Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My Tour's Up

For those few of you who may still visit from time to time, I'm sure you've noticed that I haven't been posting lately. I'll be honest. Frankly, it's no fun anymore. When Obama took over the White House, I tried to keep going, but I just can't bring myself to do it...

When I started this blog, George W. Bush was fighting a Global War On Terror. The mainstream media paid little attention to his successes, but never missed an opportunity to point out his failures. The MSM painted the GWOT as a grotesque portrait of abject failure while rarely mentioning any of the good things that were happening. In Afghanistan and Iraq schools and hospitals were repaired, electricity and water services were upgraded, health care was provided, emergency assistance programs were conducted, and locals were taking responsibility for their own governance, etc.

The only news the MSM seemed to report was about U.S. military fatalities, accidental civilian deaths at the hands of coalition forces, the cost of the war, death tolls from roadside bombs, suicide attacks, military personnel who disagreed with the administration, and anything that besmirched the integrity of the U.S. military. The MSM repeatedly bemoaned our entrance into Iraq, and our failure to find WMDs. They relentlessly accused the Bush administration of lying to the American people and manipulating intelligence data to justify the Iraq invasion. They constantly mocked GWB about his failure to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. They said Iraq was a distraction from the "real" war on terrorism in Afghanistan. They even released classified information about successful top-secret, anti-terror programs, despite the urging of the Bush administration against doing so -- acts which in my opinion, were treasonable offenses.

The left-wing media bias was clearly obvious, and I was bitterly angry. I wanted to do something to show my support for GWB and for America's finest -- our heroes in the U.S. military who volunteered to put their lives at risk on the front lines. Thus, I started this blog: "Victory Against Terror". It's goal was to highlight the good news in the GWOT that the mainstream media was purposely ignoring for partisan political purposes. Just as they ignored the good news, I ignored the bad news. I tried to stay away from politics in this blog, unless it was incidental to the story. I also tried to stay away from "proposed" anti-terror programs, calls for action, commentary and analysis, etc. My sole purpose was to highlight 'victories' and the good news of accomplishments actually achieved.

When Barack Obama won the election, I was deflated. Obama was one of the GWOT's detractors. He showed little respect for the military before the election, as he does to this day. He campaigned on a promise to unilaterally disarm America. He accused the U.S. military of indiscriminately "air raiding villages and killing civilians". He insulted the Medal Of Honor recipients by failing to attend their inaugural ball -- the first President to do so since Dwight Eisenhower. He refuses to use the word "terrorism". He changed the name "Global War on Terror" to "Overseas Contingency Operations". He changed the name "act of terror" to "man-caused disaster". He has directed the focus of Homeland Security away from potential terror threats to the threat of "right-wing extremists" like veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, and everyday conservatives like myself.

Obama has cut our missile defense system at a time when North Korea is threatening to launch missiles at Hawaii. He ordered the closing of Gitmo without a plan for how to handle the unrepentant terrorists there. He wants to try foreign enemy combatants in U.S. courts, affording them Constitutional privileges reserved for American citizens. He failed to denounce Russia when they invaded the country of Georgia until well after most other countries had already done so. He failed to denounce the Iranian government for electoral fraud in the recent elections there. He failed to denounce Iran for their bloody crackdown on thousands of legitimate freedom-seeking protesters until well after most other countries had already done so. And he is ready and willing to meet with America's enemies without preconditions, including Iran -- whose support of Shi'ite militias in Iraq has killed or wounded hundreds of Americans.

How can I in good conscience continue to promote our victories in the war on terror, when our President won't even acknowledge that we are at war? How can I promote our victories for which such a vile man would only take undeserved credit? How can I promote our victories when, by the definition of the DHS, a run-of-the-mill conservative like myself is defined as a "right-wing extremist"? Yes, I could do it for the troops. Yes, I could do it for the brave men and women who continue to put their lives on the line every day. But, like I said above, it's just no fun any more. So, I'm packin' it in. My tour's up.

To the brave men and women of the armed forces and our various security agencies... I salute you. Thank you for doing your jobs every day whether at home or abroad. Whether you participate in our "Overseas Contingency Operations" or you guard our cities, transportation networks, ports, or infrastructure... I salute you. Thank you for protecting us from "man-caused disasters" and may God be with you in the performance of your duties. God Bless the United States of America.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Terror Suspect In U.S. To Face Charges

Source Article HERE.

From 'MSNBC': In what would be the clearest break yet from the Bush Administration's legal strategy in the war on terror, the Justice Department is preparing criminal charges against the only person still held inside the United States as an enemy combatant. Ali al-Marri, who has been held at the U.S. Navy brig in Charleston, S.C., would be charged and tried in regular civilian court under a plan now being worked out, Justice officials say. The Bush administration claimed al-Marri trained with al-Qaida in Afghanistan, had direct contact with Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and was sent to the United States to help carry out further attacks.

Al-Marri arrived in Peoria in September 2001 with his wife and five children to do graduate work at Bradley University. Three months later he was charged with credit card fraud and possession of false ID's. Then in 2003, a month before he was to stand trial, President Bush declared al-Marri an enemy combatant and an al-Qaida agent. Since the day he was seized — June 23, 2003, al-Marri has been in Navy custody.

The transfer could avert a Supreme Court hearing in April and a subsequent ruling that would govern other cases against accused terrorists. To justify holding al-Marri, the Bush administration claimed the president has the wartime authority to send the military into any U.S. neighborhood, capture a citizen and hold him in prison without charge, indefinitely. One of the people familiar with the al-Marri case said prosecutors plan to charge al-Marri with providing material support to terrorists, a charge similar to what he would have faced if tried by a military tribunal.

Putting al-Marri into the federal court system follows a similar move made by the Bush administration with another enemy combatant, Jose Padilla. Padilla, once held at the same brig as al-Marri, was eventually convicted of terror-related charges in federal court in Florida. President Barack Obama's administration faces a mid-April deadline to tell the Supreme Court what it intends to do in his case. Al-Marri's lawyers have challenged the government's authority to pick up people on American soil, declare them enemy combatants, and detain them indefinitely.

The lower courts have been divided over the issue. But in the most recent decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled 5 to 4 that the president can detain people in the U.S., including American citizens, indefinitely without charge. Obama's Justice Department was to have decided whether to pursue that claim of presidential power or change course. By charging al-Marri in civilian court, it would dodge that question of presidential authority. The Associated Press reported that prosecutors were planning to send al-Marri to a federal court in Illinois.

Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd declined to comment on the plans for al-Marri. "If this is true, it's an important step," said Jonathan Hafetz, one of al-Marri's lawyers. "This is what should have happened seven years ago. Indefinite military detention, without charge, of people with legal residence in America is illegal." Yet such a move may derail the legal challenge Hafetz and the American Civil Liberties Union have brought to the Supreme Court. The new administration might not want to force the court to decide that issue, thereby preserving the possibility that Obama or future presidents could exercise that power. The government says al-Marri is an al-Qaida sleeper agent who has met Osama bin Laden and spent time at a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan.

After he was arrested as a material witness in late 2001, authorities first charged him with credit card fraud. Later, officials said he had strong links to al-Qaida terrorists, so President Bush declared him an enemy combatant and transferred him to the military brig. In court documents, the government contends that al-Marri met with bin Laden in the summer of 2001 and "offered to be an al-Qaida martyr or to do anything else that al-Qaida requested."

A government summary of the case — declassified in 2006 — indicated al-Marri was closely tied with senior al-Qaida leadership, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the September 11 attacks. Al-Marri's brother was also seized by U.S. officials and sent to the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. "Al-Qaida sent al-Marri to the United States to facilitate other al-Qaida operatives in carrying out post-September 11, 2001 terror attacks," the government contended.

Gates: 'Significant Military Success' In Iraq

Source Article HERE.

From 'AFP': US Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Sunday touted military success in Iraq, and stressed he did not expect changes to US troop drawdown plans there. Asked if the United States will have achieved victory when it withdraws from Iraq, Gates said "we have had a significant success (on) the military side," while acknowledging "the political side is still a work in progress in Iraq. "Frankly, I think before you start using terms like 'won' or 'lost' or 'victory' or 'defeat,' those are the kinds of things that I think historians have to judge," he told NBC television.

President Barack Obama on Friday ordered an end to US combat in Iraq within 18 months, by August 31, 2010. The announcement was politely received by an audience of Marines. The new US leader said up to 50,000 US troops, down from the current 142,000-strong force, would remain in Iraq under a new mission until the end of 2011, nearly nine years after his predecessor George W. Bush ordered an invasion to topple late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Asked about the projections for the troop levels of an interim force, which angered many Obama supporters eager for a full withdrawal, Gates said: "I don't think it was a concession (to commanders). I think that there was a lot of analysis of the risks that were involved. I think that if the commanders had had complete say in this matter that they would've preferred that the combat mission not end until the end of 2010," he said. So "it was really a dialogue between the commanders in the field, the joint chiefs here myself, the chairman and the president, in terms of how you mitigate risk and how you structure this going forward," Gates said. "Having a somewhat larger residual, or transition, force, mitigates the risk of having the combat units go out sooner," he explained.

Gates acknowledged the picture was anything but uncomplicated and rosy. "Mosul is a problem. The Arab/Kurd tensions are a problem. The need to get an oil law is a problem. So, there are problems," he said. "We have the concerns associated with a national election at the end of this year as one of the reasons why [US military commander in Iraq General Ray] Odierno wanted to keep those troops there as long as possible. Or a significant number of troops." While "there has been real progress on the political side ... there is clearly unfinished business in that arena, as well."

Mullen Comfortable With Iraq Timetable

Source Article HERE.

From 'Washington Post': The top U.S. military official says he's comfortable with the president's decision on a troop pullout timetable from Iraq. Admiral Mike Mullen says he was able to offer his best military advice to President Barack Obama. The Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman is reluctant to talk about "winning and losing" in Iraq. But he says the conditions are in place for the Baghdad government to successfully take control of the country.

Mullen says Obama listened extensively to the American military leadership and U.S. commanders in Iraq before announcing last week that the combat mission would end on August 31, 2010. Under Obama's plan, the 142,000 U.S. forces in Iraq would be drawn down to between 35,000 and 50,000 troops by the 2010 date. All forces would be withdrawn by the last day of 2011. Mullen spoke on "Fox News Sunday" and CNN's "State of the Union."

Iraq Assumes Responsibility For SoI In Kirkuk

Source Article HERE.

From 'MNFI': A large and diverse crowd gathered at an Iraqi Army base known as K-1, in Kirkuk to witness the official transfer of responsibility of the Sons of Iraq (SoI) in Kirkuk province from the U.S. Military to the Iraqi Army's (IA) 12th Division on February 25th. The SoI program is regarded by Coalition Forces (CF) as an important security organization consisting of citizen Soldiers who assisted in the fight against terrorists and improving security in Iraq. The program began in 2007. The crowd consisted of SoI, IA leaders, Kirkuk Provincial Police and U.S. military. The historic event marks significant steps in transferring the SoI to the Government of Iraq, who will make the first payment to them by April 1st.

Major General Abdul Ameer, the division commander for the 12th IA Division, was present to represent the IA, and Major General Robert Caslen, commander, Multi-National Division-North, was present to sign on behalf of CF. The meeting was also an opportunity to discuss the future of SoI and how to best continue their efforts in the region. “This ceremony and what the SoI have done is very historic,” said Caslen. According to Caslen, this transition is very important to the security of the region. By joining the SoI and the 12th IA, we are bringing different groups together to make one force that can defend Iraq. “As we transition responsibility of the SoI to the GoI, it is important that we do it right and we must all be collectively committed to the success of this transfer,” said Caslen.

“We have a well-studied plan for the future of the SoI,” said Ameer. “We are coordinating with the leaders of the SoI. We are conducting meetings and planning for the future of the SoI.” The first step for the SoI’s integration will be arranging for payments to be made by the Government of Iraq (GoI) rather than CF, according to Ameer. “We are going to pay them the same way we pay our Soldiers,” said Ameer. “We want them to receive the same services as us. We are now in the process of making committees that will ensure the payments get to the SoI, and we are ready to assist and help them any way we can.”

Another step will be in determining the specific geographic operational areas for the SoIs. “Each SoI unit will have its area of responsibility,” said Ameer. As the SoI begin to integrate with the 12th IA Division, leaders are focusing on combining the efforts of both to increase security within the region. “Our goal is to join the SoI and the IA,” said Ameer. “We want them to participate in what the IA does. We want to integrate the SoI in our plans for securing the Kirkuk province. We are going to make combined checkpoints with both IA and SoI, and we will include them in raids and information-gathering in the region.”

Leaders within the 12th IA agreed with Ameer’s plans and added that they needed to have constant communication with the SoI in order to make this possible. The historic transition will be finalized April 1st when the SoI receive their first payment from the GoI. The consolidation of the AO’s and joint security efforts will continue to move forward in the coming months and the GoI will soon have complete responsibility of the SoI.

El Salvador Honors Soldiers Who Served In Iraq

Source Article HERE.

From 'Associated Press': Salvadoran President Tony Saca has declared the country's participation in Iraq a "mission accomplished," as the country honors the last returning contingent of soldiers who served there. More than 3,000 Salvadoran soldiers have served in Iraq performing reconstruction work since 2003. The last contingent of about 200 returned on February 7th, ending Latin America's military presence there. El Salvador says the troops carried out 353 water treatment, education, health care, road and electricity projects. Five Salvadoran soldiers were killed and 20 wounded during the five-year deployment. Saca distributed medals to soldiers who served in Iraq at a sports stadium on Saturday.

El Salvador President Tony Saca (right) reviews troops just back from Iraq

Pak Military: Taliban 'Lost' In Bajaur, Mohmand

Source Article HERE.

From 'The Long War Journal': Two senior Pakistani military officers claimed the Taliban has been defeated in the tribal agencies of Bajaur and Mohmand, where the Taliban have held power for years. Major General Tariq Khan, the Inspector General of the Frontier Corps, said the Taliban "lost" in Bajaur after an eight-month military operation. "They have lost," Tariq said during a press conference in Bajaur, the Associated Press reported. "Their resistance has broken down."

The joint Army and frontier Corps operation destroyed Taliban command centers, bunkers, and fortifications, Tariq said. The roads in Bajaur are now under control of the military. Ninety-seven soldiers and paramilitary troops were killed during the operation and more than 400 were wounded. The military claims more than 1,800 Taliban have been killed, a claim disputed by the Taliban. "We think we have secured this agency," Tariq said, according to a report by the Times News Network. "The Taliban have lost their cohesion." The military plan on withdrawing some forces but will maintain a military presence, the general said.

In the neighboring tribal agency of Mohmand, Colonel Saif Ullah claimed the Taliban have been defeated and the region is "under the control of law enforcement agencies." Fighting spilled over into Mohmand as the fighting in Bajaur intensified last fall. The officer did not provide casualty numbers for the military or the Taliban.

The US has conducted several airstrikes Bajaur, including two attacks that targeted Zawahiri and another that killed Abu Sulayman Jazairi, a senior Algerian operative for al Qaeda who was the terror groups' operational commander tasked with planning attacks against the West.

ANP Detain 8, Prevent IED Attack

Source Article HERE.

From 'DVIDS': Afghan National Police (ANP) assisted by Coalition Forces detained eight militants and prevented an improvised explosive device (IED) attack, today, in the Ghazni District, in Ghazni province, approximately 150 km southwest of Kabul. While conducting a combat reconnaissance patrol, in support of efforts to bring peace and stability to the region, the combined forces observed individuals placing an IED on the road. The combined forces convoy followed the individuals to a compound in Ghazni City. The ANP conducted a search of the compound, discovering a cache containing IED-making materials, including two remote-control devices, wire and pressure plate materials. Two AK-47 rifles were also discovered. The ANP took eight militants into custody.

The IED placed on the road was safely removed by the combined forces before it could cause injuries to Afghan civilians, or the combined force. No ANP, Coalition Force or non-combatant casualties were reported. “The vigilance and expertise of the ANP was key in stopping an insurgent attack today,” said Afghan Ministry of Interior spokesman, Zemarai Bashary. “The ANP continue to successful remove insurgents and increase the security of Afghanistan.”

Missiles Kill Seven In Pakistan

Source Article HERE.

From 'BBC': Missiles said to have been fired by US unmanned aircraft have killed seven people close to Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, Pakistani sources say. Two missiles reportedly struck a house in Sararogha, in South Waziristan, and the dead are believed to include suspected militants. The region is a stronghold of Pakistani Taleban leader Baitullah Mehsud. US drones have targeted the area with missiles before, in attacks criticised by Pakistani politicians.

Local people said Taleban militants had been operating from the house which was attacked. When asked about the attack, Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he would not talk about the specifics of US operations. But, speaking to Fox News, he added that the military overall was "carrying out guidance from [US] President [Barack] Obama" in the region.

A villager, named by Reuters news agency as Hakeemullah, said that people were searching the rubble for more casualties. "It was a Taleban sanctuary, which was destroyed in the attack," an unnamed Pakistani security official told AFP news agency. "Some foreigners were possibly among those killed." At least four of the dead are believed to have been foreign militants, unnamed Pakistani officials told the Associated Press. They added that drones were seen in the air ahead of the strike and Taleban fighters afterwards surrounded the damaged house which was allegedly a militant training facility.

Previous US missile attacks have been aimed at militant groups such as al-Qaeda, which have used the region as a base for attacks inside Afghanistan. More than 20 such attacks have been carried out on targets in north-western Pakistan in recent months. The US and Pakistan have had serious disagreements over the Afghan border zone, with Washington unhappy at Pakistani efforts to tackle militants and Islamabad condemning the US drone attacks.

Pakistani leaders had expressed hope that the new US administration would halt the controversial air strikes, saying they fuelled public anger and complicated Pakistan's own counter-insurgency efforts. But the drone attacks have continued since Mr Obama was inaugurated as US president in January.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Pakistan Arrests 9 Terrorism Suspects

Source Article HERE.

Rao Iqbal, Pakistani police chief shows grenade to media allegedly captured from terrorists, in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, 29 Jan 2009
From 'Voice Of America': Pakistani police say they have arrested a gang of militants linked to al-Qaida and wanted in connection with a series of deadly bombings. The police say they arrested nine men this week during a raid in the central city of Rawalpindi. Authorities did not identify the suspects or describe the evidence against them, but they said the men had connections to the northern tribal regions where Taliban and al-Qaida militants operate.

Authorities said Thursday that the suspects are connected to last year's deadly bombings at the Danish embassy and an Italian restaurant in Islamabad. Police also tied the suspects to the killing of a senior medical official. Mustafa Abu al-Yazeed, al-Qaida leader claimed responsibility for the Danish Embassy bombing. Militant violence in Pakistan generally is concentrated in the country's northwestern region, bordering Afghanistan. Authorities in the northwest said Thursday that suspected militants shot and killed a tribesman from North Waziristan after accusing him of spying for the United States. In North West Frontier Province, which neighbors North Waziristan, authorities say security forces killed at least two militants in a gunfight overnight in the town of Bannu.

4 Militants Killed, 8 Arrested in Afghanistan

Source Article HERE.

From 'Xinhua': U.S.-led Coalition forces eliminated four militants and detained eight more suspected militants during operations to disrupt Taliban bomb makers and militants in Kandahar of southern Afghanistan Thursday, said a Coalition statement on Friday. The operation targeted a Taliban operator known to have employed roadside bombs in Arghandab district where Coalition forces searched the compound and engaged militants there killing four. "Eight men who surrendered were arrested", the statement said. "During the operation, the force found AK-47s, grenades and blasting caps, the latter used to initiate IEDs," it added.

Afghanistan To Create Anti-Insurgency Force

Source Article HERE.

From 'Khaleej Times' (UAE): A special force is to be formed to boost security in areas of Afghanistan hit by a Taliban-led insurgency, the country's interior minister said Saturday. The paramilitary-style force, which will be funded by the US government, will operate under the command of the interior ministry, the department responsible for the country's police force, Mohammad Hanif Atmar told reporters. "Considering the special situation in the country we've decided to... create public protection forces with a special security mission within the interior ministry frame," Atmar said.

Their tasks will include protecting communities, schools, other government installations and highways that are threatened by an ongoing Taliban-led insurgency, the minister added. He said the first units will be drawn from Afghan youths chosen by community leaders and placed into provinces where the Taliban is most active. He refused to give further details, such as numbers, saying this would depend on the need in each region.

Most of the violence is focused in the southern and eastern parts of the country, along the border with Pakistan. "The US military (in Afghanistan) is strongly supportive (of) this initiative," Atmar said. The new units would "help police to provide the necessary security in areas so police can implement the rule of law," he added. "This force will not be a militia force," Atmar said, addressing concerns the new force will degenerate into a militia similar to those that fought the bloody civil war that wracked the country in the 1990s. Once created, "these forces will be official security forces of the government of Afghanistan," the minister said.

Iraqi PM Hopes For Peace Boost

Source Article HERE.

From 'International Herald Tribune': In neighborhoods once dominated by Shiite militias, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki appeared to be riding high Saturday, with Iraqis saying they voted for his party in gratitude for driving the gunmen from the streets. "I have nothing to do with politics, but I voted for the man who made feel safe again," 71-year-old Zakiya Tahir said as she left a polling station in the Basra district of Hayaniyah, scene of fierce clashes last spring between government troops and Shiite gunmen. She pointed to a campaign poster featuring al-Maliki's dour face.

Al-Maliki, a Shiite, was not a candidate in Saturday's election, in which Iraqis chose members of ruling councils in 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces. But the prime minister was hoping that a strong showing by his Coalition of the State of Law alliance would bolster his position against Shiite rivals ahead of national elections expected by the end of the year. But interviews with voters in parts of Basra and Baghdad once dominated by Shiite militias indicated that al-Maliki's prestige was riding high because of his crackdown on the gunmen last year.

Haider Mahmoud, 40, who is unemployed, said he faced pressure from his family to vote for the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, the biggest Shiite party. "But I changed my mind and voted for al-Maliki's list, because if it weren't for him there would still be killing in the streets of Basra," he said. In Baghdad, the mood was festive in the Hurriyah neighborhood, scene of some of the most vicious Shiite-Sunni fighting in 2006. Whole families streamed out of the polling stations Saturday, and young boys took advantage of the vehicle curfew to play soccer in the streets.

"Al-Maliki has risen above partisan politics that have shackled political life in Iraq," said Ahmed Hussein after voting for the prime minister's coalition. "He has turned a very bad situation into a much better one. We can now move from one neighborhood to another feeling completely safe," Hussein said. Back in Basra, Ali Majid, 25, said he used to fear leaving home after sunset. All that changed after government forces regained control of the city after fighting last March. "When the militiamen were in charge, we used to see bodies lying in the streets every day," Majid said. "But now order and peace are restored. I voted for al-Maliki's representative because they proved they are trustworthy."

Iraqi Polls Close, No Major Violence

Source Article HERE.

From 'FoxNews': Iraq's provincial elections have wrapped up without any reports of serious violence. Polls closed at 6 p.m. (10 a.m. EST) on Saturday — an hour later than planned — after millions of voters cast ballots for influential regional councils around most of Iraq. There were no reports of major violence. Iraqi authorities imposed a huge security operation around the country that included traffic bans in major cities and extensive checkpoints and surveillance posts. The U.S. military also was out in force but did not take a direct role in the election security. Results from the elections are not expected before Tuesday.

Iraqi voter smiles - Jan 31.

Read more HERE.

FBI Cuts Ties With CAIR

Source Article HERE.

From 'FoxNews': The FBI is severing its once-close ties with the nation's largest Muslim advocacy group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), amid mounting evidence that it has links to a support network for Hamas. All local chapters of CAIR have been shunned in the wake of a 15-year FBI investigation that culminated with the conviction in December of Hamas fundraisers at a trial where CAIR itself was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator. The U.S. government has designated Hamas as a terrorist organization. An official at the FBI's headquarters in Washington confirmed to FOX News that his office directed FBI field offices across the country to cut ties with local branches of CAIR.

CAIR's executive director Nihad Awad - 2004.

The new policy marks a major shift for the FBI, which has long been close to CAIR. The agency has previously invited CAIR to give training sessions for agents and used it as a liaison with the American Muslim community. CAIR's executive director, Nihad Awad, attended a post-September 11th meeting with then-FBI director Robert Mueller, and he met with other top brass as recently as 2006. But that was before Awad was shown to have participated in planning meetings with the Holy Land Foundation, five officials of which were convicted in December of funneling $12.4 million to Hamas. Prosecutors identified CAIR's chairman emeritus, Omar Ahmad, as an unindicted co-conspirator in that trial, and Special Agent Lara Burns testified that CAIR was a front group for radical organizations operating in the U.S.

Read more HERE.

MNFI Press Release - Jan 31


Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) partnered with Multi-National Division – Baghdad (MND-B) Soldiers found unexploded ordnance (UXO) and confiscated weapons on January 29-30th, while conducting operations in Baghdad. Elements of 2nd Battalion, 24th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division uncovered a cache while conducting a dismounted patrol in the Resala neighborhood, west of Baghdad, at approximately 2 p.m. on January 29th. An explosives ordnance disposal team identified the items as (3) 120mm high explosive 843Bs and (1) 130mm projectile.

Iraqi Army (IA) Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 24th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, partnered with Company B, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st BCT, 4th ID, MND-B, confiscated (6) AK-47 assault rifles while conducting operations in the Saydiyah neighborhood in southern Baghdad at approximately 4:15 a.m. on January 30th. The IA patrol hauled the weapons to a nearby Joint Security Station.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Israel Targets 'Terror Tunnels'

Source Article HERE.

BY: Nathan Hodge

From 'Wired Blog':
One of the major objectives of the Israeli bombing raids in Gaza, it appears, was to destroy the network of tunnels on the Egyptian border used by Hamas to smuggle weapons and materiel. Israel News says fighter jets targeted as many as 40 tunnels in a carefully choreographed strike:

Masked Palestinian Tunnel Digger.

Destroying the tunnels was one of Operation Cast Lead's objectives. The tunnels, used to smuggle weapons and ammunition into Gaza escaped any major strike for the entirety of the ceasefire between Israel and the militant groups in Gaza, as well as for several months prior to it.

The tunnels, as it happens, were not just a conduit for smuggling weapons. According to a story by Bloomberg's Jonathan Ferziger, the tunnels had become an economic lifeline for Gaza, which has been under Israeli blockade. Residents of Gaza depended on the tunnels for everything from livestock and construction materials to stocks of the erectile-dysfunction drug Viagra and smuggled iPods.

Ferziger presciently adds: "It may also turn into a bombing target for the Israeli air force following the expiration of a six-month cease- fire with the Hamas leaders who rule Gaza, Israeli strategists say."

Diyala SoI Transfer Underway

Source Article HERE.

From 'MNFI': Along with a new year, Iraq is ringing in an important step toward national reconciliation and sovereignty on January 1st, 2009. On that date, the nation’s government will take over control of the Sons of Iraq (SoI) from Coalition forces in four key provinces across the country -- including Diyala, one of the most diverse provinces, where al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) once terrorized and intimidated local residents. In all, 76 percent of the nation’s SoI members will be under Iraqi government responsibility by New Year’s Day. “We are beyond the tipping point with the Sons of Iraq,” said Lt. Colonel Jeffrey Kulmayer, the chief of reconciliation and engagement for Multi-National Corps – Iraq (MNC-I). “They have invested in the future of Iraq. And the Iraqi Government is offering them hope in the future. They’re going to be part of that.”

Sons of Iraq provide security and assist Coalition.

The transfer marks a dramatic turnaround in Diyala province in particular. “Diyala is a small Iraq,” said Iraqi Army Major General Muzhir al-Mawla, vice chairman of the Iraqi Follow-Up Committee for National Reconciliation. Home to Kurds as well as Sunni and Shi’a Iraqis, the region is more varied than Baghdad, where SoI members have already been successfully transferred to Iraqi control. In 2007, this mostly Sunni area northeast of Baghdad had been considered one of the most dangerous provinces in Iraq, and it lacked an infrastructure to support many basic services for its residents. But, as AQI’s targeting of innocent men, women and children in areas like Diyala took its deadly toll on residents, concerned local citizens joined a movement called the Awakening and organized neighborhood watches to roll back terrorist gains in their communities.

The following year, the movement’s members -- who came to be known as the Sons of Iraq -- joined forces with the Coalition to fight AQI, with spectacular results. The addition of more than 100,000 SoI members helped to thicken the security forces and enabled the improved security environment experienced today. “They have been critical to finding caches, bringing down IEDs, keeping al-Qaeda out of the towns, because they know everybody,” Kulmayer said. “They know who’s who in their towns and villages.”

Now, after helping bring greater stability to the region, 20,000 SoI members in Diyala, Babil, Wasit and Qadisiyah provinces will have opportunities to serve their country in new roles. In early December, they began to register with the Iraqi government to receive their regular paychecks. As responsibility for the SoI transfers to the government on January 1st, the group’s members will transition into a variety of meaningful jobs intended to secure the nation’s future. Twenty percent are slated to join the Iraqi Army or Police; the rest will enter public or private employment in a variety of roles, from civil engineering to electrical maintenance to working in the government’s multiple ministries.

“The goal of this program is to eventually hire these people into meaningful jobs,” said Lt. General Lloyd Austin III, commanding general of MNC-I. “While many of them are working in security positions right now, ultimately they’ll transition and go into other meaningful jobs, and that’s the goal.” The program has met with a number of challenges. Before working with the Coalition, many of the SoI actively resisted it. Some members worry that their previous activities might be held against them. So far, though, the SoI and the government have interacted well, confirming that this is “the leading edge of reconciliation,” according to Major General Michael Ferriter, deputy commanding general of MNC-I.

In the past three months, more than half of the country’s SoI have already been transferred smoothly to Iraqi control, including all the group’s members in Baghdad. SoI registration in Anbar Province is nearly complete, in preparation for a February 1st transfer to Iraqi control. Ninewa, Kirkuk and Salah Ah Din provinces are scheduled to transfer in early spring. Authorities said a rehearsal of the Diyala transfer on December 23rd went off without a hitch. “Diyala is considered to be a very complex province, but in fact the registration of the SoI has gone very well,” said Kulmayer, adding that nearly 9,000 SoI members would register with the government in the province. “We have a very large turnout there. It’s exceeding the expectation of how many would come in and register.”

“The Sons of Iraq feel as if they’re being taken care of,” Austin said. “They’re apprehensive, but that’s to be expected. This is new and building trust takes time.” Civil Service Corps projects continue to be the main focus of non-security job efforts, with more than 4,100 SoI currently enrolled in various apprentice programs. Iraqi-led jobs programs for the SoI, such as CSC and public works projects, remain in development. The government of Iraq is also looking at opening a number of job-training centers around the country to address the needs of unskilled SoI members.

“Those results have come about because of determined leadership,” Austin said. Ferriter echoed those comments, adding that, at the end of the day, all the parties were on the same page. “We have a common goal: We don’t want the Sons of Iraq to turn to al-Qaeda,” he said. “The Coalition forces don’t want that; the Iraqi Prime Minister doesn’t want that. Together, we’ll make this work.”

U.S. Forces Suppress Terror By Hunting Weapons

Source Article HERE.

From 'UPI': Violence is way down in Iraq, but the U.S. armed forces and the Iraqi National Police are continuing to net large quantities of the weapons needed to sustain terrorist attacks and guerrilla war. In one recent operation, U.S. Black Hawk helicopters nosedived, banked hard to the left and then touched down in an open field. Soldiers jumped out, took three steps and then threw themselves on the ground, letting a vortex of dust and debris stirred up by the spinning props wash over them before they could sprint to a tree line.

It was an air assault -- the second in two days by units of the 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment -- and ahead of them was five hours of scouring palm groves and fruit orchards on a sliver of land in the Tigris River Valley to unearth any hidden arms and munitions caches terrorists could use to roil nearby Baghdad. The list of bomb materials terrorists use and could be found was long. On it are Iraqi Army munitions left over from the 2003 invasion -- mortars, grenades, rockets and artillery shells. And then there are newer imported devices, primarily the explosively formed projectiles (EFPs) from Iran and their components.

With the 40 Americans were about 30 members of the Iraqi National Police and three bomb-sniffing dogs. "This is one of a series of searches to reduce enemy resources," said Captain Brian Sweigart of 1-27's Alpha Company. "We're in full court press. The elections are coming up and we need to keep them (extremists) from trying to stir things."

Violence in Iraq is at its lowest in years -- a daily average of 10 attacks of all kinds compared with 180 a day a year ago, according to statistics kept by U.S. forces. In East Baghdad, where between 700 and 800 Shiite extremists were killed during street battles last spring, the daily average number of attacks is now about four per day. The amount of explosives used in bomb attacks has also decreased, a sign that terrorists are finding supplies hard to come by. U.S. officials said recently that bombs, whether IEDs or vehicle-borne devices, used 15 pounds or less of explosives compared with the 50 pounds regularly seen in guerrilla attacks that were carried out earlier this year.

"I think the fight we had from March through May certainly is a large contributory factor as to why they (Shiite extremists) are not continuing the operations they were doing prior to that," said Colonel John Hort, commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, in charge of East Baghdad and its surrounding areas. "They've been disrupted and on the defensive more than ever before with all the attrition they took. We still search for bad guys, but we've been focusing heavily on their supply operations," Hort told United Press International.

MNFI Press Release - Dec 30

Iraqi Army (IA) Soldiers discovered a large weapons cache in the Jurf region during a patrol on December 28th. IA Soldiers of the 4th Battalion, 31st IA Brigade reported to Coalition forces the location of a cache consisting of (657) 37 mm anti-armor munitions with cartridge cases. Members of the 760th Explosive Ordnance Disposal responded, cleared the area and disposed of all ordnance in place by controlled detonation.

Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) captured five suspected terrorists during separate operations throughout northern Iraq on December 26-27th. During an operation on December 27th, Baqubah Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team arrested two suspected terrorists while serving warrants. These individuals are allegedly responsible for IED and rocket attacks against Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces. In a separate operation on December 26th in Rabiah, elements from the 3rd Iraqi Army captured three suspected terrorists. The individuals are believed to be extorting money from civilian and commercial traffic then transferring it to other local terrorists’ cells.

Iraqi Security Forces from the 3rd Battalion, 54th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division discovered an IED in Baghdad’s Mansour district on December 29th at approximately 10 a.m. The ISF notified Soldiers from the 4th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, operationally attached to the 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division , Multi-National Division – Baghdad, who responded to the scene to search for secondary devices. An Iraqi Army explosives ordnance disposal team was called in and removed the IED, which consisted of a gallon of homemade explosives, ball bearings and a cell phone initiator. “The discovery of this device before its detonation is a victory for the ISF and a testament to their improved capabilities,” said Major Kone Faulkner, spokesman for the 2nd HBCT, 1st Inf. Div. “Each day the ISF prove they are more capable of providing for the citizens of Baghdad and we will continue to provide over watch and support as needed.”

Five Found Guilty In Fort Dix Terror Trial

Source Article HERE.

From 'National Terror Alert Response Center': A jury has found five men guilty of conspiring to kill soldiers at Fort Dix, New Jersey, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office said on Monday, December 22nd. The defendants were acquitted of attempted murder charges but face life in prison. The jury spent six days deliberating. Six men were arrested on May 7, 2007, in New Jersey, as two of them were meeting a confidential government witness “to purchase three AK-47 automatic machine guns and four semi-automatic M-16s to be used in an attack they had been planning from at least January 2006,” according to a criminal complaint. The sixth defendant, Agron Abdullahu, pleaded guilty in October to a reduced charge of providing firearms to illegal aliens and received a sentence of 20 months in prison and three years of supervised release.

Abdullahu told the court in October that, from January 2006 to May 2007, he and Turkish-born Serdar Tatar provided firearms to brothers Dritan Duka, Shain Duka and Eljvir “Elvis” Duka. The Duka brothers, born in the former Yugoslavia, were in the United States illegally. Tatar and Abdullahu are both legal U.S. residents. The other defendant, Jordanian-born Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer, is the only U.S. citizen among them. The alleged Fort Dix plot came to light when two men gave an 8 mm videotape to a clerk at a Circuit City store in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, and asked him to convert it to DVD format. Authorities said the tape showed 10 young men shooting at a practice range and shouting in Arabic, “Allahu Akbar,” or “God is great.”

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Baghdad Celebrates First Public Christmas

Source Article HERE.

From 'CNN': From a distance, it looks like an apparition: a huge multi-colored hot-air balloon floating in the Baghdad sky, bearing a large poster of Jesus Christ. Below it, an Iraqi flag. Welcome to the first-ever public Christmas celebration in Baghdad, held Saturday and sponsored by the Iraqi Interior Ministry. Once thought to be infiltrated by death squads, the Ministry now is trying to root out sectarian violence -- as well as improve its P.R. image.

Poster of Jesus. Caption: "Master of the Soul Festival".

The event takes place in a public park in eastern Baghdad, ringed with security checkpoints. Interior Ministry forces deployed on surrounding rooftops peer down at the scene: a Christmas tree decorated with ornaments and tinsel; a red-costumed Santa Claus waving to the crowd, an Iraqi flag draped over his shoulders; a red-and-black-uniformed military band playing stirring martial music, not Christmas carols. On a large stage, children dressed in costumes representing Iraq's many ethnic and religious groups -- Kurds, Turkmen, Yazidis, Christians, Arab Muslims not defined as Sunni or Shiite -- hold their hands aloft and sing "We are building Iraq!" Two young boys, a mini-policeman and a mini-soldier sporting painted-on mustaches, march stiffly and salute.

Even before I can ask Interior Ministry spokesman Major-General Abdul Karim Khalaf a question, he greets me with a big smile. "All Iraqis are Christian today!" he says. Khalaf says sectarian and ethnic violence killed thousands of Iraqis. "Now that we have crossed that hurdle and destroyed the incubators of terrorism," he says, "and the security situation is good, we have to go back and strengthen community ties." In spite of his claim, the spokesman is surrounded by heavy security. Yet this celebration shows that the security situation in Baghdad is improving.

Many of the people attending the Christmas celebration appear to be Muslims, with women wearing head scarves. Suad Mahmoud, holding her 16-month-old daughter, Sara, tells me she is indeed Muslim, but she's very happy to be here. "My mother's birthday also is this month, so we celebrate all occasions," she says, "especially in this lovely month of Christmas and New Year."

Father Saad Sirop Hanna, a Chaldean Christian priest, is here too. He was kidnapped by militants in 2006 and held for 28 days. He knows firsthand how difficult the lot of Christians in Iraq is but, he tells me, "We are just attesting that things are changing in Baghdad, slowly, but we hope that this change actually is real. We will wait for the future to tell us the truth about this." He just returned from Rome. "I came back to Iraq because I believe that we can live here," he says. "I have so many [Muslim] friends and we are so happy they started to think about things from another point of view and we want to help them."

Iraqi artist uses oil paint to create portrait of Jesus.

The Christmas celebration has tables loaded with cookies and cakes. Families fill plates and chat in the warm winter sun. Santa balloons hang from trees. An artist uses oil paint to create a portrait of Jesus. In the middle of the park there's an art exhibit, the creation of 11- and 12-year-olds: six displays, each about three feet wide, constructed of cardboard and Styrofoam, filled with tiny dolls dressed like ordinary people, along with model soldiers and police. They look like model movie sets depicting everyday life in Baghdad.

Afnan, 12 years old, shows me her model called Arresting the Terrorists. "These are the terrorists," she tells me. "They were trying to blow up the school." In the middle of the street a dead "terrorist" sprawls on the asphalt, his bloody arm torn from his body by an explosion. Afnan tells me she used red nail polish to paint the blood. A little plastic dog stands nearby. "What is he doing?" I ask. "He looks for terrorists and searches for weapons and explosives," Afnan says.

Her mother, the children's art teacher, Raja, shows me another child's display called Baghdad Today. "This is a wedding," Raja explains. "Despite the terrorism, our celebrations still go ahead. This is a park, families enjoying time. And this is a market where people go shopping without fear of bombings. This is a mosque where people can pray with no fear." In the middle is a black mound that looks like a body bag. Policemen and Interior Ministry forces surround it. "This is terrorism," she tells me. "We killed it and destroyed it, and our lives went back to normal." A Christmas tale perhaps, I think, but one that many Iraqis hope will come true.

11 Taliban Killed In Afghanistan

Source Article HERE.

From 'AFP': The US-led coalition in Afghanistan said Friday it had killed 11 Taliban militants in an operation against a network behind a series of roadside bombings, including some that killed foreign soldiers. Another two suspected militants were arrested in a raid on Thursday in the southern province of Kandahar, the US military said in a statement. It said the head of the extremist cell was among those killed in the district of Maiwand, a Taliban stronghold about 75 kilometres (45 miles) west of the provincial capital of Kandahar.

US Soldiers in Afghanistan - Nov 2008.

Militants barricaded inside a compound had opened fire on the troops who retaliated with gunfire and hand grenades. "After neutralising the threat, the force searched the buildings, discovering 11 militants were killed," the statement said. They also found a wounded woman inside the building who was taken to a military hospital for treatment. The targeted cell had been responsible for "multiple roadside bomb attacks including recent attacks which killed multiple ISAF (International Security Assistance Forces) soldiers," the statement said. There was no independent confirmation of the incident.

The NATO-led ISAF and the coalition under US command have deployed a combined total of nearly 70,000 soldiers here to help the government tackle a Taliban-led insurgency and rebuild a country devastated by decades of war. Troops at the militant compound found dozens of landmines, grenades and machine-guns as well as bomb-making material, which they destroyed, the statement said. One building collapsed in secondary blasts caused by the mines.

MNFI Press Release - Dec 27

Iraqi Army (IA) soldiers, Iraqi National Police (INP) and MultiNational Division – Baghdad (MND-B) soldiers seized weapons caches in the Baghdad area on December 26th. IA soldiers serving with 53rd Brigade, 14th Iraqi Army Division and Soldiers serving with Company A, 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, MND-B, discovered a weapons cache containing (3) 100 mm high-explosive projectiles, (5) 115 mm projectiles, and (1) empty 152 mm projectile at approximately 12:40 p.m. northwest of Baghdad.

An Iraqi citizen turned in a cache found at his home to IA soldiers serving with 4th Battalion, 22nd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, at approximately 7 p.m. north of Baghdad. The weapons seized included (2) silencers, (4) grenade fuses, 2.5 pounds of propellant, (2) 60 mm high-explosive mortars, (1) heavy machine gun body and (1) machine gun bolt. At approximately 7 p.m., Iraqi National Policemen turned in a weapons cache they found to Soldiers serving with Company A, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd SBCT, 25th ID, MND-B. The cache contained (2) 57 mm mortars. At approximately 11 p.m., an Iraqi citizen turned in a 57 mm and a high-explosive anti-armor round to Soldiers serving with Co A, 1st Battalion, 14th Inf. Regt., 2nd SBCT, 25th ID, MND-B.

IA soldiers found a large cache of home-made explosives in southern Baghdad on December 25th. IA soldiers serving with 2nd Battalion, 55th Brigade, 17th Iraqi Army Division discovered a cache that contained approximately 1,500 pounds of home-made explosives, at approximately 3 p.m. An explosive ordnance disposal team transported the explosives to another location and disposed of them.

Iraqi soldiers from the 4th Battalion, 22nd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division confiscated a cache of weapons at approximately 6:50 p.m. during an operation in the Ghazaliyah district of northwest Baghdad on December 26th. The Iraqi soldiers notified the 5th Squadron, 4th Cavalry regiment, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad, which responded to the site to provide assistance. The effort uncovered (2) 60 mm mortar rounds, (15) propellant rods, 2 pounds of propellant and (2) silencers of an unknown caliber. “The confiscation of these weapons highlights the capability of the Iraqi Security Forces and allows Coalition force Soldiers to transition to a mentoring position,” said Major Kone Faulkner, a spokesperson for 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. “The ISF are in the lead and are getting the job done, and we will do everything in our power to support their efforts and provide assistance as needed.”

Iraqi officials recently reported that more than 2,000 Iraqi families have returned to their homes in eastern Baghdad this year. The 2,084 returning families left their homes in the districts of Rusafa, Karadah and 9 Nissan due to security concerns. Categorized as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), they have returned to a more secure and safe environment. The number of returnees in the area is a sign of vastly improved security conditions, said Lt. Colonel Eric Holliday, deputy team leader of Baghdad-2 embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team (e-PRT). “The more returnees we get back into the neighborhoods from where they were originally displaced tells us these people feel safe enough to return to those areas and they don’t think there is going to be further violence,” expressed Holliday. “When we have them return and we don’t have any incidents of further violence... then it has been fairly successful in our area. That is a measure of effectiveness telling us we are doing our job right."

Iraq’s Ministry of Migrations and Displaced Persons (MOMDP) is responsible for tracking IDPs and IDP returnees. They report the number of Iraqi citizens who register with IDP centers weekly. Holliday said there is an IDP center in Rusafa that issues reports about homeowners returning to eastern Baghdad. “Their job is to register all IDPs that have displaced into our area and also to register all returnees – those are IDPs that were displaced to other areas that are returning to their homes,” explained Holliday of the 308th Civil Affairs Brigade. “They (returnees) receive a stipend from the government. It’s been running somewhere around one million to three million dinars, which equates to about $1,000 to $3,000 per returnee.” To receive stipends and reclaim their homes, IDP returnees must register with the ministry and provide proof of ownership. Other forms of government support also are available to these citizens.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Dispatch From Michael Yon

Source Article HERE.

From 'Michael Yon Online': Michael Yon posted a dispatch at his online magazine on December 1st entitled: "The Art of the End of War". Clearly, Yon seems to suggest that the war in Iraq is essentially finished...

Yes, the war is over. And it will be a great day when the last American division leaves Iraq, and Americans and Iraqis never fire another shot at each other, and we can honestly call each other “friends.”
Here are a few more excerpts from the article...

SSG Foust explained that after the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003, his group spent long periods patrolling in the Sinjar mountains in Nineveh where many Yezidis live. He said there was no fighting with Yezidis and that the Yezidis were so friendly that they continuously invited the soldiers to eat with them in the villages...

I said to SSG Foust what I tell our pilots who fly near Yezidis: If your aircraft goes down near Yezidis, you might be sipping tea with your laundry being folded before search and rescue can get to you. And they’ll cook lunch for the rescue team. This is why a lot of Americans who know Yezidis are angered when al Qaeda attacks Yezidi people. Many personal bonds have been formed during this tragic war. We are no longer enemies with the Iraqis, and there is no good reason why Iraq and America should ever fight again...

We rumbled into various neighborhoods in south Baghdad. Nothing was going on. No gun battles. No mushroom clouds from car bombs or IEDs. I wore the headset and the incessant radio alerts about units fighting here or there were completely absent. In the old days, while the Iraq war was hot, there was constant chatter about fighting, car bombs, snipers, name it. Today, there were no alerts at all...

The Baghdad mission with 10th Mountain Division soldiers was uneventful, other than the soldiers being proud to say they haven’t had to fire a single shot in combat this year...

Al Qaeda was handed a vicious defeat in Iraq, and it can be said with great certainty that most Iraqis hate al Qaeda even more than Americans do. Al Qaeda can continue to murder Iraqis for now, but al Qaeda will be hard pressed to ever plant their flag in another Iraqi city. The Iraqi army and police have become far too strong and organized, and the Iraqis will eventually strangle al Qaeda to death...

Yes, the war is over. And it will be a great day when the last American division leaves Iraq, and Americans and Iraqis never fire another shot at each other, and we can honestly call each other “friends.”
You can read the whole article HERE.

Monday, December 1, 2008

HLF Defendants Guilty On All Counts

Source Article HERE.

From 'National Terror Alert': After more than 15 years of investigation and two trials, the Holy Land Foundation and five of its former organizers were found guilty of illegally funneling more than $12 million to the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. The verdicts by a Dallas federal jury are a significant victory for the Justice Department, which streamlined its case after a mistrial last year and worked hard to carefully educate jurors on the complex evidence presented in the massive case. Guilty verdicts were read on 108 separate charges.

The verdicts are a major triumph for the outgoing administration of President George W. Bush, whose efforts at fighting terrorism financing have been troubled. Two other similar high-profile prosecutions targeting supporters of Palestinian militants have ended in acquittals, deadlocked juries or convictions on lesser charges. “Today’s verdicts are important milestones in America’s efforts against financiers of terrorism,” Patrick Rowan, assistant attorney general for national security, said in a prepared statement. “This prosecution demonstrates our resolve to ensure that humanitarian relief efforts are not used as a mechanism to disguise and enable support for terrorist groups.”

Peter Margulies, a Roger Williams University law professor who studies terrorism financing cases said, “The government showed in a streamlined case that where special assistance to the families of terrorists is concerned, cash is the moral equivalent of a car bomb.” The jury also said Holy Land should forfeit $12.4 million because of several money-laundering convictions in the case. Prosecutors said the government probably will end up with about $5 million in Holy Land money frozen by federal authorities in 2001.

US Deaths In Afghanistan Drop Sharply In November

Source Article HERE.

From 'AP': One American serviceman died in Afghanistan in November, a dramatic drop from earlier months, which the U.S. military attributed to their campaign against insurgent leaders, operations by Afghan and Pakistani forces and the onset of winter. Twice this year, monthly U.S. death tolls in Afghanistan surpassed the monthly toll in Iraq. U.S. troops suffered an average of 21 deaths in Afghanistan each month this year from May to October - by far the deadliest six-month period in Afghanistan for American forces since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion. The Afghan Defense Ministry does not release fatality figures.

Lt. Colonel Rumi Nielson-Green, the spokeswoman at the U.S. base at Bagram, cautioned that one month of data does not make a trend "but may be an indicator." She noted that operations conducted by U.S. forces last summer against insurgent areas and bomb-making networks helped lower November's violence. Those efforts likely contributed to a 40 percent drop in IED attacks in October, compared with September, and may have pushed down troop death last month as well.

In addition, U.S. forces also pressed ahead in November with what commanders call the Winter Campaign. "This campaign is designed to create the conditions of lowering enemy capabilities, diminishing their support areas both by hard-power and soft, and continue strengthening border operations to complement the Pakistani efforts in the FATA," she said, referring to Pakistan's northwestern Federally Administered Tribal Areas. She said Pakistani military operations in Bajur have also helped security in Afghanistan.

Insurgents in Afghanistan, particularly in mountainous areas, typically scale back their operations during the winter months, and that may have contributed to the declining trend, U.S. military spokesman Colonel Jerry O'Hara said. "That's some of it," he said. "But really we attribute it more toward our improvement in our tactics and techniques and procedures, along with the increased capability of the Afghan security forces."

O'Hara said the number of attacks in the Kabul region was 50 percent lower in January to October this year than during the same 10-month period in 2007. "And again, we attribute that to not only the Afghan security forces, but you have to give credit to the Afghan people for their personal involvement in the form of tips and their reports to Afghan security forces," he said.

Eleven U.S. troops died in Afghanistan in November 2007, meaning the year-on-year drop is also significant. The U.S. still has about 150,000 troops in Iraq, but violence there has fallen off dramatically in recent months. Over the past six months it has become more dangerous to serve in Afghanistan, where the death rate among U.S. troops has been higher than in Iraq. A near-record 32,000 American forces are deployed in Afghanistan. Despite the vastly greater number of Americans deployed in Iraq, in two months this year more U.S. forces died in Afghanistan than Iraq. Sixteen U.S. troops died in Iraq last month.

O'Hara said the military mourns every death and that the number of casualties is not a measure of effectiveness for the military. "Our measures of effectiveness are increased security, increases in development, increases in people's attitudes toward their own well being," said O'Hara. "And certainly we're always adjusting our tactics based on what we see on the battlefield and what we are able to learn through intelligence about the insurgents."

The commander of NATO, General John Craddock, said last week that the Taliban insurgency was growing more "virulent," saying violence jumped by 40 percent this year. More than 5,900 people (mostly militants) have died in insurgency related violence in Afghanistan this year, according to an Associated Press count of figures from Afghan and Western officials.

Taliban Commander Killed In Afghanistan

Source Article HERE.

From 'Xinhua': Continued violence claimed the life of a Taliban local commander in Afghanistan, officials said Monday. Afghan security forces raided the hideout of a Taliban commander named Ghazi in Sarobi district 60 km east of capital city Kabul and eliminated him. "Security forces stormed Ghazi's hiding place late Saturday night and killed him along with some of his armed men," police chief of Sarobi district Abdul Jamil Shamal said. Taliban insurgents have yet to make comment.

MNFI Press Release - Dec 1

Iraqi Army (IA) soldiers and Multi-National Division - Baghdad (MND-B) Soldiers seizee weapons caches near Baghdad on November 30th. Soldiers serving with 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armor Division, found two caches south of Baghdad at approximately 2 p.m. The first cache included (63) mortar rounds, (12) rockets, (1) rocket launcher, (60) boxes of ammunition, (2,000) loose rounds of ammunition, (15) bipods, (1) anti-aircraft mount, (15) fuses and an unknown amount of homemade explosive. The second cache consisted of (6) mortars, (39) rocket-propelled grenades, (2) rifle grenades, and (1) anti-tank warhead. At approximately 5:30 p.m., IA soldiers serving with 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 9th IA Division, discovered a cache north of Baghdad, where (3) rockets and (1) rocket motor were turned over to 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, to be destroyed.

Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), with Coalition force advisors, captured two suspected AQI cell members and a Jaysh al-Mahdi Special Groups (JAM-SG) cell leader during separate operations in Iraq on November 29th. Hillah Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) conducted an operation capturing a JAM-SG cell leader. The individual is believed to be the leader of the A-Imam JAM-SG cell operating throughout the Babil province. The cell is allegedly responsible for conducting numerous attacks against Coalition force bases as well as IED attacks on Coalition convoys.

In Balad, elements from the 4th Iraqi Army captured two Ansar al-Sunna (AAS) cell members during an operation. One of the individuals is believed to be the AAS Central Northern Regional Commander whose cell conducts attacks against Coalition forces. “These series of operations are directed toward thwarting terrorists and criminal activities as the Government of Iraq demonstrates a determination to bring those operating outside the law to justice,” said Lt. Col. Neil Harper, spokesman for Multi-National Corps – Iraq.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

UN: Afghanistan Not In Crisis

Source Article HERE.

From 'AFP': Afghanistan is not in a security crisis, and disillusionment and recriminations about its situation should be avoided, a UN Security Council team said at the end of a three-day assessment tour. There were even reasons for "cautious optimism," the delegation told reporters before wrapping up a visit which comes as attacks linked to the insurgency led by the Islamic Taliban are at record levels. "There is undoubtedly a difficult security situation which is developing... but not a security crisis," said the head of the delegation, Italian ambassador Giulio Terzi.

"We should avoid any inclination to disillusionment and frustration or even worse to mutual recriminations between Afghanistan and its friends," he said. "Instead, this is the time for the Afghan people and for the international community to redouble efforts and to redouble the spirit of joint partnership in overcoming these difficulties."

In his meeting with the team on Tuesday, President Hamid Karzai demanded a "timeline" for the end of largely UN-mandated international military intervention in Afghanistan. The country is a key battleground for the US-led "war on terror" launched in 2001 with the invasion that toppled Afghanistan's Taliban regime for harbouring Al-Qaeda after the September 11 attacks on the United States. Terzi said there was an expectation among all involved that the international intervention would be as short as possible, but it would also have to be sustained as long as needed and requires an increased engagement.

MNFI Press Release - Nov 30

Coalition forces struck al-Qaeda in Iraq’s (AQI) Baghdad bombing networks during an operation on Saturday night, capturing a suspected car bomb operative. Forces were lead to a residence in the Karkh neighborhood after reports suggested the wanted man was there. The suspected terrorist, who is believed to have connections to a Baghdad-area AQI car bomb cell leader, was detained by ground forces without incident.

Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), with Coalition force advisors, captured eight suspected AQI terrorists during separate operations in northern Iraq on November 27th-28th. These operations demonstrate the commitment and capability of the Government of Iraq in their effort to reinforce the rule of law and bring stability to the region.

Third Iraqi Army elements conducted an operation on November 28th, capturing two AQI terrorists in Bulayj. One of the individuals is believed to be the Amir of a newly formed direct action cell operating in the area. The individuals are believed to be responsible for planning attacks against Coalition forces.

During an operation on November 27th, Baqubah Special Weapons and Tactics captured three suspected AQI terrorists operating within the district. These individuals are believed to facilitate AQI operatives and provide safe havens in the area. In a separate operation on November 27th, Iraqi Special Operations Forces arrested three suspected AQI cell members in East Mosul. These individuals are believed to be operating as an assassination cell and are suspected of killing local nationals and Iraqi Security Forces. Two of the individuals are allegedly responsible for facilitating the escape of insurgents from the Badush Prison in 2006.

Iraqi Army (IA) and MultiNational Division – Baghdad (MND-B) Soldiers conducted a joint compliance neighborhood inspection patrol on November 26th in the town of Al Murtada in the Mahmudiyah Qada, south of Baghdad. IA soldiers from the 1st and 2nd Battalion, 25th Brigade, 17th Iraqi Army Division and MND-B Soldiers from Company D, 1st Battalion, 63rd Combined Arms Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, conducted the dismounted patrol visiting more than 30 houses.

The Iraqi Army uses compliance patrols to hold residents accountable for the safety and sanitation of their neighborhoods. Each household is asked to sign a form stating they will keep their walls clean of graffiti and will report any suspicious behavior to an Iraqi Army soldier. “This patrol is a great way for the Iraqi Army to make the locals take an active stance in their neighborhoods,” said 1st Lt. Cameron Mays, mortar platoon leader, Company D. “The best part about the patrol though is that the Iraqi Army was in the lead; we were purely in a supervisory role.”

The Soldiers provided security to Iraqi Army soldiers as they went door to door speaking to the residents. “The Coalition Soldiers have been great partners throughout my time with them,” said Iraqi Captain Salah, the Iraqi Army mission Commander. “It is good to be able to show them how much we’ve learned from them in their time here.”

Friday, November 21, 2008

Arms Dealer Caught In Terror Sting Convicted

Source Article HERE.

From 'Associated Press': A wealthy arms dealer long suspected of aiding militants in some of the world's bloodiest conflicts was convicted on Thursday of conspiring to sell weapons to informants who posed as arms suppliers for terrorists willing to kill Americans. Syrian-born Monzer al-Kassar, 62, and a co-defendant, Luis Felipe Moreno Godoy, were convicted of conspiring over a four-month period last year to try to sell millions of dollars worth of heavy weaponry to Colombian militants. A federal jury in Manhattan convicted the men of conspiring to provide aid and equipment to a terrorist organization, conspiring to kill U.S. soldiers, conspiring to acquire and export anti-aircraft missiles and money laundering.

U.S. authorities said al-Kassar was willing to sell surface-to-air missile systems, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, thousands of machine guns and millions of rounds of ammunition to Colombian rebels. Prosecutors said al-Kassar believed undercover Drug Enforcement Administration agents were representing the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, a rebel army known as FARC that is classified in the United States as a terrorist group. The evidence included recorded phone calls, e-mails and meetings.

The agents struck a fictitious $8 million deal for al-Kassar to supply weaponry obtained in Romania and Bulgaria. No weapons were ever exchanged. Assistant U.S. Attorney Boyd Johnson said greed was the chief motivation. The men face up to life in prison when they are sentenced on February 18th. An indictment unsealed last year said al-Kassar had provided military equipment to violent factions in Nicaragua, Brazil, Cyprus, Bosnia, Croatia, Somalia, Iran and Iraq. It said his customers included known terrorist organizations determined to stage "attacks on United States interests and United States nationals."

Al-Kassar, long a target of U.S. investigators, was arrested on June 7th, 2007 after arriving at an airport in Madrid, Spain. Al-Kassar was acquitted in Spain of supplying assault rifles used by Palestinian militants in the 1985 hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro. The hijackers killed 69-year-old New Yorker Leon Klinghoffer, dumping his body and wheelchair overboard. Klinghoffer's daughters were in court for Thursday's conviction. "I wanted everyone there to know my father is in the courtroom in a spiritual way," said Lisa Klinghoffer, who wore a pin bearing his initials. As jurors stepped into an elevator to leave, Lisa Klinghoffer shouted: "Thank you! He provided the guns that killed my father. It's a long time coming."

US Forces Kill Senior Al Qaeda In Iraq Leader

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From 'Christian Science Monitor': An Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader believed by US officials to be responsible for one of the most notorious attacks on US soldiers was killed during American military operations earlier this month, military officials said Thursday. Hajji Hammadi, a regional Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) leader, was shot dead by US forces in a raid in the upscale Mansour district of Baghdad on November 11th, according to US military spokesman Brigadier General David Perkins.

The killing, believed to have been a US special forces operation, is part of a series of American operations that have steadily eroded AQI’s command and control structure. The organization has also lost support from tens of thousands Iraqis who have turned against it and joined US forces in fighting AQI. But counterterrorism experts cautioned that while US operations have widely eroded AQI's ability to operate as a network, the organization was turning towards more targeted, high-profile attacks such as suicide bombings.

"Their ability to move resources around Iraq, to bring resources from outside the country, has been dramatically reduced," General Perkins told reporters. "They now have to operate in much smaller cells, much less capable cells, so it's much more difficult for them to mount large numbers of attacks, and attacks that create large amount of casualties," he said.

Hammadi, an Iraqi, was believed by US military officials to be responsible for the abduction and murder of US Army Staff Sgt. Matt Maupin in 2004. Sergeant Maupin, an Army reservist from Ohio, was captured after his fuel convoy came under attack near Baghdad's International Airport. He later appeared in a hostage video and was reported killed. Five civilians and two other US soldiers were also believed to have died in the ambush. Hammadi also planned and helped execute an attack in June in Anbar Province in which a suicide bomber dressed in an Iraqi police uniform detonated, killing three US Marines, two interpreters, and more than 20 Iraqi civilians, including a mayor and several tribal leaders, said Perkins.

"[Hammadi's] death removes a key AQI command and control node from the region," says US military spokesman Commander David Waterman. Two prominent counterterrorism analysts say they were unfamiliar with Hammadi or his level of influence in the organization, but agree that killings like this have steadily reduced AQI's operational capabilities. Meanwhile, AQI has lost support from Iraqis who have turned against it and joined US forces in fighting AQI.

"In late 2007 to 2008 we've really seen a decline in the effectiveness of AQI," said Brian Fishman, research director at West Point's Combating Terrorism Center in a telephone interview. The organization's ability to command and communicate has been curtailed by joint US forces and Iraqi military operations, said Mr. Fishman. At the same time he said, strategic errors by AQI, such as wide-scale attacks on civilians and claims to religious power, has also damaged the organization by turning a large number of Iraqis against it.

"I don't think Al Qaeda in Iraq is in charge of their own destiny. They used to be, but they screwed it up," said Fishman, who has recently observed AQI focusing more narrowly on military rather than civilian targets and on techniques such as suicide bombers disguised as soldiers. "They've lost the ability to do this across the board disruptive stuff so they're trying to be more creative and act like traditional terrorists rather than insurgents," said Fishman.

Afghanistan: Insurgents Killed, Civilians Saved

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From 'American Forces Press Service': Afghan army commandos and their coalition partners killed four militants while simultaneously protecting nearly 90 civilians in an early morning operation today in western Afghanistan, military officials reported. The combined forces were conducting a raid on a compound, targeting a Taliban commander in Farah province's Dowlatabad village when they received fire from several enemy fighting positions. The combined forces quickly returned fire and also established a security perimeter to protect the civilians, who included 30 children, officials said. The exchange of fire resulted in the deaths of four enemy fighters who local residents confirmed were Taliban militants.

During the search for more militants, commandos discovered a fully operational explosive device in a local mosque. Commandos removed the bomb and destroyed it. The detonation caused minor damage to the mosque's exterior wall, for which the commandos provided compensation to village elders. The operation also uncovered numerous small arms weapons and bomb-making materials. No Afghan, coalition or civilian casualties resulted from the operation, officials said.

In other news from Afghanistan, Afghan and coalition forces killed 10 militants near Highway 1 in the Nahr Surkh district of Helmand province yesterday. The forces were conducting a security patrol when they were attacked by militants with small-arms and machine-gun fire. They returned fire, killing the 10 militants. During the engagement, an Afghan soldier was shot in the back. He was treated on site and transported to a nearby Coalition medical facility. No other Afghan or coalition forces or civilians were injured during the engagement, officials said.

Also yesterday, Afghan and coalition forces killed four armed militants and detained eight others yesterday during an operation in Kapisa province in which an Afghan woman and child were injured when the insurgents used them as human shields, officials said. In the Tagab district, coalition forces provided medical care to the Afghan woman and child, whom the forces believe lived with the militants. The two were injured when one of the militants detonated a hand grenade. They are recovering at a military hospital, officials said.

The operation targeted the Hizb-e-Islami Gulbuddin terrorist network, which is known to plan and coordinate attacks against civilians and coalition forces, including an attack in August that killed 10 French soldiers, officials said. As the force attempted to search the compound, they received a large volume of small-arms fire and hand grenades from militants barricaded in a section of the compound. Coalition forces responded with small-arms fire and killed them. A search of the compound revealed multiple AK-47 assault rifles, hand grenades and other military equipment, which were destroyed to prevent future use. The force detained three suspected militants as a result of the operation.

In Khowst province, Afghan and coalition forces captured a targeted Haqqani terrorist network operative and five other suspects during a combined operation in the Mandozai district. The wanted man is a suspect in roadside and suicide bombings, officials said. Troops searched the compound without incident.

MNFI Press Release - Nov 21

MultiNational Division – Baghdad (MND-B) Soldiers detained a suspected criminal in central Baghdad’s Mansour district at approximately 2:30 a.m. on November 20th. Soldiers with the 5th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, detained a man suspected of illegal weapons possession and attacks on Coalition forces.

MND-B Soldiers detained three suspected criminals on November 20-21 in southern Baghdad’s Rashid district. Acting on an anonymous tip, Soldiers from Troop C, 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, detained a suspected criminal at approximately 6:30 p.m. on November 20th in the Abu T’shir community. The individual is suspected of participating in roadside bomb attacks. The Soldiers discovered roadside bomb making materials at the suspect’s residence. An explosive ordnance disposal team responded to analyze the bomb materials. At approximately 3:15 a.m. on November 21st, Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st BCT, 4th ID, detained two suspected criminals during an operation in the Risalah community. The individuals were suspected of participating in roadside bomb attacks.

MND-B Soldiers seized caches in Baghdad on November 19th and 20th. While conducting a dismounted patrol northwest of Baghdad, Soldiers from Company C, 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, found a small cache hidden in a field at approximately 11:45 a.m. on November 19th. Their find consisted of (3) 122 mm high explosive rounds. An explosive ordnance detachment collected the rounds for disposal. MND-B Soldiers with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd SBCT, 25th ID, located a weapons cache containing (22) 57 mm rounds at approximately 9:30 a.m. on November 20th. Later that day, Troop C of the same cavalry squadron found another cache buried underground in Taji at approximately 1 p.m. This cache consisted of (9) grenades of various types, (50) linked 5.56 mm rounds and (100) linked 7.56 mm rounds.

A group of Iraqi Soldiers stepped up to help California residents victimized by recent wildfires raging throughout the state. Iraqi Army Colonel Abbas Fadhil, Besmaya Range Complex commander, and his team of "Abbas' Eagles" raised $500 for wildfire relief. "We want to send a message to the American president and the American people," Abbas said. "We feel that we are a family — one body. When one part of the body suffers, the other parts suffer, too." This is the fourth donation the Soldiers of Besmaya have sent to the American people recently. In September, they raised $1,500 for victims of hurricanes Gustav and Ike. The Eagles also donated $500 to the National September 11 Memorial.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Major Al-Qaeda Operative Killed

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From 'AFP': ISLAMABAD — A major Arab Al-Qaeda operative was among the six militants killed overnight in a suspected US missile strike in northwest Pakistan, a senior security official told AFP Wednesday. Security sources identified the militant as Abdullah Azam al-Saudi, a senior member of Osama bin Laden's terror network. They said US intelligence officials had identified him as the main link between Al-Qaeda's senior command and Taliban networks in the Pakistani border region with Afghanistan. "He was the man coordinating between Al-Qaeda and Taliban commanders on this side of the border, and also involved in recruiting and training fighters," an Islamabad-based senior security official told AFP.

U.S. Predator Drone

Sources in the Taliban said al-Saudi was also a member of the Taliban's supreme council, or Shura, under its fugitive leader Mullah Mohammad Omar when it moved from Afghanistan to the Pakistani side of the border about a year ago. "He was closely linked to Al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri," a Taliban source added. Following the strike, al-Zawahiri warned US president-elect Barack Obama against sending more troops to Afghanistan saying that US policy was "doomed to failure" in an Internet audio message.

A security official said the US missile strike was carried out on intelligence that al-Saudi was in a house belonging to a tribesman in the Bannu district, which borders restive North Waziristan. It was the first alleged US missile strike outside the tribal region which is described by the United States as home to Al-Qaeda's command and control structure. Terror network chief Osama bin Laden is also widely believed to be hiding in the rugged region, although there is no clear information about his whereabouts.

Al-Saudi is the second high-profile Al-Qaeda operative killed in recent apparent US missile strikes near Pakistan's border with Afghanistan. Egyptian Abu Jihad al-Masri, described by the US as the terror network's propaganda chief, was among several rebels killed in a November 1st missile strike in North Waziristan, a known hub of Al-Qaeda and Taliban rebels.

At least five Taliban militants were also killed when Pakistani artillery pounded their hideouts through the night in a restive tribal region near the Afghanistan border, local administration official Mohammad Jamil told AFP. The clashes took place in the Mamoon and Nawagai areas in Bajaur tribal region, where the military launched an operation against Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants in August. "Troops fired artillery on militant hideouts and underground bunkers Tuesday night, killing five rebels and wounding three others," Jamil said.

U.S. Missiles Strike Deeper Into Pakistan

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From 'Associated Press': ISLAMABAD — A suspected American missile strike bombarded a village deep inside Pakistani territory Wednesday, officials said, marking what appears to be the first time the U.S. has struck beyond the tribal belt bordering Afghanistan. Six alleged militants were killed. Two missiles destroyed a house in Indi Khel village in Bannu district, Javed Marwat, a local government official, told The Associated Press. Two Pakistani intelligence officials said their agents reported that militants from Central Asia were among the six killed.

Site of missile strike: Indi Khel, Pakistan - Nov 19

The United States, which says Taliban and al-Qaida militants use pockets of northwest Pakistan to plan attacks on foreign troops in Afghanistan, has been blamed in about 20 cross-border missile strikes since August. The U.S. rarely confirms or denies the strikes, which are believed to be carried out mainly by the CIA. The attacks have killed scores of suspected al-Qaida and Taliban militants in the tribal regions that are a rumored hiding place of Osama bin Laden. The missiles are apparently fired from unmanned planes launched in Afghanistan, where some 32,000 U.S. troops are fighting the Taliban and other militants.

Pakistan has protested the strikes as violations of its sovereignty and international law but the attacks continue, leading analysts to speculate that the two nations may have a secret deal. General David Petraeus, the head of U.S. Central Command, has defended the missile strikes, saying at least three top extremist leaders, whom he did not identify, have been killed in recent months in the attacks. Until Wednesday, all the attacks since August were in North and South Waziristan, two tribal regions where the government has ceded much of its limited control to militants. U.S. officials say they want to help Pakistan regain sovereignty over such areas.

The Bannu district, which falls under the control of the regional government, begins roughly 18 miles away from the border with Afghanistan. Two other intelligence officials, both based in Bannu, said militants had begun moving farther away from the border, including to their district and other settled areas, in an apparent bid to avoid the missile strikes. All the intelligence officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to news media.

Even as the U.S. strikes have picked up, American officers in Afghanistan have stressed improved day-to-day Pakistani cooperation in squeezing militants nested along both sides of the lengthy, porous border. U.S. military officials said troops in Afghanistan coordinated with Pakistan on Sunday in shelling insurgents inside Pakistan who were launching rockets at the foreign troops. Pakistan's official statement on the matter referred only to militant activity in Afghanistan.

In the past month, NATO and Pakistan also have cooperated in so-called Operation Lion Heart — a series of complementary operations that involve Pakistani army and paramilitary troops, and NATO on the Afghan side, said Colonel John Spiszer, U.S. commander in northeast Afghanistan. "What we have done is worked very hard to refocus our ... intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance assets to do everything we can to identify transiting across the border," he told a Pentagon news conference in Washington via teleconference from Afghanistan on Tuesday.

Commanders hope pressure on both sides of the border will eventually mean militants will be "running out of options on places to go," Spiszer said. U.S. officials have praised Pakistani military offensives against militants in its border region, including an operation in the Bajur tribal area that the army says has killed some 1,500 alleged insurgents.

MNFI Press Release - Nov 19

MND-B Soldiers and Iraqi National Police (INP) confiscated a rifle cache on November 18th during a clearance operation in the Rashid district of southern Baghdad. During the morning op, Soldiers from 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, MND-B, and INP from the 7th Brigade, 2nd National Police Division, seized (38) AK-47 assault rifles, (3) sniper rifles, and (14) AK-47 magazines in the Abu T’shir community.

To combat the threat in northern Adhamiyah, MND–B Soldiers and Iraqi Security Forces conducted a joint operation in Baghdad’s Istaqlal district on November 18th. Soldiers from MND-B’s 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, and 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, partnered with the Iraqi Army’s 1st Battalion, 42nd Brigade, 11th Division, and the National Police’s 3rd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 1st Division and 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, for the maneuver. The early morning operation netted seven detainees and, hopefully, safer streets for the Iraqi people as well as Iraqi Security and Coalition forces.

A coalition of American and Iraqi soldiers participated in clearing and searching buildings, vehicles and nearby fields. Some of those Soldiers were inserted into the area via helicopter to provide quick access to areas that would take too long to reach via ground transportation. Shortly after the sun rose, the Soldiers had cleared their target areas and returned to their bases across northern Baghdad. “This mission truly showed the value of the Iraqi Security Forces in helping prevent a dangerous and deadly tool of the enemy from hurting the good people of Iraq as well as other members of the security forces in northern Baghdad,” said Maj. Michael Humphreys, who serves as the public affairs officer for 3rd BCT, 4th Inf. Div.

Coalition operations further dismantled AQI's terrorist leadership and bombing networks throughout Iraq on Monday and Tuesday, as forces captured four wanted men and detained 14 suspected terrorists, military officials reported.
Forces continued to strike terrorist leadership in Iraq Tuesday night. During an operation in Beiji, south of Mosul, forces detained a man believed to be associated with a terrorist leader in the city. Forces in Sadiyah, northeast of Baghdad, detained four men believed to have connections to a senior courier in the Diyala AQI network.

Two synchronized operations Tuesday in Tarmiyah, north of Baghdad, degraded AQI’s bombing networks in the Tigris River Valley. During one op, Coalition forces captured a wanted man believed to house suicide bombers and facilitate AQI meetings in his residence. He and three other suspects were detained. A concurrent operation in Tarmiyah netted a second wanted man believed to train AQI operatives on IED construction and employment. The suspected terrorist, who reports suggest was actively planning a car bomb attack in the Tarmiyah area, surrendered himself to Coalition forces, officials said. Four other men believed to be associates of the wanted man were detained for further questioning.

Terrorist bombing networks also were the target of a coalition operation in Beiji yesterday. There, a wanted man associated with IED facilitation networks in the Tigris River Valley was captured. He surrendered himself to Coalition forces without incident. Ground forces in Mosul captured a wanted man, believed to be an IED facilitator, along with two additional suspects. The wanted man also is believed to be an administrator and operations planner for a terrorist organization affiliated with AQI, officials said.

In other Iraq news, two terrorists were killed and four men were detained during intelligence-driven ops in Mosul on November 16th and 17th. On the 16th, Iraqi Police and U.S. Soldiers from 3rd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, killed two enemy fighters during an operation in the Amel neighborhood. The Police officers also confiscated a 9 mm pistol and two fragmentary hand grenades. During Monday’s op, Iraqi Soldiers and Soldiers with the 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, captured four suspected terrorists in the Tameen neighborhood.