Assume the Position

Saturday, September 21, 2002
Remembering Taliban/al Qaeda Treachery. The previous post reminded me of another piece of September 2001 treachery that had slipped my mind: September 9, 2001.
On the morning of September 9, 2001, guerrilla leader Ahmad Shah Massoud sat down with two reporters at his base in Khvajeh Baha od Din, in northern Afghanistan, to give one more interview about the unending civil war in his country.

The two men were apparently from North Africa—Algeria, Morocco, or Tunisia, no one seems to know for sure—and said they worked for an Arab news agency. They had been at Khvajeh Baha od Din for more than a week, keeping to themselves, eating the rice and mutton provided for them, waiting for Massoud. They had a TV camera, but no one thought to inspect it, and they came recommended by people within Massoud’s own government.

Just before noon, with Massoud seated before them, they started the interview. Seconds later everyone in the room was either wounded or dead.

The attackers had packed the camera with explosives and blown themselves up. Nothing remained of one but his legs; the other was killed as he fled.

Massoud was horribly wounded but still alive. His men tried to rush him to a helicopter for the short flight to Tajikistan, but he survived only 15 minutes.

Ahmad Shah Massoud—hero of the war against the Soviets, implacable foe of the Taliban regime—passed from this life in the back of a battered Land Cruiser, racing through the mountains of Afghanistan. It was a sadly fitting end for a man whose life had been entirely dominated by war.

The website "Postcards from Hell" by Italian photojournalist A. Raffaele Ciriello, who was killed by Israeli fire while filming a gun battle in Ramallah, is still maintained and has Ciriello's photos and 2000 interview with Commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, the "Lion of Panshir," Defense Minister of the Islamic State of Afghanistan, aka Northern Alliance, aka United Front.

There is little doubt that those "journalists" were al Qaeda, dispatched by Osama bin Laden at the request of his partner in crime, Mullah Omar.

UPDATE: The Asia Times has an in-depth article by Pepe Escobar covering the details of Masoud's assassination.

The plot to kill Masoud was carried out by a Brussels-based Tunisian terrorist cell. Masoud was assassinated by two killers in their 30s posing as journalists and carrying fake Moroccan passports. The "reporter" called himself Karim Touzani - affable and relaxed. The surly, burly "cameraman" - who carried explosives in his battery pack - called himself Kacem Bakkali. Their letters of introduction presented them as television journalists from a certain Islamic Observation Center, based in London and concerned with "human rights issues for Muslims all over the world".

Already in 1999 European intelligence had begun to notice increased al-Qaeda recruiting activity among Tunisians living in Europe. A key recruit was Abdul Sattar Dahmane, a Tunisian resident of Belgium. He had been trained in one of al-Qaeda's Afghan military camps, where he lived in a house nearby with his Moroccan wife, Malika. In the spring of 2001 Dahmane was selected for a crucial mission. As he had studied journalism in Tunisia and Belgium, he would pose as a television interviewer, alongside another Tunisian posing as a cameraman - Rachid Bourawi, an illegal immigrant to Belgium. According to European intelligence, Dahmane was an operative in Brussels and London for the Tunisian Fighting Group, an organization with ties to al-Qaeda. The established European theory for the Masoud hit is that the Tunisian Fighting Group agreed to kill Masoud in exchange for its fighters training in al-Qaeda's Afghan military camps.

Friday, September 20, 2002
More Bearded Bridesmaids. Burqa-clad men fire on market (link via The Greatest Jeneration).

More of this, please. Pro-US Anti-Hussein Iraqis march in Detroit (link via InstaPundit via The Greatest Jeneration) and Zacarias Moussaoui's brother, Abd Samad Moussaoui, denounces "Wahhabi gurus" as "merchants of hate," (link via LGF).

The Feminist's Ali Bakhtiyari. The Aussies have thier asylum claim-jumpers, and looks like US feminists have theirs in "Adelaide Abankwah," aka Regina Norman Danson—who is now being prosecuted by the feds for fraud. Of course, the feds probably can't charge her supporters and fan club of Gloria Steinem, Julia Roberts, Charles Schumer, Carolyn Maloney and Hillary Clinton as accessories to the fraud because being a gullible idiot isn't a crime. (link via Ed Driscoll)

Chandra-Hubble Crab Nebula Flick. As seen on For those who don't subscribe to CNN Premium, you can download the Chandra, Hubble, and combined movies in 3 formats (QT, MPEG & AVI) at the Chandra X-Ray Observatory website.

A potential smoking-gun to tie Saddam Hussein to al Qaeda is sitting in a Dutch prison. Mullah Krekar, aka Najm Faraj Ahmad, leader of Ansar al-Islam (which I discussed here), was detained at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport last Thursday, September 12th. Poor, Krekar, Norway has revoked his refugee status because he keeps going back to Iraq, Jordan wants him for heroin smuggling, the US wants to question him, and all he wants to do is destroy any vestige of the West because Osama bin Laden is the "jewel in the crown of the Muslim nation" and democracy is "heresy from beginning to end."

Full Text of Bush's "The National Security Strategy of the United States" via the NYT. Highlights:
…the United States will:
  • champion aspirations for human dignity;

  • strengthen alliances to defeat global terrorism and work to prevent attacks against us and our friends;

  • work with others to defuse regional conflicts;

  • prevent our enemies from threatening us, our allies, and our friends, with weapons of mass destruction;

  • ignite a new era of global economic growth through free markets and free trade;

  • expand the circle of development by opening societies and building the infrastructure of democracy;

  • develop agendas for cooperative action with other main centers of global power; and

  • transform America's national security institutions to meet the challenges and opportunities of the twenty-first century.

We will disrupt and destroy terrorist organizations by:

  • direct and continuous action using all the elements of national and international power. Our immediate focus will be those terrorist organizations of global reach and any terrorist or state sponsor of terrorism which attempts to gain or use weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or their precursors;

  • defending the United States, the American people, and our interests at home and abroad by identifying and destroying the threat before it reaches our borders. While the United States will constantly strive to enlist the support of the international community, we will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense by acting preemptively against such terrorists, to prevent them from doing harm against our people and our country; and

  • denying further sponsorship, support, and sanctuary to terrorists by convincing or compelling states to accept their sovereign responsibilities.
And, most importantly, preemption:
It has taken almost a decade for us to comprehend the true nature of this new threat. Given the goals of rogue states and terrorists, the United States can no longer solely rely on a reactive posture as we have in the past. The inability to deter a potential attacker, the immediacy of today's threats, and the magnitude of potential harm that could be caused by our adversaries' choice of weapons, do not permit that option. We cannot let our enemies strike first.
  • In the Cold War, especially following the Cuban missile crisis, we faced a generally status quo, risk-averse adversary. Deterrence was an effective defense. But deterrence based only upon the threat of retaliation is far less likely to work against leaders of rogue states more willing to take risks, gambling with the lives of their people, and the wealth of their nations.

  • In the Cold War, weapons of mass destruction were considered weapons of last resort whose use risked the destruction of those who used them. Today, our enemies see weapons of mass destruction as weapons of choice. For rogue states these weapons are tools of intimidation and military aggression against their neighbors. These weapons may also allow these states to attempt to blackmail the United States and our allies to prevent us from deterring or repelling the aggressive behavior of rogue states. Such states also see these weapons as their best means of overcoming the conventional superiority of the United States.

  • Traditional concepts of deterrence will not work against a terrorist enemy whose avowed tactics are wanton destruction and the targeting of innocents; whose so-called soldiers seek martyrdom in death and whose most potent protection is statelessness. The overlap between states that sponsor terror and those that pursue WMD compels us to action.
For centuries, international law recognized that nations need not suffer an attack before they can lawfully take action to defend themselves against forces that present an imminent danger of attack. Legal scholars and international jurists often conditioned the legitimacy of preemption on the existence of an imminent threat -- most often a visible mobilization of armies, navies, and air forces preparing to attack.

We must adapt the concept of imminent threat to the capabilities and objectives of today's adversaries. Rogue states and terrorists do not seek to attack us using conventional means. They know such attacks would fail. Instead, they rely on acts of terrorism and, potentially, the use of weapons of mass destruction -- weapons that can be easily concealed and delivered covertly and without warning.

The targets of these attacks are our military forces and our civilian population, in direct violation of one of the principal norms of the law of warfare. As was demonstrated by the losses on September 11, 2001, mass civilian casualties is the specific objective of terrorists and these losses would be exponentially more severe if terrorists acquired and used weapons of mass destruction.

The United States has long maintained the option of preemptive actions to counter a sufficient threat to our national security. The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction -- and the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy's attack. To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively.

The United States will not use force in all cases to preempt emerging threats, nor should nations use preemption as a pretext for aggression. Yet in an age where the enemies of civilization openly and actively seek the world's most destructive technologies, the United States cannot remain idle while dangers gather.

We will always proceed deliberately, weighing the consequences of our actions. To support preemptive options, we will:

  • build better, more integrated intelligence capabilities to provide timely, accurate information on threats, wherever they may emerge;

  • coordinate closely with allies to form a common assessment of the most dangerous threats; and

  • continue to transform our military forces to ensure our ability to conduct rapid and precise operations to achieve decisive results.
The purpose of our actions will always be to eliminate a specific threat to the United States or our allies and friends. The reasons for our actions will be clear, the force measured, and the cause just.
Welcome to the 21st Century.

UPDATE: PDF version available here.

Soon, Arafat will be left with nothing but an outhouse and his babywipes.

Bigwig at Silflay Hraka tackles the elusive quest to devine meaning and develop deeper understanding of Muslim non-verbal communication. Although he fails to come to a firm conclusion, his conjectures are intriguing.

Thursday, September 19, 2002
Daniel Pearl's killers caught? Reports from Gulf News say that one or more of Pearl's killers was captured in the recent Pakistan raids.
…one of the Al Qaida suspects arrested along with Ramzi bin Al Shaibah was identified as the killer of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

A senior Pakistani police official said that investigators have established the fact that the actual killers of Pearl are among the seven remaining militants.

The identification was made by Fazal Karim, one of three Pakistanis held but not charged in the kidnap-slaying.

Karim identified one of the Yemenis as being part of a group of three Arabs who butchered Pearl three days after he tried to escape, the police official said.

Pearl, 38, was kidnapped on January 23 in Karachi, while researching links between Pakistani extremists and Richard C. Reid, who was arrested in December on a flight from Paris to Miami with explosives in his shoe.

The official refused to identify Pearl's alleged killer by name but said he was not among the five suspects, including Bin Al Shaibah, who were handed over to U.S. authorities on Monday and flown out of the country.

[Musharraf's] comments indicated that five remaining Al Qaida suspects also arrested last week in Karachi were likely to be handed over.

Monday, September 16, 2002
Stephen Green provides a point-by-point fisking of libertarian Congressman Ron Paul's 35 "Questions that won't be asked about Iraq." And just so Al Barger won't feel alone, Congressman Paul's Question Number 8:
8. Is it not true that northern Iraq, where the administration claimed al-Qaeda were hiding out, is in the control of our "allies," the Kurds?
Glance one post down, Congressman Paul.

Kurds is Kurds. The simplicity of common knowledge or "conventional wisdom," even when it's mostly correct, can lead to some wrongheaded conclusions. Take the common knowledge about Northern Iraq and the Kurds:
  • The Kurds control Northern Iraq. Close enough.

  • The US patrols the Northern No-Fly Zone to keep Hussein from attacking the Kurds. Again, close enough.
But when people possessed of this conventional wisdom are apprised in discussion of the War on Terrorism or potential war on Iraq that al Qaeda associates may be in Northern Iraq, it can lead to some really slipshod conclusions like this from Al Barger (link via Jane Galt):
The bad guys in this case are the Kurds. These are prime among people inside the country the US government apparently intends to go to for help in overthrowing Saddam and setting up a new government. The Al Qaeda connection should be something that would obviously cast at least a bit of doubt on our big allies. Are we going to war in order to put Al Qaeda sympathizers in power?
The conventional wisdom fails because it doesn't address which Kurds have how much control of Iraqi Kurdistan, as they call it. The two major groups are the KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party) and the PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan). Generally speaking, the KDP has control in the western area and the PUK controls the eastern side (the division isn't even and I think the KDP controls somewhat more than half Iraqi Kurdistan). The KDP was/is backed by Baghdad, the PUK had some backing from Tehran, and the US patrols in the Northern No-Fly Zone didn't completely keep Iraqi ground forces from attacking the Kurds, but it kept Hussein from using aircraft to gas and bomb them. The US brokered a couple of cease-fires between the KDP and PUK and the last one, around 1998, has held up fairly well—they seem to talk to each other more than they shoot at each other.

What should be conventional wisdom by now, but apparently isn't, is that any nation with a large Muslim population will likely have a subset of radical, militant, extremist, fundamentalist jihadis in organized groups and as individuals. Iraqi Kurdistan is no different in that respect than the Philippines. The Philippines have the Abu Sayaff Group (and others) with their sundry connections to al Qaeda and Iraqi Kurdistan has Ansar Al-Islam (Partisans of Islam, website down) with its sundry connections to al Qaeda. Additionally, like America's John Walker Lindh, some Iraqi Kurds went to Afghanistan to be trained by al Qaeda and lend their support to the Taliban and, since the defeat of the Taliban, have now returned to Iraq.

Ansar Al-Islam's stronghold, sometimes called "Iraq's Tora Bora," seems to at the southern edge or actually below the Northern No-Fly Zone, between Halabja (where Hussein gassed the Kurds in 1988 near the end of the Iraq-Iran war) and the Iranian border. The PUK has been fighting Ansar Al-Islam and insists Hussein isn't helping the PUK but has been (at least sometime in the past) supportive of Ansar Al-Islam and al Qaeda.

In a telephone call with the AFP news agency, the PUK London representative, Dr Latif Rashid, denied that his party (PUK) had received weapons from the Iraqi government.

Tariq Aziz, the Iraqi deputy prime minister, claimed on Friday that his government had supplied Jalal Talabani, the general secretary of the PUK, with arms and weapons on Talabani’s request, to fight the Al-Qaeda linked terrorist group, Ansar Al-Islam.

Rashid described Tariq Aziz’s comments as dreams. "Of course they are not true," he said. He told the AFP that Ansar Al-Islam included Arabs and former Iraqi intelligence operatives. The PUK did not know if these elements still had links with Iraqi intelligence, Rashid added.

Rashid also said that the arrested leader of Ansar Al-Islam, Mala Krekar, was suspected by the Americans of acting as a go-between for Al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s regime.

So, to head back to Al Barger's sloppy conclusions dressed as questions to attack Congressman Dreier's veracity (as opposed to attacking Dreier's potential cluelessness), I'll paraphrase a cliche to more properly reflect realpolitik: The enemy of my enemy is somebody I'll use if I can.

Saddam's big enemy is the US, his regime is not overly threatened by Islamic radicalism or any other internal groups since he's basically crushed them all. He takes only minimal risk by covertly supporting the other US enemy, al Qaeda. This is especially true when the US is confronted with arguments at the level of Clinton's:

"We know [al Qaeda members] still have a terrorist network around the world," he said. "And we're already kind of changing the subject here, looking at Saddam Hussein, who's not going anywhere."
If that type of argument [we must roll up al Qaeda and finish the War on Terrorism before thinking about regime change in Iraq] prevails, then one of Hussein's best bets is to try and make sure al Qaeda hangs around as long as possible while keeping up the confusion as to whether he is supporting them or not. [If he can pump money to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers, he can pump funds and intelligence to al Qaeda through the same channels.] And, since he is only too willing to kill Kurds, helping them kill each other by assisting Ansar Al-Islam (or even both them and the PUK) shouldn't be a surprise.

As for the Kurds being our "big allies" and the US going to war to "put Al Qaeda sympathizers in power," the KDP and PUK are already in power in Iraqi Kurdistan and mostly want to maintain their semi-autonomous situation in the northern provinces [an independent Kurdistan is not on the agenda at the moment, and both KDP and PUK have prevented the Turkish PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) forces from operating in Iraq], and they know there's not a chance of their comming to power over the rest of Arab Iraq, nor do they want to. There's never been a threat of Kurds taking over Iraq, they just want a regime in Baghdad that isn't out to kill them. They've just been a thorn in Saddam's side and the US keeps Saddam from exterminating them during one of his maniacal whims. Their assistance is useful mostly in that the US won't have to fight them if we attack Iraq. So the US and Iraqi Kurds use each other to some extent. (Similar considerations may apply to the Shiite "Marsh Arabs" in Southern Iraq.)

Sunday, September 15, 2002
Charles Austin finds a one-liner by Billy McKinney that reveals "the problem in a nutshell with the DNC these days."

Paul Wright lays out in whithering detail the aging 60's radicals' fossilized world view and how they are trying to use it to induce political paralysis.
Last week Howell Raines, the editor of the New York Times no less, used Vietnam to twice trump discomfiting questioning on The News Hour, when asked why the NYT was running a campaign against the war, instead of just reporting it. Can you imagine the scorn a young Raines would have heaped on some 60 year old in 1964, who was trying to use a 40 year old war to explain Vietnam? But that is what Raines wants to do. His credentials as an anti-Vietnam protester have somehow proofed him against irrelevancy and fogiedom.
So, how do the fogies plan to stop the US and its Anglosphere allies?
Simple: shift the rules, and keep shifting them. The People’s Revolution has moved out of the basement and into the newspapers and the Senate Committee Room. Power to the People is now served by delay, equivalence, exploiting the balance of votes on the floor.
DEMAND PERFECT WAR. No civilian deaths. No civilian injuries. A thousand-fold decrease is not enough. Any civilian death is proof of aggression.
DEMAND PERFECT KNOWLEDGE. No action without proof to Western legal standards. No targeting without absolute certainty.
DEMAND Perfect Foresight. No action without a replacement government ready to go. Risk is uncertainty. Uncertainty is death. Don’t destabilise. Avoid quagmires. The future is unknown, therefore certain to be worse.
DEMAND Clean Hands. Don’t fight anywhere you have an interest. Don’t fight anywhere you have no business in. Failure to condemn is support. Failure to support is racism. Failure to intervene is corruption. Intervention is interference. The enemy is bad, but we are tainted too.
DEMAND Full Disclosure. Endless hearings. All secrecy is conspiracy. The ghost of Nixon stalks the earth.

Original content copyright © 2002-2005 Lynxx Pherrett. All rights reserved.