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Bomber who killed 7 CIA agents was ‘potential informant’

Bomber who killed 7 CIA agents was ‘potential informant’

BBC News
January 1, 2010

The suicide bomber who killed seven CIA agents in Afghanistan had been courted by the US as a possible informant, US intelligence sources have said.

They said he had not undergone the usual full body search before entering the base in Khost province, and so was able to smuggle in an explosive belt.

The attack was the worst against US intelligence officials since the US embassy in Beirut was bombed in 1983.

US President Barack Obama has praised the work of those killed in a letter.

Paying tribute to the fallen, Mr Obama said those killed were “part of a long line of patriots who have made great sacrifices for their fellow citizens, and for our way of life”.

He told CIA employees in a letter that the victims had “taken great risks to protect our country” and that their sacrifices had “sometimes been unknown to your fellow citizens, your friends, and even your families”.

Claim questioned

From the moment the bomb was detonated inside the base on Wednesday, says the BBC’s Peter Greste in Kabul, questions were raised about how he managed to pass through security.

But now intelligence sources familiar with the investigation have said that CIA agents working from Forward Operating Base Chapman had been attempting to recruit the man as a potential informant.

A US official, and former CIA employee, said such people were often not required to go through full security checks in order to help gain their trust.

“When you’re trying to build a rapport and literally ask them to risk [their lives] for you, you’ve got a lot to do to build their trust,” he told the Associated Press news agency.

The Taliban have said one of their members carried out the attack.

Spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told the BBC the Khost bomber was wearing an army uniform when he managed to breach security at the base, detonating his explosives belt in the gym.

However, this claim was denied by the Afghan defence ministry.

“This is the Taliban talking and nothing the Taliban says should be believed,” said ministry spokesman Zahir Azimi.

Neither the names of the CIA officials killed nor the details of their work have been released because of the sensitivity of US operations, the agency said.

But the head of the base – who was reported to be a mother of three – was said to be among the dead.

As chief, she would have led intelligence-gathering operations in Khost, a hotbed of Taliban activity due to its proximity to Pakistan’s lawless tribal region.

‘Great sacrifice’

CIA Director Leon Panetta said six other agents had been injured in the attack.

He said the dead and injured had been “far from home and close to the enemy”.

“We owe them our deepest gratitude, and we pledge to them and their families that we will never cease fighting for the cause to which they dedicated their lives – a safer America,” he said.

The flags at the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, are being flown at half-mast in honour of the dead.

Forward Operating Base Chapman, a former Soviet military base, is used not only by the CIA but also by provincial reconstruction teams, which include both soldiers and civilians.

The airfield is reportedly used for US drone attacks on suspected militants in neighbouring Pakistan.

A total of 90 CIA employees have been honoured for their deaths in the agency’s service since its inception in 1947, according to the Washington Post newspaper.

 



U.S. Army paying the Taliban not to shoot at them

U.S. Army paying the Taliban not to shoot at them

Aram Roston
The Nation
November 11, 2009

On October 29, 2001, while the Taliban’s rule over Afghanistan was under assault, the regime’s ambassador in Islamabad gave a chaotic press conference in front of several dozen reporters sitting on the grass. On the Taliban diplomat’s right sat his interpreter, Ahmad Rateb Popal, a man with an imposing presence. Like the ambassador, Popal wore a black turban, and he had a huge bushy beard. He had a black patch over his right eye socket, a prosthetic left arm and a deformed right hand, the result of injuries from an explosives mishap during an old operation against the Soviets in Kabul.

But Popal was more than just a former mujahedeen. In 1988, a year before the Soviets fled Afghanistan, Popal had been charged in the United States with conspiring to import more than a kilo of heroin. Court records show he was released from prison in 1997.

Flash forward to 2009, and Afghanistan is ruled by Popal’s cousin President Hamid Karza. Popal has cut his huge beard down to a neatly trimmed one and has become an immensely wealthy businessman, along with his brother Rashid Popal, who in a separate case pleaded guilty to a heroin charge in 1996 in Brooklyn. The Popal brothers control the huge Watan Group in Afghanistan, a consortium engaged in telecommunications, logistics and, most important, security. Watan Risk Management, the Popals’ private military arm, is one of the few dozen private security companies in Afghanistan. One of Watan’s enterprises, key to the war effort, is protecting convoys of Afghan trucks heading from Kabul to Kandahar, carrying American supplies.

Welcome to the wartime contracting bazaar in Afghanistan. It is a virtual carnival of improbable characters and shady connections, with former CIA officials and ex-military officers joining hands with former Taliban and mujahedeen to collect US government funds in the name of the war effort.

In this grotesque carnival, the US military’s contractors are forced to pay suspected insurgents to protect American supply routes. It is an accepted fact of the military logistics operation in Afghanistan that the US government funds the very forces American troops are fighting. And it is a deadly irony, because these funds add up to a huge amount of money for the Taliban. “It’s a big part of their income,” one of the top Afghan government security officials told The Nation in an interview. In fact, US military officials in Kabul estimate that a minimum of 10 percent of the Pentagon’s logistics contracts–hundreds of millions of dollars–consists of payments to insurgents.

Understanding how this situation came to pass requires untangling two threads. The first is the insider dealing that determines who wins and who loses in Afghan business, and the second is the troubling mechanism by which “private security” ensures that the US supply convoys traveling these ancient trade routes aren’t ambushed by insurgents.

A good place to pick up the first thread is with a small firm awarded a US military logistics contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars: NCL Holdings. Like the Popals’ Watan Risk, NCL is a licensed security company in Afghanistan.

What NCL Holdings is most notorious for in Kabul contracting circles, though, is the identity of its chief principal, Hamed Wardak. He is the young American son of Afghanistan’s current defense minister, Gen. Abdul Rahim Wardak, who was a leader of the mujahedeen against the Soviets. Hamed Wardak has plunged into business as well as policy. He was raised and schooled in the United States, graduating as valedictorian from Georgetown University in 1997. He earned a Rhodes scholarship and interned at the neoconservative think tank the American Enterprise Institute. That internship was to play an important role in his life, for it was at AEI that he forged alliances with some of the premier figures in American conservative foreign policy circles, such as the late Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick.

Wardak incorporated NCL in the United States early in 2007, although the firm may have operated in Afghanistan before then. It made sense to set up shop in Washington, because of Wardak’s connections there. On NCL’s advisory board, for example, is Milton Bearden, a well-known former CIA officer. Bearden is an important voice on Afghanistan issues; in October he was a witness before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where Senator John Kerry, the chair, introduced him as “a legendary former CIA case officer and a clearheaded thinker and writer.” It is not every defense contracting company that has such an influential adviser.

But the biggest deal that NCL got–the contract that brought it into Afghanistan’s major leagues–was Host Nation Trucking. Earlier this year the firm, with no apparent trucking experience, was named one of the six companies that would handle the bulk of US trucking in Afghanistan, bringing supplies to the web of bases and remote outposts scattered across the country.

At first the contract was large but not gargantuan. And then that suddenly changed, like an immense garden coming into bloom. Over the summer, citing the coming “surge” and a new doctrine, “Money as a Weapons System,” the US military expanded the contract 600 percent for NCL and the five other companies. The contract documentation warns of dire consequences if more is not spent: “service members will not get food, water, equipment, and ammunition they require.” Each of the military’s six trucking contracts was bumped up to $360 million, or a total of nearly $2.2 billion. Put it in this perspective: this single two-year effort to hire Afghan trucks and truckers was worth 10 percent of the annual Afghan gross domestic product. NCL, the firm run by the defense minister’s well-connected son, had struck pure contracting gold.

Host Nation Trucking does indeed keep the US military efforts alive in Afghanistan. “We supply everything the army needs to survive here,” one American trucking executive told me. “We bring them their toilet paper, their water, their fuel, their guns, their vehicles.” The epicenter is Bagram Air Base, just an hour north of Kabul, from which virtually everything in Afghanistan is trucked to the outer reaches of what the Army calls “the Battlespace”–that is, the entire country. Parked near Entry Control Point 3, the trucks line up, shifting gears and sending up clouds of dust as they prepare for their various missions across the country.

The real secret to trucking in Afghanistan is ensuring security on the perilous roads, controlled by warlords, tribal militias, insurgents and Taliban commanders. The American executive I talked to was fairly specific about it: “The Army is basically paying the Taliban not to shoot at them. It is Department of Defense money.” That is something everyone seems to agree on.

Mike Hanna is the project manager for a trucking company called Afghan American Army Services. The company, which still operates in Afghanistan, had been trucking for the United States for years but lost out in the Host Nation Trucking contract that NCL won. Hanna explained the security realities quite simply: “You are paying the people in the local areas–some are warlords, some are politicians in the police force–to move your trucks through.”

Hanna explained that the prices charged are different, depending on the route: “We’re basically being extorted. Where you don’t pay, you’re going to get attacked. We just have our field guys go down there, and they pay off who they need to.” Sometimes, he says, the extortion fee is high, and sometimes it is low. “Moving ten trucks, it is probably $800 per truck to move through an area. It’s based on the number of trucks and what you’re carrying. If you have fuel trucks, they are going to charge you more. If you have dry trucks, they’re not going to charge you as much. If you are carrying MRAPs or Humvees, they are going to charge you more.”

Hanna says it is just a necessary evil. “If you tell me not to pay these insurgents in this area, the chances of my trucks getting attacked increase exponentially.”

Whereas in Iraq the private security industry has been dominated by US and global firms like Blackwater, operating as de facto arms of the US government, in Afghanistan there are lots of local players as well. As a result, the industry in Kabul is far more dog-eat-dog. “Every warlord has his security company,” is the way one executive explained it to me.

In theory, private security companies in Kabul are heavily regulated, although the reality is different. Thirty-nine companies had licenses until September, when another dozen were granted licenses. Many licensed companies are politically connected: just as NCL is owned by the son of the defense minister and Watan Risk Management is run by President Karzai’s cousins, the Asia Security Group is controlled by Hashmat Karzai, another relative of the president. The company has blocked off an entire street in the expensive Sherpur District. Another security firm is controlled by the parliamentary speaker’s son, sources say. And so on.

In the same way, the Afghan trucking industry, key to logistics operations, is often tied to important figures and tribal leaders. One major hauler in Afghanistan, Kandahar (AIT), paid $20,000 a month in kickbacks to a US Army contracting official, according to the official’s plea agreement in US court in August. AIT is a very well-connected firm: it is run by the 25-year-old nephew of Gen. Baba Jan, a former Northern Alliance commander and later a Kabul police chief. In an interview, Baba Jan, a cheerful and charismatic leader, insisted he had nothing to do with his nephew’s corporate enterprise.

But the heart of the matter is that insurgents are getting paid for safe passage because there are few other ways to bring goods to the combat outposts and forward operating bases where soldiers need them. By definition, many outposts are situated in hostile terrain, in the southern parts of Afghanistan. The security firms don’t really protect convoys of American military goods here, because they simply can’t; they need the Taliban’s cooperation.

One of the big problems for the companies that ship American military supplies across the country is that they are banned from arming themselves with any weapon heavier than a rifle. That makes them ineffective for battling Taliban attacks on a convoy. “They are shooting the drivers from 3,000 feet away with PKMs,” a trucking company executive in Kabul told me. “They are using RPGs [rocket-propelled grenades] that will blow up an up-armed vehicle. So the security companies are tied up. Because of the rules, security companies can only carry AK-47s, and that’s just a joke. I carry an AK–and that’s just to shoot myself if I have to!”

The rules are there for a good reason: to guard against devastating collateral damage by private security forces. Still, as Hanna of Afghan American Army Services points out, “An AK-47 versus a rocket-propelled grenade–you are going to lose!” That said, at least one of the Host Nation Trucking companies has tried to do battle instead of paying off insurgents and warlords. It is a US-owned firm called Four Horsemen International. Instead of providing payments, it has tried to fight off attackers. And it has paid the price in lives, with horrendous casualties. FHI, like many other firms, refused to talk publicly; but I’ve been told by insiders in the security industry that FHI’s convoys are attacked on virtually every mission.

For the most part, the security firms do as they must to survive. A veteran American manager in Afghanistan who has worked there as both a soldier and a private security contractor in the field told me, “What we are doing is paying warlords associated with the Taliban, because none of our security elements is able to deal with the threat.” He’s an Army veteran with years of Special Forces experience, and he’s not happy about what’s being done. He says that at a minimum American military forces should try to learn more about who is getting paid off.

“Most escorting is done by the Taliban,” an Afghan private security official told me. He’s a Pashto and former mujahedeen commander who has his finger on the pulse of the military situation and the security industry. And he works with one of the trucking companies carrying US supplies. “Now the government is so weak,” he added, “everyone is paying the Taliban.”

To Afghan trucking officials, this is barely even something to worry about. One woman I met was an extraordinary entrepreneur who had built up a trucking business in this male-dominated field. She told me the security company she had hired dealt directly with Taliban leaders in the south. Paying the Taliban leaders meant they would send along an escort to ensure that no other insurgents would attack. In fact, she said, they just needed two armed Taliban vehicles. “Two Taliban is enough,” she told me. “One in the front and one in the back.” She shrugged. “You cannot work otherwise. Otherwise it is not possible.”

Which leads us back to the case of Watan Risk, the firm run by Ahmad Rateb Popal and Rashid Popal, the Karzai family relatives and former drug dealers. Watan is known to control one key stretch of road that all the truckers use: the strategic route to Kandahar called Highway 1. Think of it as the road to the war–to the south and to the west. If the Army wants to get supplies down to Helmand, for example, the trucks must make their way through Kandahar.

Watan Risk, according to seven different security and trucking company officials, is the sole provider of security along this route. The reason is simple: Watan is allied with the local warlord who controls the road. Watan’s company website is quite impressive, and claims its personnel “are diligently screened to weed out all ex-militia members, supporters of the Taliban, or individuals with loyalty to warlords, drug barons, or any other group opposed to international support of the democratic process.” Whatever screening methods it uses, Watan’s secret weapon to protect American supplies heading through Kandahar is a man named Commander Ruhullah. Said to be a handsome man in his 40s, Ruhullah has an oddly high-pitched voice. He wears traditional salwar kameez and a Rolex watch. He rarely, if ever, associates with Westerners. He commands a large group of irregular fighters with no known government affiliation, and his name, security officials tell me, inspires obedience or fear in villages along the road.

It is a dangerous business, of course: until last spring Ruhullah had competition–a one-legged warlord named Commander Abdul Khaliq. He was killed in an ambush.

So Ruhullah is the surviving road warrior for that stretch of highway. According to witnesses, he works like this: he waits until there are hundreds of trucks ready to convoy south down the highway. Then he gets his men together, setting them up in 4x4s and pickups. Witnesses say he does not limit his arsenal to AK-47s but uses any weapons he can get. His chief weapon is his reputation. And for that, Watan is paid royally, collecting a fee for each truck that passes through his corridor. The American trucking official told me that Ruhullah “charges $1,500 per truck to go to Kandahar. Just 300 kilometers.”

It’s hard to pinpoint what this is, exactly–security, extortion or a form of “insurance.” Then there is the question, Does Ruhullah have ties to the Taliban? That’s impossible to know. As an American private security veteran familiar with the route said, “He works both sides… whatever is most profitable. He’s the main commander. He’s got to be involved with the Taliban. How much, no one knows.”

Even NCL, the company owned by Hamed Wardak, pays. Two sources with direct knowledge tell me that NCL sends its portion of US logistics goods in Watan’s and Ruhullah’s convoys. Sources say NCL is billed $500,000 per month for Watan’s services. To underline the point: NCL, operating on a $360 million contract from the US military, and owned by the Afghan defense minister’s son, is paying millions per year from those funds to a company owned by President Karzai’s cousins, for protection.

Hamed Wardak wouldn’t return my phone calls. Milt Bearden, the former CIA officer affiliated with the company, wouldn’t speak with me either. There’s nothing wrong with Bearden engaging in business in Afghanistan, but disclosure of his business interests might have been expected when testifying on US policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. After all, NCL stands to make or lose hundreds of millions based on the whims of US policy-makers.

It is certainly worth asking why NCL, a company with no known trucking experience, and little security experience to speak of, would win a contract worth $360 million. Plenty of Afghan insiders are asking questions. “Why would the US government give him a contract if he is the son of the minister of defense?” That’s what Mahmoud Karzai asked me. He is the brother of President Karzai, and he himself has been treated in the press as a poster boy for access to government officials. The New York Times even profiled him in a highly critical piece. In his defense, Karzai emphasized that he, at least, has refrained from US government or Afghan government contracting. He pointed out, as others have, that Hamed Wardak had little security or trucking background before his company received security and trucking contracts from the Defense Department. “That’s a questionable business practice,” he said. “They shouldn’t give it to him. How come that’s not questioned?”

I did get the opportunity to ask General Wardak, Hamed’s father, about it. He is quite dapper, although he is no longer the debonair “Gucci commander” Bearden once described. I asked Wardak about his son and NCL. “I’ve tried to be straightforward and correct and fight corruption all my life,” the defense minister said. “This has been something people have tried to use against me, so it has been painful.”

Wardak would speak only briefly about NCL. The issue seems to have produced a rift with his son. “I was against it from the beginning, and that’s why we have not talked for a long time. I have never tried to support him or to use my power or influence that he should benefit.”

When I told Wardak that his son’s company had a US contract worth as much as $360 million, he did a double take. “This is impossible,” he said. “I do not believe this.”

I believed the general when he said he really didn’t know what his son was up to. But cleaning up what look like insider deals may be easier than the next step: shutting down the money pipeline going from DoD contracts to potential insurgents.

Two years ago, a top Afghan security official told me, Afghanistan’s intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security, had alerted the American military to the problem. The NDS delivered what I’m told are “very detailed” reports to the Americans explaining how the Taliban are profiting from protecting convoys of US supplies.

The Afghan intelligence service even offered a solution: what if the United States were to take the tens of millions paid to security contractors and instead set up a dedicated and professional convoy support unit to guard its logistics lines? The suggestion went nowhere.

The bizarre fact is that the practice of buying the Taliban’s protection is not a secret. I asked Col. David Haight, who commands the Third Brigade of the Tenth Mountain Division, about it. After all, part of Highway 1 runs through his area of operations. What did he think about security companies paying off insurgents? “The American soldier in me is repulsed by it,” he said in an interview in his office at FOB Shank in Logar Province. “But I know that it is what it is: essentially paying the enemy, saying, ‘Hey, don’t hassle me.’ I don’t like it, but it is what it is.”

As a military official in Kabul explained contracting in Afghanistan overall, “We understand that across the board 10 percent to 20 percent goes to the insurgents. My intel guy would say it is closer to 10 percent. Generally it is happening in logistics.”

In a statement to The Nation about Host Nation Trucking, Col. Wayne Shanks, the chief public affairs officer for the international forces in Afghanistan, said that military officials are “aware of allegations that procurement funds may find their way into the hands of insurgent groups, but we do not directly support or condone this activity, if it is occurring.” He added that, despite oversight, “the relationships between contractors and their subcontractors, as well as between subcontractors and others in their operational communities, are not entirely transparent.”

In any case, the main issue is not that the US military is turning a blind eye to the problem. Many officials acknowledge what is going on while also expressing a deep disquiet about the situation. The trouble is that–as with so much in Afghanistan–the United States doesn’t seem to know how to fix it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQ1_eGqDZv4

Taliban Still Working for the CIA?

Taliban Find U.S. Military Ammo Dump

Tarpley: Alqaeda is the ‘CIA Arab Legion’

Afghans Trained By Blackwater Join Taliban

Is the Taliban on the U.S. Gov. Payroll?

 



US soldier commits suicide in Indiana movie theater

US soldier commits suicide in Indiana movie theater

WSWS
October 20, 2009

A National Guard soldier home on a 15-day leave from the war in Afghanistan committed suicide in a Muncie, Indiana, movie theater October 12. Jacob W. Sexton, a 21-year-old from rural Farmland, Indiana, shot himself in the head, approximately 20 minutes into the violent comedy Zombieland, with friends and siblings sitting around him. The suicide underscores once again the psychological damage done to soldiers charged with carrying out the brutal colonial occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sexton’s death came as a shock to his family and military cohorts, who told the Muncie Star Press they had not seen any symptoms of suicidal behavior or post-traumatic stress disorder. Yet the young man’s behavior before the film showing revealed that the war’s violence was on his mind. When asked by the theater manager for identification proving the group was of age to see the movie, Sexton reportedly snapped at him, “I shot 18 people and you want to see my identification?”

Sexton’s father, Jeffrey Sexton, told the Associated Press, “We just need to watch these boys and the girls coming back home. Something’s just not right. Too much is happening.”

Like many active-duty military members, Sexton had served multiple tours in both Middle East occupations. After serving one tour of duty in Iraq, where he drove Humvees, he volunteered for another tour in Afghanistan. There he was a member of Alpha Company, Second Battalion, in the 151st Infantry Regiment, a unit that responds to attacks on military installations and convoys in the Kabul area.

According to the Star Press, Sexton was in a firefight his first week in Afghanistan and witnessed others during his time there. The area around Kabul is the scene of intense fighting that has resulted in high coalition casualties and untold numbers of deaths and injuries of Afghans. Sexton doubtless experienced the constant threat of violence in Iraq, as well, where Humvee drivers are at constant risk of injury and death from IEDs planted in the road.
Read Full Article Here

 



Afghan drug trafficking brings U.S. $50 billion a year

Afghan drug trafficking brings U.S. $50 billion a year

Russia Today
August 20, 2009

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRVZTMHen_E

The US is not going to stop the production of drugs in Afghanistan as it covers the costs of their military presence there, says Gen. Mahmut Gareev, a former commander during the USSR’s operations in Afghanistan.

RT: General, you were in Afghanistan when the Soviet troops were there. In your opinion, what was the most difficult task that our troops faced in that country, what was the hardest thing for them to accomplish?

Mahmut Gareev: For the Soviet troops, the most difficult thing was the uncertainty of their status. Immediately after our paratroopers landed in Kabul, Marshal Sokolov, Chief of the Defense Ministry’s Task Force, said at the meeting of unit commanders, “We did not come here to fight. Do not engage in any hostilities. Establish garrisons, carry on combat training and be vigilant. That is all.” But the very next day, then-Minister of Defense Colonel Rafi came running to him. Panic-stricken, he said there had been a rebellion in Gerat, and the rebels had disarmed the army command and seized the artillery. He begged for urgent help. Well, we didn’t come to fight, did we? The situation was getting catastrophic: if the same happened in two or three other places that would mean that the government army was defeated and disarmed by rebels in front of Soviet troops. So, Sokolov ordered a battalion dispatched to Gerat for that one and only case, but then it became a habit, with units being sent here and there.

The idea that troops would not engage in the fighting had been naïve from the very beginning. How can one ever go to a country where the people are in a civil war and stand aside? It had been clear since the very beginning that going there and staying away from the fight would be impossible.

Essentially, we went there without any goal or program. What to do, what objectives to pursue? I still hear arguments about whether the troops accomplished their objectives or not. There were no objectives, such as occupying an area or to defeat somebody. That uncertainty of our status made everything, including the task of helping the Afghan army, extremely difficult.

RT: They mention decisive movements, quick actions and a large army presence but that is exactly what the US and the coalition forces did and they are still failing to accomplish their task, they are still stuck in the same battles that the Soviet troops were stuck in. What’s the difference, what is their mistake?

M.G.: They’re repeating our mistake. At the moment, the number of American, British and other troops in Afghanistan is almost equal to what we had in the 40th division, which is about 100 thousand. 42 countries are involved. But they’re having great difficulties in solving problems. NATO forces are very difficult to manage. Six months ago they made a decision to move one squadron from the north of Afghanistan to the south where the British troops are stationed. It was discussed in Bundestag. Half a year later – the decision has been made, but the squadron still remains where they were before. Actually, they themselves admit that if drugs were smuggled past them, they wouldn’t interfere. Why? That’s another tough question. Now, what if Russia was to act selfishly and play in geopolitics – just like our opponents are used to doing? They got us involved in the war in Afghanistan and immediately began to provide help for those rebels, the Mujahideen. We could do the same now – we could support the rebels and fight against Americans. But it’s not even in our people’s minds. No one is going to do that.

When I was there in 1989 and 1990, the production of drugs almost ceased, apart from in certain areas. Since then, it has increased by 44 per cent. And all of the drug traffic goes through the city of Osh where we want to establish our base, Termes or other places.

90 per cent of drugs from Afghanistan go to former Soviet republics. 80 per cent of the world’s drugs are produced in Afghanistan. They’ve outdone the South American countries, such as Columbia. Thirty thousand young people in Russia die from drug use every year. And, sadly, some of the leaders of the CIS countries don’t really want to interfere. In other words, there are too many people who make money on this.

I don’t make anything up. Americans themselves admit that drugs are often transported out of Afghanistan on American planes. Drug trafficking in Afghanistan brings them about 50 billion dollars a year – which fully covers the expenses tied to keeping their troops there. Essentially, they are not going to interfere and stop the production of drugs. They engage in military action only when they are attacked. They don’t have any planned military action to eliminate the Mujahideen. Rather, they want to make the situation more unstable and help the Taliban to be more active. They even started negotiations with them, trying to direct them to the Central-Asian republics, to destabilize the whole region and set up their bases there.

One would think – right now, Russia is interested in cooperation with America. During Obama’s visit, there was talk about providing air and ground corridors for Americans to supply their troops in Afghanistan. And some journalists even say now that it’s good for Russia that Americans are in Afghanistan; that we need to help them because they are there to restrain the Mujahideen and keep them from attacking us. That’s right – it’s just that the problem is that they don’t do anything of the kind.

Read Full Article Here

U.S. Military Says Its Force in Afghanistan Is Insufficient

Majority of Americans now oppose Afghan war: poll

 



60 Children Among Afghan Dead In U.S Air Strike

60 Children Among Afghan Dead In U.S Air Strike

NY Times
August 26, 2008

KABUL, Afghanistan — A United Nations human rights team has found “convincing evidence” that some 90 civilians — among them 60 children — were killed in air strikes on a village in western Afghanistan on Thursday night, a statement issued by the United Nations mission in Kabul said, making it almost certainly the deadliest case of civilian casualties caused by any United States military operation in Afghanistan since 2001.

The United Nations the team visited the scene and interviewed survivors and local officials and elders, getting a name, age and gender of each person reported killed. The team reported that 15 people had been injured in the air strikes, which occurred in the middle of the night.

The numbers closely match those given by a government commission sent from Kabul to investigate the bombing, which put the total dead at up to 95.

Mohammad Iqbal Safi, the head of the parliamentary defense committee and a member of the government commission, said the 60 children were between three months old and 16 years old, all killed as they slept. “It was a heart breaking scene,” he said.

The death toll may even rise higher since heavy lifting gear is needed to uncover all the remains, said one Western official who had seen the United Nations report.

“This is a matter of grave concern to the United Nations,” Kai Eide, the United Nations special representative for Afghanistan said in a statement. “It is vital that the International and Afghan military forces thoroughly review the conduct of this operation in order to prevent a repeat of this tragic incident,” he said.

The United Nations report adds pressure to the United States military, which has to date said only that 25 militants and five civilians were killed in the air strikes, which were aimed at a Taliban named Mullah Saddiq. The military announced it was conducting an investigation after the high civilian death toll was reported.

The bombing occurred around midnight, the United Nations statement said. “Foreign and Afghan military personnel entered the village of Nawabad in the Azizabad area of Shindand district,” it said. “Military operations lasted several hours during which air strikes were called in.” “The destruction from aerial bombardment was clearly evident, with some 7-8 houses having been totally destroyed and serious damage to many others,” it said.

Chalabi aide arrested on suspicion of Baghdad bombings
http://www.mcclatchydc.com/homepage/story/51031.html

Two Page Note Governs U.S. Military In Afghanistan
http://www.washingtonpos..AR2008082703628_pf.html

Bush administration sought to extend troop presence in Iraq through 2015.
http://thinkprogress.org/2008/08/2..roop-presence-in-iraq-through-2015/

UN finds evidence 90 civilians dead in US-led strikes
http://uk.news.yahoo.com/afp/20…unrest-civilian-us-un-2802f3e.html

Air strike sharpens civilian casualties row
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/aug/24/afghanistan.usa

Afghanistan: Hamid Karzai accuses America over civilian deaths
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/..merica-over-civilian-deaths.html

 



’US backing terror networks in Pakistan’

’US backing terror networks in Pakistan’

Press TV
August 5, 2008

Pakistan has accused the US of backing militancy within the country, saying this goes against the spirit of so-called war on terror.

Pakistani the News quoted official sources as saying on Tuesday that strong evidence of American acquiescence to terrorism inside Pakistan was outlined by President Pervez Musharraf, Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani and Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt. Gen. Nadeem Taj in their separate meetings with US Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen and CIA Deputy Director Stephen R Kappes on July 12 in Rawalpindi.

Pakistani officials with direct knowledge of the meetings said the Americans were not interested in disrupting the Kabul-based fountainhead of terrorism in Baluchistan nor do they want to allocate the marvelous predator resource to neutralize the kingpin of suicide bombings against the Pakistani military establishment now hiding near the Pak-Afghan border.

The top US military commander were also asked why the CIA-run predator did not swing into action when they were provided the exact location of Baitullah Mehsud, the chief of militants and mastermind of almost every suicide operation against the Army and the ISI since June 2006.

One such precise piece of information was made available to the CIA on May 24 when Mehsud drove to a remote South Waziristan mountain post to address the press and returned back to his safe abode. The United States military has the capacity to direct a missile to a precise location at very short notice as it has done close to 20 times in the last few years to hit al-Qaeda targets inside Pakistan.

“We wanted to know when our American friends would get interested in tracking down the terrorists responsible for hundreds of suicide bombings in Pakistan and those playing havoc with our natural resources in Baluchistan,” an official described the Pakistani mood during the meetings.

Pakistani official have long been intrigued by the presence of highly encrypted communications gear with Mehsud. This communication gear enables him to collect real-time information on Pakistani troops’ movement from an unidentified foreign source without being intercepted by Pakistani intelligence, sources said.

Admiral Mullen and the CIA official were in Pakistan on an unannounced visit to show what the US media claimed was evidence of the ISI’s ties to the Taliban militants and the alleged involvement of Pakistani agents in the bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul.

A former official with Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence Khalid Khawaja accused the US in an exclusive interview with the Press TV that the Americans had planted the bomb in the Indian Embassy in Kabul to widen the rift between Indians and Pakistanis.

The report comes a day after Musharraf’s warning against the US conspiracies toward Pakistan.

Pakistani political analysts say that the current “trust deficit” between the Pakistani and US security establishment is serious enough to lead to a collapse.

US and the MEK: Blurring friends and enemies
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=65345&sectionid=3510303

 



Afghanistan Opium Supplies 93% of World’s Heroin

Afghanistan Opium Supplies 93% of World’s Heroin

NY Times
August 5, 2008

In the morass that is Afghanistan, not just the Taliban are flourishing. So too is opium production, which increasingly finances the group’s activities. There is no easy way to end this narcotics threat, a symptom of wider instability. Even a wise and coordinated plan of attack would take years to bear real results. But the United States and the rest of the international community are failing to develop one. They must work harder, smarter and more cooperatively to rescue this narco-state.

The scope of the problem is mind-numbing. Opium production mushroomed in 2006 and 2007, and Afghanistan now supplies 93 percent of the world’s heroin, with the bulk going to users in Europe and Russia. According to official figures, the narcotics trade rakes in about $4 billion a year, which is about half of Afghanistan’s gross domestic product. It strengthens the extremist forces that American and NATO troops are fighting and dying to defeat; it undermines the Afghan state they are trying to build; and it poisons drug users across Europe, where many people do not see Afghanistan as their problem and leaders are shamefully ignoring the connection.

Last week, the United Nations reported an alarming new development: Afghan drug lords are recruiting foreign chemists, mostly from Turkey, Pakistan and Iran, to help turn raw opium into highly refined heroin. Doing so adds value and lethality to the product they export.

American, European, Afghan and United Nations officials have sabotaged their mission by continuing to bicker over why poppy cultivation has skyrocketed, what to do about it and who should act. In a particularly damning indictment in The Times Magazine, Thomas Schweich, a former State Department official, blamed corrupt Afghan officials, internal policy divisions and the reluctance of American and NATO military to take on counternarcotics roles, as much as the Taliban.

Mr. Schweich should have pointed a finger at President Bush for the fundamental failure in Afghanistan. Mr. Bush put too few resources into the country after 9/11, then left the aftermath to NATO and various warlords while America shifted focus to the disastrous war of choice in Iraq. The results: a Taliban and Al Qaeda resurgence coupled with historic poppy crops.

It is very good news that 20 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces may soon be free of poppy cultivation, but that means production is overwhelmingly concentrated in the south, largely in Helmand Province, where the Taliban are strongest and the government is weakest.

Mr. Schweich’s main recommendation — to aggressively eradicate poppy crops by aerial spraying — is politically untenable and of questionable value. Other things can be done, or done better, including building a criminal justice system that can prosecute major drug traffickers and having American and NATO forces play a more robust role in interdiction. The Afghan and American governments have broken ground on a new airport and agricultural center in Helmand — an encouraging attempt to help farmers shift from poppies to food crops.

Allegations that President Hamid Karzai protects officials and warlords in the trade are troubling. Washington and its allies must press him to address this problem. They also should seize assets and ban visas for major traffickers who have homes outside Afghanistan.

Longer term, the answer lies in a consistent, integrated and well-financed plan to establish security throughout Afghanistan, put kingpins in jail, develop a market economy and a functioning government in Kabul, and rapidly expand incentives for smaller farmers to stop growing poppies. It is all one more daunting Bush administration legacy that will be left for the next president to fix.

U.S. adds 30 days to Marines’ tours in Afghanistan
http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSN0473020080804

Pentagon OKs over $10 billion in arms sales for Iraq
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080801/pl_nm/..n3aHyCY1DJlX6GMA

New US defense strategy centers on ‘long war’
http://rawstory.com/news/afp/New_US_defense_..nters_on__07312008.html

1 In 4 Soldiers Have Hearing Loss
http://www.armytimes.com/news/2008/08/gns_hearingloss_080408/