Saturday, August 15, 2009

Suicide bomber in Pakistan's Swat kills 3 troops

ISLAMABAD – A suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into a security checkpoint in Pakistan's northwestern Swat Valley on Saturday, killing at least three soldiers, police said.

It was the first suicide attack in Swat since July, when the government said a military offensive against the Pakistani Taliban in the valley and surrounding areas had largely been successful.

Several soldiers manning the checkpoint were wounded in the attack in the town of Khawaza Khela, said senior police official Idrees Khan. He gave no further details and said officers were investigating.

The military has been winding down its three-month offensive in Swat, although the army said it still faces pockets of Taliban resistance in the surrounding area. Hundreds of thousands of the roughly 2 million people who fled the area during the fighting have been returning home amid tight security.

Pakistan has said troops will remain in Swat until the fighters of notorious Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah — whose thousands of followers are blamed for the violence — are eliminated. Although the military says it has killed or captured a number of Fazlullah's commanders, he himself has evaded capture.

Meanwhile, a Pakistani army officer and two intelligence officials said Saturday that a clash between Pakistani and Afghan border guards killed a Pakistani soldier and wounded 12 others.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press, said the clash took place near the border town of Angore Adda in the South Waziristan tribal region after mortars fired from Afghanistan struck a Pakistani post Friday. They said Pakistani forces returned fire, and the shootout continued for two hours.

But Afghanistan's border police command said there was no clash, although there had been an operation carried out 12 miles (20 kilometers) inside Afghanistan in Khost province that borders Waziristan.

Skirmishes between Pakistani and Afghan forces along the border have occurred in the past, although none have been reported in recent months.

Pakistan is a key ally of the United States in its war on terror and it has deployed more than 100,000 troops near Afghanistan in an effort to flush out Taliban and al-Qaida operatives who are believed to be hiding there.

Separately, two other security officials said Pakistani fighter jets targeted a suspected militant hide-out in South Waziristan on Saturday, killing at least five insurgents. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record.

Also Saturday, gunmen attacked a truck terminal in the southwestern town of Yaro, burning three trucks carrying fuel to NATO troops in Afghanistan, said local police chief Zia Mandokhel.



Hamas, doing the bidding of its kafir masters...

Hamas: Leader of al-Qaida-inspired group killed

By IBRAHIM BARZAK, Associated Press Writer, August 15th, 2009.

RAFAH, Gaza Strip – The leader of an al-Qaida-inspired group in the Gaza Strip blew himself up during a shootout Saturday with security forces that killed 24 people. The jihadis have posed one of the biggest challenges to Hamas since the militant group seized power in Gaza two years ago.

The fighting erupted Friday when Hamas security men surrounded a mosque in the southern Gaza town of Rafah on the Egypt border where about 100 members of Jund Ansar Allah, or the Soldiers of the Companions of God, were holed up.

Flares lit up the sky overnight as Hamas machine gun fire and rocket propelled grenades slammed into the mosque. The militants inside the structure returned fire with automatic weapons and grenades of their own.

The head of the radical Islamic group, Abdel-Latif Moussa, was killed when fighting resumed after dawn Saturday, Ihab Ghussein, a Hamas Interior Ministry spokesman, told The Associated Press.

He said Moussa detonated an explosives vest he was wearing during the fighting.

"The so-called Moussa has committed suicide ... killing a mediator who had been sent to him to persuade him and his followers to hand themselves over to the government," Ghussein said.

He said the fighting ended later in the morning.

Dr. Moaiya Hassanain of the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza said a total of 24 people, including six Hamas police officers and an 11-year-old girl, were killed in the violence that also wounded 150.

The group's Web site vowed vengeance, meanwhile, saying "we swear to God to avenge the martyrs' blood and we will turn their women to widows."

Hamas also confirmed the death in the fighting of one of its high level commanders, Abu Jibril Shimali, whom Israel said orchestrated the capture three years ago of Sgt. Gilad Schalit, an Israeli soldier who is still being held by Hamas.

The fighting appeared to confirm Hamas' iron rule in Gaza despite a punishing Israeli and Egyptian-led blockade that keeps all but basic humanitarian supplies from entering the impoverished seaside territory.

It also underscored the group's determination not to allow opponents with differing ideologies to gain a foothold in Gaza. The Gaza Strip and the West Bank are together supposed to make up a future Palestinian state, but Hamas' bloody seizure of Gaza in 2007 created rival governments in the two territories — located on opposite sides of Israel — that are complicating Palestinian efforts to gain independence.

Jund Ansar Allah claims inspiration from al-Qaida's ultraconservative brand of Islam but no direct links have been confirmed.

The confrontation was triggered when the leader of the group defied Gaza's Hamas rulers by declaring in a Friday prayer sermon that the territory was an Islamic emirate.

Jund Ansar Allah and a number of other small, shadowy radical groups seek to enforce an even stricter version of Islamic law in Gaza than that advocated by Hamas.

These groups are also upset that the Hamas regime has honored a cease-fire with Israel for the past seven months.

Hamas says it does not impose its religious views on others, but only seeks to set a pious example for people to follow.

Radical splinter groups such as Jund Ansar Allah call for a global jihad against the entire Western world while Hamas maintains its struggle is only against the Israeli occupation.

"They are inspired by unbalanced ideologies and in the past they carried out a number of explosions targeting Internet cafes and wedding parties," said Ghussein, adding that the groups do not have any external ties.

The hard-line groups are perhaps the most serious opposition Hamas has faced since it seized control of Gaza and ousted its rivals in the Fatah movement in a five-day, bloody civil war in June 2007.

Hamas security blocked all roads to Rafah and declared the town a closed military zone. They said they have arrested about 40 members of the group so far.

Hamas is also investigating the launching of 11 homemade rockets from Gaza into Egypt on Friday. Only five of the rockets detonated, injuring a young girl, said Egyptian security forces.

Saeb Erekat, a senior peace negotiator with Israel and a member of the rival Fatah group in the West Bank, described the situation in Gaza as "alarming."

"Gaza is going down the drain in chaos and lawlessness," he told the AP.

Jund Ansar Allah first came to public attention in June after it claimed responsibility for a failed attempt to attack Israel from Gaza on horseback.

In July, three Muslim extremists from the group holed themselves up in a building in southern Gaza, surrendering to Hamas police only after a lengthy standoff.

It is unclear how many adherents Jund Ansar Allah or other similar extremist groups have in Gaza.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The next generation to lead Islam has been trained & is ready.

Would-be suicide bombers speak of militant training
Thursday, 06 Aug, 2009

KHWAZAKHELA: The scars may take years to heal for Hamad Ahmad, one of many Pakistani boys purportedly brainwashed by the Taliban and determined to enact maximum carnage as a suicide bomber.

His mind trained on violence and his heart full of God, Ahmad says he wants to carry a pistol and strap explosives to his body in the name of Islamic law – not hold books and wear school uniform.

‘I am ready to carry out a suicide attack against any target with approval of my ameer (chief),’ said 15-year-old Hamad, who claimed he received 40 days of training from the Taliban after being snatched last year.

Hamad, who talked to AFP by telephone from Qambar village in Swat, is now among a group of teenagers being treated by military psychiatrists in the wake of the latest air and ground assault against the Taliban in the valley.

Hamad’s father, Furqan Ahmad, found his son receiving militant training in the northern Swat town of Charbagh last February, two months after he mysteriously disappeared and before the latest military offensive began.

‘My son disappeared in December after I thrashed him for carrying a pistol,’ said Furqan, a bank employee. ‘I was able to get him back with the help of a Taliban commander, who was known to me.’

‘The Taliban completely brainwashed my son, who was studying in ninth grade. He is now even more violent and doesn’t let his mother and sisters watch TV, calling it un-Islamic,’ Furqan said.

Radical cleric Maulana Fazlullah led thousands of ideologues and disenfranchised young men in a brutal uprising across Swat to enforce sharia law, beheading opponents, burning schools and fighting government forces.

Commanders say more than 1,800 militants and 166 soldiers were killed in the latest blistering military assault designed to dislodge the Taliban from Swat, but Hamad refuses to stare defeat in the face, saying God is on their side.

‘Any one who stops or becomes an impediment to implementing sharia needs to be dealt with sternly by any means, including suicide attacks,’ he said.

‘They are fully protected by Allah the almighty,’ he said. Following in their foot prints is a ‘ticket to heaven’, he added.

Seemingly never-ending tales of terror abound in Swat, where the military has fought against Taliban foot soldiers since Fazlullah rose up two years ago and where parents speak of being forced to surrender young boys.

Heavy death tolls released by the military from the summer offensive are impossible to confirm. None of the most-wanted Taliban leadership in Swat have been killed or captured. The military have slammed the training of children.

‘We have contacts with about 100 children who are living with their parents. They visit us routinely and a psychiatrist sees them regularly,’ said military spokesman Major Nasir Ali Khan in Khwazakhela, a town in northern Swat.

But the precise numbers are unclear. Top military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas confirmed recently 11 boys trained as suicide bombers were taken into custody. Other officials charged that hundreds of boys were recruited.

No Taliban spokesmen or commanders were reachable for comment.

Boys told military officials that a foreigner, probably an Uzbek, used to impart training to them for suicide attacks.

Khan said the Taliban training came in three parts. For two weeks boys were taught to provide tip offs about security force manoeuvres. Then came a 40-day militant training and lastly, training in the art of becoming a suicide bomber.

In Khwazakhela, the military took reporters into a dimly lit room, once used as science laboratory, to speak to boys – masked to protect their identity.

‘The Taliban took me to Charbagh at gunpoint and later to Matta where they set up a training camp inside a government school,’ said one 16-year-old.

‘There were at least 30 men who used to train us in Matta,’ said the youth, a small beard already growing on his face.

‘They used to say there is a great reward in heaven for anyone slaughtering a soldier and same reward if you slaughter someone telling you it is wrong,’ added the boy, who said he escaped back to his parents.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

And Jihad continues against the occupiers....

US, NATO deaths from Afghan bombings spike 6-fold

By JASON STRAZIUSO, Associated Press Writer Jason Straziuso, Associated Press Writer Tue Aug 11th, 2009.

KABUL – U.S. and NATO deaths from roadside and suicide bomb blasts in Afghanistan soared six-fold in July compared with the same month last year, as militants detonated the highest number of bombs of the eight-year war, figures released Tuesday showed.

Three U.S. Marines and a Polish soldier died in the latest attacks, setting August on course to surpass the record 75 deaths U.S. and NATO troops suffered from all causes in July.

U.S. commanders have long predicted that 2009 would be the deadliest of the war, after President Barack Obama ordered an additional 21,000 troops here to try to quell the rising Taliban insurgency. A record 62,000 U.S. troops are now in Afghanistan.

U.S., NATO and Afghan troops are working to protect voting sites around the country so Afghans can take part in the country's second-ever direct presidential election Aug. 20. Taliban militants have vowed to disrupt the elections, and attacks are on the rise around Afghanistan, where roadside bombs are now the cause of the majority of U.S. and NATO deaths.

Last month 49 coalition troops died in bomb attacks, a more than six-fold increase from the eight killed in roadside and suicide bomb attacks in July 2008, according to figures from the U.S.-based Joint IED Defeat Organization.

The number of incidents from IEDs, or improvised explosive devices, soared to 828, the highest level of the war and more than twice as many as in July 2008. Of those 828 incidents, 410 bombs were found and neutralized and 310 were ineffective. But 108 bombs were effective, triple the 36 effective attacks a year ago, an increase that suggests militants are getting better at placing and detonating bombs.

"The major challenge today for us is roadside bombs and suicide attacks," said Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi, spokesman for Afghanistan's Defense Ministry. Azimi said that Taliban militants have figured out that roadside bombs are an efficient and effective method of attack. "They stay safe while the other side suffers."

Though roadside bombs target U.S., NATO and Afghan troops, the blasts have killed a record number of civilians this year as well. Nine Afghans riding in a vehicle died in a bomb blast Tuesday in Kandahar province, said Daud Farhad, a doctor at Kandahar's Mirwais hospital.

"The enemy has moved to increase the use of indiscriminate IEDs against our forces as well as the Afghan people," said U.S. Lt. Col. Todd Vician, a spokesman for the NATO-led force. He said IED attacks are up in part because of increased operations by NATO troops.

Afghan soldier deaths from IEDs are also up sharply, Azimi said, but had no figures. A roadside bomb in Zabul killed two Afghan soldiers Tuesday, said Lt. Gen. Sher Mohammad Zazai.

At least 14 NATO troops, including at least seven Americans, have died in bomb blasts this month.

Some 4,000 U.S. Marines who stormed into southern Helmand province last month were confronted with dozens of bombs buried in Afghanistan's dirt roads. Militants have become more sophisticated at hiding the bombs, and insurgents have begun planting several in small areas, troops say.

British troops operating in Helmand have also suffered greatly from roadside bombs. A record number of British troops — 22 — died in Afghanistan last month, including 12 from explosions, raising an outcry in Britain about a lack of helicopters and other equipment.

More than 230 coalition troops were wounded in bomb attacks last month, more than triple the 67 wounded last July, U.S. figures show. Joint Task Force Paladin, the counter-IED unit at the main U.S. base at Bagram, predicted earlier this year that IED attacks would rise 50 percent in Afghanistan in 2009.

A recent U.N. report said at least 1,013 civilians were killed in the first six months of this year from insurgents bombs, compared with 818 for the same period in 2008 — an increase of 24 percent.

Even as bomb blasts spike in Afghanistan, such attacks have dropped precipitously in Iraq.

No coalition troops died in Iraq last month from bomb attacks, only the second month that's happened since the military began keeping statistics in June 2003. March 2009 was the other month. The number of IED incidents in Iraq fell from 557 in July 2008 to 166 last month. Only nine of those incidents were classified as effective attacks.

The NATO command in Afghanistan said Tuesday that three U.S. troops died in southern Afghanistan in separate "hostile fire incidents." It did not disclose the exact location of the attacks. The first died of wounds suffered in an incident that occurred Saturday, another died Sunday and the third died Monday, a NATO statement said.

At least 27 foreign troops, including 18 Americans, have died in August, a record pace, according to an Associated Press count. July, when 75 troops died, was the deadliest month in Afghanistan for U.S. and NATO forces since the 2001 U.S. invasion. Forty-four Americans died last month.

A Polish soldier and 22 Taliban insurgents also died in the latest violence.

Polish Capt. Daniel Ambrozinski, 32, disappeared Monday after his foot patrol of about 50 Afghan and Polish troops came under fire, Poland's Defense Ministry said. His body was found early Tuesday in Ajristan, in eastern Ghazni province.

Afghan officials said clashes and airstrikes in the south of the country killed nearly two dozen Taliban fighters. Twelve insurgents died in airstrikes and clashes with Afghan and Western forces on the border of Ghazni and Zabul provinces, said Wazir Khan, a local official. The militants were killed late Monday inside a compound, Khan said.

Ten Taliban were killed in Uruzgan Monday night in a fight with Afghan and foreign troops, Zazai said.

Elsewhere in the south, British troops seized a quarter ton of opium and killed seven militants in a major air assault involving 300 troops and 18 U.S., U.K. and Australian helicopters, officials said. The troops found 550 pounds (250 kilograms) of wet opium.