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The Sandbox and Areas Reports Thread September 2008

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Articles found Sept 20, 2008

Australian troops kill ex-police chief - official
Friday September 19, 2008 (1726 PST)
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AUSTRALIAN troops have accidently shot dead a former provincial police chief in the southern province of Uruzgan, senior police officials said.
Australian troops surrounded a house suspected of harbouring Taliban militants on Wednesday evening, the province`s police chief said.

He said the troops were unaware that the ex-police chief, Mullah Rozi Khan, was inside the house when they launched their attack.

"The international troops surrounded a suspected house and Mullah Rozi Khan, without contacting the troops, was going there to solve the problem," head of the province’s criminal division, Gulab Khan, said.

"Khan and two of his bodyguards were killed in the firefight," he said. Two other bodyguards were injured in the skirmish.

Khan had left his police role to take over as head of the province`s Chora district.

President Karzai condemned the killing.
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25 out of 38 kidnapped security forces men freed
Monday September 15, 2008 (2219 PST)
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Twenty five security men, out of 38 taken hostage 50 days ago, have been released by the kidnappers. Media sources reported that 25 security men out of total 38, which were kidnapped 50 days back from Dewly check post during security forces operation.
Meanwhile, a group of militants attacked a security post in Sarpasani area, which was repulsed by the forces through counter action and the attackers fled from the scene.

Curfew has been imposed in the entire district including tehsil Kabal from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm.

Moreover, peace jirga in district Dir has announced that the houses of those persons will be demolished, who will offer shelter to the militants.
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Canada told to expect push on Afghan role
Pressure to stay longer likely whatever election result, NATO chief says
September 20, 2008 Mitch Potter Europe Bureau
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LONDON–Canada can expect continuing pressure to play a longer-term role in Afghanistan regardless of the federal election's outcome, the head of NATO said yesterday.

Speaking at the close of an informal two-day summit of alliance defence ministers in London, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer hesitated when asked for reaction to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's campaign pledge to end Canada's combat role in the embattled southern province of Kandahar in 2011.

"What (I) should never do is enter a debate that is part of an election campaign in Canada," he told the Toronto Star, noting his rank demands political neutrality.

"But nobody should be surprised if I, as NATO secretary general, will go on calling on all the allies to do as much as they can in Afghanistan."

De Hoop Scheffer, who has repeatedly acknowledged the disproportionate burden borne by the Canadian mission in Afghanistan, made the comments after two days of meetings covering a range of NATO concerns, from Afghanistan to the chilly contretemps with Russia over Georgia and other former Soviet satellites.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay, who was campaigning in Canada yesterday, sent subordinates to London on his behalf. The Canadian delegation kept a low profile, avoiding contact with reporters.

With so little daylight shining between the Afghanistan policies of the Conservative and Liberal parties, the issue now may seem almost quarantined from electoral politics. Yet with or without Canada, it will not be going away anytime soon, given that the number of U.S. forces on the ground is expected to be increased significantly.
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Ambitious Afghan anti-polio effort proceeds despite slayings
Scott Deveau ,  Canwest News Service Published: Friday, September 19, 2008
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KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - When a suicide bomber slammed his car full of explosives into a World Health Organization convoy last weekend, he robbed two of the aid organization's most prominent Afghan doctors of their lives.

He did not, however, steal their legacy.

Drs. Shamsul Kakar and Mamoon Taheri, veterans of the WHO's fight against polio in southern Afghanistan, died last Sunday with their driver in the attack at Spin Boldak, near the Pakistani border with Kandahar province.
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2,800 Pakistan Families Flee To Afghanistan: Minister
Friday, September 19, 2008
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KABUL:About 2,800 Pakistani families have crossed the border into northeastern Afghanistan over the past two months to escape fighting between extremists and security forces, an official said on Friday.

The families, which could number up to 20 people each, were mostly living with relatives just across the border in the mountainous northeastern province of Kunar, Afghan deputy refugees’ minister Abdul Qader Ahadi told AFP.

“They escaped from fighting between Pakistani Taliban and the Pakistan government,” Ahadi told AFP without being able to give a number of individual refugees. Most were women and children, he said.

The families, from tribes which straddle the porous border, had mostly gone to the Shigal, Marawara and Dangam areas opposite Pakistan’s Bajaur region, the minister said. “They are not permanent and will leave,” he said.

Some emergency assistance had been delivered through the International Committee of the Red Cross and other humanitarian organisations and more assistance was being planned, Ahadi said.

Pakistanis fleeing clashes on their side of the border last year crossed over into Afghanistan’s Khost area, opposite North Waziristan, but later returned to their homes, he said.
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Bomb kills 5 at Pakistani religious school
By ABDUL SATTAR – 1 day ago
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QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) — A bomb exploded Friday at a religious school that police said was affiliated with a pro-Taliban political party, killing five people and wounding 10 more.

Television footage showed a gaping hole in the rough mud wall around the seminary near the southwestern city of Quetta and one partly demolished adjacent room.

Police said the blast occurred in the wrecked room but didn't indicate if it was an attack or if the bomb had been kept there. One witness claimed it was caused by a suicide bomber.

Quetta, the intrigue-filled capital of Baluchistan province, has a rich cast of violent groups.

The city is considered a hub for Taliban militants fighting in neighboring Afghanistan. It has a history of sectarian violence. The province is also the scene of a low-level insurgency waged by ethnic Baluch nationalists seeking more autonomy.
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Pakistan orders troops to open fire if US raids
By STEPHEN GRAHAM – 4 days ago
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistan's military has ordered its forces to open fire if U.S. troops launch another air or ground raid across the Afghan border, an army spokesman said Tuesday.

The orders, which come in response to a highly unusual Sept. 3 ground attack by U.S. commandos, are certain to heighten tensions between Washington and a key ally against terrorism. Although the ground attack was rare, there have been repeated reports of U.S. drone aircraft striking militant targets, most recently on Sept. 12.

Pakistani officials warn that stepped-up cross-border raids will accomplish little while fueling violent religious extremism in nuclear-armed Pakistan. Some complain that the country is a scapegoat for the failure to stabilize Afghanistan.

Pakistan's civilian leaders, who have taken a hard line against Islamic militants since forcing Pervez Musharraf to resign as president last month, have insisted that Pakistan must resolve the dispute with Washington through diplomatic channels.

However, army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas told The Associated Press that after U.S. helicopters ferried troops into a militant stronghold in the South Waziristan tribal region, the military told field commanders to prevent any similar raids.
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Taliban Propaganda Watch (RC South)
210710EDT Sept 08

.pdf version attached at bottom of message

NOTE:  The following material is from web pages and forums carrying statements attributed to the Taliban, Taliban spokespersons or supporters of the Taliban, or analysis thereof.  Posting of this material neither confirms nor endorses any of its content - it is shared for information only.  When material translated into English is not available, Google Translate is used to translate the original (indicated by "GoogEng") - this is only a machine translation, NOT an official one.

Taliban "declaration about International Peace Day" (English) - .pdf permalink - Original, with Arabic at the bottom - .pdf permalink
...    As the enemies of mankind and the anti-human plans are well known, in this day they call themselves as the human protectors, so it perhaps that the International Peace Day is a cheating plan of 0ppressed nations.  In spite of this, if NATO and US forces and their Afghan Allies aspire stop the war without any cheating plan and respect the International Peace Day. Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) will also declare order of defance position. (more on link)

"Taliban agree to drop weapons for day of peace " (quqnoos.com)
.... "If the United States, NATO and their allies are sincerely observing the Peace Day, and with no betrayal and trick announce a day of truce, so the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan will order its mujahideen to hold defensive positions on peace day," the militant group said in a statement ....

"Afghan Taliban back UN anti-polio drive, Peace Day: spokesman" (Agence France-Presse)
"In respect for the international Peace Day, Taliban have issued a declaration that we are in a defensive position and we will cease attacks," a spokesman for the group, Yousuf Ahmadi, told AFP ....  "If NATO and America and their followers respect this day for real, and avoid tricks and announce the ceasefire from the depth of their heart, the (Taliban) will also instruct to its own mujahedeen (holy warriors) to take the defensive position on this day," the statement said.  Ahmadi also said Taliban would "cooperate" with a three-day UN polio vaccination campaign due to start in volatile parts of the country on Sunday.  Vaccinators must however "keep in contact" with Taliban in areas they visit to make sure they were safe, he said ....

"NATO to halt Afghan operations for Peace Day" (Associated Press)
.... A Taliban spokesman identifying himself as Qari Yousef Ahmadi told The Associated Press on Saturday that the Taliban supports the idea of Peace Day. Ahmadi said Taliban attacks are only a means of self-defense.  "We wanted peace in the past, we want peace now and we want peace in the future," he said. "We are defending ourselves. The invaders are in our country, launching operations against us. Now that the Afghan government and their foreign allies are requesting peace for one day, that is nothing, one day, but of course we are respecting it." ....

"Five Canadian Soldiers Killed In Kandahar As Taliban Continue Heavy Strikes"
Five Canadian soldiers were killed and a tank destroyed on (12 Sept 08) morning in Kandahar when Mujahideen of  Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan detonated remote-controlled landmines on a Canadian tank as it was patrolling in the Daman district of Kandahar province. Accodring to the report by Taliban spokesman Qari Yusuf, the tank was completely demolished and all five soldiers onboard were killed.  Qari Yusuf also reported that on Thursday, Taliban Mujahideen ambush an Afghan army convoy in Lashker Gah, the capital of Helmand province. Three vehicles were destroyed in the attack and sixteen Afghan army soldiers were killed and several others were wounded according to the report. The Mujahideen confiscated the weapons as booty ....

Articles found Sept 21, 2008

French soldiers unprepared for Taliban ambush: report ]
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Graphic Map of the battle

A secret NATO review obtained by The Globe and Mail shows that the French who were killed in August did not have enough bullets, radios and other equipment. By contrast, the insurgents were dangerously well prepared
GRAEME SMITH From Saturday's Globe and Mail September 20, 2008 at 1:11 AM EDT

It was mid-afternoon when a tribal elder invited a U.S. military commander for a quiet chat in a garden. His village was surrounded by foreign troops, hunting around the mountain valley in search of infiltrators from Pakistan rumoured to be lurking in the barren hills.

Thirty soldiers from a French airborne platoon wandered farthest from the village, exploring a steep slope covered with rocks and scrubby vegetation under a high ridge.

That hill would soon become a killing ground, scene of the deadliest ambush against international forces since 2001, and the latest troubling sign that the insurgents are mastering the art of guerrilla war.

A NATO report on the incident obtained by The Globe and Mail provides the most in-depth account so far of an attack on Aug. 18 that shook the countries involved in the increasingly bloody campaign. The NATO report, marked “secret,” reveals woefully unprepared French troops surprised by well-armed insurgents in a valley east of Kabul. Ten soldiers were killed, the report concludes, but the other soldiers were lucky to escape without more deaths.
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Battle to be won or lost in Bajaur
By Ismail Khan
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THE battle in the Bajaur Agency has not only become a tipping-point for Pakistan’s internal security, it can also have a deep impact on the country’s status as a key US ally in the war against terrorism. In the second week of August, the operation started haltingly to prevent what looked like the imminent fall of Bajaur’s regional headquarters, Khaar, to the militants.

Having suffered initial reversals, the operation is now on at full throttle. It has created a surrender-or-die situation for the militants and a now-or-never moment for the country’s security forces.

Predictably, the militants are using everything they have to hold their ground. Government and security officials say that they are baffled by the resilience and stiff resistance offered by the battle-hardened fighters, by their tactics and the sophistication of their weapons and communications systems.

“They have good weaponry and a better communication system (than ours),” said a senior official. “Even the sniper rifles they use are better than some of ours. Their tactics are mind-boggling and they have defences that would take us days to build. It does not look as though we are fighting a rag-tag militia; they are fighting like an organised force.”

More worryingly, the Bajaur battleground has attracted militants from other tribal regions and from across the border, from Afghanistan’s eastern Kunar province. It has long been known that there are foreign militants in Bajaur, but their numbers have always been thought to be small. Now, their ranks are swelling, catching by surprise many veterans in the civil-military establishment. This supply line from Kunar to Bajaur has, however, eased the pressure in Afghanistan. Western diplomatic sources acknowledge that the level of violence in Kunar has dropped appreciably since the launch of the operation in Bajaur, indicating a planning and operational linkage that overlaps the Durand Line.

Realising how crucial and critical the Bajaur operation is — and the massive impact it can have on restive neighbouring tribal regions — the army has lined up tremendous resources to make quick headway.

Concern for backlash

Government and security sources say that so far the operation is going well. However, there are concerns that rising numbers of civilian casualties in a lengthening conflict may cause public and political backlash, and undermine the national support needed to succeed in Bajaur. The Jamaat-i-Islami, for one — which has a strong political base in Bajaur and has had close ties with Gulbadin Hekmatyar’s Hizb-i-Islami (which operates in Kunar) — has already launched a campaign against the operation.

For now, government and security officials are staying put and are determined to take the battle to what they call “its logical conclusion”.

To gauge the seriousness of this operation a brigade of the Pakistan Army has, for perhaps the first time, been placed under the command of the recently-posted Inspector General of Frontier Corps, Maj-Gen Tariq Khan, to ensure the unity of command and effectiveness.

The security forces are relieved by much-needed words of praise from an otherwise sceptical and suspicious American administration regarding the action in Bajaur. On Thursday, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates told reporters in Kabul that the US was “encouraged” by the security forces’ operation in Bajaur.

At home, meanwhile, important members of the political leadership have stopped expressing misgivings about the establishment’s intentions in terms of dealing with militancy; they acknowledge that this operation is for real.

“There is a change in their approach,” said a senior politician from the NWFP. “They seem serious. As to what caused this change of mind, we really have no idea.”
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Republican VP candidate Palin to meet Afghanistan's Karzai
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WASHINGTON (AFP) — Republican presidential candidate John McCain's running mate Sarah Palin will meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai next week in New York, a McCain campaign spokesman said Saturday.

Karzai will be in New York with leaders from around the world to participate in the United Nations General Assembly meeting.

McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds confirmed the meeting.

Palin, the 44-year-old first time governor of Alaska, is seen as a novice in the key area of foreign policy -- especially when measured against her Democratic counterpart Joseph Biden, with 36 years' experience on the Senate foreign affairs committee.

Palin got her first passport in 2007 when she traveled to visit Alaska National Guard -- of which she is commander in chief -- in Kuwait and Germany
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At least 100 Afghan officials poisoned
September 21, 2008 - 9:37PM
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At least 100 Afghan policemen and government officials, including a deputy provincial governor, were poisoned after eating their evening meal, officials say.

A man claiming to be from the Taliban said he had carried out the mass poisoning but NATO's military force, which offered medical treatment, said it was believed to be a straightforward case of food poisoning.

About 100 men fell ill in the eastern province of Nuristan late on Saturday after eating iftar, the evening meal that breaks a day of fasting during the holy month of Ramadan, deputy provincial governor Abdul Halim told AFP.

They had all eaten food prepared in the kitchen of the governor which feeds some provincial authorities and police who guard the compound.

"After we had our iftar, about 100 people felt really ill," he said. Many had fainted.

Halim said he had also taken ill but had recovered by Sunday. The provincial police chief was however still being treated in a clinic, he said.

The source of the poisoning appeared to have been the bread but it was being investigated.
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New base beefs up Afghanistan presence
Stars and Stripes (Mideast edition), Sept. 22

MAIWAND DISTRICT, Afghanistan — U.S. forces are beefing up their presence in southern Afghanistan, building a new base and joining a Canadian task force in an effort to stem a rising tide of violence in the heartland of the Taliban insurgency.

The construction of Forward Operating Base Ramrod, about 50 miles west of Kandahar, the former stronghold of the fundamentalist movement, puts the newly-deployed 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment in an area that has seen a sharp rise in attacks.

"This was a district that has been identified as needing a larger coalition presence," said Maj. Cale Brown, executive officer for 2-2 Infantry, during a recent visit to the new base.

In an unusual arrangement for U.S. forces, 2-2 Infantry has been placed under the command of the Canadian-led Task Force Kandahar. Canada has 2,500 soldiers in the southern province, where it has held overall security responsibility for the past three years.

But the addition of the 800 or so U.S. soldiers nearly doubles the number of combat troops in Task Force Kandahar, said Navy Lt. Alain Blondin, a spokesman for Canadian forces.

"It brings about 70 to 80 percent more in terms of boots on the ground," he said...

The Fort Hood, Texas-based battalion was supposed to deploy to eastern Afghanistan, but was shifted south after the Taliban pulled off a dramatic jailbreak in Kandahar in June, freeing hundreds of imprisoned fighters, according to a U.S. officer.

Insurgent attacks have skyrocketed in Afghanistan in the past three years, especially in the south and east, where the Taliban and al-Qaida are strongest.

Insurgent attacks in Kandahar province have increased since the jailbreak, and have not slowed in September, despite the fact that it is the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, according to Canadian military officers.

During the first 18 days of Ramadan, which began earlier this month, soldiers of Task Force Kandahar have encountered 80 roadside bombs, most of which were detected and neutralized before they exploded, they said.

"It’s been a steady climb (in attacks)," said one officer Thursday, who spoke on background, in accordance with standard briefing rules. "It’s been busy, and the insurgents aren’t slowing down."..

The strengthening of U.S. forces in southern Afghanistan comes as Canada has signaled that it intends to scale down its commitment, a move which could further worsen the security situation in this part of the country.

Last January, Canada threatened to pull its troops out of Afghanistan unless other NATO countries boosted their commitment, a move that prompted Defense Secretary Robert Gates to order a Marine battalion to neighboring Helmand province. The Marines have already started pulling out, and have been replaced by British and Afghan troops.

On Sept. 10, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper pledged that his country’s forces would be withdrawn from Afghanistan in 2011, saying that the Canadian public would not support keeping its soldiers in the country more than 10 years. A Parliament measure passed in March requires only that Canadian forces be withdrawn from Kandahar province by that date...

(Via Moby Media Updates)

Articles found September 22, 2008

Pakistani troops reportedly fire on US helicopters
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DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistani troops and tribesmen opened fire on two U.S. helicopters that crossed into the country from neighboring Afghanistan, intelligence officials said Monday.

The helicopters did not return fire and re-entered Afghan airspace without landing, the officials said.

Pakistan's army and the U.S. military in Afghanistan said they had no information on the reported incursion late Sunday, which will likely add to tensions between Islamabad and Washington.

A spate of suspected U.S. missile strikes into Pakistan's border region and a raid by U.S. commandos said to have killed 15 people have angered and embarrassed Pakistani leaders while signaling Washington's impatience with Pakistani efforts to clear out militant havens.
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Labourers abducted in Afghanistan
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At least 140 civilian labourers have been abducted in south-west Afghanistan by suspected Taleban insurgents, local officials say.

Farah province governor Rohul Amin said the workers, who had been constructing army barracks, were seized from three buses on Sunday.

Mr Amin said negotiations were continuing to secure their release.

Kidnappings are frequently carried out in Afghanistan but this would be the largest mass abduction so far.

The workers and their drivers were kidnapped in the Bara Boluk area, close to the Iranian border, as they were travelling to Herat, said Mr Amin.

"Negotiations are under way by elders to release the innocent workers. We want to solve this issue peacefully without involving the military," he said.

An army spokesman said the group were still being held but other Afghan officials said they had since been released.
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Afghan diplomat abducted in Pakistan
Gunmen fire at car, kills driver
Kamran Haider, Reuters Published: Monday, September 22, 2008
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ISLAMABAD - Gunmen kidnapped an Afghan diplomat in the Pakistani city of Peshawar on Monday, police said, underscoring worsening security in the nuclear-armed country two days after a suicide bomber killed 53 people.

British Airways said it had suspended flights to Pakistan because of security fears after the Saturday evening truck-bomb attack on Islamabad's Marriott Hotel.

The Czech ambassador and at least three other foreigners were among those killed in the blast, Islamabad's worst bomb attack, which wounded 266 people and which security officials said bore the hallmarks of al Qaeda.
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France to decide on continuing mission in Afghanistan
Last Updated: Monday, September 22, 2008 CBC News
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The French government was expected to vote Monday morning on whether it should keep its troops in Afghanistan.

The vote comes after 10 French soldiers were killed in an ambush outside Kabul on Aug. 18, one of the worst attacks on foreign troops in Afghanistan.

The killings reportedly shocked France.

The soldiers' funerals received widespread media attention and a memorial ceremony was held in Paris on Aug. 21.
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Roadside bombing kills 6 civilians in S. Afghanistan 
www.chinaview.cn  2008-09-22 18:23:29    KABUL, Sept. 22 (Xinhua)
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A civilian vehicle hit an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) Monday morning in southern Afghan province of Uruzgan, leaving at least six people dead and four more injured, said a statement from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

    It occurred at around 9:00 a.m.(0430 GMT) when the vehicle with all civilians on board was struck by an IED near Trin Kot district, the capital of Uruzgan province, the statement said.

    "Six civilians, including one child, were killed and four wounded in the explosion," it said.

    "ISAF troops immediately responded, provided medical assistance and evacuated the injured to ISAF clinics for further medical treatment," it added.

    No one or individuals have yet to claim responsibility.
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U.S. frees Afghan fixer after 10-month detention he describes as 'hell'
GRAEME SMITH  September 22, 2008
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KABUL -- In the U.S. military cells where he saw daylight only once a week, where he says they broke his ribs with beatings, his captors gave him a nickname: "the Canadian reporter."

His formal designation was a detainee number: 3370. Last night, after almost a year in custody, the 22-year-old settled into a king-sized bed at the best hotel in Kabul with a big smile and started to regain his true names: Javed Yazamy, the name on his business card, or Jawed Ahmad, as he's known to friends. Most importantly, he wants to rebuild his career and the working name that made him famous among Canadian journalists: Jojo, a name synonymous with some of the best coverage of breaking stories during his time as cameraman for CTV News in Kandahar.

It's not clear why U.S. authorities let Mr. Ahmad walk free yesterday.
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Petawawa battle group takes over Afghan mission
New commander says main goal is to help Afghans make country secure
Scott Deveau, Canwest News Service Published: Monday, September 22, 2008
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KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - After battling through one of the fiercest fighting seasons on record, the Canadian Forces officially handed the mission over to a new battle group during a small ceremony at Kandahar Air Field yesterday morning.

The sense of relief was tangible in the air for members of the second battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry battle group based in Shilo, Man., who have been through more than most as the fighting season progressed.

The remaining few Patricias still on the ground will head home over the next two weeks as their replacements from the third battalion Royal Canadian Regiment of Petawawa take over the mission in Kandahar province.
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Combat Camera: 800 US Troops Arrive in Southern Afghanistan
Sunday, September 21, 2008
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Villagers in Afghanistan flee from Taliban
Refugees set up tent camps as fighting rises in the south
Jason Motlagh Monday, September 22, 2008
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KABUL, Afghanistan | Bringing down his shovel with a dull thud, Wakhil Malik Muhammad broke ground on another home away from home.

Heavy fighting across southern Afghanistan over the past two years has forced thousands of families to flee backcountry villages caught between the firepower of coalition forces and a resurgent Taliban.

At a time when the Bush administration is re-evaluating its entire strategy in Afghanistan, a steady stream of Afghans from the Taliban-controlled south is flocking to a mud-baked refugee camp on the western edge of the capital.

"Every day we were living in fear, so we finally left," said Mr. Muhammad, a native of Helmand province in southern Afghanistan, who first migrated to neighboring Uruzgan province with his wife and two daughters before coming to Kabul a month ago. "It is better to die by choice than to wait for a bomb."

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Thursday that Washington is considering changing its war strategy in Afghanistan in light of rising levels of violence, an increasingly complex insurgent threat and concern over civilian deaths from U.S. air strikes.
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Pakistan's contradictory faces
In a country rife with extremism I saw civilized culture and a triumphant human spirit.
By Teri Rizvi from the September 22, 2008 edition
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Lahore, Pakistan - Pakistan is a country where militants in the idyllic Swat Valley have torched more than 130 girls' schools. Where dozens of suicide bombings (including a major one in the capital Saturday) – and the assassination of Benazir Bhutto – have rocked civilian life. Where suspected spies are publicly executed and women have very little freedom near the Taliban-infested border with Afghanistan.

It's also a country where my niece and I can don sweat pants and T-shirts and hit the treadmill at the gym. It's an upscale coed health club where men wear shorts, treadmills are outfitted with TV screens, and the trainer brings you ice water – a custom so civilized that it should be adopted worldwide.

In my first journey back to my husband's homeland in three summers, I was struck by these contradictory faces of Pakistan. An armed security guard stoically stood watch inside the gate of our family's home in Lahore, a bustling city near the border of India.
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Guns mostly fall silent in Afghanistan on Peace Day
September 21, 2008 11:24 EDT
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KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- The U.N. says guns have been silent across most of Afghanistan today, though reports of two incidents are marring International Peace Day.

Officials in southern Afghanistan say two security guards have been killed by Taliban militants at a road construction site. Fighting also continues in the western province of Herat, where a battle began with a militant attack yesterday. Eleven police were killed in the attack.

But elsewhere in the cournty the cease-fire agreement appears to be holding. The United States, NATO, the Afghan government and the Taliban have all pledged to halt attacks.
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Taliban Propaganda Watch (RC South)
222020EDT Sept 08

.pdf version attached at bottom of message

NOTE:  The following material is from web pages and forums carrying statements attributed to the Taliban, Taliban spokespersons or supporters of the Taliban, or analysis thereof.  Posting of this material neither confirms nor endorses any of its content - it is shared for information only.  When material translated into English is not available, Google Translate is used to translate the original (indicated by "GoogEng") - this is only a machine translation, NOT an official one.

"Capture convoy with foodstuffs for the British invaders in Helmend" (GoogEng) - Original in Arabic
Mujahideen Gnamwa trucks near Tamoilleten of Hkurjah
Qari / Yousuf Ahmadi
The mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate of sheep at 11:15 noon today 22-9-2008 trucks loaded with food in the area near the eye of the Hkurjah the capital of Helmand, when they were carrying such materials to the occupied status of forces located in the English department Jermser the state itself.  At the beginning of the attack by security troops chose to flee towards the convoy, the mujahideen Vgnm trucks from the convoy, in the absence of the possibility of transfer to a safe place they Bahrachma.

"9 puppet police killed in Uruzgan"
Monday morning 22-09-2008 at approximately 7:10 am local, Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, with remote controlled landmines blew up a truck vehicles of puppet police in Sar MArghab area near Tharen Kot city capital of Uruzan province. The landmines completely destroyed the vehicles and  9 puppet terrorists in it were killed .  Reported by Qari Yousuf Ahmadi

"21 puppet police killed   in Nemroz"
Sunday night 21-09-2008 at approximately 3:20 am local, Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, with heavy and light weapons attacked puppet police checkpoints in Sharno area of Zaranj city capital of Nemroz  province. In attack the checkpoints were demolished ,21 puppet police  were killed a few vehicles were destroyed. the arms  of Killed soldiers were Mujahideen booty.  Reported by Zabihullah Mujahid

- edited to add first item -
Kandahar district chief is killed
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A roadside bomb has killed an Afghan district chief and a police official in the southern Kandahar province.

The attack took place when the district chief of Registan, Amir Mohammad, was driving home with police official Assadullah, police said.

Four of their guards have been wounded. Taleban insurgents have claimed responsibility for the attack.

Kandahar is a key battleground of the Taleban insurgency where Afghan and foreign troops are fighting the rebels.

The bomb struck a vehicle carrying the officials in Registan district late on Monday, news agency Associated Press quoted police chief Matiullah Khan as saying.

"They are both killed and four of their guards were wounded," he said.
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Taliban Propaganda Watch (RC South)
230735EDT Sept 08

.pdf version attached at bottom of message

NOTE:  The following material is from web pages and forums carrying statements attributed to the Taliban, Taliban spokespersons or supporters of the Taliban, or analysis thereof.  Posting of this material neither confirms nor endorses any of its content - it is shared for information only.  When material translated into English is not available, Google Translate is used to translate the original (indicated by "GoogEng") - this is only a machine translation, NOT an official one.

"(P)uppet district governor killed in   Kandahar"
Monday morning 22-09-2008 at approximately 7:20 pm local, Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, with remote controlled landmines blew up a a vehicle  of puppet district governor of Registan district of Kandahar province in Wata Ghaz area of Boldak city. The landmines completely destroyed the vehicles and  and governor among 5 puppet terrorists in it were killed .  Reported by Qari Yousuf Ahmadi

UN Department of Public Information, Sept. 22

Recognizing the need to curb the Taliban resurgence and the narcotics trade while minimizing civilian casualties in Afghanistan, the Security Council today decided to extend the authorization of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in that country for 12 months.

According to resolution 1833 (2008), passed unanimously under the binding Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the extension would apply for one year beyond 13 October 2008, when the present authorization was set to expire.  In the resolution, the 15-member body also called on Member States to contribute personnel, equipment and other resources to ISAF and to the related Trust Fund.

In addition, the Council encouraged ISAF and other partners to accelerate progress in strengthening the Afghan national security sector so that it could ensure the rule of law throughout the country...


Reiterating its support for the continuing endeavours by the Afghan Government, with the assistance of the international community, including ISAF and the Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) coalition [emphasis added[, to improve the security situation and to continue to address the threat posed by the Taliban, Al-Qaida and other extremist groups, and stressing in this context the need for sustained international efforts, including those of ISAF and the OEF coalition...

Welcoming the continued coordination between ISAF and the OEF coalition [emphasis added], and the cooperation established between ISAF and the European Union presence in Afghanistan, in particular its police mission (EUPOL Afghanistan)...

Bush Administration Reviews Its Afghanistan Policy, Exposing Points of Contention
NY Times, Sept. 22

Four months before President Bush leaves office, his top civilian and military aides are conducting four major new reviews of the war strategy and overall mission in Afghanistan, which have exposed internal fissures over American troop levels, how billions of aid dollars are spent, and how to cope with a deteriorating security situation in neighboring Pakistan.

The most ambitious of the assessments, run by the White House, begins in earnest this week with a series of high-level meetings, administration officials said. Officials have been directed to produce detailed recommendations within about two weeks for Mr. Bush’s most senior advisers on a broad range of security, counterterrorism, political and development issues. Many of the dozen aides interviewed for this article spoke on condition of anonymity because the reviews are continuing.

Some of the issues being studied, including proposed increases in American troop levels in Afghanistan, have set off internal debate and could have far-reaching consequences for the next administration.

Last week, Gen. David D. McKiernan, the top American commander in Afghanistan, said he needed as many as 15,000 combat and support troops beyond the 8,000 additional troops that Mr. Bush had recently approved for deployment early next year. The general’s announcement came after he sent his request to the Pentagon; it has not yet been acted on...

Gates: Building Afghan forces is biggest challenge
AP, Sept, 23

The biggest challenge in Afghanistan is building reliable and capable Afghan security forces, and U.S. commanders still have too few troops to do the job, Defense Secretary Robert Gates says.

Saying that violence will continue in Afghanistan until insurgents' safe havens in Pakistan are eliminated, Gates said it is crucial for the U.S. to maintain a strong relationship with Islamabad's fledgling government.

In testimony prepared for delivery Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gates paints a somber picture of the hurdles in Afghanistan, as the U.S. heads toward its eighth year at war there.

He said the U.S. must encourage Afghanistan and Pakistan to work together to secure their border — a volatile region that has seen an increase in deadly clashes in the past year. The violence there has been exacerbated by ongoing tensions over cross-border incursions by U.S. troops as well as reports of civilian casualties, and unconfirmed suggestions that U.S. helicopters have been targeted by Pakistanis during border operations.

"Until the insurgency is deprived of safe havens, insecurity and violence will persist," Gates said. Pressing for better relations between Islamabad and Kabul, he added that any deterioration would be a setback for both countries. "The war on terror started in this region. It must end there."..

The requirements include more helicopters, combat troops, trainers and other support forces. But with more than 140,000 forces committed in Iraq, the U.S. has not had the available troops to send to Afghanistan. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has often noted that in Afghanistan "we do what we can, in Iraq we do what we must."

That, said Gates, can now change.

"With the positive developments in Iraq, the strategic flexibility provided by ongoing troop reductions there, and the prospect of further reductions next year — I think it is possible in the months to come to do militarily what we must in both countries [emphasis added]," he said...

U.S., Afghans and Pakistanis Consider Joint Military Force
Washington Post, Sept, 23

Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States are discussing the creation of a joint military force to attack insurgent sanctuaries on both sides of the rugged Afghan-Pakistani border, a senior Afghan official said yesterday.

Afghan Defense Minister Rahim Wardak said he had proposed the idea and it was discussed last month at a meeting of military officers from the three countries that focused on the border problem.

"The terrorists have not recognized any boundaries," Wardak told reporters at the Pentagon, where he met with senior U.S. defense officials. "So to fight them, we have to eventually come up with some arrangement, together with our neighbor Pakistan."

Pakistan's government is considering the plan, Wardak said. "They say they are looking at it."

U.S. Predator drones have frequently struck suspected insurgent targets in Pakistan, and helicopter-borne American commandos have staged at least one ground attack inside the country, earlier this month. Cross-border action, notably the ground strike, has deeply angered the Pakistani public.

Pentagon officials said the idea of a joint task force was new. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have for months stated that the U.S. military is willing to conduct joint operations with Pakistani forces against insurgent havens in tribal areas in Pakistan. But there has been no talk of Pakistani forces entering Afghanistan, or of Afghan soldiers going into Pakistan.

Mullen, who was in Los Angeles yesterday, said he had not heard details of such a joint task force, but he called Wardak's effort welcome...

UK 'has uphill task in Afghanistan'
Press Association, Sept, 22

British soldiers in Afghanistan face a "long uphill task" and progress in the country could take years to achieve, Defence Secretary Des Browne has warned.

Mr Browne said the military was making a "positive difference" in the country despite facing a "difficult and dangerous" task.

He repeated the Prime Minister's statement in July that next year there could be a "fundamental change of mission" in Iraq.

The nation owed service personnel "a debt we can never fully repay", Mr Browne said, while praising Gordon Brown's leadership in implementing support for armed forces members and their families.

Speaking to Labour's conference, Mr Browne claimed the increased compensation for the armed forces was a recognition of their "special service".

Britain currently has around 8,000 troops in Afghanistan and around 4,000 in Iraq. Last week Mr Browne insisted the position on UK troop levels in Afghanistan was "very clear" following claims they could be increased next year by drawing down the force in Iraq.

Mr Browne told delegates: "British troops have made a substantial contribution to the fact that next year there can be a fundamental change of mission in Iraq. By any standard, this is a hugely important milestone."

On Afghanistan he said: "Although we face a longer haul, and the task of reconstruction is so much greater, our brave troops are making a positive difference too."

But he added: "I have always been clear that while progress has been made we still have long uphill task. It is difficult and dangerous and it will take us years to achieve."..

Articles found September 23, 2008

‘Hot Winter’ of Fighting Expected in Afghanistan
Intelligence Shows Taliban Plans to Launch Offensive Amid Extreme Weather
By Spencer Ackerman 9/23/08 8:24 AM
Article Link

KABUL, Afghanistan — Since Afghans took up arms against the Soviet occupation in 1979, insurgency in war-torn Afghanistan has followed a cyclical pattern. The spring and the summer are for fighting. The winter — which, particularly along the mountainous, porous eastern border with Pakistan, can feature six-foot snowbanks — is for regrouping. Until, perhaps, now.

U.S. military officials are warning that intelligence now indicates that the Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan plans to launch major operations this winter. While those officials publicly claim they’re prepared for a winter offensive, it would place U.S. counterinsurgency efforts in unfamiliar territory, with little precedent to guide them. It would likely entail a major escalation of insurgent aggression to cap off what has already been the bloodiest year for the U.S. military in the seven-year war.
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Sarkozy Wins Approval for French Role In Afghanistan
By Edward Cody Washington Post Foreign Service  Tuesday, September 23, 2008; Page A16
Article Link

PARIS, Sept. 22 -- The French government won parliamentary backing Monday for its domestically unpopular military involvement in Afghanistan. Accused of following an unwise policy dictated by Washington, however, it fell far short of the national consensus sought by President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The vote in the National Assembly, 343 to 210, authorized Sarkozy to keep France's 3,000-member military contingent alongside U.S. and other international forces in Afghanistan as the Bush administration reviews its strategy and considers sending reinforcements to counter a surge in Taliban attacks. But a sharp debate that preceded the balloting also put on vivid display the public unease over what opposition legislators called a poorly thought-out commitment without an exit strategy, in a faraway and little-understood land.

"You give the French people the perspective of a limitless continuation of a failed strategy," said the opposition Socialist Party's parliamentary leader, Jean-Marc Ayrault. He added: "We no longer accept the drift we see at work in Afghanistan. We are slipping into a war of occupation that has no limits, neither in duration nor in objectives."
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U.S. has no more troops for Afghan war until spring
Reuters, Sept.23

The United States will not have enough forces available to meet a request for more troops from NATO's top commander in Afghanistan until next spring at the earliest, the U.S. defense chief said on Tuesday.

"Without changing deployment patterns, without changing length of tours, we do not have the forces to send three additional brigade combat teams to Afghanistan at this point," Defense Secretary Robert Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"My view is that those forces will become available probably during the spring and summer of 2009," he said.

Under plans announced by President George W. Bush this month, the United States will deploy a Marine force of nearly 2,000 troops in November and an Army brigade of around 4,000 troops in January.

But U.S. Army Gen. David McKiernan, the head of the NATO-led force in Afghanistan, said last week that he needed three more brigades plus support units, totaling around 15,000 troops -- in addition to those scheduled to arrive in coming months.

The United States now has about 33,000 troops in Afghanistan, including 13,000 under NATO command.

But the military has been constrained from sending additional forces by the ongoing troop commitment in Iraq, where there are about 150,000 U.S. forces.

Taliban Propaganda Watch (RC South)
240653EDT Sept 08

.pdf version attached at bottom of message

NOTE:  The following material is from web pages and forums carrying statements attributed to the Taliban, Taliban spokespersons or supporters of the Taliban, or analysis thereof.  Posting of this material neither confirms nor endorses any of its content - it is shared for information only.  When material translated into English is not available, Google Translate is used to translate the original (indicated by "GoogEng") - this is only a machine translation, NOT an official one.

"The occupation forces & International Day of Peace!!" - .pdf permalink
....  We openly say "in every country whereas the war fire has been spread and the nations destroy in, how is it possible to bring the peace. If US, UK and their allies give up from these sufferings and really bring the peace to these countries, there is no doubt that there will be virtual peace and security, the rug of barbarism will be collected the human will began comfortable life from the start.  In fact that is US and its allies fighting everywhere, support the militants and spread seed of war ..... (more on links)


British Airways suspends flights to Pakistan indefinitely
British Airways has suspended all flights to Pakistan indefinitely after the bomb blast there that killed 53 people.

Daily Telegraph, Sept. 23

BA normally operates six flights a week between London and the Pakistan capital Islamabad.

The city was the scene of a huge bomb attack which left more than 53 people dead and injured around 250 people including six British citizens.

Today the airline said flights would be suspended indefinitely because of the turmoil in Pakistan.

A BA spokesman added: "We will not compromise on the safety of our customers, staff or planes."

The announcement came the day after BA declared that it had cancelled two of its Islamabad flights as the Foreign Office tightened up its own advice to Britons travelling to Pakistan.

It said that there was a heightened risk to westerners in Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar.

As a result it advised against non-essential travel to these cities along with avoiding areas where there were reports of either military or militant activity...

The Smart Money in Afghanistan
Washington Post, Sept. 24, by Anne Applebaum

The scene is a small textile factory in a new industrial park on the outskirts of Kabul; the characters are an Afghan businessman, his American partner and a USAID official, the latter straight out of central casting: flustered, important, accompanied by gun-wielding bodyguards. She speaks of the U.S. Agency for International Development's plans for "small and medium-sized enterprise development," lauds the USAID-funded industrial park and alludes to the "$5.4 billion" the agency has spent in Afghanistan since 2002. She hands out an expensive-looking, glossy USAID brochure that describes, among other things, the goal of our meeting: "to show international media opinion leaders that progress is being made in economic growth in Afghanistan."

Unfortunately, the factory is half-empty that day: Prices for fuel and other inputs are so high in Kabul that no textile business can compete with those in India or Pakistan. The factory depends on Afghan army uniform orders, which come in irregularly. So does the fabric to make them, since the customs bureaucracy is still plagued by corruption and inefficiency. When the USAID official starts listing the assistance given to the Afghan customs service -- this includes training for officials, construction of border posts, even gifts of uniforms -- the American partner shrugs, unimpressed. "It would be good to move forwards instead of backwards," she says. "There's never any follow-through." Afterward, the Afghan businessman confides that he has been robbed by the police. It isn't the Taliban that Afghan entrepreneurs fear; it is their own government, corrupted by international money and now infiltrated by criminal networks, too.

This is the chaos that is foreign aid in Afghanistan, a place where every mistake ever made in an underdeveloped economy is being repeated. This is a country in which all the best people are being hired away from the national government by the alphabet soup of aid agencies on the ground; in which the same aid agencies are driving up real estate and food prices; in which millions are squandered on dubious contractors, both local and foreign; in which the minister for rural development admits he doesn't know what all of the NATO reconstruction teams in rural districts do; in which the top U.N. official, given a mandate to coordinate the donors, says the donors don't respond to his attempts to coordinate them.

Conflicting agendas, overlapping projects, money badly spent: We've been here before, many times, and the conclusions are always the same. Some of them have recently been restated by a former Afghan minister of finance, Ashraf Ghani, and Clare Lockhart, director of the Institute for State Effectiveness, in their book, "Fixing Failed States." Its central argument: Well-meaning foreigners should not fix roads; they should teach the Afghan government to fix roads, thus helping it acquire legitimacy. Foreigners shouldn't feed Afghans but, rather, develop Afghan agriculture so that the Afghans can feed themselves, export their surplus and develop a stake in the rule of law too.

Some of this thinking has filtered down to the provinces, where "Afghanization" is now a buzzword and foreign construction projects now fly the Afghan flag. But the change in attitude may have come too late: A harsh winter, a bad drought and constant fighting mean that Afghanistan, which suffered a terrible famine in 2001, could well be on the brink of another one. Starving Afghans? Think about it: A greater indictment of the massive international aid and reconstruction effort would be hard to imagine.

And a famine here would not just constitute a humanitarian crisis. To put it bluntly, Afghans who have no food are easily purchased by the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other extremists who come over the border from Pakistan, looking to pay insurgents. Last weekend's bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad is an excellent reminder of just how sophisticated these groups have become. But you don't have to cross the border to find trouble. Recent attacks on NATO soldiers in previously peaceful parts of northern and western Afghanistan are evidence that poverty and insecurity are spreading, not shrinking, within the country as well.

For once, the solution lies not in greater funding but in more intelligent use of the massive resources available. It may partly lie in smaller Afghan charities such as Afghan Health and Development Services, which sends family doctors (without security teams) out to the provinces, where they work in conjunction with the Ministry of Health; or with less demanding foreigners such as the Filipino aid workers who have set up a credit union-- following Islamic banking practices, of course -- in the provincial city of Tarin Kowt. They lack qualified staff, and they don't like the gunfire they hear at night. But, with the advantage of "looking Afghan" ("people think I am Tajik," one of them told me, laughing), they soldier on: Their credit union has 467 members and has made 83 loans. A little bit of money goes a long way in Afghanistan, they tell me. Too bad so many in the aid community still haven't learned this, after all these years.

Articles found September 24, 2008

US drone crashes in northwest Pakistan
Article Link

A suspected US pilotless drone has crashed in the northwestern Pakistani region of South Waziristan after a spate of missile attacks by unmanned US aircraft in Pakistan strained ties between both countries.

Pakistan has said US missile attacks and one US ground assault are a violation of its sovereignty and the army has vowed to defend Pakistani territory.

President Asif Ali Zardari met US President George W. Bush in New York yesterday and spoke strongly about protecting Pakistani sovereignty, Mr Bush said.

Pakistani news channels said early today that a US-operated drone had come down near the border village of Angor Adda, where US commandos launched a raid on September 3.

The Pakistani military confirmed that a pilotless aircraft had come down but did not identify it as American. However, other countries with forces in Afghanistan have not been known to operate drones over Pakistani territory.

"A surveillance unmanned aerial vehicle while flying over Pak-Afghan border yesterday night crash landed, on this side of the border ... apparently due to malfunctioning," the army said in a statement.

"The wreckage ... has been recovered."

Residents and Pakistani security officials have reported troops firing on US helicopters in recent days, forcing them to turn back to Afghanistan. US officials have dismissed the reports claiming no helicopters had taken fire
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Pakistan Wants U.S. Intelligence to Aid Fight Against Militants
By Paul Tighe
Article Link

Sept. 24 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. should provide intelligence to help Pakistan's security forces fight pro- Taliban militants in the tribal regions bordering Afghanistan, Information Minister Sherry Rehman said.

Pakistan wants ``actionable intelligence and we will act upon it,'' the official Associated Press of Pakistan cited Rehman as saying in New York where she is attending the United Nations General Assembly with President Asif Ali Zardari.

The Pakistani leader will use his address this week to outline the critical situation the country is facing trying to combat extremists, Rehman said. A suicide bomb attack killed 53 people at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad on Sept. 20.

Pakistan's anti-terrorism operations have created tensions with the U.S., which says the government isn't doing enough to combat al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters based on the Pakistani side of the border with Afghanistan. Zardari has made clear Pakistan objects to the U.S. carrying out unilateral military strikes inside Pakistani territory in pursuit of terrorists.

Zardari warned in his first speech to Parliament on Sept. 20 that his country won't tolerate the violation of its sovereignty and territory.
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A US-NATO War In Pakistan? – An Anatomy of the Current Crisis
Published on Tuesday, September 23, 2008 by CommonDreams.org by Alan Nasser
Article Link

On Saturday evening, the Marriott hotel in Islamabad, Pakistan, one of the city’s two most luxurious hotels, located near the presidential office, the parliament building, and a host of foreign embassies, was devastated by a bomb blast that left fifty three dead, including the Czech ambassador and two U.S. Defense Department officials.

The recent background to this latest in a series of increasingly sophisticated and bold insurgent strikes is revealing: since September 3, the U.S. has launched ground incursions and six missile attacks in Pakistan’s border regions. The U.S.-NATO aim is to cripple supporters along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border supportive of the anti-occupation resistance in Afghanistan.

The destruction of the Marriott was the latest response to Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari’s complicity with Washington in the military assaults on the perceived center of insurgent support in Pakistan, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), including the North-West Frontier Provinces (NWFP). Just hours before the Marriott blast Zardari told the country’s parliament that he is determined to free Pakistan from “the shackles of terrorism.”

This pledge confirmed Zardari’s determination to continue to order the Pakistani military, an institution harboring more than a few sympathers with the insurgents, to launch assaults on suspected insurgent -”terrorist”- strongholds. It is common knowledge that this policy is a response to pressure from Washington.
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Palin Adviser On Karzai, Uribe, and Kissinger Meetings
by Shushannah Walshe
Article Link

NEW YORK—Sarah Palin’s Foreign Policy adviser, Stephen Biegun met with the press to give more details on Palin’s meetings today with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, and Former Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger.

Biegun also revealed that the Alaska Governor began her day with a two-hour briefing with Admiral Mike McConnell, the Director of National Intelligence and several of his staff members.

Due to security concerns, he did not give many details, but said it was an “excellent briefing” and that it was a standard briefing that all three of the other candidates are offered.

Biegun said that in all three separate meetings with Karzai, Uribe, and Kissinger that they spoke about “energy securities as a national security issue.”

In her meeting with Karzai, they spoke about the resurgence of violence in Afghanistan, rights for women in his country, and defeating the Taliban, “In President Karzai’s meeting they discussed the security situation in Afghanistan. They discussed the need for more US troops,” Biegun said, “They discussed what we can do together to bring increased prosperity and stability to Afghanistan and president Karzai emphatically asked governor Palin to convey in any opportunity she had to the American people the deep gratitude of Afghanistan for all the American people and the American military have done for that country.”
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Welcome home, Princess Pats
National Post  Published: Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Article Link

The second battalion of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (2PPCLI) have returned home from Afghanistan. Theirs was a particularly brutal tour. Even by the standard Canadian troops have witnessed since setting up operations in the violent Kandahar region nearly three years ago, 2PPCLI and its affiliated regiments suffered heavy casualties and faced more violence from the Taliban. Canadians should be proud of their service and grateful for their sacrifice.

The Afghanistan mission has introduced new terms into the Canadian vocabulary, such as IED. Many Canadians may not be able to tell you those three letters stand for improvised explosive

device, but they know an IED is typically a roadside bomb detonated remotely by insurgents who, once they have pressed the button, scurry out of the area. At least four of the nine members of 2PPCLI killed in Afghanistan were the victims of IEDs.

In all, 17 Canadians were killed while on Afghan duty during 2PPCLI's six months in charge of our mission as our troops faced a newly rearmed and emboldened terrorist threat. Eight combat engineers, field ambulance operators and infantrymen from other units temporarily attached to the 2PPCLI battle group also died.
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US military releases Afghan journalist
By FISNIK ABRASHI – 2 days ago
Article Link

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The U.S. military said Monday that it has freed an Afghan journalist held as an "enemy combatant" at the main American base in Afghanistan.

Jawed Ahmad, who was working for CTV, a Canadian television network, was handed over to Afghan authorities Sunday, said Capt. Christian Patterson, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition.

Ahmad, 22, was detained Oct. 26, 2007, at a NATO base near the southern city of Kandahar. He was later transferred to a detention center at the U.S. military base at Bagram, north of Kabul.

Patterson said Ahmad was no longer considered a threat.

Ahmad was accused of having contact with Taliban leaders, including possessing their phone numbers and video footage of them, according to a complaint filed by Ahmad's lawyers earlier this year in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia.

After designating him an "unlawful enemy combatant" earlier this year, the U.S. military insisted Ahmad was not arrested because of his work as a journalist. However, it never spelled out the reasons for his incarceration.

Rights campaigners compared Ahmad's case to that of Bilal Hussein, an Associated Press photographer who spent more than two years in U.S. military custody in Iraq. Hussein initially was accused of working with Iraqi insurgents but was released in April after Iraqi judges closed his case.
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The Women of the Kabul Police Academy

Spiegel Online, Sept. 24

Of the over 1,600 cadets at the Kabul Police Academy, only 10 are women. They are breaking traditions and taking considerable personal risk.Yet it is still almost impossible to find female officers patrolling the streets -- many are still stuck in desk jobs...

Ten women, together with about 1,600 male students, are currently undergoing training here to become police officers. They are part of the one-third of all students destined to become higher-ranking officers. For these young women, this means attending the academy for three years.

Ten Female Officers for a New Afghanistan

Together with the men, the female students complete courses in shooting pistols and Kalashnikovs, in computer science, tactics and house-to-house combat. There is no separate girls' class. The women and men are trained together, except in physical education and in certain exercises like today's.

In terms of their appearance, the only difference between the young women and their mail counterparts is the black headscarf they wear. Their hair, ears and necks must be covered. The headscarf is part of the uniform, which consists of grey slacks and a corresponding jacket -- for men and women...

Iran to build cars in Afghanistan
Payvand News, Iran
[Printer Friendly Version]

Iran's ambassador to Kabul says an assembly line for the manufacture of Iranian-designed cars will soon launch production in Afghanistan.

"The negotiations to install the production line for the Iran Khodro Company in Afghanistan have started," said Fada Hossein Maleki to a group of Iranians living in the country.

Iran Khodro Group (IKCO) manufactures various vehicle models in seven countries across the globe.

The production capacity of these plants is a total 225,000 vehicles per year. "The Iranian government supports companies who are ready to invest in Afghanistan," Maleki said.

Iran's envoy added that the construction of an Iranian tractor assembly line in Afghanistan will soon be complete.

Iran Khodro is the largest carmaker in the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa regions with an annual production of more than one million vehicles, including cars, trucks and buses.

The Managing Director of Iran-Khodro, Manouchehr Manteqi, recently said that the company has plans to export 600,000 cars and $10 billion worth of products by 2016.

"To achieve this goal, we have decided to double our exports," Manteqi said.

NATO troops must take on Afghan drugs trade: commander
[Printer Friendly Version]

KABUL — Senior NATO commander General John Craddock called for alliance troops to step up the fight against Afghanistan's drugs trade as he ended a three-day visit to the country Wednesday, his office said.

Craddock, the alliance's Supreme Allied Commander for Europe, was in Afghanistan for an "operational update" and to meet troops in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), it said in a statement.

"As an interim measure I've asked for expanded authority from NATO to permit ISAF attack of drug laboratories and drug trafficking facilities -- not the farmers," Craddock was cited as saying during his trip.

Afghanistan produces around 90 percent of the world's illegal opium, much of which is turned into heroin inside the country and exported to Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia.

The United Nations says some of the profits from the lucrative trade fund an extremist insurgency as farmers are often obliged to pay a 10 percent tax to the strongmen in their areas, whether it be Taliban or corrupt officials.

Craddock stressed he was not talking about ISAF troops becoming involved in government-led attempts to wipe out opium poppy fields.

Eradication efforts have cost the lives of at least 65 Afghan soldiers and police this year, according to the Afghan government.

However if soldiers could destroy facilities used to turn opium into heroin, traffickers would be hurt the most and militants and corrupt officials would be deprived their cut of the trade, Craddock said.

He stated that a kilo (2.2 pounds) of opium was worth about 100 dollars, while the same amount of heroin was around 3,500 dollars.

Craddock also challenged concerns from some of the nearly 40 nations with troops in ISAF, whom he did not identify, that an increased counternarcotics role could result in more ferocious attacks on NATO forces.

"This is a totally specious argument," he said.

"What's more ferocious than IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and suicide bombs? If we do this, we'll cut the legs out from under them because they won't have the money to pay the bomb makers and buy the materials to attack us."

Craddock said he was optimistic the North Atlantic Council, NATO's governing body, would approve his request because ISAF's troops were "being killed because of the money being generated from this industry."

"As a commander I can't let this continue without doing everything I can to stop it. This is the best measure we can give our forces for the best opportunity to come home safe and sound," he said.

The UN-mandated ISAF, currently at about 50,000 troops, already helps Afghan counternarcotics forces, including with some air support and medical evacuation if they come under attack.

The head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, last week called for ISAF to target the drugs labs.

"The international forces could destroy these laboratories within 24 hours," he told reporters at a breakfast meeting in Paris.

NATO should "disrupt the supply chain" by attacking drug convoys and markets as well as clamping down on the import of chemicals used to make opium, he said, criticising the reluctance of "European countries" to tackle the problem.


Taliban Propaganda Watch (RC South)
250745EDT Sept 08

.pdf version attached at bottom of message

NOTE:  The following material is from web pages and forums carrying statements attributed to the Taliban, Taliban spokespersons or supporters of the Taliban, or analysis thereof.  Posting of this material neither confirms nor endorses any of its content - it is shared for information only.  When material translated into English is not available, Google Translate is used to translate the original (indicated by "GoogEng") - this is only a machine translation, NOT an official one.

"Local leader of goverment killed in Kandahar"(GoogEng) - "Original in Arabic"
Commander killed in Kandahar
Qari / Yousuf Ahmadi
Killed a local leader of the management process called / Haji Baja at 01:20 noon today 24-9-2008 in a surprise attack by the Mujahideen in the Islamic Emirate of Kandahar city, when he was on his way to his home.  A resident of the Directorate of Dnd state itself.  The week before an intelligence officer killed (Torjan) inside the city gate in the intersection of a similar attack in Kabul by the mujahideen.

"1 vehicle of Puppet police blew up in Kandahar"
Wednesday evening 24-09-2008 at approximately 7:30pm local Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, with remote controlled landmines blew up a vehicles of puppet police in Hotghar area of Boldak district of Kandahahar province. The landmines completely destroyed the vehicles and  4 puppet terrorists in it were killed .Reported by Qari Muhammad Yousuf

"A tank of Australian invaders blew up in Uruzgan"
Tuesday  afternoon 23-09-2008, Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,with remote controlled landmine blew up a tank of Austrlian occupation army when it was travelling in Snanoghoni area near Tharenkot city capital of Uruzgan province. In the  explosion the tank was completely destroyed and 4 Australian occupation terrorists in it were killed. Reported by Qari Yousuf Ahmadi

"Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan military operations against the kafirs, munafiqs and the worshippers of Idols .... 24-09-2008"
In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful
All Praise and thanks are due to Allah, the Lord of all that exists and may peace and prayers be upon the Messenger of Allah, his family, companions in entirety ....  (more on link)

Articles found September 25, 2008

Bomb Attacks Target Afghan Police
By VOA News  25 September 2008
  Article Link

Afghan officials say militants have targeted police forces in two separate attacks that left three people dead in the southern province of Kandahar.

They say in one attack, a civilian died Thursday, when a bomb fixed to a bicycle exploded near a bus carrying police trainers in Kandahar city.

In a separate attack Wednesday, two policemen were killed when a remote-controlled bomb blew up their vehicle in Spin Boldak district.

Afghan security forces and international troops have been battling Taliban militants since U.S.-led forces pushed the Taliban from power in 2001.

U.S. officials say the Bush administration is reviewing its military strategy in Afghanistan, just four months before President George Bush leaves office.
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AFGHANISTAN-PAKISTAN: Bajaur residents flee fighting
ISLAMABAD, 25 September 2008 (IRIN)
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As fighting in Pakistan's northern areas intensifies, about 2,800 families from the tribal area of Bajaur are reported to have crossed into neighbouring Afghanistan.

Most are believed to be based in the Kunar province of Afghanistan, along Pakistan's western border.

AFP quoted Afghanistan's deputy refugees minister, Abdul Qader Ahadi, as confirming they had entered Afghanistan after "they escaped fighting between Pakistani Taliban and the security forces".

He told the news agency most were women and children. Each family comprises about 20 people on average.

Pakistan's autonomous Human Rights Commission (HRCP) this month put the number of people displaced by conflict in Bajaur, Swat, Waziristan and other northern areas at 700,000.

HRCP said those people had been forced to flee areas along the Pakistani-Afghan border due to US bombings targeting militants and from other areas due to Pakistan security forces fighting militants.

HRCP has estimated at least 2,000 civilian deaths over the past year due to conflict.
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Senator decries Afghanistan absence
National security issue missing from election race
Gwendolyn Richards, Calgary Herald Published: Thursday, September 25, 2008
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The lack of discussion about national security and the ongoing role of Canadian troops in Afghanistan is discouraging, says a senator on the standing committee for national security and defence.

Debate over the issue was effectively removed when Prime Minister Stephen Harper said earlier this month Canadian troops will withdraw from a combat role in Afghanistan in 2011, Liberal Senator Colin Kenny said at a meeting Wednesday with the Herald editorial board.

"It is just as though it (the issue) doesn't exist," he said. "There's not a single candidate talking about it."
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Happy homecoming for Edmonton soldiers
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About 85 soldiers returned home last night after a six-month tour of duty in wartorn Afghanistan.

To a homecoming of family and friends, the soldiers arrived at the Edmonton Garrison gymnasium around 9 p.m.

The homecoming is a continuation of the return to Canada of about 1,000 soldiers from Edmonton and another 1,200 from Shilo, Man.

Members of the 1st and 3rd battalions of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) tank squadron, 1 Combat Engineer Regiment, as well as reservists and soldiers from Shilo, were deployed to Afghanistan beginning last February.

The units saw a resurgence in activity from Taliban fighters with a deadly summer that brought the number of Canadian soldiers who have died in Afghanistan to 97
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Tim's already double, doubles soldiers' spirits
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Look, Tim Hortons loves our soldiers, it isn't saying it's a bad idea, just that the notion from some who haven't seen the petition and its preamble -- but are hearing second hand about the idea -- that the coffee king started it, and will go ahead with it, is wrongly skewed information.

"Yes," says Rachel Douglas, director of public affairs for Tim Hortons, welcoming the opportunity to clear up the misconception, "I have seen this online petition and it does not originate from Tim Hortons."

When it comes to supporting our soldiers, including our fighting/rebuilding men and women in Afghanistan, Tim Hortons has nothing to apologize for.

Its record shines.
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Half of Canadians want reduction in Tory military spending: poll
STEVEN CHASE Exclusive to Globe and Mail Update September 24, 2008 at 5:34 PM EDT
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WINNIPEG — Half of Canadians want to scale back the Harper Conservatives' plan to boost military spending by $490-billion over two decades, a new poll suggests.

By comparison, 27 per cent of those surveyed favour continuing with the plan and 11.2 per cent want to enrich it further.

The findings by Nanos Research reveal an apparent undercurrent of dissatisfaction with Tory intentions to hike the defence budget – unease that has so far received scant attention during the federal election campaign.

The polling, conducted for the Rideau Institute, an advocacy group that opposes Canada's participation in the Afghanistan war, found that 51.8 per cent of Canadians surveyed agreed that the next federal government should “reduce its planned spending on purchasing new equipment and the war.”
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Freed Afghan journalist blames Canadian forces for ordeal
Tom Blackwell, Canwest News Service Published: Wednesday, September 24, 2008
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KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - The Afghan journalist who was freed this week after almost a year in an American jail on undefined terrorism allegations charged Wednesday that his hellish ordeal was as much the fault of Canadian Forces as those of the U.S.

Citing comments from his U.S. captors, Jawed Yazamy (called  Jawed Ahmad by the Americans) said he believes it was Canada that tipped off U.S. troops to arrest him in October 2007 while he was working for CTV News as a translator and reporter.

Alleging he was beaten and otherwise mistreated, he said he's determined to win justice and compensation from the Canadian and U.S. governments.

"They (Canadians) informed the Americans: 'He's a threat.' . . . I don't know why they did it," Yazamy said in an interview. "I will fight for justice from Canada till my last breath. What happened to me was unbelievable."

His allegations receive some backing from a fascinating affidavit - obtained by Canwest News Service on Wednesday - filed by a colleague at CTV, who described how Canadian soldiers voiced suspicions about the young journalist more than a year ago, and how U.S. troops once held the two of them at gunpoint, threatening to shoot them on the spot.

Known by many westerners here simply as "JoJo," Yazamy is one of the most dogged Afghan journalists who work for Canadian news organizations as "fixers," performing both translation and actual reporting.

He often interviewed Taliban representatives, over the phone and in person, a practice he says may have raised the suspicion of the foreign troops. Having earlier worked for U.S. Special Forces as an interpreter, he was also one of the few fixers allowed to enter Kandahar Air Field, and one of the rare Afghans of any sort seen to be walking freely through the huge NATO base.

Yazamy was scooped up by U.S. forces last October with little explanation, other than he was accused of being an "enemy combatant," then released Sunday with equally little fanfare.
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Articles found September 26, 2008

Canadians help poor Afghans celebrate Eid
Updated Fri. Sep. 26 2008 9:07 AM ET The Canadian Press
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KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan are celebrating an Islamic custom by giving food packages and gifts to 200 poor families to help them celebrate Eid, the festival marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

But they're finding out that in Afghanistan, even giving charity can be complicated.

Some recipients said others were selected to receive the gifts because they were well-connected with local officials.

Others said the supplies should be given out regularly, not just before Eid.

And while the lucky ones lined up to receive food that could last up to a week, at least another 100 waited outside the gates of Camp Nathan Smith, hoping some of the flour, oil and tea would be left over for them.

Still, without the Canadian gifts, many grateful recipients say they would have been begging on the streets for food at a time when most Afghans are celebrating the end of a month of fasting and reflection.
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Canadian Forces urged his arrest, Afghan says
The Canadian Press September 25, 2008
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Kandahar -- An Afghan freelance journalist recently freed after spending 11 months in a U.S. military prison says he was arrested at the suggestion of the Canadian Forces.

Javed Yazamy said: "It was Canadians who told them I was a risk."

A Canadian military spokesman say the forces are aware of Mr. Yazamy's accusations and are looking for more information into what happened.
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Pakistan vows to retake tribal region in 3 months
The Associated Press Friday, September 26, 2008
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KHAR, Pakistan: Pakistan will regain control of a restive tribal region bordering Afghanistan within "two to three months," a top general said during an assessment of a major offensive there against al-Qaida and Taliban militants.

Maj. Gen. Tariq Khan told reporters on an army-organized trip to the northwestern Bajur region that troops had killed between 500 and 800 militants and wounded 2,000 others since the offensive began in early August.

Some 63 troops have died and 212 were wounded, he said.

As many as 5,000 militants were believed to be fighting there and still control key areas, said Khan of the paramilitary Frontier Corps.

Still, he predicted the military would retake Bajur "within two or three months."

The U.S. has praised the offensive in Bajur, which is part of a semiautonomous tribal belt where Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaida and Taliban militants are rumored to be hiding.

Military officials paraded 10 blindfolded and handcuffed men said to be Taliban fighters arrested during the operation before the reporters who joined the trip.

Pakistan's top military spokesman, Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, told The Associated Press in a recent interview that the militants had established a virtual mini-state in Bajur as well as a "mega-sanctuary" for insurgents attacking foreign and government troops in Afghanistan.

He said militants control the main road leading into the tribal area, have converted schools into Islamic courts and have imposed taxes on timber and marble, the region's two main industries.
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French diplomat: Europeans waiting out Bush
The Associated Press Thursday, September 25, 2008
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NEW YORK: France's top diplomat said Thursday that many European nations have decided to wait out the Bush administration, hoping their "hesitation" will win more favorable deals on a host of the world's problems.

"There is a feel of people want to wait, certainly a bit," French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said, referring to the U.S. election in November. U.S. President George W. Bush will step down in January, replaced by Republican John McCain or Democrat Barack Obama.

"Look, if we are talking about Georgia, if we are talking about Afghanistan, if we are talking about Iraq, yes, there is a sort of feeling, expecting, or wondering if one of the candidates or the eventual new administration, new president, will follow the same line," said Kouchner, whose country holds the rotating European Union presidency.

"And in Afghanistan this is obvious. Will it be possible to change, reverse the actual movement by sending new troops or not? Because Mr. Obama says so," he said. "From Iraq to Afghanistan ... 25 of the 27 European countries are involved in the Afghanistan battle. So, yes, certainly there is a sort of, not anxiety, but hesitation."

Kouchner also said the global financial crisis is making many of the U.N.'s anti-poverty "Millenium Development Goals" unrealistic. He spoke to reporters at a roundtable breakfast in a hotel across the street from the U.N. General Assembly's annual ministerial session.
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Pakistan and Afghanistan Unite Against Terrorism
Wall St. Journal, Sept. 26, by HUSAIN HAQQANI and SAID T. JAWAD

President Hamid Karzai and the new democratically elected president of Pakistan, Mr. Asif Ali Zardari, are firmly committed to fighting terrorism in a united front, as common allies of the United States and victims of terrorism. As part of this struggle, we need to find new ways to deny terrorists the opportunity to capitalize on abject poverty that engulfs the tribal regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

This is crucial: People who are well fed are not desperate. People who have confidence in public education do not turn toward political madrassas to educate their children. People who have good jobs do not shelter terrorists. In other words, prosperity is one of the most important predictors of political stability, which in turn is the single most critical element in the containment of fanaticism and terrorism.

One innovative idea now before the U.S. Congress does exactly that -- the creation of Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZ) in Afghanistan and Pakistan's border region with Afghanistan, including the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The legislation, introduced on a bipartisan basis by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D., Wash.) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D., Md.) would allow the border region of Pakistan and Afghanistan to produce and export a wide range of textiles, handicrafts, carpets, gemstones and other products to the U.S. duty free. This concept is consistent with similar, successful programs for Jordan, Egypt and some other countries.

The list of duty-free goods has been crafted to be attractive to investors but tightly defined to avoid impact on U.S. domestic production. The rights of laborers will be protected; and the zones will offer legitimate, sustained income to local populations, providing alternatives to joining and supporting terrorists and extremists.

These zones would also draw Pakistan and Afghanistan's economies closer together, increasing cooperation and integration. Trade between our two countries has increased dramatically in recent years, with Pakistani exports to Afghanistan jumping from $25 million to $1.2 billion in the last six years. Further cooperation would only increase trade and expand joint efforts on matters of mutual concern -- terrorism chief among them.

The ROZ concept is enthusiastically supported by the Bush administration. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte said that "these programs will boost sustainable economic development for citizens in impoverished areas at the epicenter of the war on terror and drugs."

Sens. Joe Biden (D., Del.) and Richard Lugar (R., Ind.), the chairman and the Ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have made enhanced trade and economic development a priority for building a prosperous, stable and democratic Central and South Asia. This is an idea whose time truly has come.

We, the ambassadors of Pakistan and Afghanistan, urge Congress to move expeditiously to enact ROZ legislation. It will constitute a much-needed affirmation to the people of both our countries that America is a dependable ally, and that it understands that more than military action alone is needed in the war against terrorists...

Mr. Haqqani is Pakistan's ambassador to the U.S. Mr. Jawad is Afghanistan's ambassador to the U.S.

Afghanistan, Pakistan and security...
Conference of Defence Associations' media-roundup, Sept. 26

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