Archive for October, 2009|Monthly archive page

“Enemy Combatant” Ali al-Marri Finally Sentenced

In Civil Liberties on October 30, 2009 at 9:14 am

This court decision is an indication of how Guantanamo Bay prisoners may be processed on U.S. soil.  Imprisoned since 2001, Ali al-Marri is finally given an official prison sentence:

A former “enemy combatant” who was held in a South Carolina Naval brig for six years with no charges was sentenced Thursday to eight years and four months in prison, a Justice Department spokesman said.  Ali al-Marri pleaded guilty in federal court in Illinois in May to conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist organization. He could have received a maximum of 15 years in prison. “This administration is committed to bringing terrorists to justice for their crimes,” Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said. “Al-Marri, who has been in U.S. custody since December 2001, was dispatched by the highest levels of al Qaeda to carry out its terrorist objectives in America.”A defense attorney for the Qatari citizen, who had been a student at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, when he was arrested, said the judge ruled on a lesser sentence to reflect the nearly six years al-Marri already spent at the Naval brig in Charleston, South Carolina. “We’re pleased with the result,” said the attorney, Larry Lustberg. “Mr. al-Marri is also very pleased.” Al-Marri was transferred to a federal prison in Illinois in March after President Obama ordered a review of his case. The case was ultimately referred to the Justice Department, which filed charges.

The Pentagon said he trained at a terror camp in Afghanistan, met al Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and “volunteered for a martyr mission,” according to court documents filed earlier in the case. According to a copy of his plea agreement, al-Marri admitted that he “knowingly conspired and agreed with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed” to provide support to al Qaeda and to work under the organization’s direction and control. “Between 1998 and 2001, the defendant attended various training camps because he wished to engage in jihad,” the document said. While in the training camps and in al Qaeda safe houses in Pakistan, he was known by the name Abdul-Rahman al-Qatari, according to the plea agreement. Mohammed approached al-Marri in 2001 about his offer to assist al Qaeda, the plea agreement said. “The defendant was instructed by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to enter the United States no later than September 10, 2001, with an understanding that he was to remain in the United States for an undetermined length of time,” the documents said.

Read the rest of this entry »


In Current Military Campaign in Tribal Areas of Pakistan/Afghanistan, a 9/11 Clue

In 9/11 News, al Qaeda, Pakistan and Afghanistan on October 30, 2009 at 8:56 am

The German passport of Said Bahaji was found in the Tribal Areas, and Americans claim this is a link of the Tribal Areas and the plotters of 9/11:

SHERWANGAI, Pakistan — Pakistani forces pushing toward a lair of hard-core Taliban fighters found documents this week linked to a member of the Hamburg cell of Al Qaeda that is believed to have planned the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. In a small village in the dun-colored hills of South Waziristan, soldiers found a German passport belonging to Said Bahaji, a German citizen and associate of Mohammed Atta, the leader of the 9/11 hijackers.

The passport was issued in Hamburg in August 2, 2001 and was accompanied by a Pakistani visa dated August 3, 2001. The documents indicated that Mr. Bahaji landed in Karachi from Istanbul on Sept. 4, 2001. The apparent presence of Mr. Bahaji in the tribal areas of Pakistan is a clear indication that members of the Qaeda network — including participants in the 9/11 plot — have taken refuge here, as American officials, like Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday, have charged.

There was no indication that Mr. Bahaji had left Pakistan, authorities said. Although Mr. Bahaji was not a central plotter in the Sept. 11 attacks, he lived for eight months in Hamburg with Mr. Atta and Ramzi bin al Shibh, according to the 9/11 Commission Report.

Read the rest of this entry »

Obama Gives 7.5 Billion in Aid to Pakistan

In Pakistan and Afghanistan on October 16, 2009 at 10:17 am

7.5 Billion USD:

President Obama signed legislation providing an additional $7.5 billion in assistance to the Pakistani government. The aid guarantee comes as the Pakistani government combats a wave of attacks believed to have been orchestrated by Taliban militants and as the Obama administration works on a comprehensive review of U.S. strategy in both Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan.  “This law is the tangible manifestation of broad support for Pakistan in the U.S.,” the White House said in a statement on Thursday.

On Wednesday, the heads of foreign relations panels in the House of Representatives and Senate provided a written explanation of the aid bill, a response to Pakistani complaints that the United States was meddling in its affairs. Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi joined Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Rep. Howard Berman, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, as the U.S. lawmakers spoke to reporters. Qureshi rushed back to Washington this week to report on opposition inside the Pakistani Parliament to the five-year package of nonmilitary aid. Some Pakistani politicians said the aid bill was a U.S. attempt to micromanage Pakistan‘s civilian and military affairs.

White House Re-Thinking Afghanistan War Strategy, Re-interpreting History

In al Qaeda, Official History, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Taliban on October 8, 2009 at 11:15 am

It is good to remember history, and to remember that over time, history becomes re-interpreted.  In light of this, a rather amazing report that the White House is thinking of letting the Taliban gain control over Afghanistan (again):

President Obama’s national security team is moving to reframe its war strategy by emphasizing the campaign against Al Qaeda in Pakistan while arguing that the Taliban in Afghanistan do not pose a direct threat to the United States, officials said Wednesday. 

As Mr. Obama met with advisers for three hours to discuss Pakistan, the White House said he had not decided whether to approve a proposed troop buildup in Afghanistan. But the shift in thinking, outlined by senior administration officials on Wednesday, suggests that the president has been presented with an approach that would not require all of the additional troops that his commanding general in the region has requested.

It remains unclear whether everyone in Mr. Obama’s war cabinet fully accepts this view. While Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has argued for months against increasing troops in Afghanistan because Pakistan was the greater priority, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates have both warned that the Taliban remain linked to Al Qaeda and would give their fighters havens again if the Taliban regained control of all or large parts of Afghanistan, making it a mistake to think of them as separate problems.

At this point it is important to remember the main reason why the U.S. went into Afghanistan in 2001.  They believed that the Taliban — fairly much the same Taliban as now — gave a safe haven for al Qaeda to plan and execute 9/11.  The Taliban were considered a direct threat to the U.S.  The U.S. destroyed the Taliban’s government and installed Karzai (or, at least, provided favorable conditions for Karzai to become Head of State).  In 2001, the dominant view was that the Taliban and al Qaeda are linked and mutually reinforcing.  Now, in 2009, some of Obama’s advisors are saying that the link is not as strong, and that the Taliban is not a direct threat to the U.S.  They argue that the focus should be on Pakistan which was, in part, a safe haven for al Qaeda, operationally speaking, and is becoming more so now.    Some even refer to the Taliban as an “indigenous” group, an unsubstantiated claim considering that it was Pakistan who created, trained, and funded the Taliban in Afghanistan.  They argue that at any rate, the Taliban are ingrained into Afghanistan, even though they’ve only been around since 1990.  They claim that the Taliban would not want to bring al Qaeda back with them because it was al Qaeda what got them kicked out of the country before.  They claim that surviving Afghan warlords like Hekmatyar are not jihadists, are not anti-American, but rather just want to control Afghanistan (and, likely their opium production).  This is a radical reinterpretation of history that has radical consequences for the Middle East.

Read the rest of this entry »

iWatch: Citizen “Anti-Terrorism” Watch Program Spurred by Najibullah Zazi Arrest

In Civil Liberties, Post-9/11 Domestic Anti-Terrorism Efforts on October 5, 2009 at 10:08 am

Everyday citizens watching out for terrorists in America:

A store clerk’s curiosity about why Najibullah Zazi was buying large quantities of beauty supply products indicated that something about the transaction wasn’t quite right — and it’s an example of the kind of citizen vigilance that can combat terror, a police commander said Saturday. Los Angeles police Cmdr. Joan McNamara cited this summer’s incident as police chiefs meeting in Denver adopted a model for a nationwide community watch program that teaches people what behavior is truly suspicious and encourages them to report it to police.Federal authorities allege Zazi, 24, tried to make a homemade explosive using ingredients from beauty supplies purchased at Denver-area stores. He has been jailed in New York on charges of conspiracy to detonate a weapon of mass destruction in a plot that may have targeted New York City. Zazi has denied the charges. Zazi reportedly told an inquisitive clerk he needed a large amount of cosmetic chemicals because he had “lots of girlfriends.” While his purchases weren’t reported to authorities because suppliers often buy large quantities, the police chiefs hope a coordinated publicity effort will make people think differently about such encounters.

Los Angeles police Chief William Bratton, who developed the iWatch program with McNamara, called it the 21st century version of Neighborhood Watch.

Read the rest of this entry »