In recent news of Al Qaeda and associates:
—The Obama administration claims to have killed on Monday in Somalia an Al Qaeda “ringleader” out of Kenya. In contrast to the George II administration, which preferred to, Bobby Ford-like, strike at its “number two men in Al Qaedas” from afar, with cruise missiles and long-range gunships, this latest miscreant was dispatched by actual human beings who identified him visually.
—In an audio recording, Osama bin Laden, in what appears to be a textbook case of projection, dismissed Obama as “a weakened man,” and then renewed his recent shameless attempt to yoke his free-lance banditry to the Palestinian pursuit of a free and independent state.
—Reports emerging out of Pakistan indicate that the price of goosing the Pakistani military to chase Taliban fighters out of the Swat Valley includes hundreds of civilians murdered by Army troops and dumped like cordwood in the streets. Meanwhile, in neighboring Afghanistan, violence has spiked to levels not seen since the doomed legions of George II first stumbled into that country, nearly eight full years ago.
According to the New York Times, Western intelligence agents had fingered Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan as “the ringleader of an Al Qaeda cell in Kenya responsible for the bombing of an Israeli hotel on the Kenyan coast in 2002.” On Monday he was killed when troops in four military helicopters appeared over two trucks near the Somalian village of Baraawe, disabled the trucks, and then killed with sniper fire those who fled. The trucks are said to have contained leaders of the Shabab, an outfit attempting to upend Somalia’s fetal government. Rumor has it Shabab is “drawing increasingly close to Al Qaeda.”
American officials on Monday provided few details, but confirmed that Special Operations forces, operating from a nearby American warship, participated in the helicopter raid.
Under the administration of President George W. Bush, the American military used long-range Tomahawk cruise missiles and AC-130 gunships to carry out strikes against terrorism suspects in Somalia. One American adviser said the decision to use commandos and not long-range missiles in this case may reflect a shift by the Obama administration to go to greater lengths to avoid civilian deaths. In the past, many Somali villagers have been killed by American cruise missiles.
But urgency was a major, if not overriding, factor as well. The adviser said the Special Operations forces had to act quickly after receiving what they considered reliable information about Mr. Nabhan’s location on Monday. That may explain why they conducted the operation in daylight, putting them at greater risk.
Despite the danger, the strategy also ensured that the troops could more accurately identify their target, attack it and confirm the deaths afterward. “This approach was, ‘Let’s do it very quickly, very swiftly and confirm he’s gone,’ ” the adviser said.
In my view, if the US is going to persist in pursuing and killing these people in nations all over the world, the very least it can do is to “go to greater lengths to avoid civilian deaths,” and to “accurately identify their target, attack it and confirm the deaths afterward.” No more of these cowardly back-shooting unmanned-drone atrocities, where some air-conditioned factotum based eight thousand miles away pushes a button, and thereby blasts off a roof somebody receiving medical attention, or, as more commonly occurs, transforms a wedding into a charnel house.
Osama bin Laden commemorated the attacks of September 11, 2001 by releasing to a website an 11-minute audiotape monikered “A Statement to the American People.”
“The time has come for you to liberate yourselves from fear and the ideological terrorism of neo-conservatives and the Israeli lobby,” he intoned. Bin Laden decreed that “[y]ou have only changed the faces in the White House,” complaining that Obama has not really redirected American foreign policy, and has retained BushCo figures such as Defense Secretary Robert Gates. “Obama is a weakened man,” he declared.
Proving that he is ready for the mendacious maelstrom of American politics, bin Laden fibbed that “[t]he reason for our dispute with you is your support for your ally Israel, occupying our land in Palestine.” Problem is, when bin Liden first declared jihad against the US, his beef was the stationing of “infidel” US troops on Saudi Arabian soil. But bin Laden won on that front—George II years ago withdrew US soldiers from Saudi bases—and, the Palestinian issue being quite popular in the Muslim world, bin Laden has decided to glom on to that to keep himself relevant . . . just like any American pol seeking to ride the popular tide.
If Reuters is to be believed:
Analysts who study al Qaeda say the organization is under pressure from followers to strike at Israel following criticism from many Arab commentators that it has never succeeded in launching a direct attack on the Jewish state.
Increasingly frequent and belligerent mentions of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute in al Qaeda statements is an attempt to deflect such criticism, they say.
Among the many things that the world does not need is a successful Al Qaeda strike on Israel. Let us hope that in this bin Laden and his fellows remain impotent.
The motive for the May operation to drive the Taliban out of the Swat Valley in Pakistan was that the Taliban are bloody butchers. Now it appears that the drivers, the troops of the Pakistani Army, are engaging in the Swat in some bloody butchery of their own.
The New York Times states:
Two months after the Pakistani Army wrested control of the Swat Valley from Taliban militants, a new campaign of fear has taken hold, with scores, perhaps hundreds, of bodies dumped on the streets in what human rights advocates and local residents say is the work of the military.
The military of course denies involvement, and some say the bloodshed could reflect reprisals in which ordinary citizens are wreaking revenge on those they believe collaborated with the Taliban.
But the scale of the retaliation, the similarities in the way that many of the victims have been tortured and the systematic nature of the deaths and disappearances in areas that the military firmly controls have led local residents, human rights workers and some Pakistani officials to conclude that the military has had a role in the campaign . . . .
The number of killings suggests that the military is seeking to silence any enthusiasm for the Taliban and to settle accounts for heavy army casualties, said a senior provincial official who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprimand by the army . . . .
The exact number of alleged killings was impossible to calculate because the presence of human rights monitors was limited by the authorities, the commission said. The International Committee of the Red Cross, which investigates illegal killings, was ordered by the military to leave Swat last month[.]
One brave family has filed an official complaint with the army, after Akhtar Ali, 28, was arrested by soldiers at his electrical shop on September 1, then returned four days later to the family home having been tortured to death.
“There was no place on his body not tortured,” a petition, submitted by Ali’s mother, said. Nails were “hammered into his body, and cigarettes burned into the skin.”
Two Pakistani newspapers have reported that the bodies of at least 251 people have recently been found dumped in the Swat, some with torture marks, some with limbs tied and a bullet in the neck or head. A Human Rights Commission report asserts that residents have also described mass graves in Kukarai village and in an area between the villages of Daulai and Shah Dheri.
That these reports are not a public-relations bonanza for the Obama administration is something of an understatement.
Pakistan’s military operations against the Taliban in Swat, begun in May under public pressure from the United States, has been hailed by Washington as a showcase effort of the army’s newfound resolve to defeat the militants. The American ambassador, Anne W. Patterson, visited Mingora, the biggest town in Swat, last week, becoming the first senior American official to go to Swat since the army took over.
Now, concerns over the army’s methods in the area threaten to further taint Washington’s association with the military, cooperation that has been questioned in Congress and has been politically unpopular in Pakistan.
Across the border in Afghanistan, AFP reports, at least 50 civilians and hundreds of combatants were killed this past weekend, in various shootings, mortar attacks, suicide bombings, air strikes, IED explosions, and pitched battles. The deaths occurred throughout the country.
The Taliban extremists have regrouped since they were ousted by the US-led invasion and are trying to topple the Western-backed government and take on about 100,000 NATO and US troops in the war-scarred nation.
A London-based think-tank said on Friday the Taliban now had a presence in virtually all areas of Afghanistan.
Obama vs. Osama: seems to me no one is winning.