Obama widening missile strikes inside Pak

22 02 2009

: Report21 Feb 2009, 1107 hrs IST, IANS
Source: Times of India

NEW YORK: The Obama administration has expanded the covert war run by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) inside Pakistan by attacking amilitant network seeking to topple the Pakistani government, the New York Times reported on Saturday.Two missile strikes over the last week, on training camps run by Baitullah Mehsud, represent a broadening of the American campaign inside Pakistan, which has been largely carried out by drone aircraft, the influential US daily said in a report from Washington.
Under President George Bush, the US frequently attacked militants from al-Qaida and the Taliban involved in cross-border attacks into Afghanistan, but had stopped short of raids aimed at Mehsud and his followers, who have played less of a direct role in attacks on American troops.The strikes are another sign that President Obama is continuing, and in some cases extending, the Bush administration policy of using American spy agencies against terrorism suspects in Pakistan, as he had promised to do during his presidential campaign, the Times said.

Mehsud was identified early last year by both American and Pakistani officials as the man who had orchestrated the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister and wife of Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari.

Bush included Mehsud’s name in a classified list of militant leaders whom the CIA and American commandos were authorised to capture or kill. The Times said it was unclear why the Obama administration decided to carry out the attacks, which American and Pakistani officials said occurred last Saturday and again on Monday, hitting camps run by Mehsud’s network.The Saturday strike was aimed specifically at Mehsud, but he was not killed, the Times said citing Pakistani and American officials.

The Monday strike, officials cited by the Times said, was aimed at a camp run by Hakeem Ullah Mehsud, a top aide to the militant.By striking at the Mehsud network, the US may be seeking to demonstrate to Zardari that the new administration is willing to go after the insurgents of greatest concern to the Pakistani leader. But American officials may also be prompted by growing concern that the militant attacks are increasingly putting the civilian government of Pakistan, a nation with nuclear weapons, at risk, the daily said.The strikes came after a visit to Islamabad last week by Richard C. Holbrooke, the American envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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Mumbai attackers had hit list of 320 world targets: Report

20 02 2009

Source: TIMES OF INDIA

NEW DELHI: Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) ringleaders had ambitions well beyond Mumbai and had placed India’s financial hub in a list of 320 worldwide locations as potential targets for commando-style terror strikes, Britain’s daily Guardian said in a report published on Thursday.
According to the report, western intelligence agencies that accessed the computer and email account of the Lashkar’s communications chief Zarar Shah found a list of possible targets, only 20 of which were in India.
Two of the November 2008 attack’s key planners – Shah and Lashkar’s operations chief Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi – are now in police custody in Pakistan.
Analysts say the computer list is more of a statement of intent because Lashkar would need time to set up terrorist cells in so many places.
Islamabad’s decision to bring criminal charges against nine men accused of involvement in the Mumbai attack has partly placated Indian officials but the government in New Delhi has said it wants to see people brought to justice for terrorist acts.
“There has been some speculation that raids in Spain which netted 12 men- an Indian and 11 Pakistanis – were a result of the investigations into Lashkar’s role in the Mumbai attacks,” the report said.
“The dozen men were reportedly picked up for forging passports and other travel documents for terror organisations, including al-Qaida.
Pakistan’s government has said the Mumbai attacks were partly planned from Spain.
The US has been trying behind the scenes to coordinate intelligence exchanges between the two nuclear-armed rivals. The CIA has worked hard to be seen to help New Delhi – including by recovering phone numbers deleted by the terrorists on their satellite phones.
India has also received crucial evidence from the US agency FBI in connection with the 26/11 attacks.
Intelligence agencies have warned that Mumbai raises the spectre of a new style of terrorist assault. The city was brought to a halt by 10 heavily armed gunmen rampaging through the CST railway station, a house, restaurant Café Leopold, and hotels Trident-Oberoi and Taj for three days, killing over 180 people.





‘Pakistan must close Taliban bases that train anti-India militants’

3 02 2009

31 Jan 2009, 1240 hrs IST, IANS

WASHINGTON: Getting Islamabad’s cooperation to close Taliban sanctuaries in its tribal areas may be Washington’s single hardest challenge as Pakistan has always used them to train people to operate in Kashmir or India, says a leading US expert.
Bruce O. Riedel, an expert on South Asia who has worked for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Pentagon and National Security Council, says new special envoy Richard Holbrooke needs to reverse the negative momentum in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The Taliban’s military successes in Afghanistan have to be reversed and Islamabad must help close their sanctuaries on Pakistani territory, he said in an interview at the Council on Foreign Relations, a Washington think tank.
But Riedel says “trying to get that cooperation out of the Pakistani government in my judgment will be the single hardest test that Ambassador Holbrooke faces and in fact may be the single hardest foreign policy challenge President (Barack) Obama faces”. The Pakistani military is of two minds about the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) along the border with Afghanistan, he said.
It has always used FATA “as the place where it could create groups like the Taliban, or encourage the development of the Taliban, where it could train people to operate in Kashmir or to operate in India”.
“But now that it sees that it’s losing control of that area, it’s increasingly concerned about the future,” Riedel added.
US Predator attacks on al-Qaida targets in that area had scored some important successes, but they had also helped further the alienation of the Pakistani people away from the US and badly eroded American brand image, Riedel said.
“Polling in Pakistan shows that a majority of Pakistanis blame America for the country’s internal violence. India comes in second place, and the al-Qaida and militancy comes in third place,” he said. “Any time that you are outpolling India as the bad guy in Pakistan, you’re in deep, deep trouble.”
Pakistan’s concerns in Afghanistan derive in large part from its concerns about India, the expert said.
“It can’t try to deal with these problems in isolation. But you also have to deal with them with a great degree of subtlety and sophistication, because there are decades-old fears among all the parties about American intentions,” Riedel said.





Why bother with news about blasts! Sreenivasan Raju Aiyer

2 10 2008

Source: Rediff

October 01, 2008
News relating to terror attacks no more attract my attention. I do not take note of such items be it over the television or the print media. You can say my feelings have become numb. This many killed or that many injured (which varies from place to place, or on the intensity of bomb to bomb), RDX was used or ammonium nitrate was used, these do not mean anything at all.

We all know that when there is a bomb blast there has to be casualties. We also know who has planted those bombs. We all know prior to planting those bombs, they have already planted people sympathetic to their cause in vital places of political leadership, academia, print and visual media etc who would immediately pounce to justify these acts of terror. The act of terror which resulted in the death of so many innocent souls — many of whom who happen to be women, children, sole bread-winners for their families — does not mean anything either to those who perpetrated these acts or to those justifying the same.

Even those of the acts which was thought to be indefensible some time back, is defensible now. For example, we all thought tax-payers’ money cannot be used to defend those accused of anti-national activities. The recent Delhi [Images] bomb blasts and those accused of planting the bombs found at Jamia Nagar, and the Jamia university’s vice chancellor coming forward to defend the accused in a court of law using grants received from the UGC for running the central university, is a case in point.

The irony is this stance of the JMI vice chancellor is finding support in other central government funded universities where meetings of teachers’ associations are being held, seminars conducted to support him almost on the same lines as support extended to SAR Geelani and Afzal Guru.

As of now we still believe government funds cannot be used for providing arms and ammunition to jihadi, naxalite, Maoist and other violent groups (such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Bajrang Dal if it would please those inclined to think so). This job has been assigned to Dawood Ibrahim [Images], Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence, the Chinese government, or may be the CIA.

But who knows? A time may come when human rights activists, liberals, intellectual elite, eminent persons, secularists and other lumpen elements may argue that it is okay for the State to fund the activities of such violent groups who according to them mean well to “liberate” those people who vibe on the same wavelength with them!

So my question is, why waste time on reading or viewing such news reports? We might as well spend that time more fruitfully in the company of our family and friends because you never know in which nook or corner a bomb has been very kindly planted for promoting acts of “liberation”!

Sreenivasan Raju Aiyer is with the Centre for East Asian Studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University