit MEMRI for the latest from Dr. Nimrod Raphaeli's review of the events following last December's election and the challenges before those attempting to form a new government for Iraq.

There is a certain, nearly palpable, apprehension that we share for the near term fate of Iraq. And at the same time we know that these trials are necessary to the forming of a cohesive government not willing to submit to its sectarian demands or to permit the sabotage of their efforts.

Zogby Military Iraq Poll Dissected

Bruce Kesler has asked the question, How reliable is the Zogby poll of the military in Iraq?. If you know Bruce, you know that he never asks a question without offering his own answer to be considered, just as the Marine Corps Vietnam veteran would never ask anyone to do something he would not do himself.

In a painstakingly detailed and orderly military manner, Bruce Kesler commences a dialed in field commander's mortar offensive of logic and track record in a six-point masterful fisking of the effort put forth by the Brothers Zogby, who suggest that there is "heavy unclarity of mission and support for leaving Iraq during the next year or sooner among our servicepeople in Iraq."

>However, Zogby’s poll purposely leaves open too many questions, which combined with the performance and nature of the Zogby polling organization, raises many doubts as to the poll’s reliability.

  • First...
  • Second...
  • Third...
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  • Fifth...
Lastly, not a single visitor to Iraq from any media or political party, including critics of the Iraq war, has reported any such negativity among the troops there. Indeed, overwhelming support for the mission and for finishing the job is reported. Similarly, among the 1,246 military blogs, one would have to search hard and long to find such corroborating negativity.

Don't just settle for his conclusion that the poll is bunk. Go read the important five points he makes to arrive at this conclusion.

Then, go see Murdoc Online, The Officers' Club, and then Mystery Pollster, who asked John Zogby about his methods. Zogby resolved nothing with his answers.

Want a poll? Do as Bruce suggests and go read their words, unguided and unframed by survey language and participant selection screening.

Jihad from Riyadh

Two interesting developments in recent days with Riyadh connections. In the first, from Evan Kohlmann of The Counterterrorism Blog, Zarqawi's al-Qaeda in Iraq is publicly mourning and celebrating one of its leaders killed in Iraq. "Khallad's unit was trained particularly in urban warfare and "and incorporated tactics used by the [American] marines."" Khallad was from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Kohlmann has provided a link to his English translation of the biography posted by al-Qaeda in Iraq.

The second, via Minerva at Terrorism Unveiled, is about action in Riyadh, where Fahd Faraj al-Juwayr was killed in a Saudi assault. His demise is significant in Saudi Arabia and for the greater al-Qaeda organization.

Fahd Faraj al-Juwayr, thought to be the highest ranking member of al-Qaida in Saudi Arabia, reportedly was one of the men killed in the Riyadh shootout yesterday.

There isn't any current open press speculation over who next will be the head of Saudi al-Qaida. This is quite significant. In the past, Saudi al-Qaida seemed very hierarchical, even after it stopped being so closely tied to al-Qaida senior leadership. However, after the death of Abu Hajir al-Najdi (aka Abdelaziz al Muqrin) in 2004, something curious happened. . . .

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