Archive for the ‘counterterrorism’ Category

Pentagon Planning 20,000 Domestic Anti-Terror Military Troops

December 1, 2008

The U.S. military expects to have 20,000 uniformed troops inside the United States by 2011 trained to help state and local officials respond to a nuclear terrorist attack or other domestic catastrophe, according to Pentagon officials.

The long-planned shift in the Defense Department‘s role in homeland security was recently backed with funding and troop commitments after years of prodding by Congress and outside experts, defense analysts said. 

 

By Spencer S. Hsu and Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, December 1, 2008; Page A01

There are critics of the change, in the military and among civil liberties groups and libertarians who express concern that the new homeland emphasis threatens to strain the military and possibly undermine the Posse Comitatus Act, a 130-year-old federal law restricting the military’s role in domestic law enforcement.

But the Bush administration and some in Congress have pushed for a heightened homeland military role since the middle of this decade, saying the greatest domestic threat is terrorists exploiting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, dedicating 20,000 troops to domestic response — a nearly sevenfold increase in five years — “would have been extraordinary to the point of unbelievable,” Paul McHale, assistant defense secretary for homeland defense, said in remarks last month at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. But the realization that civilian authorities may be overwhelmed in a catastrophe prompted “a fundamental change in military culture,” he said.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/w
p-dyn/content/article/2008/11/30
/AR2008113002217.html?hpid=topnews

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Attributes of Mumbai Attacks Suggest Outside Help

November 28, 2008

Counterterrorism officials and experts said the scale, sophistication and targets involved in the Mumbai attacks were markedly different from previous terrorist plots in India and suggested the gunmen had received training from outside the country. But they cautioned it was too soon to tell who may have masterminded the operation, despite an assertion from a previously unknown Islamist radical group. 

 

By Craig Whitlock and Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, November 28, 2008; Page A01

Officials in India, Europe and the United States said likely culprits included Islamist networks based in Pakistan that have received support in the past from Pakistan’s intelligence agencies.

Analysts said this week’s attacks surpassed previous plots carried out by domestic groups in terms of complexity, the number of people involved and their success in achieving their primary goal: namely, to spread fear.

“This is a new, horrific milestone in the global jihad,” said Bruce Riedel, a former South Asia analyst for the CIA and National Security Council and author of the book “The Search for Al Qaeda.” “No indigenous Indian group has this level of capability. The goal is to damage the symbol of India’s economic renaissance, undermine investor confidence and provoke an India-Pakistani crisis.”

Several analysts and officials said the attacks bore the hallmarks of Lashkar-i-Taiba and Jaish-i-Muhammad, two networks of Muslim extremists from Pakistan that have targeted India before. Jaish-i-Muhammad was blamed for an attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001.

Both groups have carried out a long campaign of violence in the disputed territory of Kashmir, which India and Pakistan have fought over for six decades. The roots of the long-running conflict are religious: A majority of India’s population is Hindu, while most Pakistanis are Muslim.

A U.S. counterterrorism official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Lashkar-i-Taiba, which means “Army of the Pious,” and Jaish-i-Muhammad, or “Soldiers of Muhammad,” are “the thing people are starting to look at. But I can’t caution enough to treat it as a theory, a working assumption. It’s still too early for hard and fast” conclusions.

“What the Indians have in their favor,” the official added, “is that they’ve got some of these guys. It seems logical that they can expect to work their way back reasonably quickly.” Indian officials said several gunmen were captured.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/w
p-dyn/content/article/2008/11/27
/AR2008112702177.html?hpid=topnews

Department of Homeland Security Pick Will Tell a Lot

November 11, 2008

The background of President-elect Barack Obama‘s pick to head the Department of Homeland Security will reveal a lot about how his nascent administration views the future of the troubled agency, according to Washington insiders.

“There are any number of excellently qualified candidates,” P.J. Crowley, director of homeland security at the Center for American Progress, told United Press International. “It will be interesting to see the selection. The skill set will tell us a lot about the future direction [of the department] in an Obama administration.”

Mr. Crowley was a senior national security official under President Clinton, and John Podesta, the head of CAP, is co-chairman of Mr. Obama’s transition team.

Mr. Crowley and other security experts said in interviews that the Homeland Security Department, with the second-largest work force in the federal government, has responsibilities in areas of potentially enormous political significance for the new government – counterterrorism, disaster recovery and immigration.

“That is why the skill set is interesting … you can compare it to the challenges in these … diverse areas,” said Mr. Crowley.

“How do you lead an agency that is still searching for a common identity?” asked Mr. Crowley, adding that the department’s agenda was “still a work in progress.”

By Shaun Waterman, UPI

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/
nov/11/nominee-to-need-many-skills/

Rice, Gates to take missile shield talks to Russia

March 12, 2008
by Olivier Knox 

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates will visit Russia March 17-18, with Russo-US ties sorely strained by US missile defense plans, officials said Wednesday.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice testifies during a House ... 
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice testifies during a House Appropriations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates will visit Russia March 17-18, with Russo-US ties sorely strained by US missile defense plans, officials said Wednesday.(AFP/GETTY IMAGES/Mark Wilson) 
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With Iran, the Middle East, and Kosovo’s declaration of independence also on the agenda, Rice and Gates will meet with their counterparts and seek talks with President Vladimir Putin and president-elect Dmitry Medvedev, aides said.

Putin and US President George W. Bush agreed in a telephone call last week that the talks, a follow up to a similar round in October 2007, would be “a good idea,” said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino.

“The agenda will cover a broad range of bilateral strategic issues, including missile defense, post-START arrangements, cooperation on non-proliferation as well as counterterrorism,” she said.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080312/
ts_afp/usrussianatodiplomacy_080312220312

Al Qaeda Leader Killed in Somalia Missile Attack

March 4, 2008

B y Sara A. Carter
The Washington Times 
March 4, 2008
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U.S. forces found, targeted and killed in a Somali desert city the senior al Qaeda operative who masterminded the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa and had since spent a decade in hiding, The Washington Times has learned.
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Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, who is one of the FBI’s most-wanted terrorists, was the target of a U.S. missile strike on a residence in Dobley, a small town in southern Somalia near the Kenyan border, according to a U.S. military official who spoke to The Times on the condition of anonymity because of the nature of the operation.
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“Al Qaeda has used this region to spill over into other parts of eastern Africa,” said a U.S. counterterrorism official, also on the condition of anonymity. “Somalia at a minimum is a place of refuge but for some of al Qaeda it is a place to plot and plan future attacks.”

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/article/20080304/
NATION/722487088/1001

Hearts and Minds on the Pakistan-Afghanistan Border

February 18, 2008

By Ashley Bommer
The Washington Post 
Monday, February 18, 2008; Page A17

The United States has counterterrorism operations in places all over the world — but not in Pakistan, the center of world terrorism. Last month, Defense Secretary Robert Gates made an offer: “We remain ready, willing and able to assist the Pakistanis and to partner with them, to provide additional training, to conduct joint operations, should they desire to do so.” Within hours, fearing a backlash on Pakistani soil, President Pervez Musharraf rejected the American offer.

But there is another counterterrorism strategy option for Pakistan: Empower millions of oppressed people who live there to be native allies against the insurgents, through the establishment of a Global Tribal Fund.

We cannot win the war on terrorism when we are losing the border to insurgents. The heart of the Taliban and al-Qaeda insurgency is in Balochistan, the Northwest Frontier Province and the tribal belt along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, known as the Durand Line. Top al-Qaeda and Taliban terrorists — Osama bin Laden, his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, Muhammad Omar, Jalaluddin Haqqani and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar — are believed to be operating from there….

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/17/AR20080
21701735.html

The path to a better Middle East goes through Ankara

October 22, 2007

What Ms. Pelosi seems to have missed….

The Wall Street Journal
Saturday, October 20, 2007

Some day, we may look back on this week as a turning point in America’s relations with its closest Muslim ally, Turkey, and perhaps for the entire Middle East. Unfortunately, only a seer can say whether it’ll be a turn for the better.

The ructions over the House’s foray into Ottoman history and Turkey’s threat to invade northern Iraq don’t look good. But clear-eyed leaders will spot an opportunity in this crisis to renew an alliance for this difficult new era. American and Turkish interests overlap, and the countries need each other as much as they did during the Cold War.

The more sober politicians in Washington and Ankara understand this. Wednesday’s parliamentary approval of a possible Turkish incursion to chase down Kurdish terrorists in their Iraqi hideouts was remarkable for its restraint. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan waited more than a week after the latest strike by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (or PKK) killed 13 Turkish soldiers to bring up the measure. No democratic government could ignore such attacks and the growing public outrage.

The Turks have also ruled out any rash move into northern Iraq. Ankara would prefer that the Iraqi Kurds and U.S. squeeze the PKK hiding in the Qandil mountains and avoid the risks of launching its own incursion. The vote this week is a wake-up call from the Turks–not least to the Iraqi Kurds, who have an opening to improve ties with their most important neighbor.

Meanwhile, with uncanny timing, Congressional Democrats this week were about to stick a finger in Turkey’s eye. Whether the massacres of up to 1.5 million Armenians in eastern Anatolia in 1915 constitute “genocide,” as a nonbinding House resolution declares, is a matter for historians. In the here and now, the resolution would erode America’s influence with Ankara and endanger the U.S. effort in Iraq. Worse, Mr. Erdogan’s ability to work with Washington would be constrained by an anti-American backlash.Speaker Nancy Pelosi began the week promising to bring the resolution to the House floor. But she is now having second thoughts–if not out of good sense, then because her rank-and-file are peeling away as they are lobbied against the anti-Turk resolution by the likes of General David Petraeus. Republican Speaker Dennis Hastert tabled a similar resolution when asked by President Clinton in 2000, and we’ll soon see if Ms. Pelosi will do the same for a Republican President.

The PKK also reads the papers, and its leaders timed their attacks on consecutive weekends this month as the resolution moved through the House. The Marxist separatist group, whose 20-year war has claimed almost 40,000 lives, would love to divide the U.S. from Turkey. Unless managed right, the Turkish response this week also imperils improving bilateral ties between Ankara and Baghdad; the countries had only recently signed a counterterrorism pact. In Turkey itself, PKK support is dwindling, and Mr. Erdogan’s ruling party swept the Kurdish-majority areas in July’s elections.

To avoid the trap set by the PKK, the U.S. needs to press the Iraqi Kurds to act against them. This doesn’t have to hurt America’s friendly dealings with the Kurds. But someone has to remind Massoud Barzani, the president of Iraq’s Kurdish region, that the PKK poses a grave threat to the economic boom and stability of northern Iraq. His aggressive rhetoric toward Turkey, and the Kurdish peshmerga militia’s disinterest in cracking down on the PKK, gives the wrong impression of complicity with the terrorists. With typical bluster, Mr. Barzani yesterday said he’d fight the Turks–hardly helpful.

Short of declaring war on the PKK, the peshmerga could easily cut off supply lines of food and arms into the Qandil mountains. The Turks want the U.S. to nab a few big PKK fish, which is easier said than done. But Ankara isn’t unreasonable to expect to see more of an effort. In return, its troops can stay on their side of the border.

This hasn’t been an easy year for Turkey. For most of it, Mr. Erdogan and his neo-Islamist party fought a cold war with the country’s secular establishment, led by the military. His commanding election victory in July ended that political crisis, only to see Congress and the PKK distract anew from his primary task, which is building the Muslim world’s most vibrant free-market democracy.Turkey wants a unitary, stable and prosperous Iraq, and should know that any wrong moves in the north could jeopardize that. The Turks unabashedly support Israel’s right to exist and can’t abide a nuclear Iran. On these and other issues, Ankara is an indispensable partner for America. Mr. Erdogan is expected to meet President Bush next month to discuss Iraqi Kurdistan and probably the Armenian resolution. The U.S.-Turkey friendship is too important to let it be ruined by parochial politics in either country.

Related:

Pandering Pelosi-crats

Iraq and Turkey See Tensions Rise After Ambush

Pelosi: Our Candidate for “Catch and Release”

U.S. Frustrated by bin Laden, Musharraf in Pakistan Tribal Areas

September 7, 2007

By Bill Gertz
“Inside the Ring”
The Washington Times
September 7, 2007

Pentagon counterterrorism officials are growing more and more frustrated with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf over his continued refusal to allow U.S. forces and personnel to conduct military and paramilitary strikes against al Qaeda terrorists in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

The 10,507-square-mile region bordering Afghanistan is one place al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and his key aides are thought to be hiding.

The Pakistani leader is refusing to permit U.S. attacks because of pressure from Islamists in his own government.

Read it all at:
http://washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070907/NATION04/109070053/1008