Tag Archive | "Terrorists"

Baitullah Home Located With Google Earth

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Baitullah Home Located With Google Earth

Posted on 27 November 2009 by PakBee - Total hits: 4,854

Stefan Geens on his blog revealed that by using Google Earth he has figured out the exact location of Baitullah Mehsud’s in laws house where he was present at the time of US drone attack and was killed.

Stefan says that he figured out the exact location of a village in remote areas of Wazirastan, Federally administered Tribal Areas, by cross referring to different news articles published in media.

After the incident, BBC reported:

The missile fired by the US drone hit the home of the Taliban chief’s father-in-law, Malik Ikramuddin, in the Zangarha area, 15km (9 miles) north-east of Ladha, at around 0100 on Wednesday (1900 GMT Tuesday).

Stefan writes on his blog:

Ladha was easily found via a default search in Google Earth (and the returned placemark comes courtesy of an entry in Google Earth Community); it is indeed in the South Waziristan region of Pakistan, and is the location of an old British fort. Then it was a matter of finding Zanghara. Here Geonames.org once again proved to be an invaluable resource. A fuzzy search for “Zangarha” in Pakistan returned one clear answer exactly 15km northeast of Ladha: Zangarai Algad, where “algad” denotes that the feature name is a stream or shallow valley. This valley extends northeast-southwest for a few kilometers, and I think it is likely this is the place referred to by the article.

Stefan first found out Zangarai Algad, below image:
Stefan finally connecting the dots located the exact location of that house in the village of Nargosa. Below image:
If you want to view this map in Google Earth, then download this POI and open it with Google Earth.

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What has been Pakistans 9/11?

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What has been Pakistans 9/11?

Posted on 23 November 2009 by PakBee - Total hits: 2,038

WTC-911Eight years ago, two planes flew into two towers and the world changed. The United States initiated a ‘war against terror,’ which even today shapes foreign policy and ordinary lives from Washington to Baghdad, Kabul to Khartoum. With the war came game-changing rules: on one side suicide bombings and decapitations became a symbol of religious pride and anti-imperialism; on the other, wire tapping became an expression of patriotism, illegal detentions replaced justice, and torture was justified in the name of national security.

Across the globe, the events of September 11, 2001, sparked a new way of thinking about everything – self-determination, national sovereignty, justifications for war, the viability of democracy, the sanctity of borders. But even while new definitions were nebulous – posing challenges to long-held notions of statehood, freedom, and human rights – the US found it easy to craft its response to the attack on New York City.

Indeed, 9/11 was a defining moment that threw moral ambiguity out the window and blurred the lines between a strong response and a necessary response. After 9/11, neat lines between good and evil were drawn (even if ‘good’ included images of the atrocities from Abu Ghraib and ‘evil’ included attempts to bring efficient courts to places where the corrupt judicial system had failed communities).

In terms of American foreign policy, 9/11 also helped clarify goals for the post-Cold War agenda. Once the problem was identified (i.e. Islamic terrorism) the solution became obvious – democracy. In the earlier part of this decade, neocons within the Bush administration developed a narrative that suggested Islamic terrorism was the by-product of authoritarian regimes and the lack of pluralism in the Muslim world. In response to that narrative, the US continues (even under President Barack Obama) to export freedom and democracy every chance it gets. Iraq may have turned bloody, Palestine may have voted in Hamas, and Iran’s recent spurt of democratic activity may only have served to strengthen the status quo, but the headlines today, on the eighth anniversary of 9/11, are about the US’s determined efforts to defend the political process and recent elections in Afghanistan.

The ease with which America wiped out shades of grey so that it could focus on the stark, yet simple, contrasts between black and white has been replicated by the United Kingdom, the European Union, and even India.

But here, in Pakistan, we’ve had a harder time dismissing the logical consequences of historical trajectory and wading through murky moral waters. It has only been within the last few months that Pakistani support for the Taliban and Al Qaeda has plunged: according to a Pew Global Attitudes Project poll, until early 2008, 25 per cent of us had a favourable opinion of Al Qaeda, while 34 per cent had an unfavourable opinion (in 2009, nine per cent have a favourable opinion with 61 per cent unfavourable). Similarly, in 2008, 27 per cent of Pakistanis favoured the Taliban while 33 per cent were not in favour of them. Today, those figures are 10 per cent and 70 per cent, respectively.

This change in mindset towards the perpetrators of terrorism – both on Pakistani soil and abroad – has been hard won (and let’s be honest, it’s probably tentative and temporary). It has come after eight years of attacking and backtracking, negotiating and eliminating, extremism and moderation, resistance to the American mandate and, ultimately, cooperation.

Why has Pakistan had a harder time articulating its stance against terrorism than the US and other nations in the coalition against terror? Could it be because Pakistan has not endured a game-changing event such as New York’s 9/11, London’s 7/7 or Mumbai’s 26/11?

Or did it?

The fact is, terrorist attacks that have jolted the nation out of its complacency and ambiguity towards radical extremism have come fast and furious. As early as 2003, when General Pervez Musharraf was attacked, we have known that terrorists are capable of gripping the public in a clutch of fear and uncertainty. In the past two years, the audacity of their transgressions has only escalated: from the assassination of Benazir Bhutto to the bombing of Islamabad’s Marriott Hotel, innumerable suicide bombings at mosques during Friday prayers, attacks against Sufi shrines, targeted attacks on high-level government officials and the Sri Lankan cricket team, kidnappings, ambushes at security checkpoints, and, now, the shooting of school children from the Shia community.

But not one of these events – including the shocking death of former prime minister Bhutto – have galvanised the Pakistani public the way that 9/11 mobilised Americans (and their allies) against terrorism.

If we have learnt anything from 9/11 – or more precisely, our lack of a 9/11 equivalent despite the fact that terrorism is rampant – it is that there has been a failure in Pakistani nation-building over the past 62 years. When the Twin Towers were hit, it was New York’s tragedy, but all of America saw it as a turning point. Once Americans were under attack, it didn’t matter if they were Democrats or Republicans, liberals or conservatives, East Coast or West Coast. But here, the Marriott’s bombing was Islamabad’s trauma, the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team was Lahore’s shame, and the assassination of Bhutto was Garhi Khuda Bux’s loss.

In Pakistan, the endemic problem of national fragmentation has prevented us from claiming each and every terrorist attack that has occurred on Pakistani soil as an atrocity against our own person and territory. Bombings in Jamrud are a problem for locals – they have nothing to do with you or me. The imposition of the Nizam-e-Adl in Swat was a predicament for the valley, not for Lahore or Karachi. The bombings of mosques, schools, hotels, and more was acceptable to any Pakistani whose daily life was not affected by the same. Has anyone every stopped to think that if we had reacted to the first terrorist atrocity after 9/11 the way the Americans had, there may not have been a years-long reign of terror to contend with?

So are we Pakistanis better or worse off without a 9/11 of our own? An event that has so much symbolic power that it launches a powerful nation out of the realm of international diplomacy and into the realm of rhetoric – where good fights evil, crusaders battle terrorists, and freedom triumphs over darkness – is dangerous. It is 9/11-like events that lead to things like the quagmire in Iraq and growing Islamophobia in Europe.

But to continue to see dastardly attacks as isolated incidents that can be justified on the basis of religion, geopolitics, and retaliatory logic is a failure to understand the magnitude of the threat that radical extremism poses to our social fabric. Is it possible, under any circumstance, for Pakistan to build and sustain a national consensus against terrorism, but without enduring the pitfalls of the United States’ post-9/11 experience?

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A Muslim Solution for Afghanistan

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A Muslim Solution for Afghanistan

Posted on 22 November 2009 by PakBee - Total hits: 10,092

Afghanistan Muslim“After eight years of US involvement in Afghanistan, a strategic crossroads within Asia, the country remains a deadly conflict zone. In fact, this weekend insurgents attacked two US military bases along the Pakistani border. Helping Afghanistan stand on its own – an imperative for both regional and Western states – is a task that will take decades. But it is increasingly clear that it is not one that the West can perform….

However, a precipitous Western withdrawal from Afghanistan would leave a major void in the state….

Afghanistan is factionalized, pockmarked by ethnic and tribal divisions. Its government’s sole success is an election rigged in its own favor. Warlords run much of the country. The national Army and police are years away from being able to secure the country on their own. Other state institutions lack the minimal human and financial resources to function without external crutches. US and Western troops should leave. But because Afghanistan will remain dependent on international aid for development and security, troops cannot leave without something to fill the vacancy.

The solution? Muslim and regional states must fill the void….”

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Pakistan’s army heads into the belly of the beast

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Pakistan’s army heads into the belly of the beast

Posted on 20 November 2009 by PakBee - Total hits: 2,465

Pakistani Soldier

South Waziristan — home of Baitullah Mehsud, the slain don of the Pakistani Taliban — is the next stop in Pakistan’s war on terror.

Though Washington has been encouraging an operation in the lawless Waziristan area since early summer, the Pakistan Army has decided to go into Mehsud country at a time of its choosing and based on its own reasoning. Pakistan’s largely American-funded counterinsurgency is, to a large extent, being conducted on Rawalpindi’s terms, not Washington’s. The probability of the Pakistan Army going beyond taking care of its own enemy in South Waziristan, the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan, and making an honest effort to go after America’s foes engaged in attacks on coalition forces in Afghanistan, is low.

Preparation for the operations began in June, when the Pakistan Army — aided by suspected American drone strikes — started “softening” the terrain with airstrikes and mortar fire and choking off the TTP’s supply routes into South Waziristan. The United States, armed with Pakistani intelligence and Predator drones, took out Baitullah Mehsud in a strike on August 5, which has been a considerable blow to the TTP’s cohesiveness.

Precision air and drone strikes have eliminated key TTP operatives and facilities, reducing the quality and scale of terrorist activity inside Pakistan. Operation Rah-e Rast, which targeted the TTP in the Malakand division, also in northwest Pakistan, and a series of smaller scale operations throughout the tribal areas, have reduced the TTP’s operational space. Much of its leadership is currently confined to the greater Waziristan area.

At the same time, the Pakistani government has been playing hardball with the Mehsud tribe, trying to get it to turn against the TTP. This effort, which includes attempts to form anti-TTP lashkars, has yielded limited success.

But the Pakistan Army apparently feels that now, as winter begins in Waziristan, is an opportune time to seriously debilitate the TTP. The local population in Mehsud country has been ordered by radio to evacuate the area; tens of thousands have left. Heavy ground operations could begin sometime in October. The window of opportunity is closing. As the New York Times’ Ismail Khan notes, the rugged region is generally hit by snow starting in late November.

The Pakistan Army, it is said, distinguishes between the “good” and “bad” Taliban. But such language mischaracterizes the decision making process in Rawalpindi. The Pakistan Army is a coherent, modern organization with a cold, rational outlook on its surrounding landscape. It is interested in furthering its strategic objectives. For the Pakistan Army, some Taliban groups can be seen as strategic assets, while others, such as the TTP, are more clearly enemies.

And so as the Pakistan Army heads into South Waziristan to give the TTP network a decisive blow, there is little likelihood that it will target the networks of commanders like Maulvi Nazir, Hafiz Gul Bahadur, and Jalaluddin Haqqani, all of whom chiefly target coalition forces in Afghanistan rather than the Pakistani state or military. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine that the Pakistan Army would begin operations in South Waziristan without the confidence that these three networks would not attack it in defense of the TTP.

The reasons for this are, in part, economic. It’s easier to target one group focused in a single area, rather than four or more groups each located on opposite ends of North and South Waziristan. But beyond this, the Pakistani military-intelligence establishment remains concerned with its security predicament in a post-America Afghanistan.

It would like to see a coherent and non-hostile government in Kabul that can, at the very least, serve as an energy and trade corridor from Gwadar and Karachi to the ancestral lands in Central Asia of Babur, the founder of the Mughal Empire. Rival India is emerging on the world stage, and Pakistan would like to restrain the growth of the Indian presence in its own backyard. Add to this the shared population and borders between the two countries, and it becomes clear that no country in the world is as impacted by developments in Afghanistan as is Pakistan.

Recent reports that the United States and NATO members have come to terms with another Karzai presidency have proven Pakistan’s contention that to shape events in Afghanistan, you need an allied Pashtun on top. Karzai is the least incapable of America’s Pashtuns. But Pakistan, whose relations with Karzai have improved in the past year, also has Afghan Pashtuns of its own, the most important of whom is Mullah Muhammad Omar, head of the Afghan Taliban. And with the Afghan Taliban ascendant, it is not realistic to expect Pakistan to turn against it and affiliated networks just yet. Why would the Pakistan Army ditch a rising Afghan Taliban for a sinking Karzai and his band of kleptomaniacs? The Pakistan army might see itself as betting on the winning horse in the long run.

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Terrorists Target the ISI in Lahore

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Terrorists Target the ISI in Lahore

Posted on 19 November 2009 by PakBee - Total hits: 6,757

Terrorists struck an office of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency and a police station in central Lahore this morning, killing at least 22 persons and injuring over 200. At least thirteen of the dead are police officers, reports GEO News.

ISI Lahore 1

Reports of the attacks’ details are conflicting. Several officials have described the attack as a suicide bombing. But according to Dawn, the attack was a hybrid operation consisting of an armed attack by four gunmen and a subsequent detonation of a car bomb, which GEO News reports was 100 kilograms. The terrorists seem to have been unable to penetrate the ISI facility, but managed to level a nearby building.

According to GEO News, Punjab police have seized at least two grenades and a suicide jacket, which suggests the four attackers sought to inflict maximum damage and then kill themselves to avoid capture.

ISI Lahore 2

Punjab police have arrested four suspects, presumably the aforementioned armed attackers. Television broadcasts showed the faces of two of the suspects, both of whom were struck by bystanders as they were brought by security officers to police vehicles. One suspect was hit in the head repeatedly by an onlooker using a motorcycle helmet. Police had to push back several bystanders from attacking the arrested terrorists.

One of the attackers resembled the scruffy Afghan arrested in the March attack on the Manawan police training center. The other apprehended attacker appeared to be a middle class person, possibly an Arab or an Afghan. He was speaking while police rushed him to a vehicle and exuded a striking level of confidence, except for when he was being beaten by angered Lahoris.

Several Pakistani commentators — including Mehmood Shah, the former chief secretary of the North-West Frontier Province, Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Abdul Qayyum, and Munawar Hassan, amir of Jamaat-i Islami – have blamed India for playing some role in the attacks.

But a more likely suspect is Baitullah Mehsud in South Waziristan, against whom military operations have begun. Mehsud has spearheaded a series of increasingly complex terrorist attacks in Lahore this year, consisting of hybrid teams and tactics. Teams consist of Pashtuns from Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as the so-called Punjabi Taliban from Pakistan’s Seraiki belt.

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