October 18, 2012

Domestic terrorism less common in the US now than in the past

Filed under: History, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:42

At the Cato@Liberty blog, Benjamin Friedman looks at the history and compares it with today’s constant worry about US domestic terror operations:

Homegrown terrorism is not becoming more common and dangerous in the United States, contrary to warnings issued regularly from Washington. American jihadists attempting local attacks are predictably incompetent, making them even less dangerous than their rarity suggests.

Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security, and Robert Mueller, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, are among legions of experts and officials who have recently warned of a rise in homegrown terrorism, meaning terrorist acts or plots carried out by American citizens or long-term residents, often without guidance from foreign organisations.

But homegrown American terrorism is not new.

Leon Czolgosz, the anarchist who assassinated President McKinley in 1901, was a native-born American who got no foreign help. The same goes for John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald and James Earl Ray. The deadliest act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history, the 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing, was largely the work of New York-born Gulf War vet, Timothy McVeigh.

As Brian Michael Jenkins of RAND notes, there is far less homegrown terrorism today than in the 1970s, when the Weather Underground, the Jewish Defense League, anti-Castro Cuban exile groups, and the Puerto Rican Nationalists of the FALN were setting off bombs on U.S. soil.

[. . .]

After the September 11, the FBI received a massive boost in counterterrorism funding and shifted a small army of agents from crime-fighting to counterterrorism. Many joined new Joint Terrorism Task Forces. Ambitious prosecutors increasingly looked for terrorists to indict. Most states stood up intelligence fusion centers, which the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) soon fed with threat intelligence.

The intensification of the search was bound to produce more arrests, even without more terrorism, just as the Inquisition was sure to find more witches. Of course, unlike the witches, only a minority of those found by this search are innocent. But many seem like suggestible idiots unlikely to have produced workable plots without the help of FBI informants or undercover agents taught to induce criminal conduct without engaging in entrapment.

September 19, 2012

Pakistan’s predicament

Filed under: Asia, Government, India, USA — Tags: , — Nicholas Russon @ 07:58

Strategy Page outlines the nasty situation the Pakistani government finds itself in:

The Pakistani government has asked the U.S. government to stop publically demanding that Pakistan take action against the terrorist sanctuary in North Waziristan. Such public demands make it more difficult for Pakistan to act as such an operation would be jumped on by the Pakistani media as Pakistan taking orders from the United States. This is a deadly accusation in Pakistan, where decades of government enthusiasm for Islamic radicalism and hatred of the United States has made it impossible for a Pakistani government to have cordial relations with America. The way the local culture works in Pakistan, this attitude means America can be blamed for just about every problem in Pakistan. That would include the persistent poverty, corruption, bad government and constant threat of another military coup. Pakistan means, literally, “Land of the Pure” and that means it’s easy for Pakistanis to believe that their problems must be caused by some external force. The United States and India have been tagged as the cause of Pakistan’s problems for so long that it’s simply not acceptable for any Pakistani politician or media outlet to describe the source of Pakistan’s problems any differently. Actually, there are a growing number of politicians and media outlets who are questioning the traditional attitudes towards the U.S., India and the personal responsibility of Pakistanis. Alas, such heretical opinions can still get you killed and many such Pakistanis emigrate or keep silent. In Pakistan, politics is very much a contact sport.

[. . .]

Pakistan has actually been sponsoring terrorist groups for decades but has so far managed to avoid admitting it. Those efforts are failing now that the U.S. and India have been pressing Pakistan more energetically to shut down terrorist operations in its territory. The recent U.S. designation of the Haqqani Network (based in North Waziristan and long under the not-so-subtle protection of the Pakistani military) as an international terrorist organization has annoyed Pakistan a great deal. For decades, it’s been no secret in Pakistan that Haqqani has government sponsorship. But the official position of the Pakistani government was that Haqqani either didn’t exist or had no government recognition or support. The U.S. presented compelling evidence to the contrary, which was another way of calling several decades’ worth of Pakistani officials liars. This designation means the Americans will now prosecute government and non-government organizations working with Haqqani. The Pakistani government knows this means specific individuals and organizations within the Pakistani government as well as banks and other commercial organizations. The U.S. prosecutors have proved to be quite relentless since September 11, 2001 and the Pakistani nightmare is retired military and intelligence officials being arrested while vising Europe or the Americas. Suddenly, the world is a more dangerous place for many Pakistani officials and businessmen who worked with Haqqani over the years. Likewise, India won’t let up on pressuring Pakistan to shut down Islamic terror groups based in Pakistan that are continuing to support Islamic terrorism in India. Pakistan has officially shut down 43 terror groups (all but two of them since September 11, 2001), and that includes 14 so far this year. But the U.S. and India point out that most of these groups simply disband and reform under another name and continue to be left alone by the Pakistani government.

August 28, 2012

A possible solution to Pakistan’s Taliban problem

Filed under: Asia, Military, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:11

Strategy Page on recent developments in Pakistan over domestic terror groups and the Afghani Taliban:

There are currently 150,000 troops in the Pakistani tribal territories, and nearly 40,000 surrounding North Waziristan (an area of 4,700 square kilometers, with 365,000 people). North Waziristan has been surrounded since late 2009, but Pakistani generals have refused to go in and take down this terrorist refuge. Politicians have been under growing pressure from the West, especially the United States to do something about the continued terror attacks by what the Pakistanis call “bad Taliban”. These are mostly Pakistani Taliban who wants to establish a religious dictatorship in Pakistan. The Afghan Taliban, who wants to establish a similar government in Afghanistan are considered “good Taliban” (along with the minority of Pakistani Taliban who don’t want to overthrow the government.)

In the last two years, the Pakistani Taliban have also caused hundreds of casualties among pro-government tribesmen throughout the tribal territories, and it’s no secret that the army hires tribesmen and puts them in dangerous situations to minimize army casualties. The army cannot afford to lose the support of the loyal tribes up there. All this has put pressure on the army to eliminate the refuge the killers can flee to in North Waziristan. Several times, because of the demands of Pakistani and American politicians, the Pakistani generals have said they will consider advancing into North Waziristan. But it hasn’t happened yet. The most likely outcome to all this is a very special army operation in North Waziristan, one that will avoid doing too much damage to their terrorist friends, and just go after a few towns known to be terrorist (who attack Pakistan) hangouts. In other words, the army will put on a show, and hope that the intended audience (the United States) approves. Bad reviews will be bad news indeed. Then there’s the fact that there will be a lot of advance publicity for this operation, including details (in the Pakistani media) of which Pakistani brigade will go where, giving the terrorist groups plenty of time to get out of the way. This has happened before, and could happen again.

The bottom line is that the Pakistani military is not likely to attack its longtime and loyal terrorist allies (especially Haqqani Network) in North Waziristan, at least not as long as the elected politicians have no control over selecting the senior military leaders. The Pakistani military is a self-selected aristocracy that extorts a large chunk of the national wealth to sustain itself. More Pakistanis are looking at the military this way, especially in light how well serving and retired generals (and lower ranking officers) live. But the military has the firepower and few civilians are eager to take the troops on.

The Pakistani generals deny that there is any agreement with the Americans to shut down terrorist operations in North Waziristan in return for NATO action against Pakistani Taliban hiding out in Afghanistan. Nevertheless, in the last week, American air power appears to have done just that, killing several senior Pakistani Taliban leaders in their Afghan hideouts. Now the Americans are waiting for their Pakistani counterparts to do something in North Waziristan. This is one reason civilians in North Waziristan are fleeing their homes. They know how such deals work; you do a big favor for someone and there has to be payback. It’s the code of honor and must be observed. But maybe not. Officially, Pakistan opposes the American UAV patrols over North Waziristan and the hundreds of missile attacks on terrorists below. Pakistani politicians openly decry these attacks as violations of Pakistani sovereignty, while privately supporting these operations that kill Islamic terrorists the Pakistani security forces will not or cannot get to. It’s all a convenient hypocrisy.

August 10, 2012

Who’s more dangerous to a random American citizen, terrorists or police officers?

Filed under: Media, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 14:56

According to Jim Harper at the Cato@Liberty blog, you’re eight times more likely to be shot by the police than killed by a terrorist:

It got a lot of attention this morning when I tweeted, “You’re Eight Times More Likely to be Killed by a Police Officer than a Terrorist.” It’s been quickly retweeted dozens of times, indicating that the idea is interesting to many people. So let’s discuss it in more than 140 characters.

In case it needs saying: Police officers are unlike terrorists in almost all respects. Crucially, the goal of the former, in their vastest majority, is to have a stable, peaceful, safe, law-abiding society, which is a goal we all share. The goal of the latter is … well, it’s complicated. I’ve cited my favorite expert on that, Audrey Kurth Cronin, here and here and here. Needless to say, the goal of terrorists is not that peaceful, safe, stable society.

I picked up the statistic from a blog post called: “Fear of Terror Makes People Stupid,” which in turn cites the National Safety Council for this and lots of other numbers reflecting likelihoods of dying from various causes. So dispute the number(s) with them, if you care to.

I take it as a given that your mileage may vary. If you dwell in the suburbs or a rural area, and especially if you’re wealthy, white, and well-spoken, your likelihood of death from these two sources probably converges somewhat (at very close to zero).

July 27, 2012

Twitter joke trial comes to the correct result, eventually

Filed under: Britain, Law, Liberty, Technology — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:53

Kelly Fiveash at The Register on the Twitter “bomb threat” case:

A bloke found guilty of tweeting a “menacing” joke about blowing up a UK airport has had his conviction quashed by the High Court today. A collective sigh of relief was heard moments later from comedians addicted to the micro-blogging website.

Paul Chambers, 28, was waiting to fly from Doncaster’s Robin Hood airport to Belfast to see his girlfriend, whom he met on the social networking site, when snow closed the airfield and delayed his flight.

He vented his frustration in a series of tweets to his squeeze Sarah Tonner, now his fiancee, including a suggestion that he had considered “resorting to terrorism” to ensure he could visit her.

[. . .]

Mr Justice Owen and Mr Justice Griffith Williams said in the High Court today that the facts needed to be considered in context, pointing out that the tweets had clearly appeared to be a reference to the airport closing due to adverse weather conditions.

“There was no evidence before the Crown Court to suggest that any of the followers of the appellant’s ‘tweet’, or indeed anyone else who may have seen the ‘tweet’ posted on the appellant’s time line, found it to be of a menacing character or, at a time when the threat of terrorism is real, even minimally alarming,” the High Court heard.

July 23, 2012

Disproportional British and Canadian combat casualties in Afghanistan

Filed under: Asia, Britain, Cancon, Military, USA — Tags: , , , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:35

Although the total losses hide it, British and Canadian soldiers took higher casualty rates than Americans during combat in Afghanistan:

In the last year, British troops in Afghanistan have been getting killed at twice the rate (1,300 per 100,000 troops per year) as Americans during the height of the fighting in Iraq. Canadian troops, until they withdrew from combat, had an even higher rate of loss. But the U.S. has a lot more troops in Afghanistan. Thus total combat deaths since late 2001 are; U.S.-2,050, Britain-422 and Canada-158.

The British military describes “major combat” as an operation where losses (killed) were greater than 600 per 100,000. Thus only recently did British losses go north of 600. There are several reasons for these different death rates. For one thing, a higher proportion of British and Canadian troops in Afghanistan are in combat. The Americans handle a lot more of the support functions and thus a smaller proportion of the U.S. force is combat troops. Finally, the U.S. had more helicopters for moving troops and a much larger number of MRAP (bomb resistant vehicles) for troops moving on the ground.

[. . .]

Despite the higher casualty rates for the British and Canadians, the overall death rate for foreign troops in Afghanistan is still lower than it was in Iraq. In the last four years, foreign troops in Afghanistan lost about 300-400 dead per 100,000 troops per year. In Iraq, from 2004-7, the deaths among foreign troops ran at 500-600 per 100,000 per year. Since al Qaeda admitted defeat in Iraq four years ago, the U.S. death rate in Iraq has dropped to less than 200 dead per 100,000 troops per year within two years, and to nothing by the end of 2011 (as the last Americans troops left). Meanwhile, the rate in Afghanistan peaked at 400 dead per 100,000 troops in 2010 and has been declining ever since.

June 25, 2012

The rot began at the top: Britain’s rotten state

Filed under: Britain, Government, Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:06

David Conway reviews The Rotten State of Britain by Eamonn Butler:

In fourteen pithy, well-documented chapters, Butler guides the reader through the maze of political, economic and social changes to which New Labour subjected Britain during their period in office. After noting that ‘the rot starts from the top’, Butler summarize the main political changes the country was made to undergo so:

‘From Magna Carta in 1215, our rights and liberties have been built up over the centuries. Trial by jury, habeas corpus, the presumption of innocence — all these and more grew up to restrain our leaders and prevent them from harassing us. Yet within a decade almost all these protections have been diluted or discarded. Our leaders are no longer restrained by the rule of law at all [22]…The Prime Minister and colleagues in Downing Street decide what is good for us and then it’s nodded through Parliament. It’s hardly democracy: it’s a centralist autocracy.’ [31]

One by one, Butler explains how each of the country’s traditional constitutional restraints on uncurbed executive power was deliberately weakened, if not altogether discarded, by New Labor in pursuit of their master political project which was, having come to equate the national good with that of their own party, to perpetuate their hegemony indefinitely. Their first step was to effect a massive centralization of power in the hands of the Prime Minister and a small clique of unelected advisors that led to a systematic downgrading of Parliament, the Cabinet and civil service.

To observers of the Canadian system, this critique sounds hauntingly familiar: change “Downing Street” to “Sussex Drive” and it’s equally valid here. Some of the centralization was already well underway before 2001, but it was accelerated by terrorist attacks and governments’ response to them:

9/11 also served New Labor, Butler argues, as a pretext for making a power-grab in the name of security that turned Britain into ‘a surveillance state’ where ‘freedom exists only in name’. [106] He chillingly observes:

‘Of course, the terrorism threat is real… But in response, we seem to have given our government powers to track us anywhere, stop and search us in the street, arrest us for any imagined offense, imprison us for peaceful protest, hold us without charge for 28 days, extradite us to the United State without evidence, ban us for being members of non-violent organizations that they don’t happen to like, export us to other EU countries to stand trial for things that aren’t a crime here, take and file our DNA samples before we’ve been convicted, charged or even cautioned for any offense — and much more as well. In the name of defending our liberties against terrorism, we seem to have lost them.’ [92-93]

June 11, 2012

UAVs and the Pakistan problem

Filed under: Asia, Military, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:13

Strategy Page on the Pakistani mess:

American leaders have become very public lately in expressing exasperation at Pakistan’s pro-terrorism policy. Officially, Pakistan denies that it supports Islamic terrorists, but the evidence is extensive and more is piles up daily. One reason Pakistan, at least the Pakistani military and intelligence establishment, is so hostile to the American UAV campaign in the tribal territories is that most of the time these pilotless aircraft are just watching what is going on down on the ground. What the UAVs see daily is vivid examples of Pakistani troops cooperating with Islamic terrorists. This surveillance process also identifies Islamic terrorist leaders and the UAVs fire missiles that kill them and their bodyguards and civilians used as human shields. Pakistan doesn’t mind it when terrorists who are, or have, attacked Pakistani targets are killed, but get very upset when terrorists allied with Pakistan are wacked. Pakistan can’t openly admit this, so the military makes a big deal of the U.S. “violating Pakistani territory.” The U.S. ignores the Pakistani complaints, the Pakistanis don’t escalate (like using American made F-16s jet to shoot down the UAVs) and the charade goes on. The Americans are fed up with it, as are the Afghans and a growing number of Pakistanis. But speaking out against the military in Pakistan, especially for a journalist, can get you jailed, murdered or “disappeared.” American are sometimes also in danger and even U.S. diplomats will suffer harassment.

The U.S. is particularly angry at Pakistan’s continued support for the Haqqani Network, a largely Afghan group that operates out of Pakistan to make attacks on enemies (political and business) in Afghanistan. Haqqani is also a major criminal organization, which is how it finances its mayhem across the border. The ISI (the Pakistani intelligence agency, controlled by the army, which handles liaison with Pakistani terrorist groups) has been assisting Haqqani Network efforts to start a new umbrella organization (the Muraqba Shura) to control all Islamic radical groups operating in North Waziristan, a terrorist sanctuary on the Afghan border.) This effort began late last year, and the Muraqba Shura now provides a semblance of unity among Islamic terror groups in North Waziristan.

June 4, 2012

Civilian casualties down in Afghanistan over last year

Filed under: Asia, Military — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:18

Strategy Page on a hopeful trend in Afghanistan:

The UN recently announced that Afghan civilian deaths to combat and terrorism have dropped 36 percent compared to last year. In the first four months of 2012, 578 civilians died, compared to 898 in the first four months of 2011. Taliban and other Islamic radical groups caused 79 percent of these deaths, Afghan security forces 12 percent and foreign forces nine percent.

Earlier this year the Taliban called the UN a liar after the release of a UN casualty report for 2011. The UN counted 3,021 civilians killed by combat last year, an eight percent increase over the previous year, and 77 percent were the victims of Taliban or other Islamic radical group action. The number of civilian dead has doubled since 2007. Last year the biggest increase was from suicide bombings, where civilian victims were up 80 percent, to 450. But biggest killer remained roadside bombs and locally made landmines, which killed 967 civilians.

Military action (foreign or Afghan) caused 14 percent of civilian deaths and nine percent were from situations where the source could not be determined. Foreign troops and Afghan security forces pushed the Taliban out of many areas but the Islamic terrorists simply continued to make their attacks wherever they could. This meant an increase in violence in areas along the Pakistani border, as well as contested areas in Kandahar and Helmand provinces (where most of the world’s heroin comes from). The Taliban doubled their use of roadside bombs and mines to nearly a thousand a month. But the number of these devices that exploded only went up six percent over last year. That’s because the American anti-IED (Improvised Explosive Device) technology and specialists had arrived (from Iraq) in force and acclimated to Afghan conditions. Most bombs and mines were detected and destroyed.

May 31, 2012

Bush violated US constitution by authorizing drone strikes

Filed under: Government, Law, Military, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:50

At Reason, Judge Andrew Napolitano on the presidential “kill list” and the limits of presidential power under the constitution:

The leader of the government regularly sits down with his senior generals and spies and advisers and reviews a list of the people they want him to authorize their agents to kill. They do this every Tuesday morning when the leader is in town. The leader once condemned any practice even close to this, but now relishes the killing because he has convinced himself that it is a sane and sterile way to keep his country safe and himself in power. The leader, who is running for re-election, even invited his campaign manager to join the group that decides whom to kill.

This is not from a work of fiction, and it is not describing a series of events in the Kremlin or Beijing or Pyongyang. It is a fair summary of a 6,000-word investigative report in The New York Times earlier this week about the White House of Barack Obama. Two Times journalists, Jo Becker and Scott Shane, painstakingly and chillingly reported that the former lecturer in constitutional law and liberal senator who railed against torture and Gitmo now weekly reviews a secret kill list, personally decides who should be killed and then dispatches killers all over the world — and some of his killers have killed Americans.

[. . .]

The president cannot lawfully order the killing of anyone, except according to the Constitution and federal law. Under the Constitution, he can only order killing using the military when the U.S. has been attacked, or when an attack is so imminent and certain that delay would cost innocent American lives, or in pursuit of a congressional declaration of war. Under federal law, he can only order killing using civilians when a person has been sentenced lawfully to death by a federal court and the jury verdict and the death sentence have been upheld on appeal. If he uses the military to kill, federal law requires public reports of its use to Congress and congressional approval after 180 days.

May 21, 2012

The US Navy’s “brown water” sailors get re-assigned

Filed under: Middle East, Military — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:57

The US Navy had a problem in Iraq, which they addressed by setting up some squadrons of “brown water” riverine craft. Now that they’re no longer required in Iraq’s rivers and coastal areas, the question of what to do with these units needed to be answered:

The U.S. Navy has decided what to do with its “brown water navy,” including three Riverine Squadrons, now that they have no overseas assignment. The coastal and river force sailors are going to be divided between bases on the U.S. east and west coasts. There they assist with coastal and river patrol duties. The riverine force contains 2,500 active duty and 2,000 reserve sailors. There will also be opportunities for training with riverine forces of other countries, particularly in the Americas.

Organized for service in Iraq, the three riverine squadrons were rotated in and out of Iraq from 2007 to 2011. Before first arriving in Iraq the riverine sailors received lots of infantry and amphibious training, much of it provided by U.S. Marine Corps instructors. Until 2007, the army and marines had been providing most of the riverine units in Iraq. There are some sailors there as well, but not as organized riverine units. In 2005 the navy established Riverine Group One, which eventually had three squadrons (each with 230 sailors and twelve 12.5 meter/39 foot boats). With headquarters and support troops, the group had 900 personnel and 36 armed boats. Each boat has a crew of sixteen and is armed with machine-guns and automatic grenade launchers.

The navy riverine forces eliminated terrorist movements along, and across, the main rivers in Iraq. This was similar to the successful riverine campaign the navy waged in Vietnam four decades ago, using 16 meter (50 foot) “Swift” boats.

May 15, 2012

Conducting espionage operations in the age of the internet

Filed under: Britain, Middle East, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:04

Shashank Joshi in the Telegraph on the good and bad news coming out of the recently foiled “underwear bomber” incident:

This week began with news of a remarkable intelligence coup. It has ended in ignominy, and a reminder that the pathological leakiness of the American bureaucracy has consequences for counterterrorism.

According to the Associated Press (AP), the CIA foiled an audacious plot by Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to attack an aircraft using an upgraded version of the underwear bomb that failed three years ago. The AP had, apparently, shown great responsibility in delaying publication for days at the request of the White House.

Then, the story grew both muddier and more remarkable still. The would-be bomber was in fact a mole. He was a British national of Saudi Arabian origin, recruited by MI5 in Europe and later run, with Saudi Arabia, by MI6. This is a testament to the unimaginable courage of the agent in question, and the ingenuity of British intelligence.

But the emergence of this story, with a blow-by-blow account of operational detail, is the result of reckless, impetuous leaking that could cost lives and compromise operations in the future.

May 14, 2012

On the TSA’s most recent security theatre follies

Filed under: Bureaucracy, Liberty, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:48

Bruce Schneier:

I too am incensed — but not surprised — when the TSA manhandles four-year old girls, children with cerebral palsy, pretty women, the elderly, and wheelchair users for humiliation, abuse, and sometimes theft. Any bureaucracy that processes 630 million people per year will generate stories like this. When people propose profiling, they are really asking for a security system that can apply judgment. Unfortunately, that’s really hard. Rules are easier to explain and train. Zero tolerance is easier to justify and defend. Judgment requires better-educated, more expert, and much-higher-paid screeners. And the personal career risks to a TSA agent of being wrong when exercising judgment far outweigh any benefits from being sensible.

The proper reaction to screening horror stories isn’t to subject only “those people” to it; it’s to subject no one to it. (Can anyone even explain what hypothetical terrorist plot could successfully evade normal security, but would be discovered during secondary screening?) Invasive TSA screening is nothing more than security theater. It doesn’t make us safer, and it’s not worth the cost. Even more strongly, security isn’t our society’s only value. Do we really want the full power of government to act out our stereotypes and prejudices? Have we Americans ever done something like this and not been ashamed later? This is what we have a Constitution for: to help us live up to our values and not down to our fears.

May 5, 2012

We have always been at war with Oceania

Filed under: Asia, Middle East, Military, Religion, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:22

Strategy Page on the western wishful thinking that contrasts with attitudes in Islamic countries:

The senior commander in the U.S. military recently ordered a course taught at a staff school for the last eight years to be revised to eliminate any mention of a war between Islam and the West. The course (“Perspectives on Islam and Islamic Radicalism”) pointed out that Islam, at least according to many Islamic clerics, is at war with the West. The U.S. has officially denied that since shortly after September 11, 2001, despite the fact that many Islamic clerics and government officials in Moslem nations agree with the “Islam is at war with the West” idea. But many Western leaders prefer to believe that by insisting that such hostile attitudes are not widespread in Moslem countries, the hostility will diminish. To that end the U.S. government has, for years, been removing any reference to “Islam” and “terrorism” in official documents. This comes as a shock to military or civilian personnel who have spent time in Moslem countries. The “Islam is at war with the West” angle is alive and well among Moslems.

There is plenty of evidence. For example, twenty nations account for over 95 percent of terrorism activity in the world. Of these twenty (Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Yemen, Iran, Uganda, Libya, Egypt, Nigeria, Palestinian Territories, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Colombia, Algeria, Thailand, Philippines, Russia, Sudan, Iran, Burundi, India, Nigeria, and Israel) all but four of them (Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Colombia, and Burundi) involve Islamic terrorism. In terms of terrorism fatalities the top four nations (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Somalia) accounted for 75 percent of the world total of terrorism related deaths. All of these were the result of Islamic radicalism, often directed at other Moslems and not just non-Moslems (“infidels”).

This has been the case for decades, and the Moslem world does not like to dwell on this fact. Many Moslem leaders admit that there is a lot of Islamic terrorism but insist that it’s all the fault of Infidels who are making war on Islam, so some Moslems feel compelled to fight back. The catch-phrase Moslem leaders like to repeat is that Islam is the “religion of peace.” It is not, and the historical record makes that very clear.

April 24, 2012

Corruption in Afghanistan reaches new heights

Filed under: Asia, Government, Middle East, Military — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:33

From Strategy Page:

A major obstacle to improving security in Iraq and Afghanistan was not equipment, training or leadership, but corruption. No matter how well led, trained and equipped the troops were, if they could be bought they were worse than useless. But the corruption went beyond the troops themselves. Government officials had to be carefully monitored to prevent the money for equipment, training and pay from being stolen before it got to the troops. More fundamentally, corruption was the reason Iraq, Afghanistan and so many other nations are poor and full of unhappy, and often violent, people. Corruption is why these places are chaotic and so often in the news. Corruption is the major cause of Islamic terrorism. Corruption does not get the recognition it deserves.

But in Afghanistan corruption has recently risen to new heights; literally. Several recent attacks in Kabul have made use of unfinished high-rise buildings, where terrorists used the height advantage to do more damage. American advisors noted that there were a lot of unfinished tall buildings in Kabul, and many had apparently been abandoned. The Americans asked the local government who owned these high-rise structures and was told that the government didn’t know. Kabul has undergone a construction boom in the last decade, and many of the builders (or their backers) didn’t bother with getting construction permits. If the cops or officials came around asking questions they were offered a bribe, or a death threat, or both. Inquisitive journalists were handled the same way.

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