Archive for the 'Terrorism' Category

An Adventure With Death: How I Survived NATO Firing

I and my father, along with two other passengers, are driving through the streets of Kandahar, a “troubled” province in the South, on our way to Kabul. Suddenly, in its usual and unpredictable manner, pops a convoy of NATO armored personnel carriers (APCs).

A guy sitting on top of the first APC is signaling all cars to move right and clear the way. The two cars in front of us follow his orders. Now it’s our car which the person is signaling to move right. Our driver, who has had a quarrel with another driver some 20 minutes ago, is too deep in thoughts to notice his signals. I see every gesticulation from the NATO soldier and am expecting the driver to turn at any moment.

We get closer and closer to the convoy and the driver doesn’t show any sign of clearing the road. The NATO soldier grows increasingly desperate. His desperation reaches to a point where he fires four “warning” shots in an attempt to get the attention of our driver. I am watching all this; and at this point, everything seems like a Hollywood movie or perhaps a CNN video from a troubled zone. I feel no urgency to act and inform the driver to change course; perhaps because I can’t believe this is happening to me.

Bullets race overhead—shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot—that’s four of them whooshing in quick succession. And now, even after the warning shots, we have still not cleared the road for the APC. The NATO soldier at the top of the APC can’t take it anymore. He thinks that we are perhaps a gang of Al-Qaeda or Taliban suicide car bombers about to strike his vehicle. Instincts take over him and he lowers his gun barrel in a bid to take offense and exterminate the perceived threat. Maybe, in the meantime, he was thinking of the honor to have shot and foiled a terrorist plot in preemption.

So, as he brings his gun barrel down to shoot the driver first, our driver notices it and takes a desperate swerve to the right. The NATO soldier shoots his first bullet. Thanks to the turn we take, the bullet hits the side screen window and somehow misses all of us. Glass scatters everywhere. We’re all sitting there aghast, looking at the unfolding drama in disbelief. A second bullet comes in quick succession to the first one. Again, miraculously, it rips through the thin strip of plastic that holds the rearview mirror onto the car.

Because we have taken a turn and cleared the way, the NATO soldier realizes that we are no suicide car bombers and stops firing. At this point, we all start checking our limbs and bodies to make sure everything is intact. All seems okay. We have been able to escape death in the hands of NATO soldiers.

Moments later, I begin to think: Escaping Al-Qaeda, Taliban and other threats lurking around, we come under threat by the very force which claims to be “protecting” us. Although I acknowledge there’s an idiocy factor involved from our driver, I can’t help but wonder how many people have lost their lives in such incidents that have been labeled “encounters with terrorists.”

From my observations it appears as if such incidents are quite common. In the three trips that I have made to Afghanistan in the last two years, I have had two encounters of this nature with international troops, the first one being a lot less dramatic. It now seems to me that the international peacekeeping forces are quite at ease in opening fire at almost anyone.

Repercussions of the Evacuation of Foreigners from Beirut

The international community is evacuating its citizens from Beirut. Evacuation procedures are due to complete in a few hours after the publication of this post. While to many this move may appear as a precautionary measure to safeguard foreigners, there is much more behind it.

Undeterred by the fact that it will do no harm to foreigners, Israel will definitely intensify its aerial attacks over Beirut and other Lebanese cities to unprecedented degrees. In this process, Israeli fighter jets are bound to do more harm to civilians and the infrastructure than to the Hezbollah militants. Experience has proven it: Of the 350-or-so people killed in the attacks so far, one-third were children and many more were civilian men and women; very few were Hezbollah militants. And those who back Israeli military action over Lebanon must know that the new round of attacks means more homes will be destroyed, more civilians will be killed and more injured people will die in hospitals due to a lack of medical facilities.

And, because Israel has bombed all roads and bridges leading to Beirut, food and medical supplies will not be able to reach the city. Power transmission lines have suffered. Water supply is affected as a result. Hospitals will go without medicine and operation theaters will have to run without power. And when hospitals don’t run, food and water don’t reach the people, power stays off and bombs weighing tons are dropped from the sky, a humanitarian crisis is bound to occur. Not to mention that it may also herald the demise of the American-installed democracy in Lebanon.

America, displaying a condemnable backing for Israel, seems to be showing no regard to its much endeared ideal, democracy. Also, it closing its eyes in order not to notice Israel’s illegal aggression in a sovereign country and the collective punishment of its civilians.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah has had remarkable achievements by any standard: It has been able to kill as many as 18 Israeli soldiers and retain the two soldiers it had kidnapped earlier this month. In addition, it has kept Israeli ground troops at bay in the Northern front, showing excellent terrain-fighting skills. Hezbollah has also made the Israeli public pay for the aggression of Israeli military commanders killing 33 civilians so far.

However, the most important fact worth noticing is, that Muslims, especially Shiites, in Damascus and Tehran in particular, and the world over in general, are rejoicing over Hezbollah’s surprising display of resilience. Many of them may, if summoned by Hezbollah, join in the battle. This may turn Lebanon into another Afghanistan and shatter its fledgling democracy. Resultantly, a situation far bleaker and more disastrous than any other witnessed so far may arise in the region.

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Rumsfeld in Afghanistan

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld arrived in Afghanistan on July 13. He met with President Karzai and discussed issues relating to Afghanistan’s collaborative efforts with the international community to suppress the Taliban resurgence and the country’s efforts to curb the cultivation of opium poppy. Also, he met with US military commanders and NATO officials to discuss plans for the military handover of Afghanistan to NATO.

Rumsfeld expressed his support for Karzai and praised his leadership. He lauded Karzai and his team’s achievements on various fronts including the offensive against Taliban and the subsequent peace prevalent in Afghanistan.

This visit shattered speculations in some Afghan circles regarding America’s growing discontent with president Karzai and his inefficacy to produce desirable results. It was speculated that, because President Karzai has failed to rid his government of maladministration and corruption, stop the cultivation of opium poppy and produce greater achievements, America was thinking of forcing radical changes in Karzai’s government. These ‘radical changes’ would, in the extreme case, force Karzai to resign.

Rumsfeld stung Pakistan, an important ally in the war on terror, for not doing enough to stop the operation of terrorist training camps. He said, “There is no question but that there is some cross-border activity… and it is something that needs to be worked on, on both sides of the border.”

Pakistan has already positioned some 80,000 troops on the border with Afghanistan and some 10,000 more troops are scheduled to be stationed soon to prevent illegal cross-border activities.

He ensured Afghanistan of his country’s continuous support.

He also called on European countries to help Afghanistan in its war on drugs. Afghanistan is currently the source of 90% of the overall illegal drug production in the world.

This post was also contributed to Publius Pundit.

Israeli Retaliation against Hezbollah Kills Civilians

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) — Hezbollah militants crossed into Israel on Wednesday and captured two Israeli soldiers. Israel responded in southern Lebanon with warplanes, tanks and gunboats, and said seven of its soldiers had been killed in the violence.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called the soldiers’ capture “an act of war,” and his Cabinet prepared to approve more military action in Lebanon…

Olmert said he held the Lebanese government responsible for the two soldiers’ safety, vowing that the Israeli response “will be restrained, but very, very, very painful.”

 

Israel retaliated by bombing bridges and Hezbollah positions and killing two Lebanese civilians. Kofi Anan, the UN General Secretary, condemned Israel’s offensive in Lebanon and called for an immediate release of the kidnapped soldiers.

Meanwhile, Israeli aggression in Gaza continued killing 23 people. Among those killed are nine members of a family on whose house a bomb was dropped.

Israel is defying all international treaties by continuing to use force to gain the freedom of its captured soldiers. In addition, it is not only defying norms of democracy by imprisoning the democratically elected Hamas officials, but also committing war crimes by killing innocent civilians.

 

However, international response has been disappointing: The UN, which has sensed the manslaughter and violation of laws, has no authority to take action. The US, a traditional backer of Israel, is legitimizing the use of force against civilians. The rest of the world, including the EU, has taken no serious action in the wake of the prevalent circumstances.

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An Overview of the Israeli Incursion of Gaza

Israeli troops started their Gaza incursion on June 28 with the objective of freeing Cpl. Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier held by Palestinians since June 25. So far, 51 Palestinian citizens have been killed and the only power station powering Gaza has been rendered dysfunctional in the raid. Bridges and power transformers have been destroyed in the offensive and Imports of foodstuffs into Gaza have been banned.

The military wing of Hamas, which is holding Cpl. Gilad Shalit, has called for the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeili jails in return for his freedom. These calls have been rejected by Israeli authorities.

The political wing of the governing party in Palestine, Hamas, has called for negotiations to settle this dispute. The Israeli camp has rejected talks saying, “Such negotiations would support another kidnapping.” It also reiterated that the operation would continue until Israel achieved its objectives.

Major General Yoav Galant, commander of Israel’s southern region, said, “We are prepared to continue the operation a month, two months and, if need be, even more.” He continued, “The Palestinians will do their reckoning. They will count hundreds of dead terrorists; they will count the damaged infrastructure, the destroyed offices, the damaged factories.”

The European Union has shown concern over the continuous military operations in the area. Kofi Annan, general secretary of the United Nations, urged Israel to stop military activities, warning of the prospects of a humanitarian crisis in the area.

The united states, however, has been supportive of Israeli actions. “Let’s remember who started this,” U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns told CNN. “It was the outrageous actions of Hamas in violating Israel’s sovereignty, in taking the soldier hostage.”

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Qassam rockets kept assailing Israeli territory. So far, one Israeli has been wounded and three others, on whose house a rocket landed, have been treated for shocks. One rocket also landed on an Israeli school, but no damage was reported as the school was off.

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America’s Dirtiest Open Secrets

(Or Five Things Everyone Must Know About America)

The Americans admit it themselves and I agree: They are a bunch of oblivious folks too engrossed in their struggle to obtain the American Dream to pay heed to anything else. They have too much of a blind faith in their democratic values and in their elected leaders. Therefore, they do too little to keep a check on the activities of these leaders. Resultantly, they pursue policies which, despite being in negation to the American values, go unchecked—even supported at times.

This post attempts to introduce to them—and to all of my readers—some of the dark policies pursued by American politicians.

  1. America created the biggest and most dangerous terrorist organization—Al-Qaeda. Yes, America created Al-Qaeda. When the Russians invaded Afghanistan in the late 70s, Al-Qaeda emerged as an international Jihadi movement against the Soviets. It was funded directly by the Pakistanis and Saudis and indirectly by America, which channeled its military hardware and other logistics through the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate. For more details, read this Wikipedia article.
  2. America created the Taliban. Again yes, America created the Taliban. Ahmad Rashid, a widely acclaimed Pakistani intellectual, writes in his book, Taliban, that: “The Taliban originated when the CIA with ISI recruited radical Muslims from around the world to fight with the Afghan mujahadeen against the Soviet Union.” Ahmed Rashid also estimates that after 1982 more than 100,000 Muslims from dozens of countries received political or military training in the CIA-backed camps of Pakistan and Afghanistan. For more details, read this Wikipedia article about Taliban.
  3. America sold arms to Iraq and urged it to use WMDs against civilians in Iran. During Iraq’s war with Iran, many American policymakers, arms suppliers and makers benefited immensely by selling large amounts of weaponry to Iraq. These weapons included chemical agents like cyanide. In addition, America also encouraged Iraq to use chemical weapons against Iranian civilians and helped Iraq develop its chemical weapons arsenal. For more details, read Iraq and Chemical Weapons: the US Connection by Daniel E Boles.
  4. America helped Iran to start its nuclear program. During the Shah’s period, America signed two agreements–the Atoms for Peace Program and the U.S.-Iran Nuclear Cooperation Agreement–with Iran to urge it to start its nuclear program. These two pacts, which would help Iran build up to 20 nuclear reactors, brought the US corporations as much as $6 billion in profits. However, after the Iranian revolution of 1979, America stopped backing Iran and its nuclear program. Resultantly, the program remained suspended for some time. Today, however, Iran is still trying to pursue what it calls a peaceful nuclear program. For more details read this Wikipedia article and this report written from an Iranian perspective.
  5. America is the only country to have used WMDs against civilians. Remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki? American bombs, Little Boy and Fat Man, killed 66 and 39,000 innocent civilians respectively. This Yale University website has a very good report.

America also used Depleted Uranium (DU) in the Gulf War, in the Balkans and allegedly in its recent invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. DU is a highly penetrating, toxic element which can cause an increase in cancers and severe birth defects. The use of DU not only affected American war veterans, but has also thousands, maybe millions of innocent people in areas it was used. DU is considered to be a WMD and its use is prohibited by many international agreements. For more details, read this BBC report, this Information Clearing House article, this Sunday Herald report and this report by Prof. M. Miraki, an Afghan expatriate [WARNING: This last report contains extremely graphic images which most visitors may find disturbing].

America’s use of the herbicide, Agent Orange, not only caused health problems and damage to its own veterans in Vietnam, but also to millions of Vietnamese who live in areas sprayed by this toxic agent. Currently there are 150,000 Vietnamese children with birth defects caused by Agent Orange. For more information, read this BBC report, this Wikipedia article, and the Department of Veterans Affairs website.

With all these hideous crimes, I fail to find a reason why Americans still back administrations which are not only against American values, but also against the common human morals; which kill indiscriminately and which only think of their own personal ends and those of a few corporations. This makes Noam Chomsky’s claim that thought control is conducted to spread a matrix of necessary illusions, true; and, the necessity of ‘an intellectual self-defense’, inevitable.

 

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Why Frustrated Muslims are So Frustrated

If not already, you are likely to meet or hear some Muslims who think the West, particularly America, is waging a war against Islam. They believe the West is systematically waging a 'crusade' against their religion by defaming and demonizing it. They also think there is a program running to politically and economically isolate the Muslims and subjugate them to exploit their rich natural resources.

While to a person in the West this may seem too farfetched a conspiracy theory, a considerable number of Muslims, who are illiterate and somewhat indoctrinated, have some really 'good' reasons to believe so.

First, they say, the Americans created terrorist agencies like Al-Qaeda and strengthened them to wage a jihad against their ideological and political enemy-the Soviet Union-in Afghanistan. Then, when the Soviets were ousted, they left the country to plunge into chaos in the hands of the Jihadis and terrorists they had created.

Afterwards, they launched a number of attacks through these terrorists on embassies, important buildings, cities and commercial centers around the world. These attacks were justified through the terrorists to be Islamic in an attempt to portray Islam as a religion of intolerance and bloodshed.

Then, they desecrated Islam's religious texts to incite violence among ordinary Muslims, whose reactions were used to demonize Islam even more. To further incite violence and exploit it, they satirized the Prophet of Islam.

In the meantime, they also politically pressurized Islamic countries to further their own ends. They, for example, bombed critical pharmaceutical companies in Sudan, kept a strict check on Libya's military activities, subjugated Iraq, favored India over Pakistan, kept the Palestinians under censure, turned Kashmir into an arena for state-sponsored terrorism and whatnot. Additionally, Israel, which stands in defiance of 69 United Nations Security Council resolutions, is aided and favored–despite its undeclared-nuclear-state status–over Iran. Additionally, Muslim countries like Pakistan, Kuwait, Egypt, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia have been turned into virtual military colonies.

There is no significant Islamic country with a voice in the world. Iran, which, tried to build a nuclear weapons program in the past (by America's own incentive) in a bid to assert itself, has been isolated and turned into a pariah.

All these factors and the anti-Islamic coverage of the media helped turn Islam into a highly abominable demon with its followers equalized to hatemongers, extremists, anti-West conspirators and a threat to world civilization and culture. In almost every country in the world, Muslims are harassed, mocked and socially segregated. A man with a beard and moustache is thought of as a terrorist linked with Al-Qaeda. Muslims are killed everyday in large numbers in Iraq and Afghanistan in return for bogus theoretical ideals such as 'freedom' and 'democracy'. What a humiliation.

Muslim youths are being deviated from the right path by the production and dissemination of immoral and alien books, magazines, CDs and movies. This has led to a growing trend of cultural alienation, which will subsequently lead to their cultural and civilizational demise.

The voices of the moderate Muslims are not heeded.

These problems, aided by poverty, low literacy rates, high unemployment, a sense of being powerless and humiliated, etc are making the Muslims very frustrated.

Disclaimer: This post may not completely represent the views of every Muslim individual, but it does, however, give a decent peek into an average Muslim's thoughts.

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