Archive for the ‘Islamic’ Category

Top U.S. Spy: Mumbai Terror Came From Radical Pakistani Islamic Militant Group

December 3, 2008

Yesterday what India has been saying was verified by the top U.S. spy: the bloodshed and terror in Mumbai was caused by Lashkar-e-Taiba.  A spokesman for the Pakistan-based group denied any involvement in the Mumbai atrocities.  Lashkar-e-Taiba or     is one of the    shadowy Islamist groups such as Al-Qaeda that the U.S. and the rest of Western intelligence has been watching and fighting since September 11, 2001….

The radical Islamic group, whose name means “Army of the Pious,” has past links to both Pakistani intelligence and Al-Qaeda.


US Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell late Tuesday blamed Lashkar-e-Taiba for the deadly attacks in Mumbai, the first time a US official publicly fingered the group.

“The same group that we believe is responsible for Mumbai had a similar attack in 2006 attack on a train and killed a similar number of people,” said McConnell, speaking at Harvard University. “Go back to 2001 and it was an attack on the parliament.”

McConnell did not mention Lashkar-e-Taiba by name, but the group, which fought Indian rule in divided Kashmir, is notorious for a deadly assault on the Indian parliament in 2001. That attack pushed New Delhi and Islamabad to the brink of war.

By Carlos Hamann, AFP

US Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, pictured ...
US Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, pictured in February, 2008, on Tuesday blamed the group Lashkar-e-Taiba for last week’s deadly attacks in Mumbai.(AFP/File/Saul Loeb)

The radical Islamic group, whose name means “Army of the Pious,” has past links to both Pakistani intelligence and Al-Qaeda.

McConnell, the top US intelligence official, said he did not see the Mumbai attack as a new form of terrorism.

“If you examine the groups we think are responsible, the philosophical underpinnings are very similar to what Al-Qaeda puts out as their view of how the world should be. It is a continuation,” he said.

About 10 gunmen landed in rubber dinghies in Mumbai and wreaked havoc with automatic weapons and hand grenades, in an assault that killed at least 188 people and injured more than 300. The dead included 22 foreign nationals.

In his speech, McConnell emphasized the difficulty in fighting shadowy Islamist groups such as Al-Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Taiba.

“Democratic systems that promote free speech and free movement and open discussion are incredibly vulnerable to someone who is willing to die in the context of a suicide bomber or a suicide attack,” McConnell said.

Read the rest:


India’s Police: Mumbai Terror Created By Pakistani Militant Group

November 30, 2008

The only gunman captured by police after a string of attacks on Mumbai told authorities he belonged to the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, a senior police officer said Sunday.

By RAMOLA TALWAR BADAM, Associated Press

Indian special police officers exit the landmark Taj Hotel in ... 
Indian special police officers exit the landmark Taj Hotel in Mumbai, India, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2008. Indian commandos killed the last remaining gunmen holed up at the luxury Mumbai hotel Saturday, ending a 60-hour rampage through India’s financial capital by suspected Islamic militants that rocked the nation.(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

Police have said 10 gunmen terrorized Mumbai during a 60-hour siege, and all but one were shot dead.

Joint Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria said the assailant now in custody told police the group had intended to hit more targets during their attacks on India’s financial capital that left at least 174 dead.

“Lashkar-e-Taiba is behind the terrorist acts in the city,” Maria told reporters. “The terrorists were from a hardcore group in the L-e-T.”

India’s Home Ministry could not be immediately reached for comment.

The group has long been seen as a creation of the Pakistani intelligence service to help wage its clandestine war against India in disputed Kashmir.

Police arrested the lone surviving militant, Ajmal Qasab, and Maria said he confessed his links to Lashkar during interrogation.

“Ajmal Qasab has received training in a L-e-T training camp in Pakistan,” he said. “Our interrogation indicates that the terrorists had other places that they also intended to target.”

Mumbai: Condoleezza Rice Tells Pakistan To Fully Cooperate, Investigate
Pakistan’s Government Surrounded by Terrorists, U.S., Indian and internal Pressure

Read the rest:

The Investigation: India’s nightmare: were the killers home-grown?

November 28, 2008

Two questions hang over the massacres, for which Indian security forces appear to have been completely unprepared: who did it, and why?


Security analysts said yesterday that, while the involvement of al-Qa’ida could not be ruled out after foreigners were targeted for the first time in a major Indian attack, initial suspicions focus on home-grown Islamic militant groups which have become a major concern for authorities.

By Anne Penketh, Diplomatic Editor
The Independent (UK)

Although the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, blamed “external linkages” and appeared to point the finger of blame at Pakistan, it was not clear last night whether he was repeating India’s familiar accusations against its neighbour in the wake of every major terror attack or if he had firm evidence following the arrest of nine suspects involved in the shootings.

The festering sore of Kashmir, over which Pakistan and India have fought two wars, is ever present. One of the militants holed up in the Jewish centre in Mumbai contacted Indian television to ask: “Are you aware how many people have been killed in Kashmir? Are you aware how your army has killed Muslims? Are you aware how many of them have been killed in Kashmir this week?” He was said to be speaking Urdu with a Kashmiri accent.

Proof of a Kashmiri connection is likely to lead to rising tension in the subcontinent as these groups not only have ties with groups such as al-Qa’ida but also the Pakistani intelligence service, ISI. “There are serious concerns in India about the support of the ISI for militant Islamic groups,” said a security analyst, Garry Hindle.

The Mumbai attacks were claimed by a previously unknown group, the Deccan Mujahedin, which is calling for the release of jailed Islamic militants. “At first glance, it looks like an offshoot of the Indian Mujahedin which itself arose out of the student Islamic movement,” said Nigel Inkster, a senior analyst with the International Institute for Strategic Studies who is a former assistant director of MI6.

“We’ve been worried about the indigenisation of Islamist extremism in India,” Mr Inkster added, referring to the new splinter groups springing up inside the country which are distinct from militant organisations imported from outside and accused of being sponsored by Pakistan.

Read the rest:

Senior U.S. Commanders to Assess Afghanistan Mission

October 17, 2008

WASHINGTON — The commander of the United States’ Special Operations forces is meeting this week with the senior American commander in Afghanistan, as well as top Special Operations officers there, to assess the mission in Afghanistan, senior military officials said Thursday.
Read: An American military outpost in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan, has been frequently attacked by insurgents in recent weeks. Photo: Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

The commander, Adm. Eric T. Olson, was in Pakistan on Thursday to meet the new leader of Pakistan’s Frontier Corps paramilitary force, Maj. Gen. Tariq Khan, and to observe a new American-led training program for the Pakistani corps.

Over the next several months, about two dozen American and British military trainers will instruct Pakistani officers at a base in Abbottabad, north of Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital. The Pakistani officers will in turn train Frontier Corps soldiers next year, in what both countries say is a crucial step in building an effective indigenous force to combat fighters from Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan’s unruly tribal areas.

But the bulk of Admiral Olson’s time in the region will be spent conferring in Afghanistan with senior American Special Operations officers from across the country, as well as with the senior American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David D. McKiernan, on Friday.

General McKiernan has said that he needs as many as 15,000 combat and support troops beyond the 8,000 troops that President Bush recently approved for deployment early next year. The general is also conducting his own assessment of operations in Afghanistan.

His findings, along with other assessments from the Pentagon and the State Department, will be combined into a comprehensive White House review of Afghanistan policy that is to be completed next month after the presidential election, administration officials said Thursday.

Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon spokesman, said officials from across the government, including the intelligence agencies, were working to ensure that “we are on the proper footing as we hand off the baton to the next administration.”

Read the rest:

Troops Kill al-Qaeda Number Two in Iraq

October 15, 2008

By KIM GAMEL, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD – American troops acting on a tip killed the No. 2 leader of al-Qaida in Iraq — a Moroccan known for his ability to recruit and motivate foreign fighters — in a raid in the northern city of Mosul, the U.S. military said Wednesday.

A U.S soldier inspects a building after a bomb went off in Dora ... 
A U.S soldier inspects a building after a bomb went off in Dora neighborhood, southwestern Baghdad,on Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2008, wounding 4 Iraqi soldiers and 5 awakening council members, the police said.(AP Photo/Loay Hameed)

The military statement described the man, known as Abu Qaswarah, as a charismatic leader who had trained in Afghanistan and managed to rally al-Qaida followers in Iraq despite U.S. and Iraqi security gains.

Rear Adm. Patrick Driscoll, a U.S. spokesman in Baghdad, also said the military suspected that Iranian agents were trying to bribe Iraqi politicians to oppose negotiations over a security pact that would extend the presence of American troops in Iraq.

But, he said, the military had no reason to believe Iraqi politicians had taken the Iranians up on the offers.

“There are indicators that Iranian agents may come across the border and use money or other bribes to influence Iraqi politicians,” Driscoll said. “It’s a whole different matter whether Iraqi politicians would accept that.”

U.S. troops killed Abu Qaswarah, also known as Abu Sara, on Oct. 5 after coming under fire during a raid on a building that served as an al-Qaida in Iraq “key command and control location for” in Mosul, the military said.

Abu Qaswarah — one of five insurgents killed — was later been positively identified, the military said, without elaborating.

Read the rest:

Afghanistan: A Swamp Filled With Uncertainty

October 14, 2008

By Richard Halloran
The Washington Times

An Afghan boy and girl ride on a donkey carrying water, in Kabul, ...
An Afghan boy and girl ride on a donkey carrying water, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Oct. 12, 2008.(AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

As the United States begins extricating itself from the quagmire in Iraq, it is in jeopardy of plunging into a swamp in Afghanistan that is filled with uncertainty.

Yet neither President George Bush nor the leading candidates to succeed him, Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama, who debated the Afghan issue this week, have so far articulated America’s national interest in that landlocked Central Asian country. The White House, however, began a belated review this week of objectives and strategy in Afghanistan.

Gen. David McKiernan, the new commander of American forces in Afghanistan, sketched out a gloomy picture for the Pentagon press on Oct. 1, saying it would take “four to five years” of intervention before the Afghans could take responsibility for their internal security.

“What I have found after four months in Afghanistan is that the environment there is even more complex than I would have thought,” Gen. McKiernan said. “It’s a country where they have experienced 30 straight years of war that’s left a traumatized society and a traumatized tribal system.”

Other soldiers experienced in Afghanistan have been even more pessimistic. Brig. Mark Carleton-Smith, Britain’s senior commander in Afghanistan, was quoted: “We’re not going to win this war. It’s about reducing it to a manageable level of insurgency that’s not a strategic threat and can be managed by the Afghan army.”

Brig. Carleton-Smith, who has just finished a second tour in Afghanistan, told the Sunday Times: “We want to change the nature of the debate from one where disputes are settled through the barrel of the gun to one where it is done through negotiations.” Evidently, negotiations would include moderate members of the revived Taliban insurgents.

A U.S. Army colonel who led a task force in Afghanistan, Christopher Kolenda, writing in the Weekly Standard asked: “How is it that we find ourselves unable to dispatch the Taliban seven years after their downfall? Winning in Afghanistan requires….

Read the rest:

Success in Iraq has Made Afghanistan the Mecca of Terrorists

October 14, 2008

By AMIR SHAH, Associated Press Writer 

KABUL, Afghanistan – U.S. military successes in Iraq have forced sophisticated and well-trained insurgents to pour into Afghanistan instead, part of the reason violence has spiked in Afghanistan, the Afghan defense minister said Tuesday.

File photo shows a US Marine standing watch in Kandahar, Afghanistan. ... 


In a demonstration of the increasingly deadly attacks, a roadside blast in the east where U.S. soldiers operate killed three NATO troops, while two separate roadside bombs in the south killed 16 Afghan civilians, officials said.

The Afghan defense minister, Gen. Abdul Rahim Wardak, said terrorists who would have once fought in Iraq have been “diverted” to Afghanistan.

“The success of coalition forces in Iraq and also some other issues in some of the neighboring countries have made it possible that there is a major increase in the foreign fighters,” Wardak told a news conference. “There is no doubt that they are (better) equipped than before. They are well trained, more sophisticated, their coordination is much better.”

The top U.S. commander in eastern Afghanistan, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser, told The Associated Press last month that he is seeing a spike in the number of foreign militants — including Arabs and Chechens — flowing into Afghanistan. He said militant Web sites have been encouraging fighters to go to Afghanistan instead of Iraq.

“I can’t prove they are coming from Iraq to Afghanistan, but I’ve seen it on Web sites that that’s what they’re being told to do,” Schloesser said.

Read the rest:

U.S. shifts focus from Iraq to Afghanistan, Pakistan

October 14, 2008

By Martin Sieff

Daniel James (L), the British interpreter for NATO commander ... 
Daniel James (L), the British interpreter for NATO commander in Afghanistan General David Richards, patrols in Kabul in this June 16, 2006 file photo.(Omar Sobhani/Files/Reuters)

Top U.S. policymakers are declaring victory in Iraq and switching their focus to Afghanistan and Pakistan, where Islamist violence continues to surge following the fall of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

Eleven people, including four children, were killed Thursday when Islamist guerrillas set off a bomb as a police vehicle carrying prisoners passed by in the Upper Dir district of Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province. The blast also destroyed a school bus carrying children that was driving right behind it.

Also Thursday, an Islamist suicide bomber penetrated tight security and set off his bomb in Pakistan police headquarters in the capital, Islamabad. The bomber successfully targeted the Anti-Terrorism Squad head office in the building, but there were no fatalities because most of the officers were out on duty, the Press Trust of India reported.

The attacks were part of the massively increased Islamist bombing campaign to discredit and eventually topple the nation’s new pro-American president, Asif Ali Zardari.

Mr. Zardari has appointed Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, a tough and loyal new chief, to clean up and run the Inter-Services Intelligence agency. On Wednesday, Gen. Pasha briefed lawmakers of both of Pakistan’s houses of Parliament in a graphic report on the tactics the Taliban and al Qaeda were using to try to seize and maintain control of North West Frontier Province.

According to Pakistani press reports….

Read the rest:

Severe economic crisis threatens Pakistan’s stability

October 14, 2008

By Saeed Shah, McClatchy Newspapers

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A worsening economic crisis in Pakistan is pushing millions more people into poverty, and experts fear that it could help Islamic extremists recruit new converts.
A Pakistani money-changer counts US dollars in Islamabad on ... 
A Pakistani money-changer counts US dollars in Islamabad on October 8, 2008. Already nearly broke when the global financial crisis took hold, Pakistan now faces further woes that could take the nuclear-armed nation’s security situation closer to the edge, experts said.(AFP/File/Aamir Qureshi)

The crisis began early this year, as democracy was restored after more than eight years of military rule. Now Pakistan’s hard currency reserves have shrunk to $3.5 billion , and without an international rescue package, America’s key ally in the fight against al Qaida is likely to default on foreign debt repayments in the next two months, economic experts said.

Inflation is running at 25 percent, according to official figures, electricity is in short supply, and Pakistan’s currency, the rupee, has been devalued 25 percent against the dollar. Investor confidence has fallen so low that on Monday, police had to surround the Karachi Stock Exchange to protect it from angry investors. The Exchange already had lobbied the government unsuccessfully to be allowed to close for two weeks.

Terrorist acts by Islamist insurgents have accelerated capital flight and discouraged foreign direct investment. Depositors are lined up at banks to withdraw their money or to send it abroad.

“The canvas of terrorism is expanding by the minute,” said Faisal Saleh Hayat , a member of parliament and a former interior minister under Pervez Musharraf , the U.S.-backed former president. “It’s not only ideological motivation. Put that together with economic deprivation and you have a ready-made force of Taliban , al Qaida , whatever you want to call them. You will see suicide bombers churned out by the hundred.”

“In Pakistan , there are a huge proportion of people just above the poverty line. A slight shock in their income can push them below the poverty line,” said Sadia Malik , director of the Mahbub ul Haq Human Development Center in Islamabad , the capital. “This is the kind of shock that would have pushed a huge number of people into the poverty trap,”

The prices of wheat, rice and milk have more than doubled in the last year. The price of flour used to make roti bread, the food staple, has jumped from 12 rupees ( 15 cents ) a kilo last year to 28 rupees ( 35 cents ). Economists warn that prices would spiral even higher if Pakistan defaulted on its foreign debt.

Before the crisis, an estimated that 56 million Pakistanis, around a third of the population, already were living below the poverty line….

Read the rest:

Iran celebrates global economic meltdown as punishment from God

October 10, 2008

By John Leyne

Amidst the financial wreckage around the world, one government is celebrating.

Watching the global gnashing of teeth, the Islamic Republic of Iran is enjoying the ride.

“We are very happy that America’s economy is in jeopardy and they are paying the price for their misdeeds. God is punishing them.”

That is the verdict from Ayatollah Jannati, one of the most senior clerics in Iran.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, speaks during ... 

President Ahmadinejad has pronounced on the collapse of global capitalism, and announced that Iranians should stand ready to manage the world.

If there is a Persian word for “schadenfreude”, this is it.

And for the moment, Iran does seem to be above the fray.

Shares on the Tehran stock exchange, while down slightly in recent trading, have increased in value….

Read the rest: