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War Blog By: FrontPage Magazine
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, October 10, 2008


WHAT'S AN ACORN?

By Robert Arial


Political Cartoon by Robert Arial

www.townhall.com/funnies  


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"IS ACORN STEALING THE ELECTION?"

By John Hinderaker

That's the title of this Investors Business Daily editorial:

The group's voter-registration fraud is rampant, and authorities plan a nationwide sweep of ACORN offices to collect records. ...

In North Carolina, where Obama has been running nonstop ads, ACORN has registered a record number of new voters, many of them suspicious. Statewide, Democrats are doing better than the GOP in new converts — even in traditionally Republican counties. There have been 218,749 newly registered Democrats in North Carolina since January — more than five times the 38,337 new Republicans, state records show. ...

Suspicious election officials sent letters to some 5,000 ACORN registrants in St. Louis, asking the letter recipients to contact them. Fewer than 40 responded.

In Kansas City, 15,000 registrations have been questioned, and last year four ACORN employees were indicted for fraud.

In addition, ACORN officials have also been indicted in Wisconsin and Colorado. Investigations against others are active in Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.
ACORN has also been registering convicted felons — including inmates — in Florida and other battleground states.

ACORN boasts registering a record 1.5 million new voters so far this election.

It is reasonable to ask whether ACORN is in fact a criminal conspiracy to subvert the voting rights of Americans. Which makes it all the more remarkable that Barack Obama paid ACORN $800,000 to register new voters, and then lied about it, falsely telling the Federal Elections Commission that the $800,000 went to a group called Citizen Services Inc. for "advance work."

Today John McCain addressed ACORN's increasingly problematic role in the campaign at a rally in Wisconsin, one of the states in which dozens of ACORN employees are under criminal investigation:

Thursday, October 9, 2008

www.powerlineblog.com

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4TH CIRCUIT STOPS UIGHERS FROM ENTERING US

By Ed Morrissey

Two days ago, Judge Ricardo Urbina demanded that the Bush administration produce seventeen Chinese Uighers captured in terrorist training camps seven years in his courtroom on Friday, announcing his intention to release them in Washington DC.  Urbina then refused to offer a stay for the purposes of an appeal and warned the Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau not to enforce immigration law by blocking suspected terrorists from entering the country.  Fortunately, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an emergency injunction blocking Urbina’s decision to import terrorits into the nation’s capital:

A group of Chinese Muslims set to be freed into the U.S. this week from Guantanamo Bay found their freedom stymied yet again after a simple government plea: What’s a couple more weeks or so in jail after nearly seven years?

That in essence was the Bush administration’s argument to a federal appeals court in a 19-page emergency request that maintained there would be only “minimal harms” if the detainees were to stay at Guantanamo a while longer.

Late Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit agreed, halting the 17 men’s release for at least another week to give the government more time to make arguments in the case.

The appeals court set a deadline of next Thursday for additional filings, when it will be left up to the judges to decide how quickly to act — and in whose favor.

Let’s recap the situation.  Our armed forces capture seventeen Uighers in terrorist training camps far from home in Afghanistan.  They have received training in al-Qaeda tactics — exactly the kind of people we want to keep out of our country while AQ wages war on the West.  We’d like to get them out of Gitmo after having derived what intelligence we can from them, but no one seems terribly interested in taking al-Qaeda terrorists into their countr, either.  The Chinese want them, but we’re afraid the terrorists will be mistreated by Beijing, which is suppressing a Uigher insurgency at the moment.

What solution does our brilliant judiciary reach?  Let them live in the nation’s capital, the very place al-Qaeda trains its recruits to destroy!  What a great idea!

The 4th Circuit has given the Bush administration another week to make its arguments to the entire 19-judge panel.  Hopefully, the majority of them show a little more sense than Urbina did, but I’m not entirely optimistic.  The appellate courts have shown a desire to run this war as a collective commander-in-chief rather than to follow the laws passed by Congress in dealing with unlawful combatants, who are supposed to have less protection than POWs, not more.

Send them back to the Chinese.  They want these detainees returned to them.  Sign a compact that promises no torture, declare it sufficient, and put them on a plane to Beijing.  Problem solved.  Thursday, October 9, 2008

http://hotair.com


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SOCIAL NET 2008

By Michael Ramirez


Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

www.townhall.com/funnies  


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OBAMA'S DISINGENUOUS STATEMENT ON WILLIAM AYERS

By Charles Johnson

Barack Obama’s latest statement on his association with former Weather Underground is a perfect example of his slippery rhetoric: Obama: McCain Scoring ‘Cheap Political Points’.

“Why don’t we just clear it up right now,” Obama told ABC News’ Charlie Gibson in an exclusive interview for World News. “I’ll repeat again what I’ve said many times. This is a guy who engaged in some despicable acts 40 years ago when I was eight years old. By the time I met him, 10 or 15 years ago, he was a college professor of education at the University of Illinois . . . And the notion that somehow he has been involved in my campaign, that he is an adviser of mine, that . . . I’ve ‘palled around with a terrorist’, all these statements are made simply to try to score cheap political points.”

Notice: in Obama’s “clarification,” the only things he denies are accusations that no one has made. No one has claimed that William Ayers is involved in his current campaign (although Obama did get his political start at an event held in Ayers’ living room), and no one has claimed that Ayers is an current adviser to Obama.

He’s denying straw men—but not denying any of the factual claims that have been made.

And he cleared up nothing at all. This is the same tactic he used to defend and excuse his association with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, until Wright’s embarrassing public statements forced Obama to renounce him.

Ayers, meanwhile, has sequestered himself and is not talking to anyone. He won’t make the same mistake Wright made, and mouth off in public—although that didn’t seem to worry him much before Obama was running for president.

The media sent teams of reporters to dig through Alaskan dumpsters to find dirt on Sarah Palin, but they’re completely uninterested in finding and interviewing William Ayers.

NEW MCCAIN AD: 'AYERS'

By Charles Johnson

UPDATE:  The leftists are playing games at YouTube again. This video—from the campaign of a presidential candidate!—has now been flagged as “inappropriate” and you need to confirm your birth date before viewing. Amazing.  Thursday, October 9, 2008

http://littlegreenfootballs.com


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MCCAIN'S STRATEGY

By Tom Bevan

Pennsylvania yesterday. Wisconsin today. Iowa tomorrow. What in the heck are Steve Schmidt & Co. doing? Do they know something the rest of us don't? Or are they simply flailing about, searching for a toe-hold in a Kerry state that they might be possibly be able to flip to offset losses and still make 270?

I'm not sure. But the map in this race has boiled down to some pretty straightforward analysis. Start with the Bush map in 2004 and work from there: Iowa is almost certainly gone, and Obama has a decent edge in New Mexico as well.

That leaves eight red states from 2004 for John McCain to defend: Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia. If he wins them all, he's president. If he loses Nevada but wins the rest, we have a 269-269 tie (depending on the outcome in the 2nd Congressional districts in Nebraska and Maine). If he loses anything else, he's the senior Senator from Arizona.

Right now, McCain trails Obama in the polls in every one of those states except Indiana. So, clearly, he has his work cut out for him over the next three and half weeks.

But the question, as a Republican strategist emailed me yesterday, is why McCain is spending time in states he MIGHT win, when he should be spending time in states he MUST win.

Maybe the McCain camp believes it has to stay on offense somewhere. Maybe they're skeptical of some of the polling that shows them down in places like Missouri, Virginia and North Carolina. Or maybe they feel that if they're going to end up losing those states it's a lost cause anyway.

I don't know, but from the outside it sure is hard to try and decipher what the McCain camp's strategy is at the moment.

10/09 RECAP

By Tom Bevan

I'm running out the door but wanted to get this posted. Generally speaking, it's another day's worth of solid polling for Obama:

ps1009.gif

Two moves of consequence today in the RCP Electoral Count. First, Virginia finally tipped from Toss Up into the Leaning Obama column. Second, West Virginia slipped out of John McCain's column into the Toss Up category. The result is that Obama is now over the 270 mark for the first time, at 277, and McCain is at 158 with 103 Toss Ups:

psec1009.gif

www.realclearpolitics.com/blog


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COMPARE AND CONTRAST

By John Hinderaker

Just over a month ago, it was falsely claimed that Sarah Palin had been a member of the Independence Party during the 1990s. Media outlets jumped on that false claim and reported it as fact. The New York Times, to take just one example, printed the report and subsequently had to run a correction.

There is now strong evidence that during the 1990s, Barack Obama was a member of the socialist New Party, an arm of the Democratic Socialist Party of America. So far, to my knowledge not a single "mainstream" news outlet has followed up on this report, let alone immediately report it as fact, as they did with Sarah Palin.

Why do you suppose that is?  Thursday, October 9, 2008

www.powerlineblog.com


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THE IRONY OF OBAMA AND THE NEW PARTY ASSOCIATION

By Ed Morrissey

Is Barack Obama a socialist?  That seems to be the question after the discovery of documentation showing Obama’s endorsement by Chicago’s New Party, a group that intended to provide cover for socialists seeking public office in Illinois.  The group used its endorsements to highlight members or sympathetic politicians seeking election through the Democratic Party, and according to the documentation discovered, seemed particularly enthusiastic about Obama.

Rick Moran remains skeptical, and a little irritated:

Besides using these radicals to get ahead and making common cause with groups like ACORN and The New Party, it is a legitimate question to ask if Obama shared their ideology. The answer is almost certainly no. I believe that there is something about these radicals that attracted Obama. Perhaps it was their utter certainty and belief that they are in the moral right. Or maybe it was that their personalities are so driven and single minded. Given Obama’s own doubts about his place in the world as a young man as well as his apparent aimlessness early on, it stands to reason that people who believed so strongly in something and seemed to know where they were going in life would be able to interest the young, ambitious politician.

Calling Obama a “socialist” simply isn’t logical. He doesn’t share the belief that industries should be nationalized by the government or even taken over by the workers as many American Marxists espouse. He may not be as wedded to the free market as a conservative but he doesn’t want to get rid of it. He wants to regulate it. He wants “capitalism with a human face.” He wants to mitigate some of the effects of the market when people lose. This is boilerplate Democratic party liberalism not radical socialism.

I detest conservatives throwing around the words “socialism” and “Marxism” when it comes to Obama as much as I get angry when idiot liberals toss around the word “fascist” when describing conservatives. I’m sorry but this is ignorant. It bespeaks a lack of knowledge of what socialism and communism represent as well as an ignorance of simple definitions. Obama will not set up a government agency to plan the economy. He will not as president, require businesses to meet targets for production. He will not outlaw profit. He will not put workers in charge of companies (unless it is negotiated between unions and management. It is not unheard of in this country and the practice may become more common in these perilous economic times.).

An Obama presidency will have more regulation, more “oversight,” more interference from government agencies, more paperwork for business, less business creation, fewer jobs, fewer opportunities. It will be friendlier to unions, more protectionist, and will require higher taxes from corporations (who then will simply pass the tax bill on to us, their customers). But government won’t run the economy. And calling Obama a “socialist” simply ignores all of the above and substitutes irrationalism (or ignorance) for the reality of what an Obama presidency actually represents; a lurch to the left that will be detrimental to the economy, bad for business, but basically allow market forces to continue to dominate our economy.

In other words, Obama is much more of an opportunist than anyone dedicated to socialist principles.  When he needed a boost in the South Side, he flattered the New Party.  When he needed a boost from the Chicago Machine, he allied himself with Richard Daley.  When Obama decided to run for President, he turned into a reformer, the only one who has never actually attempted to reform anything.

I suspect Rick’s closer to the truth on this, but there is a certain irony in this.  The Obama campaign tried to paint Sarah Palin as a dangerous radical and an unpatriotic politician by claiming she belonged to a separatist political party.  It turned out to be drizzly horse manure, which the McCain campaign proved by showing her entire record of party registrations.  We should demand the same from Obama.  Was he always a registered Democrat, or did he register as a member of the New Party at any time?

Rick is also correct in noting that Americans don’t really have a grasp of what socialism means.  In most cases now, what people generally mean is a tendency towards European quasi-socialism, probably most like the Christian Democrat party in Germany.  Bernie Sanders might come close to the real Socialists in France, but most Democrats favor the flabby European hybrid of capitalism and socialism, with its cradle-to-grave entitlement system and its high-tax model for private enterprise.

However, given the economic misfortune of Europe, that’s bad enough.  Barack Obama comes from exactly that kind of political philosophy.  If the New Party endorsement helps make that more clear, then we shouldn’t quibble over terminology.

CNN DEMONSTRATES THAT THEY DON'T UNDERSTAND WHAT SUBPRIME MEANS

By Ed Morrissey

CNN attempts a Fact ChectTM on John McCain, but ends up making themselves look foolish. Alina Cho chides McCain for distorting Barack Obama’s support for subprime lending, but only demonstrates that she doesn’t understand the concept:

But here’s what McCain didn’t talk about. Obama went on to say that greed changed all of that. Certain lenders and brokers, quote, began to lower their standards, Obama said, and borrowers — well, they ended up in places they could never afford. So Obama definitely spoke out against the practice.

Well, that’s exactly what subprime lending was. The entire subprime lending structure intended to get loans to people who didn’t qualify for them by lowering lending standards. In fact, thanks to the CRA and groups like ACORN, lenders got accused of racism if they didn’t lower their standards — and so long-established prerequisites for mortgages like income standards and down payments disappeared.

And where did the greed arise? It came from Congressional mandates to have Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac buy up subprime loans to provide short-term profits to the lenders lowering those standards. Who pushed those mandates? Obama’s own party. Who accused regulators like Armando Falcon of racism for blowing the whistle on the bad financial decisions at Fannie and Freddie resulting from the massive underwriting of these loans? Obama’s own party.

Cho needs a fact checker of her own. McCain’s point was perfectly valid. The financial crisis came from government deliberately distorting the lending market to push people into subprime loans who could not afford the houses they were buying — and the advocates of that policy counted on “greed” to make it work. In fact, they built it into the program.  Thursday, October 9, 2008

http://hotair.com


*

THE BIGGEST LOSER

By Jerry Holbert


Political Cartoons by Jerry Holbert

www.townhall.com/funnies  


*

JUST SO

By Richard Fernandez

An overwhelming desire to live “just so” seems to have infected Western civilization. A woman who immigrated to Britain from Afghanistan has been given £170,000 a year to live in £1.2m house,” according to the  UK Telegraph, because the government regulations require that  a family with seven children must live in a five bedroom house. And only house available in the neighborhood with five bedrooms was a mansion.

Toorpakai Saindi, who has seven children, has been granted an estimated £400 a week in child and local tax benefits, while her landlord receives £12,458 a month because there is no other suitable property available. …Landlord Ajit Panesar, who is acting within his rights, fixed a value for his Acton property so that the Rent Service – an executive agency of the Department for Work and Pensions - could advise the council what it should pay. It came up with a figure of £12,458 a month. …

Her son Jawad Saindi, 20, said although it felt like they had won the lottery, his mother complains that the house is too big to clean. “If someone gave you a lottery ticket would you leave it? No. You take what you get given,” he said. …

The Saindis were first housed in a three bedroom property in Enfield. Four years later they moved to a five-bedroom house in Ealing and three months ago were placed at their current address which they are entitled to have by law given the size of their family.

But although the Saindis didn’t feel a sense of entitlement, another British family did. They believed their holiday experience should be “just so”. Graham and Christina Spall filed a suit for compensation because they didn’t enjoy their Amazon adventure holiday as much as they had hoped to.

Graham and Christina Spall claimed their P&O Amazon adventure holiday was ruined when Mrs Small fell off a plastic chair, leaving her with concussion and broken glasses. … The couple also moaned that bars of soap were not replaced in their cabin, said self-service plates were too hot and alleged they were struck down with food poisoning twice.

But District Judge John Merrick said: “When you are on a boat like this you have to be careful. You need to look after your own safety. If you have an adventure it can’t be sanitised.”

Although the judge denied their demand for a £3,000 compensation the couple did not leave completely empty handed. They were awarded £150, presumably because they had to get something.

There was a time when immigrants would be glad to have any sort of public housing in their new country and an era people would have been happy to afford any sort of vacation.  But that was before people learned that they had an inalienable right to a completely safe, guiltless, environmentally friendly and perfect life. The Associated Press reports that the courts are deciding whether the USN can protect its warships from enemy submarines if that means inconveniencing marine life.

The Supreme Court appeared divided Wednesday over judges’ authority to limit the Navy’s use of sonar to protect whales. … Sonar can interfere with whales’ ability to navigate and communicate. There is also evidence that the technology has caused whales to strand themselves on shore.

The exercises have continued since the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled in February that the Navy must limit sonar use when ships get close to marine mammals. …

Western civilization is dying a death by a thousand cuts. The quest for perfection has become such an obsession that it is sought even at the cost of basic functionality. A friend who works at big name consulting firm said that so much attention is focused on ensuring compliance — checking off boxes, making sure that everything is gender-friendly, green, non-racist and whatever else — that sound business is almost an afterthought. In this modern world it’s alright to have something that doesn’t work, so long as it’s perfect.

The paralysis brought on by the need to experience moral perfection has reached ludicrous heights. The Economist notes, with some horror, the desperate need to apologize to someone — anyone — when something bad happens. “Who should apologise to whom, for what and how?” has become the most pressing of political decisions.

Does Wall Street owe the people of America an apology? That was Senator Sherrod Brown’s suggestion to Ben Bernanke and Hank Paulson during a Senate hearing last week. If so, the humbled titans of finance will be in good company; institutional apologies have mushroomed in past years (see table). British Christians, for example, have expressed public contrition for slavery (pictured above) and have even considered apologising for scepticism about evolution. Nicolaus Mills, an American commentator, calls the fashion for saying sorry a “global culture of apology”.

There is something almost insane about these attitudes. It is almost a form of lunacy, and the worse for being completely unnoticed by the lunatics themselves. But if they knew they were crazy, they wouldn’t be, would they?

Update: The Daily Mail reports that a gardener is being ordered to take down the barbed wire fence he put around his gardener in case thieves scratch themselves while stealing from it.

A gardener who fenced off his allotment with barbed wire after being targeted by thieves has been ordered to take it down – in case intruders scratch themselves. Bill Malcolm erected the 3ft fence after thieves struck three times in just four months, stealing tools worth around £300 from his shed and ransacking his vegetable patch. But Bromsgrove district council has ordered the 61-year-old to remove the waist-high fence on health and safety grounds.

But the council’s reason for ordering the fence removed is even more interesting. The local government unit was afraid to be sued by thieves who hurt themselves while plying their trade.

‘They shouldn’t be trespassing in the first place but the council apologised and said they didn’t want to be sued by a wounded thief. ‘I told them to let the thief sue me so at least that way I would know who was breaking into my allotment but everything I said fell on deaf ears. It seems as though they are so wrapped up in red tape, they are unable to help me.’  Thursday, October 9, 2008

http://pajamasmedia.com/richardfernandez


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ETIM-video-1.JPG

A Uighur terrorist from a recent videotape by the Turkistan Islamic Party.

On Tuesday, a federal court ruled that 17 Uighurs (pronounced wee-ghurs) detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba should be released into the US. The decision undoubtedly reflects the belief that the Uighurs pose no serious threat to America or her interests. Their enemy is China, advocates argue, and they have no hostile intentions towards the US.

It is true that the Uighurs’ principal enemy is China, which has long fought a low grade war with the Uighur population. And the Chinese government, which has a miserable human rights record, has undoubtedly committed atrocities. So, it is natural that the Uighur cause would gain at least some popular support in Western countries. But as deplorable as China’s human rights record is, the US courts should not view the Uighurs at Gitmo as a non-threat. And even if the Uighur detainees were focused solely on attacking China, the US would be wrong to condone their cause.

Acts of terrorism against any country, even one with a track record as deplorable as China’s, should not be an acceptable form of resistance. Importantly, the Uighur detainees at Gitmo have all the hallmarks of committed jihadists. There is, therefore, no moral equivalency between their terrorism against China’s oppressive regime (as well as innocent civilians) and other forms legitimate resistance. This crucial distinction should be made clearer by the analysis below.

The Long War Journal has reviewed dozens of unclassified documents pertaining to the Uighur detainees. Five of the 22 Uighur detainees have reportedly been released in Albania, since no other country would take them. But The Long War Journal reviewed the government’s files for all 22 of the Uighurs who were or are detained at Gitmo. The documents were released to the public as a result of Freedom of Information Act requests by the media.

Our review of these documents, coupled with other publicly-available information, reveals several red flags that should be considered when evaluating the threat posed by the detained Uighurs. While no one should confuse any of the Uighurs detained at Gitmo for high-level terrorists such as those comprising al Qaeda’s senior leadership, it is clear that they were training to participate in hostilities. Their cause could easily be directed at American interests. In fact, there is at least some evidence that the terrorist organization responsible for training the Uighur detainees has already targeted US interests.

All of the Uighurs at Gitmo have been associated with, or been members of, the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (“ETIM”).

During the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan, many nations contributed to the mujahideen’s cause. This includes China. As terrorism expert Rohan Gunaratna explains in his book Inside Al Qaeda, “the People’s Republic of China trained Muslim Uighurs from the country’s far western province of Xinjiang to fight the Russians in Afghanistan.”

In a classic case of blowback, these cadres of Uighurs turned against their one-time patron when they returned home. They agitated for an independent Uighur country and took arms against the Chinese government. Throughout the 1990’s Uighur veterans of the Soviet jihad, and their recruits, executed attacks throughout the Xinjiang province. Their members even hit targets inside Beijing, the heart of China. As Gunaratna has written, this conforms “to al Qaeda’s doctrine of striking the center instead of fighting in the periphery.” It is important to note that while these attacks were often aimed at government targets, civilians were not spared. However, it is not clear how many civilians were killed in this wave of attacks.

The most lethal of the Uighur groups to evolve out of the Soviet jihad is the East Turkistan Islamic Movement. While Uighur separatist groups have struggled against the Chinese government for decades, the ETIM represented a new type of threat. The ETIM and associated groups, unlike their forerunners, is dedicated to international jihad and shares a similar ideology with al Qaeda and the Taliban. While some Uighur separatists may simply want to end Chinese repression, the ETIM is dedicated to establishing a fundamentalist Islamic state stretching from Western China through Central Asia.

The ETIM’s tactics and strategic goals have earned the group international condemnation. The organization and related Uighur terrorist groups have been designated by the UN as one of the terrorist groups affiliated with the Taliban and al Qaeda. The US Treasury Department and the US Department of Homeland Security have also designated the ETIM a terrorist organization.

The Department of Defense has released unclassified documents produced at Gitmo for the 22 Uighurs. The documents were produced during the detainee’s hearings before their Combatant Status Review Tribunals (“CSRT”) and Administrative Review Boards (“ARB”) between 2004 and 2006. All 22 of the Uighurs are alleged to have demonstrable ties to the ETIM and/or its sister organization the Sharq (East) Turkistan Islamic Partiyisa (STIP). All of the detainees were either: (a) identified as members of the ETIM and STIP and/or (b) received training at ETIM facilities and/or (c) resided at ETIM guesthouses or training facilities.

While the detainees and their advocates claim that they were solely interested in attacking Chinese interests, it is important to note that there is evidence that the ETIM has already plotted anti-American terrorism. As the State Department has noted, “two ETIM members were deported to China from Kyrgyzstan for plotting to attack the US Embassy in Kyrgyzstan as well as other US interests abroad” in May of 2002.

20 of the 22 Uighurs detained at Gitmo were allegedly trained in an ETIM training camp and/or other facilities. At least 15 of the Uighurs detained at Gitmo have admitted that they received weapons training. The main training camp at which the Uighurs trained was reportedly sponsored by al Qaeda and the Taliban.

In the unclassified documents released by the DOD, 20 of 22 Uighurs were alleged to have received training in Afghanistan. The Uighurs allegedly trained on light arms, including how to breakdown or fire a Kalashnikov rifle. At least some of the detainees also allegedly received religious instruction, including how to read the Koran. The US government also alleges that one of the detainees was a weapons instructor from May through October of 2001.

In addition to examining the US government’s claims, The Long War Journal examined the detainees’ testimony. The DOD released transcripts of testimony for 19 of the 22 Uighur detainees. The detainees frequently denied the government’s allegations. Interestingly, however, 15 of the 19 Uighur detainees who testified admitted to receiving some form of training in Afghanistan. Most, if not all, of the detainees claimed they received the training in order to fight against the Chinese government.

The training took place primarily at the ETIM’s training camp in Tora Bora. A minimum of 15 detainees, out of the total 20 who received training, were trained at the ETIM’s Tora Bora facilities. There were also two instances in which detainees were allegedly trained to use small arms at ETIM guesthouses in Kabul and Kartisi, Afghanistan. The government’s files note that the Kabul guesthouse was “Taliban-sanctioned.” In one instance, a detainee was alleged to have “received training in an al Qaeda sponsored camp two hours North or Northwest of [Jalalabad], Afghanistan.” In a few instances, it is not entirely clear where in Afghanistan Uighur detainees received their training.

Throughout the unclassified Gitmo documents, the government alleges that the ETIM’s training camp at Tora Bora was sponsored by the Taliban and al Qaeda. The government claims the “training camp was provided to the Uighurs by the Taliban” and “funded by bin Laden and the Taliban.” One unclassified document explains the recruiting network that drew the Uighurs to Afghanistan more fully:

[The] ETIM, reportedly with financial support and direction from Osama bin Laden, recruits within remote areas of Eastern China and ships recruits to training camps in Afghanistan. These recruits then return to China to conduct terrorist activities and extend their influence. Training includes religious extremist theory, terrorism, explosives, and assassination. Some training camps also include the manufacturing of weapons, ammunitions, and explosive devices.

None of the 19 Uighur detainees admitted any connection between the Taliban, al Qaeda and the ETIM’s training facilities during their testimony before their tribunals or review boards. The Uighurs frequently denied any association with al Qaeda or the Taliban. As one of the Uighurs, Bahtiyar Mahnut, put it: “Al Qaeda…those people don’t care if we go or not or anything [about] people. They just destroy everything and we’re not crazy like those people. We’re not going to get along with those kind[s] of people… we have nothing to do with that.”

The Uighur detainees may very well not be aware of any link between the ETIM and al Qaeda. Or, they may be lying. But it is unlikely that the ETIM operated training camps inside Taliban-controlled Afghanistan without, at the very least, the regime’s acquiescence. And as Gunaratna has pointed out previously, “al Qaeda and the [ETIM] have released a number of statements and videos where ETIM is training in al Qaeda camps with their instructors.” In a recent interview with The Long War Journal, Mr. Gunaratna pointed out that a small cadre of ETIM fighters had relocated to Federally Administered Tribal Areas of northern Pakistan. There, according to Gunaratna, they receive training from al Qaeda and al Qaeda-allied forces.

Some of the Uighur detainees are alleged to have fought in Afghanistan.

At least three of the Uighur detainees are alleged to have participated in hostilities in Afghanistan. The US government alleges that one of the Uighurs, Ahmad Tourson, “stated that he traveled to Konduz, AF and then on to Mazar-e-Sharif to fight against General Dostum's troops.” It is not clear when Tourson allegedly made this admission. During his CSRT hearing Tourson denied traveling to Mazar-e-Sharif to fight.

The battle for Mazar-e-Sharif began in the second week of November 2001. The Northern Alliance, backed by US airpower, quickly took hold of the city after a brief gunbattle with Taliban forces. The city is a major strategic point in Afghanistan, and it took the Taliban years to gain control of it. So when coalition forces approached in late 2001, the Taliban called in reinforcements from the many jihadist terrorist groups operating on Afghani soil. It is certainly plausible that Tourson was one of those who made their way to Mazar-e-Sharif in support of the Taliban’s operations. Although he denied traveling to Mazar-e-Sharif to fight, Tourson admitted that the Northern Alliance captured him there.

Most of the Uighur detainees were at Tora Bora during the US bombing campaign in late 2001 because they had been attending training classes there. Two of them are alleged to have “participated” in the battle of Tora Bora. The government alleges that Yusef Abbas “participated in the battle of Tora Bora” and “was wounded as a result of coalition bombing, and received medical treatment from the Taliban.” During his CSRT testimony, Abbas denied these allegations. “No, I didn't participate in any fighting,” Abbas claimed. He claimed that a fellow Uighur, and not the Taliban, attended to his wounds. Similarly, Uighur detainee Abdullah Abdulqadirakhun denied that he participated in the battle of Tora Bora.

The majority of the detainees are not alleged to have participated in fighting in Afghanistan. But this may be because they were, by and large, new recruits. Most the Uighur detainees traveled to Afghanistan in the months immediately preceding the September 11 attacks. In the aftermath of the American-led counterattack, many of the jihadist forces were left to scramble for refuge. In fact, most of the Uighur detainees were captured by Pakistani authorities after fleeing across the border, just as many hundreds of their Arab counterparts did.

The Uighur’s advocates maintain that they were solely focused on using their new skills against the Chinese. But ETIM recruits have fought alongside their fellow jihadists throughout central Asia. The ETIM has a particularly close relationship with another al Qaeda affiliate, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (“IMU”). And the IMU frequently filled al Qaeda’s and the Taliban’s ranks with willing fighters. It is at least possible, then, that the ETIM’s new recruits may have ended up on the battlefields of central Asia as opposed to western China.

At least several of the Uighur detainees have ties to the ETIM’s senior leadership, which is, in turn, tied to the senior leadership of al Qaeda.

A key figure in the nexus between the ETIM and al Qaeda is a deceased terrorist named Hassan Mahsum. Mahsum reportedly brokered the relationship between al Qaeda and the ETIM in the 1990’s. According to some reports, he even received $300,000 from Osama bin Laden directly. This claim may come from the Chinese government, which is not always the most reliable broker of information. However, the DOD’s unclassified files are replete with references to al Qaeda’s sponsorship of the ETIM. As the DOD alleged in one document:

“Mahsum aligned his organization with Osama Bin Laden (OBL) and it is now considered part of al Qaida. Since 2000, its core has been located at an al Qaida camp near Tora Bora. The fighters, under the authority of OBL, are considered a combat sub-unit of the Taliban.”

Former Indian intelligence officer B. Raman has explained the relationship between Mahsum’s ETIM and al Qaeda in similar terms. Raman has written that the ETIM “is a major component of the terrorist network headed by bin Laden” throughout South and Central Asia. Raman has further claimed:

“Hassan Mahsum, the ETIM ringleader, used to hide in Kabul and had an Afghan passport issued by the Taliban. Bin Laden asked the ETIM to stir up trouble in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and then stage an organized infiltration into Xinjiang. The ‘Turkistan Army’ under the ETIM fought along with the Taliban in Afghanistan. This ‘Army’ has a special ‘China Battalion’ with about 320 terrorists from Xinjiang. The battalion is under the direct command of Hassan Mahsum's deputy Kabar.”

Other experts agree with Raman that there was a definite relationship between Mahsum and al Qaeda. For example, Gunaratna has described the relationship between al Qaeda and the ETIM as “very strong.” In an interview earlier this year, Gunaratna explained:

Hassan Mahsum, the leader of ETIM, was killed in South Waziristan--the area that al Qaeda was operating in 2003--by the Pakistani forces. There have been a number of ETIM members arrested in Pakistan and Afghanistan. They are working very [closely] with Al-Qaeda. Abu [Zubaydah], the operations chief for Al-Qaeda, met with Uighur radical groups entering Pakistan. The relationship between the two is very strong.

The relationship between Mahsum and bin Laden is germane to the analysis of the Uighur detainees. Not only did Mahsum run the ETIM, to which all of the Uighur detainees have been tied, but he also had direct dealings with at least some of the Uighur detainees.

For example, according to the DOD, one Uighur named Nag Mohammed was “closely associated with” Mahsum. “In late September 2000,” the government claimed Mohammed “traveled from Turkistan, through Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan, to Kabul, Afghanistan for an Eastern Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) meeting.” The DOD did not release a transcript of Mohammed’s testimony, so it appears that he did not participate in either his CSRT or ARB hearings. And, therefore, we do not know his response to this allegation.

Another Uighur detainee named Abdullah Abdulqadirakhun admitted during his CSRT hearing that Mahsum personally trained him at the Tora Bora camp sometime between September and mid-October of 2001. Similarly, Uighur detainee Yusef Abbas claimed that Mahsum showed him how to use the Kalashnikov. Two others admitted to seeing or meeting Mahsum as well. Bahtiyar Mahnut admitted during his ARB testimony that Mahsum visited the Tora Bora camp while he was there and that he met the ETIM chieftain. Huzaifa Parhat also admitted he saw Mahsum at the Tora Bora camp. (Earlier this year, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit decided that Parhat had been wrongly labeled an “enemy combatant” at Gitmo.)

After Mahsum was killed in 2003, a terrorist named Abdul Haq assumed control of the organization. Haq and Mahsum had worked together for years, recruiting and training Uighurs in camps in Afghanistan.

Several of the Uighur Gitmo detainees admitted that Haq ran the Tora Bora camp. And there is evidence that at least some of the detainees were personally supervised by Abdul Haq. During his CSRT testimony Bahtiyar Mahnut explained, “The person running the camp [at Tora Bora] was named Abdul Haq, and he was a Uighur.”

“The first day I came to the camp, Abdul Haq told me that I had to give him my passport and whenever I wanted to leave I could ask for it back,” Mahnut elaborated. “He then took my passport from me.”

The practice Mahnut describes is common. New jihadist recruits typically turn in their passports when they arrive at guesthouses or training camps. This is al Qaeda’s standard modus operandi as well. The recruits are given new jihadist identities and their paperwork is kept for security reasons.

The Long War Journal’s review of the DOD’s unclassified documents demonstrates that a number of the Uighur detainees admitted ties to senior ETIM leaders Hassan Mahsum and Abdul Haq. This is a significant red flag because both men are committed jihadists with longstanding ties to al Qaeda, the Taliban, and the international jihadist network. That the Uighur detainees had dealings with these men is not surprising because most of them attended Mahsum’s and Haq’s training camp at Tora Bora.

The ETIM, and Abdul Haq, remain a threat.

The Uighur detainee’s ties to the ETIM’s senior leadership is particularly troubling given the ETIM’s and Abdul Haq’s continued operations. The ETIM has not been put out of business. Instead, it has evolved into possibly one or more organizations, with some members simply blending in with their fellow jihadists in northern Pakistan. The core of the ETIM remains focused on launching terrorist operations.

According to the State Department, Chinese authorities broke up an ETIM training camp in January of 2007. In the process, they killed 18 ETIM members and arrested 17 others. “According to police reports,” the State Department explained, “Chinese police seized hand grenades, unassembled explosives, detonators, and the equivalent of $38,705 dollars in cash.” This raid followed several other ETIM-related incidents in recent years.

ETIM-video-2.JPG

The Turkistan Islamic Party threatened to attack the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

Then, earlier this year, a group calling itself the Turkistan Islamic Party released a video threatening to target the Beijing Olympics. The organization behind the video is widely believed to be the ETIM, which simply adopted a new name. According to a translation of the video provided by Laura Mansfield, the ETIM spokesman on the video warned:

“This is our last warning to China and the rest of the world. The viewers and athletes, especially those who are Muslim, who plan to go to the Olympics should change their plans and not go to China. The Turkistan Islamic Party plans military attacks on people, offices, arenas, and other activities that are connected to the Chinese Olympic Games.”

The attacks did not happen. But the threats were serious enough to warrant stepped up security and at least some experts, like Gunaratna, considered the ETIM to be the “pre-eminent threat” to the Olympic Games. In addition, the ETIM spokesman also claimed credit for several other earlier attacks, including a series of bus bombings. These claims may have been hyped, but it is clear that the ETIM remains a viable force.

There is one last item worth noting. According to some accounts, the brain behind the threat made against the Olympic Games and the ETIM’s ongoing operations is Abdul Haq – the same man who once trained the Uighur detainees at Gitmo. Haq remains at large.

And if a US federal court gets its way, his trainees will soon be free men (presumably under surveillance) on American soil as well.  Thursday, October 9, 2008


www.longwarjournal.org




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