Frontline Documentary: A Perfect Terrorist

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The Memoir of an “American Terrorist”

by Jason M. Breslow

David Coleman Headley is not exactly a household name, but his is one of the more unnerving terrorism cases in the post-9/11 era. White male. Government informant. American citizen. In other words, he had the perfect cover.

It was under the safety of that cover that Headley — a former drug smuggler turned informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration — helped stage the November 2008 siege in Mumbai, an audacious attack that left 166 people dead, including six Americans. Working with the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, Headley used his U.S. passport to travel to India, scout locations for the plot, film them and even find a landing site for the plot’s attackers.

Within weeks of Mumbai, Headley was working on another plot — this time working for Al Qaeda, planning an assault against a Danish newspaper that had published controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. The plan: A group of attackers would take hostages at the paper, shoot them, behead them and then throw their heads out the window. Again, Headley worked reconnaissance for the mission until his eventual arrest by the FBI at O’Hare International Airport in 2009.

Today, Headley is serving 35 years for his role in Mumbai. His case, however, has hardly gone away. In the aftermath of the Edward Snowden revelations about NSA surveillance, U.S. intelligence officials pointed to the Headley case as an example of how bulk data collection can thwart a terrorist attack. But tonight, in American Terrorist, ProPublica and FRONTLINE investigate that claim.

In the course of our investigation, FRONTLINE was given exclusive access to a draft of a memoir Headley wrote in prison. Excerpts from the draft offer a unique window into Headley’s turn toward extremism, his training with Lashkar-e-Taiba and his preparations for the Denmark attack.

In one passage, for example, Headley writes about his first encounter with Lashkar militants, describing how he was “very impressed with their dedication to the cause of the liberation of Kashmir from Indian occupation. As Headley tells it:

In 1999, after serving my sentence for drug trafficking, I decided to turn over a new leaf. To make amends for my unrighteous ways I worked … for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) … I had spent the past fifteen years frequenting the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan, on heroin procuring expeditions. This lawless land had remained the same, frozen in time, since the 18th century. The British had thought it wise to leave this place alone during their rule of India. I started leaning more and more on my religion as part of my change. I had not been a practicing Muslim the past fifteen years, but the seeds of Islam sown in me by my Father and in school had never completely died out. Another change I made was to break away from my Canadian girlfriend, who I had been planning to marry for the past five years, and agree to an arranged marriage in Pakistan. Still on probation, I kept visiting Pakistan four times a year, without the knowledge of the DEA or my Probation Officer, to see my new wife, who I had decided to keep in Pakistan.

On one of my trips, October 2000, I made my first contact with Lashkar-e-Taiba (LT), quite by accident. I attended their annual convection in November. I was very impressed with their dedication to the cause of the liberation of Kashmir from Indian occupation.

In a later passage, Headley marks his decision to join Lashkar “full time” following the 9/11 attacks, and says that by 2002 the group asked him to take “the Daura Aamma, the basic military training course offered by LT.” It was one of several training programs he writes about. In a separate section, he recalls a second course that he attended:

We hid most of the day in caves and under trees, while we were given instructions on various lessons. Most of the practical aspects of the lessons were carried out at night. During this course, I was trained in infiltration, survival, camouflage, raid/ambush tactics, hide out, hiding and retrieving weapons caches, more than a dozen night marches, target practice with AK-47 and 9 mm pistol, RPG, grenades, among other training. We also went through an extensive indoctrination process and were required to study many Quaranic Chapters and Hadith.

By 2005, Lashkar’s plans for Headley are coming into focus. He is trained in explosives, but perhaps most importantly, Lashkar asks him to change the name given to him at birth by his Pakistani father and American mother — Daood Gilani. He chooses David, which is English for Daood; Coleman, which was his grandfather’s name; and Headley, which was his mother’s maiden name. It was a bureaucratic act, but intelligence officials say the change made Headley that much more difficult to track.

Finally, in June, my immediate superior, Sajid Mir, instructed me to return to the United States, change my Muslim name to a Christian sounding name and get a new U.S. passport under that name. He now informed me I would be going to India, since I looked nothing like a Pakistani in appearance and spoke fluent Hindi and Urdu it would give me a distinct advantage in India.

As his training continued, so did his embrace of the Lashkar lifestyle. In 2007, for example, Headley takes a second wife. He describes the decision by saying:

Polygamy was aggressively encouraged by LT and they were really happy to see me take this step. I was definitely “one of the guys” now.

Around the same time, Headley was conducting regular reconnaissance of targets in Mumbai. On one trip, he checks into the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, which would later be the epicenter of the Mumbai attack, with his new wife for a “honeymoon.” As he cases locations on his trips to the city, Headley says he takes “extensive video.”

The plan was to capture an Indian fishing vessel, which constantly strayed into Pakistani waters, and commandeer it all the way to Mumbai. The hope was that the Indian Coast Guard would not notice an Indian vessel. The boys would carry a GPS device which would guide them directly to the landing site, I had selected earlier.

After the attack, Headley says he was told to “lay low.” Instead, he eventually connects with Al Qaeda and with the assistance of a contact he has inside the organization he travels to Denmark to scout the Jyllands-Posten newspaper for a possible strike.

This paper had published a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad and was on the top of the hit list for Al Qaeda. The Major told me that the leadership desired the attack to be carried out ASAP on the Newspaper Head Office. I visited Copenhagen in January 2009 and conducted detailed surveillance of the office there as well as their location in Arhus. I was able to make entry into both locations. …

A few days later he took me to North Waziristan, where I met Ilyas Kashmiri, the Al Qaeda number four. He gave me a further pep talk on the Denmark Project, saying that, both, Osama bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri had stressed upon him the need to conclude this matter quickly. I agreed and assured him of my best effort.

Western intelligence would soon learn of the plot, and close in on Headley. At the end of his draft, he describes the days leading up to his arrest.

I received final instructions in Denmark and left for the United States. in July 2009, I flew to England from Chicago and met Kashmiri’s friends. … Both of these men were also under surveillance by British Police, as a result of which I too came under surveillance. They forwarded their information to the F.B.I. From England, I checked out Denmark one last time and returned to the United States. I had now reached the conclusion that since I was short on man power, I would modify the operation and, instead of assaulting the newspaper building, just take out the cartoonist, Kurt Westergaard, and do this deed myself. All I would need was a handgun, which I knew I could find in Europe … I was finally arrested on 3 October 2009, at O’Hare Airport, on my way back to Pakistan.

Drone Strike Kills Two Hostages and Two American Al Qaeda Terrorists

drone-srtoke-victimsCSP, by Sean MacCormac, April 23, 2015:

President Obama made an open, heartfelt apology for the deaths of two hostages in an airstrike conducted in January on an Al Qaeda compound near the Pakistan/Afghanistan border, taking full responsibility for the actions which lead to their deaths. The two hostages were Warren Weinstein, an American director for J.E. Austin Associates who was captured in Lahore, Pakistan by Al-Qaeda in 2011, and Giovanni Lo Porto, an Italian aid worker kidnapped in 2012. President Obama declassified the information about the attack, claiming transparency and the need for the families of the two hostages to know the information. Both hostages were not known to be in the area when the air strike, conducted via unmanned aerial vehicle, was carried out.

Adam Gadahn and Ahmed Farouq were two other Americans confirmed to have been killed in the two drone strikes, albeit these individuals were Al Qaeda terrorists. Neither were specifically targeted in the attack. Adam Gadahn was infamous for being the American mouthpiece for Al-Qaeda, having left for Pakistan to join Al Qaeda in 1998 after his conversion to Islam in 1995. After becoming estranged from his Christian parents in the mid 1990s, then-teenaged Gadahn left for his grandparents in Santa Ana, California where he started studying Islam at the Islamic Society of Orange County. The Islamic Society of Orange County once invited Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman to speak in 1992, and it was here that Gadahn fell in with a group of fundamentalists. This group grew displeased at the society’s president, Haitham Bundakji, and his interfaith outreach, referring to him as “Danny the Jew.” Adam Gadahn would later assault Bundakji, making his first trip to Pakistan a few months after being convicted. Though Ahmed Farouq is much less well known, sources indicate that he was a deputy emir of Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent. Farouq was killed in the same drone strike that killed the hostages, while Gadahn was killed in a separate drone strike in the same month.

Though the White House stated that it believed the drone strike was lawful, an investigation will be carried out in the hopes of making sure that errors such as the accidental killing of hostages will not occur again. Though the US military plans to draw down its operations in Afghanistan, the CIA wishes to keep several bases in Afghanistan active in order to gather intelligence for drone strikes in the tribal regions of Pakistan. Certainly, UAVs are an effective intelligence gathering and surgical strike tool, and will continue to be used as such for the foreseeable future.

***

CSP’s Kyle Shideler appears on Newsmax’s American Forum to discuss the incident (at 3:30 in the video)

Also see:

Suspected Mastermind of Mumbai Massacre Released

m07_17179685CSP, by Aaron Kliegman, April 10, 2015:

Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, was released from a Pakistani jail on bail Friday morning. He was granted bail by an anti-terrorism court in December and was supposed to be released March 13th, but a Pakistani court delayed the action due to the Taliban’s attack on a school in Peshawar that killed at least 145 people.

The Lahore High Court suspended the Punjab government’s detention order for 55-year-old Lakhvi and declared it illegal, calling for his immediate release. According to Lakhvi’s counsel Raja Rizwan Abbasi, the government had no other “legal option” but to free him and said “neither the government nor the Adiala Jail authorities can violate the court’s order this time.”

New Delhi responded harshly to Lakhvi’s release, asserting it erodes assurances Islamabad has given regarding cross-border terrorism. India’s Home Minister called the action “unfortunate and disappointing” while a spokesman for the ministry said the court’s decision is “an insult to victims of the 26/11 Mumbai attack.” Indian and Pakistan historically have a very combative, war-ridden relationship, and this event will only further tensions between the two.

The Mumbai Massacre, as the terrorist attacks are known by, was a series of twelve coordinated shooting and bombing attacks across Mumbai, India’s most populous city, lasting four days from November 26th to November 29th. 172 people were killed with hundreds more wounded, and the attacks were carried out by Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), a South Asian Islamist terror organization operating mainly from Pakistan.

Lakhvi is the alleged military chief of LeT and known as “chacha Zaki” by young recruits. He is accused of personally directing the Mumbai attackers by phone in Pakistan to carry out the coordinated violence. A spokesman for an LeT-linked charity, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, said Lakhvi is in a “secure place,” further indicating Lakhvi’s involvement with the terror group.

Pakistani intelligence is known to have worked with LeT, giving it financial and logistical support over the years. Furthermore, the country’s military is known to have close ties to the jihadist organization. Such dynamics have helped LeT survive since the group’s founding in 1990.

LeT’s reach, however, extends far beyond Pakistan to the United States. American David Headley was sentenced in 2013 to 35 years in prison for helping to plan the Mumbai attacks. Court documents detail that Headley trained at LeT camps in Pakistan from 2002 to 2005 and helped scout targets in Mumbai for the deadly plot.

Additionally, the Virginia Jihad Network was a jihadist network based in northern Virginia that caused a four-year federal investigation, which concluded in 2005 with the conviction of Ali Al-Timimi on terrorism charges.

There were several individuals within this organized movement who trained with, fought for, and/or provided material support to LeT, including 11 men charged in a U.S. District Court in Alexandria. Some of these individuals actually traveled to Pakistan to train at LeT camps.

The network was interestingly part of a larger paintball training “program” for Islamists, seemingly meant to train jihadists for combat. A U.S. government trial proved that LeT bought U.S. supplies to build military equipment through operatives in America and that an LeT official asked Masoud Khan – an LeT supporter who conspired to wage war against the U.S. – to buy him paintball equipment. Furthermore, Ismail Royer, an American involved the network who joined LeT, also had ties to the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim Brotherhood front group with terrorist associations.

Beyond the aforementioned networks, two brothers – Hafiz Mohammed Saeed and Hafiz Mohammed Masood – both of whom are clerics, have deep associations with LeT, and Masood lived in the U.S. for years. Masood is also spokesman for Jamaat-ud-Dawa, which the U.S. calls a terrorist front group, and is a Muslim American Society leader, a Muslim Brotherhood group with ties to terrorism. Furthermore, his brother Saeed founded LeT, and the U.S. has a $10 million reward for information leading to his arrest.

In September 2011, 24-year-old Jubair Ahmad, a Pakistani native residing in Woodbridge, VA, was arrested on charges of providing material support to LeT. According to the affidavit, Ahmad was indoctrinated and trained in Pakistan as a teenager before coming to the U.S. in 2007.

LeT evidently has a strong foothold in America and is not a problem confined to India and Pakistan. It is an Islamist terror group just like al-Qaeda or Boko Haram with the same goals of violence en route to domination. Therefore, the release of the group’s alleged military chief suspected of heading the Mumbai Massacre is concerning and raises questions about the Pakistan government’s commitment to eradicate terrorism. LeT is another indication that the U.S. and its allies face a global jihad movement that needs to be identified in order to be defeated.

Also see:

Jihadis Seek to Cleanse Pakistan of Christians

by Raymond Ibrahim
PJ Media
March 21, 2015

Originally published under the title, “Jihadis Cleansing Pakistan of Christians.”

Pakistani Christians mourn the victims of two March 15 suicide bombings of churches in Lahore.

Pakistani Christians mourn the victims of two March 15 suicide bombings of churches in Lahore.

The two churches (located in Youhanabad, Lahore’s Christian quarter) were St. John’s Catholic Church and Christ Church (Protestant).On Sunday, March 15, as Christian churches around the world were celebrating morning mass, two churches in Pakistan were attacked by Islamic suicide bombers. At least 17 people were killed and over 70 were wounded.

The Taliban claimed responsibility. It is believed that the group had hoped for much greater death tolls, as there were almost 2,000 people in both churches at the time of the explosions.

According to eyewitnesses, two suicide bombers approached the gates of the two churches and tried to enter them. When they were stopped — including by a 15-year-old Christian who blocked them with his body — they self-detonated. Witnesses saw “body parts flying through the air.”

Thus did the jihadis “kill and be killed,” in the words of Koran 9:111, the verse most often cited to justify suicide attacks.

According to an official statement of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Episcopal Conference of Pakistan, despite all the threats received by the churches, authorities only provided “minimal” security:

Agents present at the time of the attack were busy watching the cricket match on TV, instead of carrying out their duty to protect churches. As a result of this neglect, many Christians have lost their lives.

The statement further urged:

the government to adopt strong measures to protect churches and other religious minorities in Pakistan [since] the Christian community of Pakistan was targeted by extremists in the past.

Nearly 90 Christian worshippers were killed in the September 2013 suicide bombing of All Saints Church in Peshawar.

Nearly 90 Christian worshippers were killed in the September 2013 suicide bombing of All Saints Church in Peshawar.

One parishioner recalled how “human remains were strewn all over the church.” (For an idea of the aftermath of suicide attacks on churches, see these graphic pictures.)Less than a year-and-a-half earlier, on September 22, 2013, in Peshawar, suicide bombers entered the All Saints Church right after Sunday mass and blew themselves up in the midst of approximately 550 congregants, killing nearly 90 worshippers. Many were Sunday school children, women, and choir members. At least 120 were injured.

In 2001, Islamic gunmen stormed St. Dominic’s Protestant Church, opening fire on the congregants and killing at least 16 worshippers, mostly women and children.

Less dramatic attacks on churches occur with great frequency. Days before last Sunday’s twin attacks,three armed men entered Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church in Kasur district, Punjab, and took church personnel, the assistant parish priest, and congregation hostage. Before leaving the premises, the terrorists stole mobile telephones, cameras, and a computer.

Earlier, Father Leopold, the ailing parish priest, was robbed by thieves:

[They] pretended to be ordinary members of the faithful wanting to enroll some children at the parish school. Then they suddenly pulled out guns.

Christmas season is an especially dangerous time for Christians meeting in churches. On lastDecember 25:

Heavy contingents of police were deployed in and around the churches … citizens were allowed only after [a] thorough body search … while the entry points leading to the churches had been closed by placing cemented blocks and barbed wire.

During another Christmas, the following attack came in response to fatwas condemning Christmas celebrations:

When Christian worshipers were coming out of different churches after performing Christmas prayers, more than one hundred Muslim extremists equipped with automatic rifles, pistols and sticks attacked the Christian women, children and men.

There have also been general attacks on Christians, especially in the context of accusing them of “blaspheming” against Islam. Last November, a mob — not the “Taliban,” and not “terrorists” — consisting of at least 1,200 Muslims tortured and burned to death a young Christian couple (the wife was pregnant) in an industrial kiln in Pakistan. Someone had accused the Christian couple of desecrating the Koran.

Even when not in church and not accused of blasphemy, Christian minorities are always in danger. Last December, Elisabeth Bibi, a 28-year-old pregnant Christian mother of four, was “beaten, scorned and humiliated, deprived of her dignity [and] forced to walk naked through the town” by two Muslim brothers — the pregnant woman’s employers — following an argument. In the ordeal, she lost her baby. Rights activists say the attack “was motivated because of Bibi’s [Christian] religious beliefs.”

Speaking last Sunday from Rome, Pope Francis said:

It’s with pain, much pain that I was told of the terrorist attacks against two Christian churches in Lahore in Pakistan, which have caused numerous deaths and injuries. These are Christian churches and Christians are persecuted, our Christian brothers are spilling their blood simply because they are Christians. I implore God … that this persecution against Christians — that the world seeks to hide — comes to an end and that there is peace.

Pope Francis is often criticized for his apologetic approach towards Islam. Even here, he does not note who is persecuting these Christians, leading to confusing assertions (“our Christian brothers are spilling their blood” sounds like Christians are killing Christians). But the pope is forthright as to why Christians are being killed: “simply because they are Christians.”

Others, such as the U.S. government, will not even concede that much. When the world heard and saw how 21 Coptic Christians had their heads sawed off by Islamic jihadis in Libya, the White House issued a statement condemning the beheadings — but referred to the beheaded only as “Egyptian citizens.” Not Christians, or even Copts, even though that is the sole reason they were slaughteredaccording to statements issued by their executioners.

Such obfuscation ensures the Muslim persecution of Christians “that the world seeks to hide” will continue indefinitely.

Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and a Judith Friedman Rosen Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum. He is the author ofCrucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (2013) and The Al Qaeda Reader (2007).

Osama bin Laden’s Files: The Pakistani government wanted to negotiate

osama-bin-laden1-e1425067707264BY THOMAS JOSCELYN | March 9th, 2015:

Recently released files recovered in Osama bin Laden’s compound show that parts of the Pakistani government made attempts to negotiate with al Qaeda in 2010. The letters were released as evidence in the trial of Abid Naseer, who was convicted on terrorism charges by a Brooklyn jury earlier this month.

One of the files is a letter written by Atiyah Abd al Rahman (“Mahmud”), who was then the general manager of al Qaeda, to Osama bin Laden (identified as Sheikh Abu Abdallah) in July 2010.  The letter reveals a complicated game involving al Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban, the brother of Pakistan’s current prime minister, and Pakistan’s intelligence service.

“Regarding the negotiations, dear Sheikh, I will give you an overview, may God support me in this,” Rahman wrote. “The Pakistani enemy has been corresponding with us and with Tahreek-i-Taliban (Hakeemullah) for a very short time, since the days of Hafiz, may God have mercy on him.” Hakeemullah Mehsud was the head of the Pakistani Taliban at the time. The “Hafiz” mentioned is Mustafa Abu Yazid (Sheikh Saeed al Masri), who served as al Qaeda’s general manager prior to his deathin May 2010. Rahman succeeded Yazid in that role.

“We discussed the matter internally, then we talked with Abu-Muhammad later once we were able to resume correspondence with him,” Rahman explained. “Abu-Muhammad” is the nom de guerre of Ayman al Zawahiri. As a result of these discussions, al Qaeda was willing to broker a deal in which the jihadists’ would ease off the Pakistanis so long as the military and intelligence services stopped fighting al Qaeda and its allies.

“Our decision was this: We are prepared to leave you be. Our battle is primarily against the Americans. You became part of the battle when you sided with the Americans,” Rahman wrote, explaining al Qaeda’s position towards the Pakistani government. “If you were to leave us and our affairs alone, we would leave you alone. If not, we are men, and you will be surprised by what you see; God is with us.”

Al Qaeda’s negotiating tactic was simple. Either the Pakistanis leave them alone, or they would suffer more terrorist attacks. Rahman’s letter reveals how bin Laden’s men sought to convey their message. They relied on Siraj Haqqani, the senior leader of the Haqqani Network, which has long been supported by the Pakistani military and intelligence establishment.

Rahman summarized al Qaeda’s plan thusly: “We let slip (through Siraj Haqqani, with the help of the brothers in Mas’ud and others; through their communications) information indicating that al Qaeda and Tahreek-i-Taliban [the Pakistani Taliban] have big, earth shaking operations in Pakistan, but that their leaders had halted those operations in an attempt to calm things down and relieve the American pressure.”

“But if Pakistan does any harm to the Mujahidin in Waziristan, the operations will go forward, including enormous operations ready in the heart of the country,” Rahman explained. This is the message al Qaeda “leaked out through several outlets.”

In response, “they, the intelligence people…started reaching out to” al Qaeda through Pakistani jihadist groups they “approve of.”

Read more at Long War Journal

ISIS Eyes Iran in AF/PAK Expansion Effort, Targets Mullah Omar in IO Campaign

February 22, 2015 / /

Reporting over the last couple of weeks suggests that the Islamic State’s (IS) Khorasan Regional Command or “Khorasan Shura” has stepped up their efforts to further inflame internal divisions within the Taliban (TB) in the hopes it would lead to more defections. The IO campaign they’ve been waging in the AF/PAK region has called into question Mullah Omar’s fitness to be a leader in the global jihadist movement and whether he’s even alive. In early-JAN 15 TB Shura Chief Akhtar Muhammad Mansur and other Shura members are reported to have met with two IS representatives who threatened to increase their operations in two months if the TB couldn’t prove that Mullah Omar was still alive. Our sources have also informed us that Pakistani Taliban (TTP) Emir Maulawi Fazlullah remains loyal to Omar, but may defect to IS if his death is confirmed. Apparently the question of whether or not Omar is alive has been a big subject of debate, with other TTP commanders wondering if Fazlullah has even been in contact with him. As it stands right now, Omar’s current status remains a mystery. Having said that, IS directly challenging Omar’s legitimacy and suggesting that he’s dead appears to be having an effect in at least planting the seeds of further internal unrest among the ranks.

ISIS Reportedly Begins Targeting Taliban Commanders Loyal to al-Qaida
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4593

ISIS Formally Establishes an Affiliate for the AF/PAK Region
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4578

The terrifying rise of ISIS: Map that shows how terror group’s tentacles now reach from Algeria to Afghanistan
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2960463/The-terrifying-rise-ISIS-Map-shows-terror-group-s-tentacles-reach-Algeria-Afghanistan.html

How ISIS Has Expanded Beyond Its Syrian Stronghold
http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2015/02/18/387149112/how-isis-has-expanded-beyond-its-syrian-stronghold

ISIS vs. the Taliban: The Battle for Hearts and Minds
http://www.vocativ.com/world/afghanistan-world/isis-vs-taliban/

The Coming Fight for Khorasan: IS Gearing up Against the Taliban
https://news.siteintelgroup.com/blog/index.php/entry/362-the-coming-fight-for-khorasan-is-gearing-up-against-the-taliban

US Afghan commander: Reports of ISIS recruiting
http://thehill.com/policy/defense/229783-us-afghan-commander-reports-of-isis-recruiting

ISIS trying to expand its influence in Pakistan, distributes pamphlets
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/ISIS-trying-to-expand-its-influence-in-Pakistan-distributes-pamphlets/articleshow/41618755.cms

Taliban Supreme leader Mullah Omar has possibly died
http://www.khaama.com/taliban-supreme-leader-mullah-omar-has-possibly-died-8778

Mullah Omar’s whereabouts – and very existence – shrouded in mystery
http://centralasiaonline.com/en_GB/pakistan-articles/caii/features/pakistan/main/2014/09/30/feature-01

mullah Fazlullah

Mullah Fazlullah
Source: SITE Intelligence Group

mullah omar

Mullah Omar: Dead or Alive?
Source: tribune.com.pk

One of the figures who played a key role in establishing the IS foothold in the region is a former TB commander Mullah Abdul Rauf Khadim, who served as the Shadow Governor of Uruzgan Province from 2007 – 2009 and did a stint in Guantanamo Bay (GITMO). After his release from GITMO, he had a falling out with TB leadership that led to his marginalization within the terror organization and subsequent defection to IS. He was a key player in the IS expansion efforts currently underway in Helmand Province and led the charge in the red-on-red fight against the TB’s Helmand Shadow Governor Mullah Ahmed Shah. The US government claims to have killed Khadim in a drone strike earlier this month, but we have not yet seen confirmation either way. However, whether he’s dead or not is irrelevant as he wasn’t a member of the Khorasan Shura – which remains largely intact.

ISIS recruiter, once freed from Gitmo by U.S., killed in drone strike in Afghanistan
http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/09/world/afghanistan-violence/

Capture the Flag in Afghanistan
http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/01/22/capture-the-flag-in-afghanistan/

Islamic State Appoints Leaders of “Khorasan Province,” Issues Veiled Threat to Afghan Taliban
http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2015/01/islamic_state_appoin.php

khorasan shura

Breakdown of the Khorasan Shura
Source: The Long War Journal

In our Inside Iran’s Middle East Series piece titled, “Inside Iran’s Middle East: The Southeast Insurgency,” we stated that either al-Qaida (AQ) or IS may attempt to use the Afghanistan and Pakistan as support nodes for a new front opened up in Southeast Iran to force the regime into diverting resources from the Syrian war effort back to home. IS’ expansion efforts in Afghanistan’s Southern provinces adds weight to this assessment as those locations all fall within known routes used to smuggle opium and weapons between Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Keep in mind that AQ’s Khorasan Group (KG) has a great deal of experience in fighting the IRGC inside Iran that resulted in forging relationships with Baloch groups such as Jundallah. More importantly, some of KG’s personnel that deployed to Syria are reported to have defected to IS.

We assess some of those personnel are part of the training support package that was sent to Afghanistan in the DEC 14/JAN 15 time frame or possibly earlier. The training cadre sent to the country are likely still in the assess-mode taking note of each loyal faction’s strength’s and weaknesses to draw up the training plan that will probably take effect by the end of this month. During this year’s fighting season Afghanistan’s Hazara Shia population may begin to experience the same level of targeting that they received prior to 9-11 as a means of getting Iran’s attention and building notoriety. Red on red violence will also pick up. By AUG the IS affiliates will be fully trained with recruits gaining much-needed experience. We could very well well see former KG members who defected to IS leading the engagement efforts reaching out to Jundallah (and other Baloch groups in Iran) by the end of the year. Jundallah – like everybody else in that part of the world – will likely flip to IS’ side after being offered money, weapons and manpower to accelerate their regenerative process. The leadership of the various Baloch groups may not approve of IS’ ideology or even the legitimacy of Baghdadi’s “Caliphate” – to them it would be a marriage of convenience. However, this will be a project that will take at least another year to fully manifest itself. If you think this will be easier for US troops stationed in Afghanistan, think again, because both IS and TB factions loyal to AQ will be competing for the title of who can launch the more high-profile attacks. Needless to say, this year’s fighting season looks to be one of the worst. Keep an eye on this one…

Inside Iran’s Middle East: The Southeast Insurgency
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=2689

ISIS (Daesh) start operations in Helmand, residents claim
http://www.khaama.com/isis-daesh-start-operations-in-helmand-residents-claim

ISIS expansion map

The graphic above depicts IS’ expansion from the Maghreb to Afghanistan and Pakistan
Source: UK Daily Mail

Links to Other Related Articles:

Afghanistan Update – Yes, Things Are Getting Worse Contrary To US Government Claims

Afghanistan: A Case Against a Residual US Military Presence

The History and Capabilities of the Khorasan Group

The Khorasan Group: Threat to US Homeland?

US Government: Syria-Based al-Qaida Cell Bigger Threat Than ISIS

Iran and Nuclear Terrorism

1049 (1)By Justin O. Smith:

Feckless negotiating with Iran over the past decade, especially these past two years, have burned an image of a miserable Chamberlain-style failure in the minds of the American people, as President Obama and Secretary Kerry have allowed the greatest threat in the 21st century to become our reality. For all intents and practical purposes, Iran is now essentially a nuclear armed missile state, and rather than pursue more negotiations, the at risk nations, such as the United States, Britain, Germany, France and much of Europe and Israel, must seriously consider a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, before its weaponry can be perfected and mass produced. And even then, small nukes handed to Iran’s proxies, Hamas and Hezbollah, will remain a threat, as long as the Ayatollahs hold their iron grip on Iran.

All the political analysts have been speaking in terms of “if” Iran achieves a nuclear weapons program, when all the evidence suggests that Iran already has one. Long held Shahab-4 missiles with a 2500 mile range and the February 2, 2009 orbit of the Safir-2 Omid _ “Hope” exhibits that Iran has an intercontinental delivery system. Iran also has received an A.Q. Khan warhead design from North Korea, as well as a Chinese warhead design, and it has a currently undetermined amount of near weapons grade uranium, due to its maintenance of a number of secret facilities.

Iran has acknowledged the existence of 19,000 centrifuges, with 9,000 currently operating. These 9,000 centrifuges can produce enough weapons grade plutonium to produce approximately three nuclear missiles in a year. If Iran reduces this number to 7,000 and keeps much of its uranium enriching technology, as John Kerry and others have suggested, experts warn that any reduction in centrifuge efficiency is reversible more quickly than a straight decrease in the number of centrifuges.

While Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani claimed in his February 4th speech that Iran “neither covets nor aspires to acquire nuclear weapons”, there remain many within the Ayatollah hierarchy who would refute this. Rouhani’s opposition states fairly correctly that Sipah-e-Sahaba, an intensely anti-Shiite Islamofascist group, has close ties to Pakistan’s military and intelligence establishment, which stokes Iranian fears of a nuclear first strike by Pakistan. They are also concerned that Riyadh has invested heavily in the Pakistan nuclear program and can get a nuclear weapon at will, which plays a large part in Iran’s nuclear quest.

And, as an unrepentant sponsor of terrorism for thirty-five years, Tehran has made no secret of its desire to wipe Israel/ “Little Satan” and America/ “Big Satan” off the face of the earth, while it has systemized terror as a primary mechanism for accomplishing it goals and exporting its worldview and Islamist ideology. In this context, despite any security issues Iran may have with Sunni nations like Saudi Arabia, the United States must not allow Iran to build an arsenal of nuclear weapons, under any circumstances.

Over the past year the world has seen Iran use its Quds Force and Revolutionary Guard in Iraq and Hezbollah in Syria. We witnessed Iran trade arms and munitions for black-market oil with the Islamic State. And then, Iran threatened to send millions of jihadists to Gaza to fight in the “struggle” against Israel. The news from Iran is never good.

Since Iran already views itself as advancing the Islamic hegemon in the region, just think of the influence Iran will exert throughout the entire Middle East, once it is prepared to fully unveil its real nuclear capabilities. It is already exerting great influence through its finances and military, and in the aftermath of the Iranian backed Shiite Houthis taking control of Sana’a, Yemen, the Arabic media now refers to Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad and Sana’a as “the four capitals of Iran”, which Iranian media calls a “victory for the [Islamic] revolution.”

Does anyone believe that the Ayatollahs will not find a way to detonate a nuclear weapon in New York or Chicago, especially with the U.S’s current porous border situation? __ or Tel Aviv?

Although Iran has previously launched several satellites on a south to north trajectory, in an attempt to elude U.S. Ballistic Early Warning Radar, Iran will seek “plausible deniability”. As I wrote on November 30, 2013:

“Utilizing numerous deceptions, such as tramp steamers off the U.S. and European coasts or physically crossing porous borders, it would not be too difficult for Iran to target 29 critical sites in America and the West, identified numerous times by successive Iranian presidents.”

As Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) spoke with Greta Van Sustern (Fox News) on January 27th, he observed:

“If we continue on the path we are with the Iranians, they’ll wind up with a nuclear capability … and one day have a [nuclear] bomb. He’s about to make the biggest mistake of this presidency.”

While Obama has previously stated that a nuclear armed Iran represents a “profound” national security threat to the U.S., his Chamberlain-style appeasement tactics have greatly alarmed opponents of Iran’s nuclear program, especially considering that Olli Heinonen, former IAEA Deputy Director General, warned (Jan. 20, 2014) that Iran could build a nuclear weapon within two to three weeks. They see Iran on the cusp of a rapid nuclear break-out, while Obama gives Iran more time to stockpile more uranium, time that the world can ill-afford to give a rogue regime with so much blood on its hands.

With Iran’s Ayatollahs stalling for time and possibly stockpiling an untold number of nuclear warheads (scores?) and Obama and Kerry legitimizing major pieces of Iran’s nuclear program, this U.S. administration and world leaders are failing at a critical juncture of history that demands decisive action, not an unacceptable bad deal that leaves nuclear capabilities in Iran’s hands. Decisive action is needed to stop a defiant Iran, protect U.S. interests and halt a rising Islamic dawn and an era of nuclear terrorism.

Lying Liars Lying Yet Again About the Taliban

xin_5020206100803500325412Terror Trends Bulletin, by Christopher Holton, Feb. 1, 2015:

Obama and his Obamanistas have told so many outright lies about the Taliban over the years that we can now devote a lengthy article to it.

It started way back in 2008 when Obama was campaigning for the presidency. Back in those days he was saying that Iraq was a sideshow and that President Bush had “taken his eye off the ball.” According to Obama, the good war was in Afghanistan and he was going to concentrate on Afghanistan, where the Taliban were fighting US forces, when he got to be president.

That turned out to be campaign rhetoric. Sure, he pulled out of Iraq first, but, let’s face it: Obama never really went hard in Afghanistan and now he’s abandoning that fight, just as he abandoned the fight in Iraq.

Pretty soon into his administration, the Obamanistas started the meme that the Taliban weren’t actually our enemy. This predates the latest supposition that the Taliban aren’t terrorists by several years.

Two lies there. The Taliban are America’s enemy and they are also terrorists.

A few months ago, the Taliban published the autumn edition of their magazine,Azan.

This is the fourth issue of the magazine and is significant in that it calls for Muslims in the West to launch attacks at home or fight in foreign battlefields, urging recruits to even leave behind their children or elderly parents:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/al-qaeda/10503925/Taliban-magazine-urges-jihad-and-profiles-the-Honda-125.html

If calling on Jihadis to launch attacks in the West doesn’t amount to terrorism, nothing does.

Such calls to Jihad and propaganda are nothing new, so why was this particular publication worth mentioning here?

Because it has been released just a few days after the Obama administration was quoted saying that “the Taliban are not our enemies and we don’t want to fight them.”

http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2013/11/27/karzai-will-sign-agreement-with-u-s-says-obama-administration-claimed-taliban-not-our-enemy/

Such statements about the Taliban were nothing new from the Obama administration. Vice President Joe Biden told Newsweek magazine the same thing almost exactly two years before:

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2011/12/vp-biden-says-that-the-taliban-per-se-is-not-our-enemy/

Not only are these statements from the Obama administration disheartening because our troops have been fighting Taliban Jihadis for a decade, they also demonstrate a profound ignorance about Jihadist doctrine.

Jihadist doctrine does not regard nationalities or international borders as significant. Under their doctrine, Jihad is to be waged to make Allah’s law and religion supreme around the entire world. With their fall Azan magazine, the Taliban clearly demonstrate adherence to that doctrine with their call for Muslims in the West to launch attacks at home.

What’s more this is not something new from the Taliban. When they seized power in Afghanistan in 1996, they announced that Afghanistan was to be a launching pad for global Jihad and invited Jihadi fighters to come to their country. Jihadis from all over the Islamic world and even parts of the West and the Pacific Rim heeded that call and gravitated to the new Shariah-ruled outpost established by the Taliban regime.

Among those who relocated to Afghanistan was Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. We know the rest: Al Qaeda launched its attack on America from Afghanistan and the Taliban harbored Al Qaeda from the US when America sought to bring justice down on them.

How anyone can look at these facts and conclude that the Taliban are not our enemy is mind-boggling. The idea that the Taliban want to strictly limit their evil designs to Afghanistan is absurd. Yet that has been the policy of the Obama administration for years. It is a policy of lies.

And, yes, despite what the Obamanistas might claim, the Taliban are in fact terrorists.

Actually, we don’t believe that it makes sense to get too wrapped up in labeling them “terrorists.” Terrorism is a tactic, a method of warfare. The warfare that the Taliban–and the Islamic State, Al Qaeda, Lashkar e Taiba, HAMAS, Al Shabaab, Boko Haram and a host of other groups–are waging is called Jihad. In Islamic law, Jihad is defined as warfare to establish the religion:

http://terrortrendsbulletin.com/2013/01/13/cairs-new-disinformation-campaign-on-jihad/

All of the groups mentioned above, including the Taliban, are Jihadis.

But it is still NOT true that the Taliban haven’t engaged in terrorism and they are not just “armed insurgents” like the bodyguards of lies in the Obama administration maintain.

Just 6 weeks ago, on December 16, the Taliban slaughtered 153 people–mostly young school children–in a terrorist attack on a school in Pakistan.

Taliban have also been involved in terrorist plots and activity on US soil:

• In May of 2011, six people, including two Imams at a Florida mosque, were indicted for providing material support to none other than the Taliban:

Irfan Khan of Florida, indicted for providing material support to the Taliban

Irfan Khan of Florida, indicted for providing material support to the Taliban

http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/six-individuals-charged-providing-material-support-pakistani-taliban

• Faisal Shahzad, the Jihadist who attempted to detonate a Vehicle-Born Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) in New York’s Time Square in May 2010, was trained at a Taliban camp and, according to Attorney General Eric Holder himself, “the Pakistani Taliban was behind the attack…We know they helped facilitate it. We know they probably helped finance it and that he was working at their direction.”

Faisal Shahzad. This Connecticut resident/Pakistani immigrant attempted to bomb Times Square in New York City

Faisal Shahzad. This Connecticut resident/Pakistani immigrant attempted to bomb Times Square in New York City

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LE12Df01.html

• Najibullah Zazi, an Afghan-American who pled guilty in a plot to bomb the New York City subway in 2009, traveled to Afghanistan to join the Taliban when he was recruited by Al Qaeda to go back to America to attack targets in the US homeland. This shows the continued, close cooperation and collaboration between the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Najibullah Zazi. This Denver resident travelled to Afghanistan where he received terrorist training. Upon his return, he plotted to bomb New York subways.

Najibullah Zazi. This Denver resident travelled to Afghanistan where he received terrorist training. Upon his return, he plotted to bomb New York subways.

http://www.investigativeproject.org/case/345

Most recently, there are new reports from Leftist NBC News that hundreds of Taliban fighters have joined the Islamic State, which is becoming a greater factor in the southwest Asia region.

The Obamanistas try to make a distinction between the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Taliban in Pakistan. But not even NBC is subscribing to that nonsense. No one in the world outside the Obama administration believes that the Taliban in Pakistan and the Taliban in Afghanistan have nothing to do with each other.

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/isis-pakistan-afghanistan-taliban-fighters-sign-commanders-say-n296707

The Taliban are committed Jihadists. As such, they are undoubtedly an enemy of America. They have killed and wounded thousands of US GIs in combat over the past decade and they have, from the time they originally seized power in Afghanistan to today, involved themselves with other Jihadist organizations from around the world, all of which are classified as “terrorist” organizations. Jihadis do not limit their scope based on political borders; their stated goals are global. To say that the Taliban are not the enemy of the United States or are not terrorists is to demonstrate a profound ignorance of the doctrinal basis for the threat from Jihad. When that ignorance comes from the executive branch of the US government, it can only be described as frightening.

Islamic State appoints leaders of ‘Khorasan province,’ issues veiled threat to Afghan Taliban

Khorassan Shura_Org-thumb-560x420-5469

An organizational overview of the Khorasan Shura. The Islamic State has appointed Hafez Saeed Khan as the Governor of Khorasan province.

By

Abu Muhammad al Adnani, a spokesman for the Islamic State, announced the group’s “expansion” into the lands of “Khorasan” — modern day Afghanistan, Pakistan and parts of the surrounding countries — and declared former Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan (Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan or TTP) commander Hafez Saeed Khan as the “governor” of Khorasan province. Khan had previously served as the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan’s emir for the tribal agency of Arakzai.

Adnani made his announcement in a nearly seven minute audio taped speech titled, “Say, Die in Your Rage!” which was published on Jan. 26 2015 by the Islamic State’s Al Furqan media outlet. [For a translation of the speech, by Pieter Van Ostaeyen, see ‘Audio Statement by IS Spokesman Abu Muhammad al-‘Adnani as-Shami.’]

The declaration comes only a few weeks after a conglomeration of former TTP officials formed the Khorasan Shura and pledged bayat, or allegiance, to the Islamic State. [See Long War Journal report, Pakistani Taliban splinter group again pledges allegiance to Islamic State.]

The Islamic State spokesman acknowledged Khan’s pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi as Commander of the Faithful and the Caliph of Muslims, and claimed that Baghdadi had accepted the pledge and appointed Khan as the province’s governor and Mullah Abdul Rauf Khadim as the deputy governor. Khadim, a former Guantanamo detainee and former senior Taliban commander in southern Afghanistan, has reportedly been operating in Helmand province on behalf of the Islamic State. [See Long War Journal report, Ex-Gitmo detainee leads contingent of Islamic State fighters in Afghanistan.]

Adnani further urged the “mujahideen in Khorasan” to come forth and obey the commands of Khan and Khadim. Notably, Adnani also urged caution in his call to arms, noting that “the factions will assemble against you and the rifles and bayonets fixed against you will multiply.” He encouraged the mujahideen to stand firm against “factionalism and disunity” and to meet these challenges by “unsheathing your swords and spears.” Although not clearly stated, Adnani was issuing a veiled threat to the Taliban factions, both Afghan and Pakistani, that opposed the creation of the Khorasan Shura and who were opposed to the Islamic State.

The Afghan Taliban movement has been consistent in avoiding recognizing the Islamic State and its Caliph Abu Bakr al Baghdadi since the reclusive leader of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Mohammad Omar, has previously held the title of Commander of the Faithful position since 1996.

Adnani’s declaration and Baghdadi’s reported approval for the Islamic State to expand into Afghanistan and Pakistan could incite divisions within the various Taliban factions operating in both countries. The cohesion of many Taliban factions has been compromised over the past few years, mostly due to attrition and leadership decapitations, as well as ideological differences and personal feuds.

Christian Persecution Worldwide Has Become A Metastasizing Cancer

Religious Freedom Coalition, By Andrew E. Harrod, PhD, Jan. 24, 2015

The “cancer of Christian persecution is metastasizing” in an “epidemic” that is “spreading at an unprecedented rate in modern times,” stated Open Doors USA president David Curry at a January 7 briefing in Washington, DC’s National Press Club.  Curry’s presentation before an audience of about 30 of Open Doors’ 2015 World Watch List (WWL) depressingly reviewed ongoing Christian martyrdom, often at the hands of Marxists and Muslims.

The WWL, an Open Doors press release noted, is a unique annual survey of the persecuted church worldwide, praised by Curry as the most dependable study of its kind.  Open Doors research is “meticulous,” concurred at the briefing religious freedom scholarNina Shea from the Hudson Institute.  The WWL “ranks the top 50 countries where it is most dangerous and difficult to be a Christian,” the press release explained.  An accompanying map displayed at the briefing and available online with the report showed these countries coded by color according to persecution severity.

“Approximately 100 million Christians are persecuted worldwide, making them one of the most persecuted religious groups in the world,” the press release observed.  “This year, the threshold was higher for a country to make the list, indicating that worldwide levels of persecution have increased.”  Curry noted that the number of Christians dying for their faith has more than doubled since last year’s WWL.  “While the year 2014 will go down in history for having the highest level of global persecution of Christians in the modern era,” the press release elaborated, “current conditions suggest the worst is yet to come.”

Church destroyed in Aleppo, Syria by Sunni rebels associated with the Free Syrian Army

Church destroyed in Aleppo, Syria by Sunni rebels associated with the Free Syrian Army

North Korea, with an estimated 70,000 Christians imprisoned according to the press release, headed the list for the 13th consecutive year and appeared blood red (“Extreme Persecution”) on the map.  No other regime is so “militantly atheistic” as North Korea’s “Stalinist brand,” Shea observed, where the regime suppresses any competition to what Curry described as a “cult worship.”  North Korea exemplifies in Shea’s words how “remnant Communist” countries like China (list place 29, colored green for “Moderate Persecution”) are one significant source of Christian persecution.  Another threat came from “nationalist regimes,” Shea noted, such as the “Hindu fundamentalism” cited by the press release in India.

Shea’s third “Islamist” category,” however, was the largest threat in the WWL.  “Islamic extremism is the main source of persecution in 40 of the 50 countries,” the press release noted, including India, where both Islam and Hinduism endangered Christianity from various quarters.  “This relatively small but virulent strain of ideology,” Curry assessed, “has made the Middle East the most perilous region of the world for Christians.”  “More than 70 percent of Christians have fled Iraq since 2003,” the press release calculated, “and more than 700,000 Christians have left Syria since the civil war began in 2011.”  Bright red accordingly marked majority-Muslim countries in the Middle East and beyond on the WWL map, including Afghanistan and Iraq, two lands where the United States attempted with much blood and treasure to create stable, free societies.

For Shea, “intensifying persecution” of Christians in Muslim countries makes the word “so inadequate” that Shea prefers “religious cleansing” to describe a campaign of “total Islamization” eliminating non-Muslims.  Under the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a “completion of religious cleansing” of Christians as well as Yazidis has occurred in western Iraq, Shea stated.  Absent effective remedies, a “2,000 year-old church will be completely gone,” part of an “attack on the entire Christian presence in the region.”

Iraqi Christians have fled to Iraq’s northern Kurdistan region, where Kurds have “put out a welcome mat” and demonstrated that not all Muslims are hostile.  Unlike half a million Muslims who have fled ISIS there as well, though, the Christians lack regional allies and often avoid United Nations camps where international aid deliveries and refugee registration occur.  Accordingly, Iraqi Christians are suffering a “humanitarian crisis so dire” that it is an “existential threat,” Shea warned.

Referencing Sudan and Iran’s Islamic republics, Shea worried about “extremist influences being mainstreamed” in society and government beyond jihadist groups like ISIS.  The Iraqi government in the past, for example, marginalized Christians, who were therefore “dealt out of the deck” in the distribution of American aid.  Governments in Muslim countries likewise often turn a “blind eye and deaf ear” to persecution of Christians by private actors.

In particular, Saudi Arabia, a “towering figure within Islam” with oil resources, regional Gulf predominance, and control over Islam’s holy sites, has been “very counterproductive” by “spreading an ideology of hatred.”  Thus Saudi textbooks demonize non-Muslims and advocate “violent jihad” in Islam’s name.  As a result, “Saudi Arabia did create its own monster” in ISIS, a group Saudi Arabia has now attacked with air strikes, Shea observed.

Shea identified five “red flags” that characterize the “crime against humanity” of “religious cleansing,” elements taken together that are “greater than the sum of their parts.”  “Forcible conversion,” for example, presented Christians with Islamic law’s traditional trinity of choosing between death, conversion to Islam, or acceptance of “medieval dictates” in a “second-class citizenship.”  Nigeria’s Boko Haram “ruthlessly…applied” these alternatives during door to door searches of villages.  Laws also punished blasphemy and apostasy in Muslim countries such as Pakistan, whose “strictest black letter law” in this matter gave a “license to kill” to Muslim vigilantes.  Targeted assassination of Christian leaders, abductions, and targeted attacks on churches completed Shea’s list.

Like Curry, though, Shea assured that “prominent Muslim voices” and the “majority of Muslims” oppose religious persecution.  Shea asserted that Middle Eastern Christians “have long coexisted with the Muslim majority” in the region.  By contrast, Shea described as “extremists” the perpetrators of the Paris Charlie Hebdo jihad attacks on the very day of her remarks.

Yet the widespread, often state-based Muslim persecution of Christians noted by Shea and the WWL seemed to belie Shea’s confidence and suggest problems larger than a radical minority.  Various Middle Eastern Christians, meanwhile, have consistently contradicted Shea in discussions with this reporter (see here, here, and here).  In their experience, faith-based Islamic repression of Christians has marked the region since its eighth century Arab-Muslim conquest.

Queried about Muslim religious tolerance advocates, Shea cited interfaith activist Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal from Jordan and Iraq’s Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.  The latter, Shea noted, has “not encouraged any kind of eradication of Christianity” in his country and has “condemned the attacks on the churches.”  Shea, however, professed ignorance when this reporter mentioned past criticism of Sistani as a “false moderate.”  Sistani, for example, has supported sharia in Iraq, has advocated executing homosexuals, and has expressed anti-Semitic, anti-Christian sentiments against these non-Muslims and their “impurity.”

Similarly asked about moderate Muslims, Curry responded that “I don’t have any names off the top of my head.”  “We have not yet seen a major movement of moderate Muslims to condemn the teachings and ideologies” of groups like ISIS, Curry stated, his professions of a “relatively small” Islamic extremism notwithstanding.  Moderate Muslims “themselves will become a target” of jihadists by advocating for Christians and other persecution victims.

Shea bemoaned Christian persecution as an “ignored human rights crisis” in America among policymakers while “even our religious leaders are far too quiet” on the matter.  “The world still does not get it,” Curry concurred, and called the WWL a “wakeup call” for Christians to notice a “genocide going on.”  No country on the WWL has improved in recent years, Curry stated in an interview, “it’s only gotten worse.”

Shea criticized that secularized American leaders struggle to comprehend a “strong religious belief” in an “extremist version of Islam.”  Voice of America reporter Jerome Socolovsky, previously criticized for obligingly benign views on Islam, similarly seemed to exhibit at the event such incomprehension.  Socolovsky asked Shea whether American domestic respect for Islam, shown by opposition to mosque vandalism or interfaith events like the National Cathedral’s Muslim prayer service, could influence Muslims worldwide.  Shea countered that “there is no comparison” between Muslims protected by American law and often brutal Christian persecution abroad.  “Gestures” like those at the National Cathedral would also not “make a difference whatsoever” among ISIS jihadists and others.

The Nigerian Damaris Atsen gave personal witness at the briefing to the trials and tribulations of modern persecuted Christian faith.  Boko Haram terrorists in March 2010 seized her husband riding home from work and stomped him to death by the road, leaving Atsen widowed with four children, “gifts from the Lord.”  Romans 8:35 (“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”) “always encourages me” that the “spirit of the Lord is there” during her times of mourning, she said.  “I have to forgive,” she added while discussing her husband’s murderers.  “If I do not forgive, the Lord will not forgive me.”  “Pray for Nigeria,” she concluded.

Exclusive: Terror Org. Harbored by Pakistani Gov’t Now Backs ISIS

Hafiz Saeed, leader of the Jamaat-ut-Dawa terror network has a $10 million bounty on his head issued by the U.S. government.

Hafiz Saeed, leader of the Jamaat-ut-Dawa terror network has a $10 million bounty on his head issued by the U.S. government.

BY RYAN MAURO:

The Clarion Project has learned from a first-hand source in Pakistan that the leader of Jamaat-ut-Dawa, a major terrorist group harbored by the Pakistani government, expressed support for the Islamic State in a recent sermon.

The story breaks as Pakistani embassy is condemning the television show Homeland for depicting Pakistani government officials as complicit in terrorism.

The Clarion Project’s source, whose identity has been verified and will be referred to as “Aamir,” recently attended a public sermon by Jamaat-ut-Dawa (JUD) leader Hafiz Muhammad Saeed at the group’s Jamia Markaz al-Qadsi headquarters in Lahore. JUD is a rebranding of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET). The group is best known for the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India that killed over 150 innocents.

The U.S. State Department lists JUD/LET as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and says it has links to Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami in Bangladesh, the Indian Mujahideen and Jaish-e-Mohammed. The U.S. Treasury Department says it works with Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and the Haqqani Network and targets U.S. and Afghan forces.

The event was heavily guarded with Saeed’s own security team equipped with assault rifles. The bulk of the sermon was dedicated to promoting jihad against the U.S. and India in order to “save Islam.” Saeed explicitly told attendees to donate to jihad and even recommended registering at a website to fight. Other reports have confirmed the placement of donation boxes for jihad at his events.

Saeed said that the current jihad against America is the same one that was waged against the Soviet Union and that the U.S. is already showing it will suffer the same fate. He boasted that America is so intimidated by him that it is even afraid of his name. Attendees responded with chants of jihad.

Aamir’s report matches Saeed’s bravado. After the U.S. announced a $10 million award for his information leading to his arrest, he held a public rally next to a Pakistani base that is only 40 minutes from the U.S. embassy.

“America should give that reward money to me,” Saeed joked. “I am here. I am visible.”

According to Aamir, Saeed explicitly endorsed jihad against the U.S. in Afghanistan, against India in Kashmir and against the U.S. in Iraq, where American forces are battling the Islamic State.

Saeed’s group is taking a similar stance as other Al-Qaeda-linked groups in endorsing the Islamic State as a group but stopping short of granting legitimacy to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as a caliph.

However, Saeed is also on record as criticizing the Islamic State for massacring Muslims as “apostates” and suggested it should focus on destroying Israel. Earlier this month, he said he’d say to the Islamic State, “I invite you, you are sitting near the Israel boarder, go and destroy the Israeli Jewish [sic].”

What Saeed said to an attendee indicates he is privately more supportive of the Islamic State than his public speeches reveal. Someone from the audience approached Saeed about his implied declaration of the Islamic State as an ally and asked about the group’s presence in Pakistan.

The source was shocked at Saeed’s answer. He said that the Islamic State represents pure Islam and predicted that it would take over Pakistan and seize its nuclear weapons. Saeed emphasized that the Islamic State means no harm towards Sunnis and so it should not be feared.

Read more at Clarion Project

Pakistani Taliban assault military high school in Peshawar

Pakistani army personnel patrol the streets following an attack by Taliban gunmen on a school in Peshawar on December 16, 2014. – AFP

Pakistani army personnel patrol the streets following an attack by Taliban gunmen on a school in Peshawar on December 16, 2014. – AFP

LWJ, By

A suicide assault team from the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan (or Pakistani Taliban) stormed a military high school in Peshawar today. It is one of the deadliest jihadist attacks in the country’s history. According to initial reporting, the attackers have killed more than 130 people, including dozens of children.

At least six Taliban fighters armed with assault weapons and suicide vests entered the Army Public School in Peshawar, the capital of the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, this morning. The fighters fanned out through the school and killed everyone in their path, according to press reports.

Shahrukh Khan, a child who survived the attack by feigning death after being shot in both legs, told Agence France Presse (AFP) that the Taliban fighters were instructed to kill the students. The terrorists deliberately executed students who were already wounded.

“There are so many children beneath the benches, go and get them,” one Taliban fighter told another, according to Khan.

“The man with big boots kept on looking for students and pumping bullets into their bodies. I lay as still as I could and closed my eyes, waiting to get shot again,” Khan stated. The fighters shouted “Allahu Akbar,” or Allah is greatest, as they executed the children.

Pakistani officials have stated that 131 people have been killed, including more than 100 students, but warned that the death toll may rise.

At least 15 explosions were heard during the fighting, Dawn reported. Pakistani security forces surrounded the building and assaulted as the Taliban continued to execute students and staff. The military claimed it killed six Taliban fighters, but more may have been involved in the attack. Troops are still searching the building for Taliban fighters and survivors.

Muhammad Khurasani, the official spokesman for the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, claimed the gruesome assault and admitted that his fighters intentionally targeted civilians.

“We selected the army’s school for the attack because the government is targeting our families and females,” Khurasani said, according to Reuters. “We want them to feel the pain.” Khurasani is referring to the current Pakistani military operation in the tribal agencies of North Waziristan and Khyber, which are adjacent to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The Pakistani military is targeting the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan and jihadist organizations such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, but is leaving groups such as the Haqqani Network and the Hafiz Gul Bahadar Group alone.

The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan has targeted military high school students in the past. In 2009, the jihadist group kidnapped hundreds of students as they fled their military school in Ramzak, North Waziristan. The Taliban ultimately released the students as part of a prisoner exchange.

The Taliban has also launched numerous attacks on soft targets such as churches, mosques, shrines, markets, hotels, and even hospitals. Thousands of civilians have been killed in those attacks since the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan was formed in late 2006.

The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan has also targeted the US. In an email first sent to The Long War Journal, the group claimed responsibility for the May 2010 attempted bombing in New York City’s Times Square. [See LWJ report, Pakistani Taliban claim credit for failed NYC Times Square car bombing.]

The US has targeted the organization’s top commanders as part of its drone campaign. Baitullah Mehsud, the group’s founder and first leader, was killed by an American missile in August 2009. In late 2013, Baitullah’s successor, Hakeemullah Mehsud, was also killed in an American airstrike. Hakeemullah had gloated over the failed Times Square attack in the group’s propaganda prior to his demise.

Hakeemullah was replaced by Mullah Fazlullah, but his appointment as emir of the Pakistani Taliban proved to be unpopular within the terrorist group’s ranks. Earlier this year, key constituencies that were part of Baitullah’s original coalition began peeling away to go on their own. Much of the group founded by Baitullah no longer answers to Fazlullah. One of the larger blocs to break away from Fazlullah’s leadership has rebranded itself as the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan Jamaat-ul-Ahrar. Other commanders have reportedly pledged their allegiance to Islamic State emir Abu Bakr al Baghdadi.

[For more on the dissolution of the original Pakistani Taliban alliance, see LWJ report: Discord dissolves Pakistani Taliban coalition.]

Pakistani army kills senior al Qaeda commander tasked with attacking the West

 Adnan Shukrijumah

Adnan Shukrijumah

LWJ, By

The Pakistani military said it killed Adnan Shukrijumah, a senior al Qaeda leader who was tasked with plotting attacks in North America, during a raid in the Taliban-controlled tribal agency of South Waziristan. Shukrijumah was a member of al Qaeda’s external operations council and was involved with the 2008 plot to bomb subways in New York City and another plot to detonate fuel pipelines at JFK International Airport.

The Inter-Services Public Relations branch of the Pakistani military announced the death of Shukrijumah in a press release, and said he was killed in a raid in the Shin Warsak area of South Waziristan.

“In an intelligence borne operation, top al Qaeda leader Adnan Al Shukrijumah was killed by [the] Pakistan Army in an early morning raid in Shin Warsak, South Waziristan today,” the ISPR statement, which was obtained by The Long War Journal, said. Additionally, “his accomplice and local facilitator were also killed in the raid.” The ISPR also said a soldier was killed during the raid.

The Shin Warsak area is a known haven for al Qaeda, and is controlled by the Mullah Nazir Group, a Taliban faction that is favored by the Pakistani military and government as it does not seek to attack the Pakistani state. The Mullah Nazir Group does wage jihad in Afghanistan and shelter members of al Qaeda and other local and international terrorist groups.

The US has launched four drone strikes against al Qaeda in Shin Warzak since December 2008. In late 2012, the US killed two mid-level al Qaeda commanders – Abdul Rehman al Zaman Yemeni and Sheikh Abdul Bari, in two separate strikes. [SeeLWJ reports, Al Qaeda commander thought killed in South Waziristan drone strike, and US drones kill 3 ‘militants’ in 1st strike in Pakistan in more than a month.]

Shukrijumah was born in Saudi Arabia and lived in the US for years. He attended a mosque in Florida where he mixed with radicals. At some point, Shukrijumah traveled to Afghanistan where he allegedly received training in al Qaeda’s camps and was groomed by senior al Qaeda leaders for future missions. In 2003, FBI and US intelligence officials told the press that Shukrijumah then came back to the US to coordinate terrorist attacks on American soil after Sept. 11, 2001. He was placed on the FBI’s most wanted list. [See LWJ report, Al Qaeda sleeper agent tied to 2009 NYC subway plot.]

Since 2003, Shukrijumah has been one of the most wanted al Qaeda terrorists in the world. On March 20, 2003, the FBI released a “Be on the Lookout” alert for Shukrijumah (aka Jafar al Tayyar, or Jafar “the Pilot”). The US State Department’s Rewards For Justice program offered a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture and prosecution. This made Shukrijumah on of the most wanted al Qaeda leaders in the world.

Shukrijumah has been identified as being a member of al Qaeda’s external operations council and its operations chief for North America.

He is the second member of al Qaeda’s external operations council to have been killed this fall. On Oct. 13, jihadists reported the death of Ahmed Abdulrahman Sihab Ahmed Sihab, who is also known as Abdulrahman al Sharqi. Sihab, a wanted Bahraini citizen who was on the US list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists, is thought to have been killed in a drone strike in Pakistan or Afghanistan. [See LWJ report, Al Qaeda external operations leader reported killed .]

Afghanistan: A Case Against a Residual US Military Presence

November 21, 2014 / ISIS Study Group:

The US government and Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) finally inked a bilateral security agreement (BSA) on 30 SEP 14 that will leave a residual US military force of 9,800 – 10,000 personnel in the country. Since the signing of the BSA the US government has been fueling the mainstream media with talk about how it may boost the chances for resuming peace talks with the Taliban by “demonstrating to the insurgents that they cannot hope to achieve a military victory.” We strongly disagree with this dangerously naive view of the situation on the ground in Afghanistan, and submit to the American people that the presence of US military personnel in the country is irrelevant. Why? Because the central government will fall whether a residual force is there or not. The only thing a continue US military presence will do is delay the inevitable.

http://online.wsj.com/articles/u-s-afghan-bilateral-security-agreement-signed-1412076436

http://www.stripes.com/news/security-pact-may-foster-afghan-peace-process-us-envoy-says-1.305996

ANA 1
ANA troops
Source: http://www.afghanistan-today.org/media/photos/ANAunit.jpg

So keeping this in mind, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody that we had the customary “friday afternoon information dump” with the Obama administration authorizing an expansion of the US military’s residual force in Afghanistan starting in 2015 – complete with the same restrictive rules of engagement (ROE) that have led to so many deaths over the past 6 yrs in the country.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/22/us/politics/in-secret-obama-extends-us-role-in-afghan-combat.html?_r=0

Whereas the US government should’ve kept a residual force in Iraq, the opposite is true for Afghanistan. Here’s some of the primary reasons:

1. The Afghan people have no national identity. Where the average Iraqi (with the exception of the Kurds) identifies as being “Iraqi,” the Afghans’ loyalty falls in line with the following: Family, tribe, ethnic group, religion, nationality – all in this order. National identity is so far down on the totem pole that its barely a blip on their radar, and that’s one of the reasons why GIRoA can barely control Kabul. In other words, you’re more likely to find an Afghan who will identify as a being a member of the Zadran or Shirzai tribes than you will one who will identify himself as being “Afghan.” That’s a big problem to overcome in a country where unity is such a foreign concept. The UK and Soviets both tried – and failed in doing exactly what’s being attempted here. Should we really expect things to be different? Remember, even before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan the central government was having difficulty maintaining its grip away from the capital.

http://www.kabultec.org/ntlid.html

http://www.rferl.org/content/afghanistan-id-cards-ethnic-divisions/25205181.html

http://www.fravahr.org/spip.php?article424

2. Insider attacks. The concept of insider attacks have become a fixture in the enemy’s TTPs in the country – and enlisted men aren’t the only targets. Senior US military officers have also been targeted, with the most recent incident being the attack that led to the death of US Army MG Harold Greene. We assess that the restrictive ROE and ludicrous policy of “cultural sensitivity training” so as not to “offend” our Afghan National Army (ANA) counterparts will not prevent future insider attacks. Furthermore, the only reason there has been a drop in these attacks this year is because of the US drawdown. The ANA are now taking the brunt of insider attacks, and we have several contacts who have served in the country – some of which are still there– who have informed us that many of these incidents go unreported so as not to paint a “negative picture.” We had problems with the IA being compromised by the former regime and IRGC-Qods Force proxies, but never experienced attacks on this scale. It’s also worth noting that in the final days of the Soviet occupation, the Soviet Army was experiencing several insider attacks by Afghan military officers who defected to the Mujahidin. In fact, they saw an increase towards the end of their mission embedding advisors as whole units defected to the Mujaheddin.

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Clinton State Department’s “Lady Taliban” Under Active FBI Investigation

Robin L. Raphel testifies during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in 2004. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Robin L. Raphel testifies during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in 2004. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

PJ Media, By Patrick Poole On November 6, 2014

Stunning news related to a top Clinton State Department diplomat, former Assistant Secretary of State Robin Raphel, that the Washington Post is reporting tonight is subject to an active FBI counter-intelligence investigation:

A veteran State Department diplomat and longtime Pakistan expert is under federal investigation as part of a counterintelligence probe and has had her security clearances withdrawn, according to U.S. officials.

The FBI searched the Northwest Washington home of Robin L. Raphel last month, and her State Department office was also examined and sealed, officials said. Raphel, a fixture in Washington’s diplomatic and think-tank circles, was placed on administrative leave last month, and her contract with the State Department was allowed to expire this week.

Two U.S. officials described the investigation as a counterintelligence matter, which typically involves allegations of spying on behalf of foreign governments. The exact nature of the investigation involving Raphel remains unclear. She has not been charged.

She was the first official to hold the position of Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, appointed to that position by President Bill Clinton, and later served as US Ambassador to Tunisia and Senior Vice President of the National Defense University.

In August 2009, she was appointed as deputy for US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke, where she was responsible for disbursing non-military aid to Pakistan.

This appointment was controversial because Raphel had been a registered agent for the Government of Pakistan just days before her new position was announced, and because of her close association with the Taliban during the Clinton Administration, earning Raphel the moniker, “Lady Taliban.”

According to one 2009 report:

Robin Raphel, 67, who has the dubious distinction of being a lobbyist for the former military regime of General Pervez Musharraf and who also has close ties with the Taliban as part of her lobbying for UNOCAL, will be the main person overlooking the $1.5 billion aid package to Pakistan, giving rise to concerns the U.S. taxpayers monies would go down the Pakistan drain.

Raphel is widow of former US Ambassador to Pakistan Arnold Raphel who had perished in the mysterious aircrash that killed Pakistan military dictator General Ziaul Haq and top brass of his military on August 17, 1988.

Raphel was appointed last month as deputy to Mr. Richard Holbrooke, the US. Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan…

He said another reason to doubt Secretary Clinton’s assertion of accountability is in the naming of Robin Raphel as a deputy to U.S. Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakstan, Richard Holbrooke.

“She had been a Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs beginning in 1993 and on her watch, the madrassas bloomed. Robin Raphel is the person who, during the Clinton presidency, squired Taliban officials around Washington as the next best hope for Afghan leadership,” Dienstag recalled.

Raphel was lobbying for the ill-fated UNOCAL pipe line project at the time.

Raphel eventually became a lobbyist at Cassidy & Associates for the military administration of General Pervez Musharraf. “She was responsible for the lobbying for Pakistan in the State Department as a registered foreign agent of Pakistan and the firm had a $1.2 million contract with the Govt of Pakistan. At this time Jezail sees this as a highly dubious appointment of a well known revolving door retread to a sensitive position,” Dienstag said.

Details of the current FBI investigation haven’t been released, but it is expected that her ties to Pakistan are likely to be focus of the matter.