ISIS: The New Taliban by Ahmed Rashid

In the days since the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) took control of much of northern Iraq, Western leaders and analysts have expressed alarm at what they have called a powerful new form of jihadism. Some have likened ISIS to a new al-Qaeda. Both assessments are wrong.

In its rapid advance toward Baghdad, ISIS has already eliminated national boundaries between Iraq and Syria, captured significant arms and weapons caches, caused a spike in global oil prices, reinvigorated ethnic and sectarian conflict across the Arab world, and given Islamic extremism a dramatic new source of appeal among many young Muslims. On June 30, the first day of Ramadan, ISIS also declared that it was reestablishing the “Caliphate,” long an aspiration of other jihadist groups.

Yet despite these accomplishments, ISIS may not be as unusual as it has been described. Nor does it seem primarily interested in global jihad. In many ways, what the group is doing to Syria and Iraq resembles what the Taliban did in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the early 1990s.

Like the Taliban, ISIS’s war so far has been about conquering territory rather than launching an al-Qaeda-style global jihad or issuing fatwas to bomb New York or London. Although it has attracted some three thousand foreigners to fight for it, ISIS’s real war is with fellow Muslims, and in particular Shias, against whom it has called for a genocidal campaign. Just as the Taliban changed the contours of Islam in south and central Asia so ISIS intends to do the same in the Middle East. ISIS is also seeking territorial control of the central Middle East region.

There are several instructive parallels between the two groups. The hardcore forces of ISIS probably number fewer than 10,000 trained fighters; the Taliban never numbered more than 25,000 men—even at the height of the US surge when there were over 150,000 Western troops in Afghanistan and twice that many Afghan soldiers.

Like the Taliban, ISIS successes are built around military competence that includes excellent command and control, sound intelligence, well prepared logistics support, training, high mobility, and rapid speed of maneuver. Just as ISIS, after years of preparation and recruiting in Iraq and Syria, has overrun Mosul and other important Iraqi cities in a matter of weeks, Taliban conquered all of southern and eastern Afghanistan in a blitzkrieg offensive in a few months in 1994. The main strategy of both groups is the frontal assault combined with outflanking movements, as well as night attacks. And both organizations are also prepared to play a long game. In 1996, after the Taliban had laid siege to Kabul from the south for two years without success, they used a flanking movement from the east to finally surprise the government and conquer the city.

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Another bloodbath in Pakistan in the name of religion – 100 casualties after jihadi terrorist strike

Market bombing kill 33 in Pakistan’s Peshawar: police

By Hamid Ullah Khan

PESHAWAR, Pakistan: (Reuters) – Twin blasts in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar killed 33 people and wounded 70 on Sunday, a week after bombings at a church there killed scores, police and hospital authorities said.

Read more » Reuter
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/29/us-pakistan-bomb-blast-idUSBRE98S02420130929

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Via – Facebook

America’s confusion deadly for Syria

After sabre-rattling and invoking his imaginary ‘red line,’ Obama took an eraser and wiped the line clean

By Tarek Fatah, Toronto Sun

The United States is about to trample all over international law and very soon we can expect cruise missiles to rain on Syria, a country that has done America no harm.

It’s true, the barbaric dictator of Damascus has massacred his own people, but which Arab king or dictator has not?

If Syria is in America’s crosshairs, then why isn’t Saudi Arabia? After all, isn’t Riyadh the international sponsor of jihadi terror and home to the men who attacked America on 9/11?

But it’s Damascus that will be hit. Damascus, the city of jasmine that has survived many a slaughter in its history, has sunk to level of barbarity few of us can reconcile.

A few years before he died in 1998, Syria’s greatest poet of modern times, Nizar Qabbani penned a provocative poem titled, “When will they announce the death of the Arabs?”

He wailed: If someday they announced the death of the Arabs … Then where would they be buried?

And who would cry over them?

They have no daughters … They have no sons … And there is no grief, And there is no one to grieve!!

On Aug. 21, very close to where Qabbani is buried in the ancient cemetery of Bab al-Saghir in Damascus, hundreds of boys and girls gave testimony to the truth of Qabbani who wrote in his epic poem, “The nations who call themselves Arabs are all dead, but no one has yet dared to sign the death certificate.”

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Living with Jihadistan – Parthasarathy reviews Avoiding Armageddon

Books by American academics, officials and journalists on India and Pakistan almost invariably portray reluctance of the authors to call a spade a spade. They underplay the serious global implications of Pakistan’s links with radical Islamist terrorist groups and the dangerous role of these groups within Pakistan and beyond its borders, particularly in India and Afghanistan. Bruce Riedel is different. He is an American specialist on the Middle East, South Asia and counter-terrorism, with 29 years’ experience in the CIA. He has also served four presidents in the White House.

Riedel’s new book, Avoiding Armageddon: America, India and Pakistan to the Brink and Back, is a colourful and interesting account of the imperatives, twists and turns of America’s policies, especially since the days of World War II and the subsequent partition of the sub-continent in August 1947. While the birth pangs of the partition, the dispute over Jammu and Kashmir and the India-Pakistan conflicts of 1965 and 1971 are covered factually and impartially, it is important for all those interested in the geopolitics of India’s neighbourhood to read and absorb Riedel’s analysis of how the US cultivated Pakistan’s military dictator, General Zia-ul-Haq, to “bleed” the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. In the process, America made Pakistan a playground for radical Islamist groups worldwide, which undermined security and stability within Pakistan and across its entire neighbourhood.

General Zia laid the foundations for Pakistan’s ambitions to make Afghanistan a radical Islamic state and the epicentre for global jihad. Over 80,000 Afghans were armed and trained by the isi during the Zia period, with an aim of ending Afghan territorial claims on Pakistan and eliminating Indian and Soviet influence there, while also making Afghanistan “a real, Islamic State, part of a pan-Islamic revival that will one day win over the Muslims of the Soviet Union”. Riedel reveals how General Zia used the Afghan conflict for carrying his enthusiasm for jihad into Jammu and Kashmir, following a secret meeting with Kashmiri Jamat-e-Islami leader Maulana Abdul Bari in 1980. Riedel also reveals Zia’s role in fomenting terrorism in Punjab in the 1980s. He exposes US duplicity in rewarding Pakistan in the 1980s, by deliberately turning a blind eye to its nuclear weapons programme.

Riedel explains how short-sighted American policies promoted Wahhabi-oriented radicalisation in a nuclear-armed Pakistan. These policies also increased the dominance of the army, weakening democratic institutions. They led to the emergence of global links between radical Islamist organisations in Pakistan and Afghanistan and their counterparts across the world. The Kargil conflict is discussed in detail, as is the military standoff that followed the December 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament. Riedel is unsparing on the links of the isi with the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT). He dwells on the nexus between isi-supported terrorist groups like the let and the Jaish-e-Mohammed, with the Taliban and with groups like the al Qaeda and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. The book commences with the 26/11 terrorist strike on Mumbai. The actions of the let and its chief Hafiz Mohammed Saeed and their terrorist links are clinically analysed. Riedel describes how the tentacles of the ISI extend from the let to the Taliban and jihadi groups worldwide.

Riedel spells out two nightmare scenarios. The first is a takeover of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons by terrorists. The second nightmare he alludes to is a 26/11-type terrorist attack leading to nuclear escalation, after an angered India responds militarily.

Read more at: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/parthasarathy-reviews-avoiding-armageddon/1/277746.html

The bravest woman in all of UK. Cub scout leader Ingrid Loyau-Kennett confronts the London jihadi without fear for her own safety.

Brutal murder in Britain: ‘You’re going to lose’, said mum who ‘disarmed’ attackers

by

When confronted with random acts of violence, the first reflex of most humans is to seek safety. But when Ingrid Loyau-Kennett, a 48-year-old mother of two and a Cub scout leader, came  face-to-face with a knife-wielding Islamist attacker at Woolwich in southeast London who wanted to “start a war in London tonight”, she calmly talked to him – and urged him to surrender.

For her selfless act of bravery, overlooking the risk to her own life, she is being celebrated on social media platforms as a hero.

Loyau-Kennett was one of the first people to arrive at the scene in Woolwich where two men – evidently in a fit of jihadist rage – butchered a British soldier with machetes and butcher’s knives.

She told The Telegraph of London that she was in a passing bus and saw the bloodied body of the soldier on the streetside, and since she, as a Cub scout leader, had received training in administering first-aid and had a kit at hand, she hopped off the bus to attend to him. She had assumed it was an accident scene, but soon realised that the man was dead – and that it was not exactly an accident.

“When I went up there, there was this black guy with a revolver and a kitchen knife… He had what looked like butcher’s tools and he had a little axe, to cut the bones, and two large knives. And he said, ‘Move off the body’,” Loyau-Kennett told newspaper.

She said she didn’t quite know what was going on, but she felt that it would be better to keep the blood-covered attacker distracted and keep him from attacking more people. She asked him if he had killed the man, and why. To which he said: “Because he has killed Muslim people in Muslim countries… I am fed up with people killing Muslims in Afghanistan…”

And when the attacker said that he wanted to “start a war in London tonight,” Loyau-Kennett patiently sought to dissuade him and urged him to surrender his weapons. “I said: ‘Right now it is only you versus many people, you are going to lose’,” she recalled.

She then went over to the other attacker – who seemed “much shier” – and urged him to hand over “what you have in your hands.”

“I did not want to say ‘weapons’, but I thought it was better having them aimed on one person like me rather than everybody there,” she told the newspaper.

The attackers didn’t quite hand over their knives, but in a larger sense, Loyau-Kennett had – by standing face-to-face with them and by plainly telling them that they would “lose” – metaphorically disarmed them and calmed them down and, most importantly, ensured they didn’t attack anyone else.

On Twitter, Loyau-Kennett’s selfless act of bravery has many people in awe.

Courtesy: FirstPost
http://www.firstpost.com/world/brutal-murder-in-britain-youre-going-to-lose-said-brave-mum-who-disarmed-attackers-807629.html?utm_source=hp-footer

Via – Facebook

Sharia law comes to rebel-held areas of Syria. Western powers are facilitating the Jihadi takeover of yet another country.

Islamic law comes to rebel-held Syria

ALEPPO, Syria — The evidence was incontrovertible, captured on video and posted on YouTube for all the world to see. During a demonstration against the Syrian regime, Wael Ibrahim, a veteran activist, had tossed aside a banner inscribed with the Muslim declaration of faith.

And that, decreed the officers of the newly established Sharia Authority set up to administer rebel-held Aleppo, constitutes a crime under Islamic law, punishable in this instance by 10 strokes of a metal pipe.

The beating administered last month offered a vivid illustration of the extent to which the Syrian revolution has strayed from its roots as a largely spontaneous uprising against four decades of Assad family rule. After mutating last year into a full-scale war, it is moving toward what appears to be an organized effort to institute Islamic law in areas that have fallen under rebel control.

Building on the reputation they have earned in recent months as the rebellion’s most accomplished fighters, Islamist units are seeking to assert their authority over civilian life, imposing Islamic codes and punishments and administering day-to-day matters such as divorce, marriage and vehicle licensing.

Numerous Islamist groups are involved, representing a wide spectrum of views. But, increasingly, the dominant role is falling to Jabhat al-Nusra, also known as the al-Nusra Front. The group has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States for suspected ties to al-Qaeda but is widely respected by many ordinary Syrians for its battlefield prowess and the assistance it has provided to needy civilians.

Across the northeastern provinces of Deir al-Zour and Raqqah, where the rebels have been making rapid advances in recent weeks, Jabhat al-Nusra has taken the lead both in the fighting and in setting out to replace toppled administrations. It has assumed control of bakeries and the distribution of flour and fuel, and in some instances it has sparked tensions with local fighters by trying to stop people from smoking in the streets.

Here in the war-ravaged city of Aleppo, more than half of which has been under rebel control since July, Jabhat al-Nusra is also widely identified as the leading force behind the Hayaa al-Sharia, which loosely translates as the Sharia Authority and is known simply as the Hayaa.

Based out of the city’s former Eye Hospital, which was damaged during the fighting and then occupied by Jabhat al-Nusra as its headquarters, the Hayaa is also backed by other rebel units, including the Tawhid Brigade, the city’s biggest fighting force, and the Ahrar al-Sham, a homegrown Islamist force that has played a relatively minor role in Aleppo but is powerful in several other provinces.

Islamic administration

These days, the bomb-scarred former hospital has taken on the semblance of a wartime city hall, with people milling in and out seeking permits to carry a gun or transport fuel through checkpoints, complaining about neighbors, reporting thefts and informing on people suspected to be regime loyalists.

Courtesy: Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/islamic-law-comes-to-rebel-held-syria/2013/03/19/b310532e-90af-11e2-bdea-e32ad90da239_story.html

We are at war

By: Asad Munir

Until the late 1970s Shias and Sunnis lived in complete harmony in this country. There were sporadic, minor incidents of Shia-Sunni violence but generally there was no hostility between the two sects. Muharram was sacred for Sunnis as well. Many attended Shia majalis, and on the tenth of Muharram cooked special foods, participated in Shia processions and revered the Zuljinah.

These good times were changed by three major events that took place in the late 1970s: Zia’s martial law, Khomeini’s revolution and the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviets. Pakistan was no more the same moderate and tolerant country. Zia, after hanging an elected prime minister, wanted to use religion as a tool to prolong his rule. He tried to introduce Islamic laws as per the concept of the Islamic state envisioned by Maulana Maudoodi.

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Who’s afraid of Ayesha Siddiqa? — Dr Mohammad Taqi

Dr Siddiqa’s 2007 masterpiece Military Inc: Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy clearly did not win her any friends amongst Lieven’s friends

There is no indication that the dark night of Takfiri terrorism is about to lift its heinous shadow from Quetta’s Shia Hazara. Are 40 days enough of a respite for the Hazara to be digging mass graves for their loved ones again? The terrorists of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) appear to think so. Just as the Hazara Shia were about to commemorate the Chehlum — the 40th day of mourning — of those killed in the January 10 Alamdar Road bombing, death rained again on Hazara Town this past weekend. Over 110 Hazaras — about half of them women and children — perished. Toothless condemnations from spineless politicians have already poured in. But those really running the show in Balochistan are quiet. For them the Shia genocide in Pakistan is simply the cost of doing business, a price that has to be paid for the ‘greater good’.

In the past, this ‘greater good’ was merely wars in Afghanistan and Kashmir but over the last few years the same formula is being applied in Balochistan. We have previously noted here that the LeJ was inducted into Balochistan by its khaki patrons to undermine the Baloch movement just like Gulbudin Hikmatyar and the Taliban’s ilk were used to undercut the Pashtun nationalist movement. The idea is to neutralize the Baloch nationalist struggle and keep the Baloch people and their resources under the praetorian thumb. If these jihadi terrorists take out a few ‘heretic’ Shia along the way, the patrons look the other way. If such ‘collateral damage’ happens to be in Quetta city, better yet. From the security establishment’s perspective nothing throws a spanner in the Baloch liberation struggle better than a war in and over Quetta. A free-for-all between the LeJ Balochistan — now largely manned by ethnic Baloch/Brahuis — the Hazaras and the Pashtuns, provides a reason for increasing the military’s presence in Balochistan to hunt down the nationalists while protecting the jihadist assets.

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Pakistan from a secular to theocratic state – India is also going the same way albeit at a slower pace!

BAAGHI: Giving peace a chance? Thanks, but no thanks!

By Marvi Sirmed

What all these peace agreements achieved was a temporary hiatus in terrorist attacks on Pakistanis, and an immense opportunity for the militant organisations to consolidate and organise themselves as well as enjoying impunity and freedom

Pakistan’s ‘government’, it seems, is well on its way to ‘give peace a chance’ in compliance with the declaration of an unelected All-Parties Conference (APC) convened by the prime minister in September this year. The otherwise ‘hawks’ when it comes to relations with India, were all adamant to invoke John Lennon — the one from the ‘oh-so-bad-west’ — on the Taliban of Waziristan. A non-corrupt Punjabi Khan and a patriotic think-tanker succeeded in getting a lease of life for the militants continually battling with the Pakistan Army and persistently attacking the people of Pakistan and abetting attacks on the people of Afghanistan. The attempts towards ‘peace’ thus started with a new vigour, permanently sedating common as well as a basic sense of history.

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Shia Genocide: connect the dots

Omar AliBy: Omar

…… Pakistan has to become secularized to survive as a multi-religious state. Otherwise, the plan is clear. It is to become a Sunni Jihadi state. And everyone else has to live under those rules, or will face their wrath.

The army and the police cannot control these people while supporting and using their ideology. They cannot give up that ideology until they suppress/forget/ignore the dream of a pure Islamic state and its international jihadi armies.

They lack the will and the ability. The will more than the ability.

Courtesy: Brown Pundits

Link – http://www.brownpundits.com/2013/02/16/shia-genocide-connect-the-dots/

The Ingredients for a Glorious Pakistan

By Saeed Qureshi

Throughout its existence since August 14, 1947; Pakistan has perennially remained in troubled waters. From the anarchy of the initial years to the interspersing of democratic stints, to military dictatorships, it has been overshadowed by a constant threat of disintegration as a state. This disintegration came off in 1971 when its eastern part then known as East Pakistan was truncated.

While East Pakistan changed her nomenclature to Bangladesh, the West wing came to be known as Pakistan. It was a cataclysmic event that happened in contemporary history when a state dismembered barely 24 years after its birth and independence from the colonial rule.

All these years, Pakistan earned strictures such as a failed state, a country not viable to stay on the world map and a nation moving towards eventual extinction or another disintegration a la East Pakistan. Pakistani society is infested with myriad chronic problems that range from poor social and utility services to unstable or dysfunctional institutions and sway of reactionary cutthroat religious militants. The competent, efficacious, egalitarian and public welfare oriented governance has ever remained elusive.

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A Pakistani soldier’s perspective

Drop in the Ocean – On whose side is Allah?

by Gen. Shahid Aziz

Published in The Nation, December 30, 2012.

Half-cocked measures never work. Public sentiments are echoed in slogans like ‘drone attacks must end’, ‘stop supporting Baloch separatism’, ‘Black Water and the likes must end terrorism in Pakistan’, ‘stop interfering in our domestic affairs’. But these are mere public appeasement proclamations, made in a manner not to offend our masters. The people, however, know that nothing short of a total breakaway from the US will end our plight. Half-cocked measures never work. And we cannot breakaway unless the current political order is replaced with something more dynamic. They have permeated to the very roots of this system and will control any change within it. This political carousel, irrespective of new players, will continue to remain compliant to US objectives. For any positive outcome, these shackles have to be entirely removed and a new citizen friendly order created; adjustments to fit ankle size will not reduce the pain.

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Pakistan: the land of irony

By: Luavut Zahid

All Pakistanis are equal, but some Pakistanis are more equal than others,especially if they’re Muslims

Literary folk would have a field day explaining the stuff that a good irony is made of, if they could see the potential that Pakistan has as the poster child for all that is ironical. The nation that was created to protect the rights of a minority i.e., the Muslims in India, but has some of the worst statistical data to its name for crimes against marginalised groups (specialising in the persecution and demolition of minority rights).

Adding to the pretty paradox that is Pakistan, Hafiz Saeed (amongst others) has now offered Shahrukh Khan – not a mistreated common man, but a Bollywood giant – refuge from his harsh life in India. He’s looked into the biggest and most comfortable spots in his dust trodden and bug infested heart and opened his arms to Khan, promising comfort, security and respect. Hafiz is joined by a number of Pakistanis chanting their alhamdullilahs and astagfirullahs in Khan’s favour. But before Khan can actually make a decision on whether or not he wants to live in Pakistan he will first have to figure out just what kind of a Muslim he is. And while in India his biggest problem is being a Muslim, within Pakistan he will have to declare what sect he’s from – being a Muslim in Pakistan is no small affair. It would be interesting to see who protects him from people like Hafiz Saeed if he declares he’s Shia or Ahmedi.

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Pakistan still global jihad hub

By

PESHAWAR: Pakistan is still a major destination for radicalised Muslims bent on a life of jihad, despite hundreds of US drone strikes, the death of Osama bin Laden and the fracturing of Al-Qaeda.

New battlegrounds have sprung up in Africa and the Middle East, but the number of foreign recruits smuggled into the northwestern tribal belt is increasing and they come from more diverse countries.

Since the 1980s “jihad” to expel Soviet troops from Afghanistan, Muslim fighters from all over the world have lived and trained on the Afghan-Pakistan border, moulded into Al-Qaeda and a host of spin-off militant networks.

After US-led forces in late 2001 evicted the Taliban in Kabul for sheltering Al-Qaeda, Afghan Taliban fled across the border into Pakistan.

But Washington and Nato will end their combat mission in Afghanistan next year and these days the Taliban say their foreign allies are drawn to other conflicts, despite their support networks in a region outside direct government control.

“Al-Qaeda is shifting its focus to Syria, Libya, Iraq or Mali,” one member of the Afghan Taliban told AFP on condition of anonymity in northwest Pakistan.

Local officials estimate the number of Arab fighters has fallen by more than a half or two thirds in the last 10 years, to below 1,000.

In the last two years, some Al-Qaeda Arabs, particularly Libyans and Syrians, left to take part in the civil war in Syria and the violent uprising that overthrew Libya’s dictator Muammar Qadhafi in 2011.

Others migrated to Iraq in 2003, and others to Somalia and Yemen.

But Saifullah Khan Mehsud, executive director of the Fata Research Center, a think-tank focused on the tribal belt, says uprisings in the Middle East have had a minimal effect on the Arab presence in Pakistan.

“Arab fighters are not leaving in big numbers,” he told AFP. “They have been there for 30 years and it continues,” he added.

The number of fighters from other countries is also rising, say witnesses in Miramshah, the main town of North Waziristan — the district with the largest concentration of Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters.

“The overall number of foreign jihadis has increased in the last two years. Every week we see new faces,” says one regular visitor.

There could be around 2,000 to 3,500 foreign fighters in the border areas from around 30 different countries. During the 1980s, the number was also estimated to have been several thousand.

More nationalities, same problems

Most of the current crop are Turkmens and Uzbeks, numbering between 1,000 and 3,000 fighters according to local officials, who have fled authoritarian secular regimes in their home countries to set up their own groups.

The Islamic Jihad Union, which splintered from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, is based in Pakistan’s border areas. It is committed to toppling the government in Uzbekistan, and fights alongside insurgents in Afghanistan.

It has also plotted an attack in Germany, which was foiled.

US officials say covert drone strikes have played a huge role in destroying training camps and disrupting Al-Qaeda in Pakistan.

According to the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 362 US drone strikes have been reported in Pakistan since 2004 — 310 of them since US President Barack Obama took office in 2009.

Although North Waziristan locals say the strikes kill more Taliban than Al-Qaeda operatives, they have condemned foreign fighters to a life underground.

“They are low profile, they dress like locals, they avoid big meetings and above all they move all the time,” a local journalist told AFP.

Mehsud says that foreigners are coming from a more diverse number of countries than in years past.

“A few months ago, we even welcomed some (two or three) people from Fiji for the first time!” says the Taliban member who spoke with AFP.

“There are more nationalities because they face the same problems. They tell us that they feel left aside by capitalism and discriminated by unfair laws, like the Swiss one on minarets or the French one on hijabs,” he adds.

Local and Western officials say the number of Western militants have fallen to dozens compared to the several hundreds of a few years ago.

A Canadian, who uses the name Mohammad Ibrahim, told AFP that he had been in Pakistan for three years but was now preparing to leave to wage jihad at home.

“Foreigners are now afraid to come to Pakistan because of the drone strikes,” he says, putting the number of his compatriots at 14, compared to “60 to 85 three years ago”.

A mechanical engineer by training, he says he works in “technical and logistic affairs” but does not elaborate further.

“I often met British, Spanish, Italians, Algerians and Germans. But now…our movements have been limited because of the drone strikes,” he says.

Courtesy: DAWN
http://dawn.com/2013/01/27/pakistan-still-global-jihad-hub/

Jihadi Vs. Jihadi – 32 dead as Taliban clash with rival Islamists in Pakistan

Militant clash in Khyber tribal region kills 32

By: Zahir Shah Sherazi

PESHAWAR: An intense gun-battle erupted between two banned militant groups in Khyber Agency’s Tirah Valley on Friday, with at least 32 militants so far killed in the clash.

Intelligence officials said the gun-battle started late Thursday between the proscribed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and rival group Ansarul Islam (AI) in Tirah Valley’s Maidan village. The dead included 23 Ansar fighters and nine TTP militants, while several others were also injured.

Officials said the death toll was likely to increase as the fighting had not yet ended.

Speaking to a Dawn.com reporter, Sadat Afridi, a spokesman for the banned Ansarul Islam group, claimed that they had captured over three TTP bases in the valley’s Maidan village, and that the fight was still on for a fourth base.

Afridi said that his group has vowed to flush out TTP militants from Tirah Valley as they “carry out attacks on mosques and public places, which is against Islam.”

Afridi said that they would not allow the TTP to continue “killing innocent Muslims in the name of religion.”

Khyber is among Pakistan’s seven semi-autonomous tribal districts near the Afghan border, rife with homegrown insurgents and home to religious extremist organisations including the al Qaeda.

The remote Tirah valley holds strategic significance for militant groups. On one side, it shares a border with Afghanistan. On the other it leads to the plains of Bara, which connect the agency to the outskirts of Peshawar.

Khyber also links several agencies to each other, serving as a north-south route within Fata. The region has been long fought over by a mix of militant organisations, including the TTP, the Ansarul Islam and Mangal Bagh’s Lashkar-i-Islam.

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‘The Left has become a cog in the wheel of the Islamist movement’

By Kiran Nazish

Kiran Nazish: You say that the Pakistani government has double crossed the US, and the US does not have the guts to stand up to it. What are those deceptions in your opinion? Why do you think the US does not stand up? What is their weakness or restraint?

Tarek Fatah:Any country that harbored and protected Osama Bin Laden for ten years while taking billions in US aid to supposedly locate the world’s most wanted jihadi terrorist, would qualify as a country that double-crossed the USA. Pakistan’s military and civilian establishment that runs the country is guilty on that count. In fact on July 19, when the US House of Representatives voted to cut US aid to Pakistan by $650 million, congressman Ted Poe (R-Texas), put it rather succinctly when he said, “Pakistan seems to be the Benedict Arnold nation in the list of countries that we call allies, they have proven to be deceptive and deceitful and a danger to the United States.”

The United States gets blackmailed time and again by Pakistani Foreign Office’s argument that any sanctions imposed on Pakistan will make things worse with Islamabad’s nuclear assets falling into the hands of radical generals committed to a worldwide jihad.

Washington has been playing a Chamberlainesque diplomacy of appeasement and it seems the US State Department is at conflict with the Department of Defence, but has the upper hand in setting US-Pakistani relations.

The influence of pro-Muslim Brotherhood officials in the US State Department and the White House may also be a reason America has not come down hard on Pakistan and is focused on Iran as its enemy.

KN: What is your definition of a fascist? Especially given that you are a Punjabi Muslim yourself, and in that, how do you deal with the fact the Punjabis are often accused of fascism in Pakistan?

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Dangerous precedents — Dr Mohammad Taqi

Invoking blasphemy and apostasy have been successfully used within Muslim countries to crush any debate about whether religion should play a role in matters of the state

From being a prayer and reflection day, Friday, over the years, has effectively become a day of rage and rampage in the Muslim countries. Protests and mayhem are planned around this day of the week, when the rabblerousing clerics can and do unleash hate-mongering congregations utilising the well-oiled infrastructure of violence. This past Friday was no exception in Pakistan. Over 20 lives were lost and a church was burnt protesting the infamous video Innocence of Muslims. Fortunately, major diplomatic disasters were averted as the law enforcement agencies thwarted the attempts by the Islamist parties and banned terrorist groups to reach and potentially destroy western embassies in Islamabad’s diplomatic enclave.

The federal government capitulated to the rightwing parties by declaring a national holiday on September 21, setting an extremely dangerous precedent. Government not just ceded the narrative to the mullahs and media but some of the most ominous calls came from within its own ranks. Minister of State for Labour and Manpower, Sheikh Waqas Akram was perhaps the first one to go on primetime television stating that if he had his way he would have killed the maker of the offensive video. Not content with just that, Akram then said that he refuses to accept anyone as a bona fide Muslim if that person is not infuriated at the video. Not to be outdone, the host of the show stated that he agreed with Akram. In the same show, Senator Hasil Bizenjo, while brandishing his liberal credentials, claimed that he was once so enraged by a Dutch artist’s sacrilegious work that he could have killed him. In the next breath, Bizenjo lamented that due to radicalisation under the late General Ziaul-Haq, Pakistani society had become very violent. The show ended with calls for peaceful protest!

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Is the state disintegrating?

By Raza Rumi

It is perhaps too early to analyse and unpack the turbulent events of last week that shook Pakistan and alarmed the world as to its endemic instability, increasingly exacerbated by the mass radicalisation of its society. Though the grave provocation by a random, obscure amateur film-maker may have been the trigger, each segment of Pakistani polity contributed to the undoing of the façade of civilian power as well as the illusion of relative social harmony.

The civilian government capitulated way too early to an agenda set by the extremists, who not content with using the issue of blasphemy as a domestic political lever, are insistent on imposing it on the world. The ludicrous outcome of the so-called protests on what was supposed to be a day to show our love for the Holy Prophet (pbuh) was massive (but entirely avoidable) damage to human life, public and private property, and a slowing down of economic activity which cost the economy billions (in a country chasing IFIs for quick cash), and most importantly, to the future of a democracy in Pakistan.

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Pakistani businessman accused of blasphemy for not protesting anti-Islam film

By Associated Press

ISLAMABAD — Pakistani officials say they have opened an investigation into a businessman who has been accused of blasphemy after refusing to join protests over an anti-Islam video and allegedly trying to convince others also not to take part.

Police officer Munir Abbasi says that hundreds of protesters in the city of Hyderabad who rallied against the film that mocks the Prophet Muhammad demanded businessman Haji Nasrullah Khan shut his shops in solidarity.

When Khan refused, one of his tenants said his decision supported the film.

City police chief Fareed Jan said Wednesday the protesters claim Khan insulted the Prophet.

Jan said there’s no evidence to suggest this happened and said police were pressured by the mob to open the case. ….

Read more » The Washington Post

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/pakistani-businessman-accused-of-blasphemy-for-not-protesting-anti-islam-film/2012/09/19/713c3c28-0258-11e2-9132-f2750cd65f97_story.html?wprss=rss_social-world-headlines&Post+generic=%3Ftid%3Dsm_twitter_washingtonpost

Why Hezb-e Islami Killing Foreigners in Kabul is a Big Deal

5 Reasons Why Hezb-e Islami Killing Foreigners in Kabul is a Big Deal

By El Snarkistani

Another attack in Kabul today, which (sadly) isn’t that unusual lately.

But today’s reported killing of eight people in Kabul is frighteningly different from the norm here in the Emerald City.

Here’s why.

1. This is being claimed by Hezb-e Islami.

Once upon a time, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and friends did a great deal of violence in Kabul. ….

Read more » http://findingmytribe.me/2012/09/18/5-reasons-why-hezb-e-islami-killing-foreigners-in-kabul-is-a-big-deal/

Till the “Innocence of Muslims” film’s director is not hanged, No American Embassy can run in Pakistan; Says Hafiz Saeed

Banned outfit, Lashkar-e-Taiba/ Jamaat-ud-Dawa’s chief Hafiz Saeed Says, till the “Innocence of Muslims” film’s director is not hanged, No American Embassy can run in Pakistan & no relations with America …. The language of the news is urdu/Hindi.

Courtesy: Duniya Tv »Via – ZemTv

More details » Voice of America (urdu)

Anger Over a Film Fuels Anti-American Attacks in Libya and Egypt

By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK

CAIRO — Protesters angry over an amateurish American-made video denouncing Islam attacked the United States Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Tuesday, killing a State Department officer, while Egyptian demonstrators stormed over the fortified walls of the United States Embassy here.

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100 Onion strategy bears fruit, and the News does Khatmenaboowat

It is being reported that the US has declared the Haqqani network as a terrorist group.

The Jihadi-Paknationalist faction of the Pakistani state has put out that it is unhappy with this development http://tribune.com.pk/story/433029/blacklisting-haqqanis-not-good-pakistani-official/

The pragmatic faction has indicated its OK.

The One Hundred Onions, One Hundred Slaps strategy continues to operate. No end in sight. http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2011/06/pakistan-end-of-the-affair-by-omar-ali.html

Meanwhile, today is the anniversary of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s shameful orchestration of a National Assembly resolution that declared Qadiyanis as non-Muslims. To celebrate this occasion, the newspaper “The News” (part of the Jang group, Pakistan’s largest media group) has published a piece of anti-Qadiyani propaganda. 

Excerpt: “September 7, 1974, is a memorable and historic day for the Islamic Republic of Pakistan as, on this day, the National Assembly, through a constitutional amendment, unanimously declared all the followers of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani as non-Muslim minority. Later in 1984, through an ordinance Qadianis were prohibited from using Islamic terms, and a ban was imposed on all their un-Islamic activities…”

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PAKISTAN PERISCOPE – Curse of Blasphemy Law

The likelyhood of death sentence being awarded to an 11 year old for alleged blasphemy is symptomatic of the naked abuse of power exercised by religious zealots

By Ayesha Siddiqa, Independent Social Scientist

Let us roll a dice and guess who is more lucky: Abbas, tortured and burnt to death for allegedly blasphemy, or Rimsha who may survive death but will forever be scarred for being nearly sentenced to death on similar charges? Some will probably consider the young Christian girl lucky, compared to Abbas and scores of others who suffered under the archaic blasphemy law.

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Taliban beheaded 17 people, including two women, for attending a mixed-gender party

Taliban Behead 17 for Singing and Dancing

By MUHAMMAD LILA (@muhammadlila) and ALEEM AGHA

The Taliban beheaded 17 people, including two women, for attending a mixed-gender party where there was music and dancing, Afghan officials reported today.

The decapitated bodies were abandoned at a roadside in southern Afghanistan, according to Mullah Sharafuddin, the governor of Kajaki district in Helmand province.

All 17 bodies, including those of two women, were decapitated, but it was not clear if they had been shot first.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai denounced that killings as an “inhuman act and against all Islamic principals.”

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Radical Islamic Attacks in a Moderate Region Unnerve the Kremlin

By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN

KAZAN, Russia — A string of violent attacks by Islamic militants has shattered this city’s reputation as a citadel of religious tolerance and unnerved federal officials in Moscow, who have worked for decades to prevent the spread of radical Islam out of the southern borderlands and into places like this city 500 miles east of Moscow.

Officials have long sought to contain Islamic fervor in the Caucasus to the south while insisting that places like the republic of Tatarstan, where Kazan is the capital, were different, representing a moderate “Russian Islam,” said Aleksei Malashenko, the co-chairman of the Carnegie Moscow Center’s religion, society and security program.

But that comfortable assumption began to crumble just before the start of Ramadan in late July, when a senior cleric in charge of education was shot outside his apartment building on Zarya Street. Roughly an hour later, the city’s chief mufti survived a bomb attack that demolished his Toyota Land Cruiser. A previously unheard-of group, the mujahedeen of Tatarstan, claimed responsibility.

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The Talibanisation of Society in Pakistan

Abandoned by their government, the poor of Pakistan have turned to the Taliban and other fundamentalist groups for support and solace. At the same time, a growing pressure for emancipation presses against fundamentalism. Which force will triumph? A report based on travel in rural Sindh.

By: Jan Breman (J.C.Breman@uva.nl) is professor emeritus at the Amsterdam Institute for Social Sciences, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

In her prison cell, Asia Bibi is waiting since 2010 for execution of the verdict brought against her. Blasphemy is the crime she has been accused of and for that gravest of sins the penalty is to be hanged. Why and how was she found guilty?

Asia Bibi is an agricultural labourer in Punjab, illiterate, mother of small children and Christian. When at work in the field as part of a female gang, she went to fetch water to drink and passed around the jug to her fellow workers. A few of them refused, saying that having touched her mouth, the spout had become unclean. Asia belongs to a low caste of Hindu origin that has been converted to Christianity. This attempt to escape from the stigma of untouchability has not ended the discrimination to which she is subjected.

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Unmarried couple in Mali is stoned to death as Islamists impose Shariah law

Associated Press (Sunday, Jul 29, 2012) – BAMAKO, Mali — A spokesman for the radical Islamic group controlling northern Mali says a couple who had an adulterous relationship was stoned to death this weekend in the town of Aguelhok.

Sanda Abou Mohamed, a spokesman for the group Ansar Dine, told The Associated Press by telephone on Sunday that the couple was executed according to Shariah law.

A resident of the northern city of Kidal, who had spoken to witnesses in nearby Aguelhok, said the man and woman were buried up to their necks, then pelted with stones until they died earlier Sunday. The resident requested anonymity because he feared for his safety.

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Pakistan: Millions bear mental scars from attacks

By: Wichaar Desk

The 47-year-old government clerk and part-time lab assistant was walking home through the grounds of a hospital in the northwest city of Peshawar in the fall of 2009 when he stumbled upon the carnage left by the blast. Scores of bodies were packed into vehicles. Bleeding survivors with missing limbs and severe burns were scattered everywhere.

He has suffered from severe depression and anxiety ever since and is dependent on antidepressants to make it through the day so he can provide for his wife and four children.

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Pakistani Liberals Are No Leap of Faith

This beleaguered minority in the country still deserves international support.

BY SADANAND DHUME

This isn’t the best time to be a Pakistani liberal. Opinion polling shows most Pakistanis thinking of America as an enemy, democracy as an unwelcome concept and the imposition of Shariah law as a no-brainer. Meanwhile, recent news out of the country involves the judiciary taking down an elected prime minister and politicians like Imran Khan riding high by invoking anti-imperialist and Islamist ideas, even as an Urdu-language media remains saturated with hyper-nationalism.

Against this backdrop, the world can’t be blamed for regarding the Pakistani liberal as an exotic hothouse flower with no roots in the country’s unforgiving soil. As the United States enters a shaky new period of detente with Pakistan following the reopening last week of supply routes to Afghanistan, it’s fair to ask if these liberals deserve notice at all. Doesn’t it make more sense for the West to instead engage more intensely with the powerful army and assertive hardliners such as Mr. Khan?

The answer is no. It’s always tempting for the West to do business with whoever’s powerful, but this is a recipe for the kind of trouble America right now faces with its troublesome “ally.” Pakistan’s liberals are not only less weak and less of a fringe phenomenon than they’re made out to be, they’re also the only ones who hold out the promise of a better future for their country.

One recurring complaint against liberalism is that though Pakistan regained its democracy four years ago, President Asif Ali Zardari’s civilian government still can’t wrest decision-making away from the military. But no civilian government could realistically be expected to immediately assert its authority over an army that has directly ruled the country for 34 of its 65 years, and continues to command the lion’s share of national resources. As the experiences of Indonesia and Turkey show, only when democracy grows roots do politicians acquire the finesse and self-confidence to take on generals accustomed to command. This takes patience.

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Takfiri Militancy A Threat to Pakistan

Takfir: the ideology of hate —Dr Mohammad Taqi

An ordinary Salafi may believe in the non-violent call to convert to their version of Islam but the Salafi jihadists are proponents of violent jihad. The doctrinal differences that set the jihadist group apart include practising takfir, i.e. labelling other Muslims as infidels or apostates

“It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that is pretty important” — Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

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Whither Difa-e-Pakistan Council

By Farrukh Khan Pitafi

Excerpt;

…. A group has the audacity of calling itself the Difa-e-Pakistan Council and then simultaneously threatens to kill its people. The question that arises then is why has the country’s establishment tolerated this ragtag army of thugs thus far? Somehow, everybody forgets that the transformation that it was asked to bring after 9/11 was so onerous that it might not have brought the dissent under full control and hence, the calculated and cautious approach. The fact is that we have witnessed some uncharacteristically huge mishaps in recent years and yet, if this scribe is asked to put his life in the hands of our government and the army, he will willingly do so. But tolerance of such terrible outfits is nothing short of criminal neglect. Perhaps, the DPC long march schedule from July 8, will give us definitive proof of whether the country’s deep state is involved in its genesis or not.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune, July 7th, 2012.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/404681/whither-difa-e-pakistan-council/

Paknationalist Sufis

By: Omar

One regularly hears about the “moderate” sufis who will save islam or Pakistan (and who therefore deserve a quick injection of money…see how much Tahir ul Qadri is making via this route). But Sufi-ism is not a well defined ideology, anyone can be a sufi and almost everyone IS a sufi of some sort in Pakistan. Some innocents see positive implications of such confusion in the wider Islamicate world, thinking that this will weaken the Wahabi-Salafi vision of one folk, one leader, one law that seems so scary these days, though I dont see empirical proof of such assertions.  Anyway, that was not the topic I had in mind. I just wanted to post this link to “spiritual Pakistan”..a fairly typical and representative “Sufi Paknationalist” website. They are promoting “Ghazwa e Hind” (the weak hadith that supposedly promises a huge war in India, and victory and eternal reward for those Muslims who fight to conquer India) and they are much more ardent about it than the “evidence-based” Deobandis, who do have some standards and hesitate to make-up stuff on demand like the Sufis (“the sufis” meaning some sufis…keep in mind, there is no such things as “standards” when it comes to Sufis….an indophile like me is a sufi, a jihadi nutcase like Zaid Hamid is a sufi, Orya Maqbool Jan is a sufi. Its a free for all…its not better or worse, its whatever you want).

And if anything, “the sufis” promote blasphemy prosecutions more than salafists. Of course, many famous sufis also died for supposedly blaspheming something. Which is my point. Sufi can mean anything. Not just the hippie Islam that twinkles in so many Western eyes. ….

Read more » Brown Pundits