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FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, February 03, 2006


Palestinians in the Gaza Strip sent a message to Europeans that belies the latter's belief in the desire for freedom in the former. Gunmen forced the EU office in Gaza City to close and warned that it will remain shut until the EU apologizes for several publications running caricatures of Mohammed and Muslims this week:

Palestinian gunmen Thursday shut down the European Union's office in Gaza City, demanding an apology for German, French and Norwegian newspapers reprinting cartoons featuring the prophet Mohammad, Palestinian security sources said.

The gunmen left a notice on the EU office's door that the building would remain closed until Europeans apologize to Muslims, many of whom consider the cartoons offensive. ...

Masked members of the militant groups Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian's former ruling party, Fatah, fired bullets into the air, and a man read the group's demands.

Palestinian officials said the gunmen were threatening to kidnap European workers if the European Union did not apologize.

The Europeans might want to rethink the entire oppressed-Palestinian meme right about now. Israel no longer occupies Gaza, and yet the terrorism there continues to grow unabated. Now the people who they insist want nothing but peace have warned that they will kidnap Europeans until they foreswear freedom of speech.

Perhaps the Europeans could ask the Palestinians about their own issues with cartoons. For instance, if they find this offensive --

-- then maybe they can explain this, which appeared in the Palestinian newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida on March 22, 2000:

Pope: "Peace on Earth!" Satan/Jew: "Colonies on Earth!"

And if they consider this insulting to their honor --

-- then they can explain why the same paper published this in December 1999:

Old man: "20th Century" Young man: "21st Century" Above dwarf Jew: "Disease of the Century"

Those who protest the entire idea of satire and derision should not themselves indulge in it. Their actions reveal themselves as the terrorist thugs that they have always been.

And I note, as does Michelle Malkin and Judith Klinghoffer, that none of the major American media outlets have bothered to display these controversial cartoons. So much for the protectors of free speech and the people's right to know.  Thursday, February 2, 2006






No British papers have reprinted the Mohammed cartoons, but British jihad group Al Ghurabaa has issued a call to kill everyone who insults Mohammed. (Hat tip: Judith Apter Klinghoffer.)

Scott Burgess has the honor roll of European papers that have reacted to the intimidation by publishing the cartoons: The Daily Ablution: An Awakening Europe Reacts - Spineless UK Press Doesn’t.


Larry Webster, a contributing columnist for Kentucky’s Lexington Herald-Leader, says Israel deserves to be attacked with nuclear weapons. (Hat tip: Igor.)

Somebody named Elaine Shiber, the smartest person from Van Lear since Loretta Lynn, catalogued in a Herald-Leader commentary some of the terrorist acts committed as Zionists weary of genocide took up horrors on a lesser scale to have a place to alight.

It takes courage, as Shiber did, to inquire as to whether the outrage your enemy harbors is justified or not, and it takes courage to challenge the idea of Israel, with charges of anti-Semitism being the standard recompense for so doing.

But when you read what she reported and know that 40 times that much happened at the hands of Israel, you know why no Arab can have a nuclear weapon. They could be morally justified in using it.


Brussels Journal notes a declaration of war against Europe from Mullah Krekar, the Ansar al-Islam leader who was given refugee status in Norway: “The War is On.”

Yesterday (Thursday) Mullah Krekar, the alleged leader of the Islamist group Ansar al-Islam who has been living in Norway as a refugee since 1991, said that the publication of the Muhammad cartoons was a declaration of war. “The war has begun,” he told Norwegian journalists. Mr Krekar said Muslims in Norway are preparing to fight. It does not matter if the governments of Norway and Denmark apologize, the war is on.

Islamist organizations all over the world are issuing threats towards Europeans. The Islamist terrorist group Hizbollah announced that it is preparing suicide attacks in Denmark and Norway. A senior imam in Kuwait, Nazem al-Masbah, said that those who have published cartoons of Muhammad should be murdered. He also threatened all citizens of the countries where the twelve Danish cartoons [see them all here, halfway down the page] have been published with death. 




Michelle Malkin, Jim Geraghty, and Debbie Schlussel note the release of a new Turkish film that depicts American soldiers as mass murderers and Jews as organ thieves. This wouldn't come as much of a surprise, except that two American actors went halfway around the world to participate in this disgraceful epoch:

In the most expensive Turkish movie ever made, American soldiers in Iraq crash a wedding and pump a little boy full of lead in front of his mother.

They kill dozens of innocent people with random machine gun fire, shoot the groom in the head, and drag those left alive to Abu Ghraib prison - where a Jewish doctor cuts out their organs, which he sells to rich people in New York, London and Tel Aviv. ...

The movie's American stars are Billy Zane, who plays a self-professed "peacekeeper sent by God," and Gary Busey as the Jewish-American doctor.

Both actors have seen better days. Busey started off his career with a splendid portrayal of Buddy Holly in the biopic The Buddy Holly Story, performing the songs himself and practically burning up the screen with his performance. Unfortunately, it's all been downhill for Busey ever since. He almost died from driving his motorcycle without a helmet over ten years ago, recovering fully if almost miraculously, but his career has been in a coma ever since. I thought the nadir of his descent occurred with the unbelievably bad reality show, I'm With Busey, but this proves that failure can plumb ever-darker depths.

Billy Zane also showed promise in his career, if not as much initial success. He started off playing a strangely attractive psychotic in the Australian film Dead Calm, with Sam Neill and a young Nicole Kidman, and is best known as the snobbish heavy from Titanic. Apparently, the ship wasn't the only thing that sunk in the film, if Zane's appearance proves anything.

People will claim that Zane and Busey are nothing worse than working actors looking for a payday as an argument in their defense. Well, everyone needs to pay the bills, and given what we've seen of Zane and Busey lately, their needs may be more acute than some. Most people will agree, however, that any sense of citizenship should have caused them to think twice about their participation in a film designed to exploit anti-American sentiment in the Middle East by adding to the propaganda that perpetuates it. People who sell themselves out to exploitation merchants such as the producers of this film can properly be termed "whores".

Debbie calls for a boycott of both Busey and Zane. Fortunately, neither one has enough of a career left in American entertainment to make that a difficult proposition.


Jimmy Carter made another of his frequent appearances on behalf of thugs and terrorists yesterday, this time arguing for acceptance of Hamas on the Larry King show. The former President told King that Hamas has a "good chance" of becoming a non-violent organization:

Hamas deserves to be recognized by the international community, and despite the group's militant history, there is a chance the soon-to-be Palestinian leaders could turn away from violence, former President Jimmy Carter said Wednesday.

Carter, who monitored last week's Palestinian elections in which Hamas handily toppled the ruling Fatah, added that the United States should not cut off aid to the Palestinian people, but rather funnel it through third parties like the U.N.

"If you sponsor an election or promote democracy and freedom around the world, then when people make their own decision about their leaders, I think that all the governments should recognize that administration and let them form their government," Carter said.

Wrong! If people use democracy to elect hate-filled bigots and murderous terrorists into power, then they should suffer the consequences of that choice, not get a free pass from the world. Hamas explicitly calls for the destruction on Israel in its charter and has refused to change its position, even after its electoral victory. It has conducted attacks on Israeli citizens, both suicide bombings and quasi-military rocket attacks. It gets its funding from Iran due to its Islamofascist goals and activities, and some evidence exists that it partners with al-Qaeda.

None of this matters to Carter, the fool who first allowed Islamofascism into power with his refusal to support the Shah and his subsequent inaction after Iranians sacked our embassy in Teheran. He continues his decades-long effort to follow in the footsteps of Neville Chamberlain, only he refuses to share in Chamberlain's epiphany about appeasement after Munich. Carter also insisted that Yasser Arafat was ready to make peace, and instead we got stiffed at Oslo and at Wye and wound up with two intifadas as a result.

Carter remains America's most embarrassing and dangerous ex-President. With his apologetics for terrorists, one hopes that his credibility will finally dissipate and his advice will be recognized for the foolishness it is.  Thursday, February 2, 2006




In the March issue of Commentary Gabriel Schoenfeld examines whether the New York Times violated the Espionage Act with their disclosure of the NSA wiretapping program. At the beginning of Schoenfeld’s lengthy essay, he writes:

The President, for his part, has not only stood firm, insisting on both the legality and the absolute necessity of his actions, but has condemned the disclosure of the NSA surveillance program as a “shameful act.” In doing so, he has implicitly raised a question that the Times and the President’s foes have conspicuously sought to ignore—namely, what is, and what should be, the relationship of news-gathering media to government secrets in the life-and-death area of national security. Under the protections provided by the First Amendment of the Constitution, do journalists have the right to publish whatever they can ferret out? Such is certainly today’s working assumption, and it underlies today’s practice. But is it based on an informed reading of the Constitution and the relevant statutes? If the President is right, does the December 16 story in the Times constitute not just a shameful act, but a crime?

This adds another twist to the NSA wiretapping story, and it is not exactly along the lines that opponents of President Bush were hoping for in mid-December when the Times story broke.  Thursday, February 2, 2006 


CIA director Porter Goss testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee this morning that leaks about the NSA's international terrorist surveillance program and other intelligence activities have severely damaged America's security:

"The damage has been very severe to our capabilities to carry out our mission," Goss told the Senate Intelligence Committee. He said a federal grand jury should be empaneled to determine "who is leaking this information."

"I use the words `very severe' intentionally. And I think the evidence will show that," Goss said.

He said not only have these revelations made it harder for the CIA to gather information, but they have made intelligence agencies in other countries mistrustful of their U.S. counterparts.

"I'm stunned to the quick when I get questions from my professional counterparts saying, `Mr. Goss, can't you Americans keep a secret?'" he said.

Goss cited a "disruption to our plans, things that we have under way." Some CIA sources and "assets" had been rendered "no longer viable or usable, or less effective by a large degree," he said.

"I also believe that there has been an erosion of the culture of secrecy and we're trying to reinstall that," Goss said.

"I've called in the FBI, the Department of Justice. It is my aim and it is my hope that we will witness a grand jury investigation with reporters present, being asked to reveal who is leaking this information," he said.

The Democrats spluttered:

"The president has not only confirmed the existence of the program, he has spoken at length about it repeatedly," while keeping Congress in the dark, said Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, the panel's senior Democrat."

Rockefeller suggested that the "leaks" Goss talked about most likely "came from the executive branch" of the government.

I don't really understand Rockefeller's comment. The CIA and NSA are part of the executive branch, aren't they? I'm not aware of any suggestion that the leaks have been coming from Congressional staffers.

In any event, let's get going on that grand jury investigation.

SCOTT adds: It is certainly possible that Senator Rockefeller or other Congressmen briefed by the administration on the NSA surveillance program were among the "nearly a dozen current and former government officials" who were the sources for the Times's December 16 story. Doesn't this possibility account for Rockefeller's spluttering?


In today's Washington Times, Tony Blankley offers a searing assessment of the state of the Democratic Party. His conclusion, after watching the Democrats during President Bush's State of the Union address:

Somehow the Democratic Party — for 180 years the most electorally successful political party on the planet — has now almost completely mutated into a party too loathsome to be seen in public, and too nihilistic to be trusted with control of even a single branch of government.

Blankley also notes the growing sentiment within the Democratic Party for an effort to impeach the President:

[N]ot satisfied to be a head-in-the-sand, reflexively negative opposition party, an increasing number of Democrats and their supporters in the leftish fever swamps have started calling for President Bush's impeachment.

While I haven't seen any polls yet on the subject, I would guess that something less than 10 percent of the American voting public would look forward to seeing the last two years of the Bush presidency consumed with a Democratic Party-controlled Congress trying to impeach the president during a time of war.

I think that's true. But I also think that a considerable part of the Democrats' current pathology dates from the impeachment of Bill Clinton. I thought at the time, and still believe, that impeaching Clinton was a mistake. Unlike most Democrats, however, I don't think it was politically motivated. On the contrary, it was obvious at the time that the most politically expedient course was a censure vote, followed by ridicule. And the last thing any Republican wanted was to make Al Gore the incumbent President.

Clinton's impeachment was certainly justifiable--like Nixon, he obstructed justice; worse, unlike Nixon, he lied under oath--but in my view, the whole sordid affair didn't rise to a level that warranted the nuclear option of impeachment. Reasonable minds can differ about that, and when the process was over, Republicans moved on. Many Democrats, somewhat ironically, did not. They remained enraged that the right to lie about sex--it's got to be in one of those amendments, somewhere--had been infringed, and they've remained enraged, in many cases, right up to the present. So the current talk about impeaching President Bush was pretty much inevitable.

And I do think that if the Democrats regain the House in November, the Judiciary Committee, under John Conyers, will in all probability conduct impeachment hearings. I don't think the public has any appetite for impeachment talk every time the Presidency and the House are held by different parties, but the Democrats won't be deterred. They're bent on revenge, even if it doesn't help them any more than impeaching Clinton helped the Republicans.

Which is one of many reasons to do all we can to ensure that the Democrats don't retake the House.


Insight reports on military laser technology that "could destroy any weapon system without collateral damage":

The laser could have tremendous repercussions on the battlefield, particularly in urban warfare in such countries as Afghanistan and Iraq. "It's the kind of tool that could bring about victory within minutes," an official said.

The applications of ATL could change military dynamics on the battlefield. Officials envision the laser being able to destroy or damage targets in an urban area with virtually no collateral damage. The range of ATL was expected to be 10 miles.

The project has been headed by Boeing Missile Defense Systems in a project with the U.S. Air Force. Boeing has already taken delivery of the aircraft and plans to modify the platform for the ATL program.

Let's hear it for the Pentagon's Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration program, Boeing, and whoever else is involved. The conventional wisdom is that in asymmetrical warfare, time is on the side of the primitives. That fails to take into account, however, that for us, the pace of technological improvement is constantly accelerating, whereas for them...there are only so many ways you can boil a goat in a cave.  Thursday, February 2, 2006




Yesterday on Michael Moore's web site, Cindy Sheehan finished reciting the story of her arrest at the Capitol on Tuesday night with the lament: "I have lost my son. I have lost my First Amendment rights. I have lost the country that I love. Where did America go? I started crying in pain."

Sheehan most certainly did lose her son, which all acknowledge is a painful tragedy for any family, but her other two assertions are debatable.  Has Sheehan really lost her First Amendment rights? Does she really love her country?

Her recent trip to Venezuela to embrace the odious Hugo Chavez answers both questions - in the negative.  As Deb Saunders points out, it's a good thing Sheehan wasn't caught wearing a T-Shirt that offended El Presidente:

Free speech? Sheehan should take a look at how her buddy Chavez treats dissidents. As Jackson Diehl reported in The Washington Post last year, the Chavez-controlled legislature passed new media laws that included this choice provision: "Anyone who offends with his words or in writing or in any other way disrespects the president of the republic or whomever is fulfilling his duties will be punished with prison of six to 30 months if the offense is serious, and half of that if it is light."

Thanks to the mainstream media, Cindy Sheehan has enjoyed more free speech than all other parents in America who've lost loved ones in Iraq but still support the war and honor their children's sacrifice. By far. 

She's lied her way into meetings with Senators only to berate them in public afterwards. Now there's a classy use of her First Amendment right. Indeed, Cindy has so vigorously exercised her right to free speech recently she's even managed to start scaring off some of her fellow moonbats. This is quite an achievement for someone who is being so viciously oppressed.  Thursday, February 2, 2006




At ArabNews, “comedian” Ray Hanania gloats over “The Power of the Muslim and Arab Worlds” to bring the West to its knees.

This week, we witnessed the power of the Islamic and Arab worlds to bring a Western nation virtually to its knees. I was amazed at that power. This is over an issue that the nation’s government had nothing to do with. All I can wonder is why the Islamic and Arab world doesn’t harness that power more effectively and change policies that directly impact our causes and our beliefs?

A newspaper in Denmark, Jyllands-Posten, published a series of cartoons that depicted the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in a derogatory and libelous manner. Few Arabs or Muslims had ever heard of the newspaper before the controversy, yet they were rightly angered.

Ironically, the cartoons were published in September 2005, more than five months ago. But this week, the issue came to a head after it surfaced in the Arab world media.

Arabs and Muslims are justified in their anger against the action of the newspaper. The publication of the cartoons may constitute a hate crime, which is considered an offense in most Western countries. They certainly should not have been brushed off as being protected under the universal right of free speech as they were initially by the Danish government.


The Hamas terror gang is reaching out for new sources of financial aid—in South America: Hamas to send emissaries to South America.

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) - The Palestinian militant Islamist group Hamas, which won the Palestinian legislative elections last month, plans to send emissaries to South America to seek financial and political support, a Brazilian newspaper reported.

The O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper said Hamas planned to send envoys to Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia and Venezuela. South America is home to large Palestinian immigrant communities.

Hamas wants to reach out to South American leaders “to disabuse them of the view that we are terrorists and to demonstrate that the problem is the Israeli occupation,” a Hamas spokesman, Abu Kuhri, told the paper Thursday.  Thursday, February 2, 2006


Reeking of barely-concealed malice, Hamas kingpin Khalid Mish’al gets column space in the Guardian to argue the Islamofascist case for mass murder: We will not sell our people or principles for foreign aid.

We shall never recognise the legitimacy of a Zionist state created on our soil in order to atone for somebody else’s sins or solve somebody else’s problem.

I won’t even say “shame on the Guardian” for this appalling article. They’re long past the point of shame, and have graduated to openly shilling for terrorists.  Wednesday, February 1, 2006





From CNN: 'Critical phase' in Iran standoff.

The International Atomic Energy Agency's board of governors ended their first session of talks on whether to delay reporting Iran to the U.N. Security Council amid threats by the Islamic state that it would start enriching uranium if its nuclear activities were sent to the council.

"There is a disagreement among board members whether to report the Iranian issue now to the Security Council or at a later stage," IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei said Thursday.

If the board agrees to the delay, it could help bolster the opportunity for negotiations to get Iran to halt its nuclear activities.

ElBaradei said all of the members agree that the Security Council should not take any action, namely impose any sanctions against Iran, until he presents his report on Iran's nuclear program to the board in March.  Thursday, February 2, 2006




International jihad alert from The Star, with thanks to Nicolei:

KUALA LUMPUR: Jemaah Islamiah (JI) has a house in Pakistan where students from Malaysia and Singapore are indoctrinated and prepared for militant activities.

Gungun Rusman Gunawan, a brother of Ridwan Ishamuddin (better known as Hambali, a key man in al-Qaeda's operations in South-East Asia who was captured in Thailand in August 2003) revealed this in his confession to the Indonesian police last year.

A source disclosed the contents of the confession to The Star recently.

Gungun and 18 others, including 13 Malaysians, were picked up by the Pakistan Federal Agency and the United States Central Intelligence Agency in Karachi in September 2003 for suspected militant activities.


Once again, peaceful Muslims need to show that his Qur'an-quoting and understanding of Islam is wrong -- and convince Muslims that it is -- if they expect the rest of the world to accept that they are willing to coexist peacefully with non-Muslims as their equals on an indefinite basis. From AP, with thanks to Sr. Soph:

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) - The convicted killer of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh addressed an Amsterdam court again Thursday, presenting his own defense to separate terrorism charges as one of 13 men who allegedly planned attacks on Dutch politicians.

Mohammed Bouyeri, 27, is already serving a life sentence for Van Gogh's Nov. 2, 2004, murder, which Bouyeri said he carried out alone because he believed Van Gogh insulted Islam in his film criticizing the treatment of Muslim women....

Bouyeri, who was born in Amsterdam of Moroccan parents, began his allotted time with a prayer in Arabic. Wearing a red-checkered head scarf, he said he felt "honored" by prosecutors' accusation that his philosophy was similar to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's, then embarked on a rambling discussion of Islamic history and law.

He said that good non-Muslims should be treated fairly because "Allah loves the just" but that leaders of non-Muslims who are dishonest should be killed.

"Kill them, and Allah will help you and guide your hand," Bouyeri said. "There's no room there for doubt or interpretation there." He said that killing one innocent Muslim is morally equivalent to killing all Muslims and then remarked in English, "that's for your administration, Uncle Bush," in an apparent reference to the U.S. President.

He quoted the Quran frequently, at times in Arabic, but also cited wide ranging-sources such as science philosopher Thomas Kuhn and terrorism expert Jessica Stern. In their two-day closing statement last week, prosecutors said Bouyeri and other members of group, known as the Hofstad Network, followed a cult-like vision of Islam that was bound to end in violent attacks.  Thursday, February 2, 2006




The Iraqi Army busts a cell of 11 Syrians and 4 Iraqis

By Bill Roggio

The city of Ramadi has seen some progress of late in the fight against the insurgency. While Ramadi, the provincial capital and largest city in Anbar, is perhaps one of the most dangerous cities in Iraq, the government has been working to gain local support and cleave off the domestic nationalist elements of the insurgency from the more violent Islamist and foreign elements. One result has been the declaration of war against al-Qaeda by the Islamic Army in Iraq and other insurgent groups.

The Iraqi Army has taken on greater responsibilities in the province, with Operation Final Strike being one such recent example. Today, a raid on a factory in the Tameem district in Ramadi was led by the 1st Brigade, 7th Division of the Iraqi Army, and netted an insurgent cell. The Multi-National Force-West press release states “The intelligence attained by the Iraqi soldiers led to the capture of 15 suspected insurgents, 11 of which are identified as Syrian nationals and the remaining four as Iraqis.” A cache of 36 AK-47 assault rifles was also found in the factory.

The intelligence used to capture the Syrians was not disclosed, however most of the intelligence behind raids of this nature is derived from residents. Another possibility is the insurgents that have decided to fight al-Qaeda have provided the Iraqi Army with information. As they have colluded with al-Qaeda in the past, the insurgents would have an understanding of their operations.

Capt. Jeffrey S. Pool, the Public Affairs Officer for Multi-National Force-West, stressed the Iraqi Army, and not tribal militias, are to be credited for the operation; “This raid was conducted by Iraqi soldiers, not any of the tribal groups that I’ve been reading about in the press. There were American soldiers in support but this was an Iraqi Army raid.” In a follow up question to Captain Pool on the issue of the Karabila tribe purportedly rounding up 270 al-Qaeda fighters, he stated this would be positive news which, if accurate, certainly would be communicated by Multi-National Force-West.  Thursday, February 2, 2006


Continued low level violence as the Dutch debate deployment

By Bill Roggio

The resurgence of the Taliban has been predicted each year since the fall of the Taliban in the winter of 2002. The fact that over 1,600 Afghanis were killed during combat is often touted as evidence for the Taliban’s resurgence, however obscured in this number is the fact that the vast majority of those killed were Taliban fighters. Over the spring and summer, of 2005, the Taliban attempted to engage Coalition forces in mass formations, and were repeatedly destroyed en masse. The Taliban’s only success worth mentioning was the downing of a U.S. Special Operations helicopter in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan. When elections were held in September of 2005, the Taliban mounted no meaningful operations to prevent the Afghani people’s exercising of their democratic right to vote.

But the Taliban’s failure to disrupt the election and their losses in open combat does not spell an overall defeat for the movement. al-Qaeda has shifted resources to the region, and the Taliban and al-Qaeda still maintain bases of operations across the border in Pakistan, and the Pakistani government has been largely ineffective in removing them from the tribal regions.

The southeastern provinces of Kandahar, Helmand and Uruzgan remain troubled regions of Afghanistan, and bases of operations for the Pashtun-supported Taliban. The Times Online states the Taliban is
laying in wait for the British contingent readying to deploy into Helmand province, and quotes a “western intelligence source” with a negative view on the situation in the region; “The Taliban are not just regrouping in the south; they are winning… Two years ago they were wintering in Pakistan. Last year they stayed in Helmand all year but wintered in remote hills. This year they have remained in the villages.” The Taliban have recently burned down three schools in the region in an attempt to intimidate the residents and prevent the schooling of children.

The province of Kandahar has been the scene of increased activity of late. Two bombs were defused close to the U.S. Embassy, and a suicide bomber was detained in a “a minibus packed with explosives and gas canisters close to a U.S. base.” Nine suspected Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters were arrested in Kandahar, seven of whom were Afghanis and two Pakistanis. The Pakistanis were “preparing to become suicide bombers.”

A fight between residents of the town of Spin Boldak and the Taliban left two Taliban and one resident dead. The Post reports the residents of Spin Boldak, which sits on the border with Pakistan, instigated the fight after the Taliban attempted to enforce its strict brand of Sharia law; “the villagers attacked the Taliban rebels who had blockaded a road and were confiscating music cassettes from passing cars. After seizing and breaking the cassettes, the insurgents informed travellers that music was forbidden by Islam.” Spin Boldak is the location of a Taliban suicide bombing that killed twenty residents during a religious festival, and sparked protests from the locals, who chanted “death to Pakistan, death to al-Qaeda and death to the Taliban.”

The Washington Post reports on problems in the province of Uruzgan, the home of Taliban leader Mohammad Omar. Lt. Gen Karl W. Eikenberry, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, describes the security situation as being “certainly… toward the bottom.” The hesitation of the Dutch, who are slated to take over in the province, is viewed as a weakness by the Taliban and there are fears this debate will be exploited to cause divisions within NATO.

The Dutch continue to debate their deployment commitment, but Radio Netherlands reports “the largest opposition party, Labour (PvdA) gave its blessing to the new mission,” paving the way for the Dutch to fulfill their obligation. Australia has stated it is willing to send 200 additional troops to assist the Dutch in Uruzgan.

While the Coalition works to stabilize the security situation in southeastern Afghanistan, an international conference is discussing aid and security commitments to the nation. The United States has pledged $1.1 Billion in economic aid over the next year, and Russia has agreed to relieve Afghanistan of its $10 Billion in debt. Reuters states economic growth is expected is expected to be substantial over the next year; “The IMF forecast economic growth of 14 percent in 2005/06, slowing to 10 percent by the end of the year, with activity buoyant in the construction and services sectors.”

But Afghanistan’s poppy problem continues to remain a major problem for stability. The poppy/opium trade accounts for just over half of Afghanistan’s GDP, and efforts to reduce farming and production have produced marginal results. Warlords, the Taliban and al-Qaeda use the poppy trade to fund their enterprises, creating additional security problems for the nascent government. The Counterterrorism Blog’s Robert Charles states “CENTCOM and NATO’s Operational Commander have just declared narcotics to be ‘the number one threat’ to Afghanistan’s democracy and freedom.”

The challenges in Afghanistan are great, and the importance of the narcotics trade in Afghan society adds an increased level of complexity to the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Yet al-Qaeda and the Taliban arguably have a better support system across the border in Pakistan than the insurgents possess outside Iraq, and years of Taliban rule in Afghanistan to build upon, and can only muster a fraction of the violence that is seen in Iraq. Both Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri have boasted in their most recent statements that the U.S. has been defeated in Afghanistan, yet secretly al-Qaeda must be concerned that four years after the fall of the Taliban, it has been unable to mount a significant resistance in what was once the model state for the Islamic Caliphate.  Wednesday, February 1, 2006



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