May 06, 2006

The burial of Pak nuclear scandal

Asian Age, May 6, 2006
Stagecraft & Statecraft BRAHMA CHELLANEY

With global attention focused on the US-led face-off with Tehran over the nuclear issue, Pakistan has ingeniously seized the opportunity to give a quiet burial to the worst proliferation scandal in world history that involved the Pakistani transfer of nuclear know-how and equipment to three states — Iran, Libya and North Korea. Pakistan this week announced closure of the scandal-related case, as it freed from jail the last of the 11 nuclear scientists imprisoned more than two years ago for suspected role in the covert transfers. A 12th figure, Abdul Qadeer Khan, the ring’s alleged mastermind, was granted immunity from prosecution and has been made to stay at home under tight security since his February 2004 televised confession on illicit nuclear dealings.
Contrast the international crisis that is being contrived over Iran with the lack of any response to Pakistan’s defiant statement that, “As far we are concerned, this chapter is closed … there is a closure to that case”. Contrast also Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s hawkish statements on Iran with his government’s conspicuous silence on Islamabad’s entombment of a proliferation scandal with far-reaching implications. And notice the dramatic irony that at the very time when Tehran is under pressure to come clean on its imports of Pakistani nuclear designs and items, the exporting country has announced closure of the probe into a scandal whose full international investigation can yield answers to several key unresolved issues relating to Iran cited by the International Atomic Energy Agency in its latest report last week.
No one till date has been charged, let alone put on trial, in Pakistan for involvement in a clandestine proliferation ring whose international-security ramifications exceed Iran’s enrichment of a minute amount of uranium so far. None of the actors in the scandal has been allowed by Pakistan to be questioned by the IAEA or any other outside investigators, although Pakistani ruler General Pervez Musharraf has acknowledged the transfers of bomb know-how or complete uranium-enrichment centrifuges to Iran, North Korea and Libya in the period from1987 to 2003.
In fact, the principal actors are not A.Q. Khan and his fellow scientists but the Pakistan military and intelligence. It is to ensure that the role of the principal actors is not exposed that, first, the entire blame was pinned on a group of 12 “greedy” scientists led by Khan, and then these very men have been religiously kept away from international investigators. What’s more, the military — which has always controlled the nuclear programme — claimed that it wasn’t aware that nuclear secrets were being sold until Libya and Iran began spilling the beans. As part of Pakistan’s nukes-for-missiles swap with North Korea, a Pakistani C-130 military transport aircraft, for example, was photographed loading missile parts in Pyongyang in 2002. Yet Musharraf claimed he was in the dark.
No country has concocted a more ridiculous tale than Pakistan as an excuse for roguish conduct. The uncovering of the proliferation ring should have persuaded Islamabad’s Western allies to distance themselves from the military and invest in the only real guarantee for Pakistan’s future as a stable, moderate state — its civil society. Instead, the Bush administration went along with Islamabad’s charade because it sees the Pakistan military as central to US strategic interests in that country. It even lent a helping hand to the Musharraf regime to dress up the pretence as reality.

Such is America’s ability to shape international perceptions that the world has been made to believe that A.Q. Khan, on his own, set up and ran a nuclear Wal-Mart. And that Khan’s network of “private entrepreneurs” was limited to less than a dozen Pakistani scientists, including his right-hand man, Mohammad Farooq, who has just been freed from incarceration. It was Libya, seeking to re-enter the international mainstream, that first disclosed the existence of the Pakistani proliferation ring, but the US took the credit by stage-managing an event in October 2003. With the help of documents Tripoli had turned over to Washington, a German cargo ship, BBC China, was intercepted en route to Libya with centrifuge components routed through Dubai.
The 21st-century fable of an A.Q. Khan-run nuclear supermarket busted by the US has now become part of American nuclear folklore. Long before Khan turned from a national icon to a national scapegoat, he had been a favourite of the US Central Intelligence Agency in the period when Washington knew that Pakistan was developing nuclear weapons but chose to ignore it. The US turned a blind eye to the underground Pakistani bomb programme for the same reason that China aided Islamabad’s nuclear and missile ambitions. Not only did the CIA twice shield Khan from arrest in Europe, it also had a likely hand in the disappearance of Khan’s legal files from the Amsterdam court that convicted him, according to recent Dutch revelations.
As disclosed by former Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers last August, the CIA protected Khan from arrest and prosecution in Europe in 1975 and 1986. The Dutch government did not take Khan into custody at the request of the CIA, which pretended that it wanted “to follow him.” Khan was sentenced in absentia by Judge Anita Leeser in 1983 to four years in prison for stealing enrichment secrets from the Netherlands on the basis of which Pakistan’s Kahuta plant had by then been set up. After the conviction was overturned on a technicality, US intelligence may have influenced the Dutch decision not to bring new charges against Khan, whose case files, according to Judge Leeser, disappeared “on purpose.”
Now, Karmic justice has caught up with Khan, as it has with another onetime CIA favourite, Saddam Hussein. After having been assisted for years by the CIA, Khan has become the butt of US vilification. In the good old days, the CIA may have even used him and its high-level friends in the Pakistan military and intelligence to help entrap Iran in a violation of its NPT obligations. Consecutive IAEA reports have harped on the Iranian refusal to hand over a 1987 document from the Pakistani ring offering to supply “drawings, specifications and calculations” for an enrichment facility, along with “materials for 2,000 centrifuge machines” and data on “uranium re-conversion and casting capabilities.” To “understand the full scope of the offer made by the network in 1987,” the IAEA is also seeking a copy of a second 15-page document.
More broadly, the US should have foreseen the consequences of its action in winking at Pakistan’s covert nuclear programme. It is well documented how the Pakistan military helped build nuclear weapons with materials and equipment illegally procured from overseas through intermediaries in Dubai and front companies set up in Europe by the Inter-Services Intelligence. What could not be procured from the West was imported covertly from ally China. With the ISI as the spearhead of operations and Khan as the brain, the military ran the world’s most successful nuclear-smuggling ring. That success only bred proliferation in the reverse direction — out of Pakistan.

There is a long history to Pakistan’s nuclear mendacity, aided by America’s pursuit of politically expedient foreign-policy goals. By whitewashing Islamabad’s official complicity in the sale of nuclear secrets, the US can only spur more rogue proliferation in the future. Today, despite a military quagmire in Iraq and instability in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the US is itching to fashion a continuous arc of volatility between Israel and India by taking on Iran. The White House openly seeks to foment regime change in Tehran while simultaneously pursuing coercive diplomacy, backed by the tacit threat of military strikes.
Compare the Bush team’s leniency towards Pakistan with its belligerence against Iran. The draft UN Security Council resolution circulated by America’s allies would strip Iran of its legal rights under the NPT by ordering it to cease all IAEA-safeguarded enrichment and reprocessing activities, including research and development and the construction of a heavy-water reactor. In contrast, Washington and its three Tehran-bashing friends — Britain, France and Germany — have said nothing on the Musharraf regime’s use of the downward spiral on Iran to release the last remaining scientist from preventive custody and cheekily announce that the proliferation case is over, with no further investigation planned or required.
The logic of America’s indulgence towards Pakistan is hard for its own public to grasp. As the Washington Post editorially said some time ago, “the administration must confront the reality that Pakistan's military leadership has done more to threaten US and global security with weapons of mass destruction than either Al Qaeda or Saddam Hussein.” Bush invaded Iraq to eliminate WMD that were not there but has allowed Pakistan, with real WMD and Al Qaeda sanctuaries, to escape international censure for its egregious nuclear transfers to three states.
The IAEA demands additional documentation or data from Iran regarding its P-1 and P-2 centrifuges (with ‘P’ standing for Pakistan). But a good way to get round Tehran’s reluctance to share full information is for Washington and its gang of Iran bashers to facilitate IAEA investigations into the Pakistani ring. Key outstanding issues on Iran can be readily settled if the IAEA were permitted to do the obvious — probe the front part of the supply line in the country where it originated. Yet the US-backed Musharraf regime this week again rejected that idea, declaring, “There is no question of direct access.”
A puzzling question is why the Indian PM has embraced the same double standards. How are India’s interests aided by the PM’s strident tone on Iran and reluctance to say a word on either Pakistani proliferation or the need for democracy in Pakistan? Should he allow Washington to dictate India’s silence on Musharraf’s closure of the proliferation case?

In recent weeks, the PM has repeatedly claimed in the context of Iran that, “We are very clear we do not want another nuclear-weapons state in our neighbourhood.” Can’t a nuclear Shia Iran serve as a counterweight to a Talibanized, nuclear-armed, Sunni Pakistan? With what moral or legal authority can India oppose a nuclear Iran? If Tehran wished to lawfully develop nuclear weapons, it could exercise its right to withdraw from the NPT and kick out IAEA inspectors — the route North Korea chose. That is exactly what coercive action against Iran will invite.

The PM’s line, more importantly, begs a fundamental question: how has he reached a conclusion that the IAEA has yet to arrive at — that Iran has a nuclear-weapons programme? A real Iranian weapons programme in unlikely as long as the IAEA is carrying out invasive inspections, as it has been doing ever since it discovered undeclared Iranian nuclear activity. By linking Iran again and again with nuclear-weapons development, isn’t the PM lending legitimacy to the US-led campaign against Iran? In fact, it was India’s critical vote against Iran at the IAEA governing board last September and February, and refusal at Vienna to link the Iran case with the Pakistani proliferation ring, that have helped set the stage for the present confrontation.

Having helped send the Iran matter from the IAEA governing board (of which India is a permanent member) to an institution where India has no role to play — the Security Council — the PM marginalized India’s role in order to aid the anti-Tehran drive and open Iran to potential sanctions and military strikes. If the Third Bush War breaks out, the White House could thank Manmohan Singh for his unspoken contribution.

May 05, 2006

Palestinie issue is non of our concern : Baloch Nationalists

Below is a email chain from Baloch Unity forum




Waja Rashid Baloch Paagal Sahib,

1. Palestinian problem is nont our conceren. If you think as a "Secular Baloch" rather then a "Muslim Baloch" things will look much better and more clearer than what you think they are. Why should we fight for Palestinain who have chosed this path for themselves to be sucide bomber and commit suicide for Islam instead to live in peace with Israelis? If Palestinian have thought as "Palestinian" instaed of "Islamic Jehad", "Hamas" and "Muslims", they would have succeded long time ago and this blood shed have been stoped. But they have chosed this suicidal path for themselves by thikning as "muslim" rather then as "Palestinnian". Islam is not the solution of their probelm. If they keep Islam aside and think as "Palestnian" they would find it much easier to settle their issues with Israel much easier. After all their all Arab brothern themselves and many islamic countries including Pakistan have abandoned Islam and their Palestinains brothers themselves and they are enjoying good relations and doing busisness with Israel openly and in secret. Why should we?and who's "Islam" they are fighting for?

2. Lets be realistic and think as Baloch. Why should we fight for Palestinian who have never said one word or raised thier voices against the pakistani genocide and killing of Baloch people? I have never seen one Palestinian group or organization who have said or given any statemment syaying to pakistan STOP it? I have not seen any Muslim country who have siad one word aagainst Pakistan killer to stop killing of Baloch people. Why? Are we Baloch not human being? Only Palestainai and Kashmiri Terrorists are human being? Where is your Islamic world? Are they Blind, deaf and dumb? They don't see Pakistan's crimes against Baloch people?

Let me come to the 2nd part of your stupid Question? You asking , Why GOB have established its head quarter in Israel??
Why Not? Wahts is wrong with that?
1. Israel is a secular democratic country which shares our secular and democartic Values with us.

2. Israel is the the only Democartic country in the Middle east comapred to your all your Muslim and Arab coutries where dictators rules with worse human right record.

3. Israel has no diplomatic realtions with pakistan and waja Azaad Baloch ( A Jewsih citizen) will not be extradiated/handed over to Pakistani Criminlas by Isreal (unlike Dubai, in our brother Gazzin's case),.

4.Israel alaways protect his citizen like a fathrer protect his son, (unlike Pakistan, which only protect the military men even the known rapist criminals ( captins Hamad), but when it comes to its own citizens, they are being bombed, killed and jailed, kidnapped, tortured and humiliated every day by the the militray men. Constitution is a joke for them, smash it under their boots whenever they like. A state Terrorism against its own people.)

4. Isreal is great source of inspiration for people of the world who wants to regain their ancestral land by anymeans possible. Jews are small in number but are very united and powerful and they control the world pollitics. learing from them will lead us to the success in our goals.

5. Ancestraly Jews are our cousins. We Baloch are originally from jerulsalem. What is wrong with going back to our roots. In fact we are orignally Jews.

2. In one side you, waja Rashid, be damaagh, be-Gosh wa-be-ponz, claims to be liberal and secular, but you are just prooving the oposite by showing the world that you can not accomodate or accept a Jewsih Baloch brother who wants to defend his Nation from his home Jeruslaem. Who has given you this right to tell your Baloch brother that he can not defend his Nation? Who are you and what is your own contribution for baloch cause? why don't you go and fight with other Baloch brothers instead of arguing here and discouraging a good brother with a good cause. What kind of Narrow thinking is this? Is this how you proove your secularism? Is this is how you show your low thinking mind to the world community? and If you want the world to know that Baloch are a secular then you should not have any problem with a Jewish Baloch brother or the Jerusalem as your head quarter or the State of Israel, which shares many values inculding secularism and democray with us. on one side you are telling the world that you are secular and liberal but on the other hand you think as a narrow minded? How could you? This is a big test for you and the world is watching how can you proove yourself that you are secular? when you can not accept a secular Jewsih Baloch brother in your ranks to fight for his motherland. How can you proove this to the world that you are a secular person when you can not accept such a simple thing as establishing an headquarter in Jerusalem and making it a big deal? You want to tell the world that you are secular but then you hesitant to accomodate one of your own Jewsih Baloch brother in your ranks who wants to fight for his motherland against the occupiers.? What kind of secularism is that? We sholud be greatful to state of Israel for opening his arm for Baloch people and GOB in exile and giving us shelter there, which non of your so called munafik Islamic countries would do.

3. Israel has the most powerful Jewish lobby in the world. The world policies are in fact designed in Tel Ave, and are implemented by Washington. What is wrong with convincing this powerful lobby that a Free Secular democartic and liberal Balochistan is more important for the security of Israel then a Islamic fanatic terrorist nuclear Pakistan and Iran and this is a fact which no one can deny. If our brother waja Azaad jan Baloch is trying to do this why your base itches? without taking the worlds most powerful Jewsih lobby and support how can you succeed in this war gainst two faceless islamic terrorist governments who are bent upon your destruction and distinction as a Nation? If you think you can liberate Balochistan without the help of , Israel,USA, India and Afghanistan, then you are the world most stupid dreamer and you heading to permanent extinction. Go head with suicidal Paagal punn. You are the Bigest Paagal and ganook I have ever seen. Ye Pagaali traa mubarak bebeeth.

Long Live GOB. Long live Balochistan.
Long live Israel. Long live USA,
Long Live India, Long live Afghanistan.
Long live EU.

Dell Gosh Baloch

"Abdul R. Baloch" < arbaloch@hotmail.com > wrote:


Waja Shabir,
Before taking such a decision of forming BOG in exile in Israel, we should analyze carefully the political, social and religious pros and cons of this step. It's an excellent idea to establish a government in exile, but I believe forming the government in Israel, will have tremendous repurcussions on Baloch struggle for freedom. I understand Balochs have no grudges against Judaism or any other religion, but this would be politically suicidal and hypocrisy on Baloch politics. This decision could damage the real spirit of the Baloch freedom for struggle. How come, you love to be free from the clutches of Pakistan, and on the other hand you justify the subjugation and oppression of Palestinians in the hands of Israel.
2. How's it possible to drag the former rurlars and induct them as king against their wishes. Has king Sulaiman ever expressed his support for the Baloch freedom movement? Look at their contributions for the Baloch cause, since the emergence of this nuisance country on the face of this earth. They always felt pride being Pakistani and have always espoused the paki government agenda. Apart from that, how is it possible that the modern democratic governments of the world or independent political bodies, such as United Nations (UN) would support or accept the kings. This decision would probably create more intricacies and provide ample opprtunities to Pakistan government to weeken the present Baloch struggle.
Sincerely,
Rashid
From: SHABIR AHMED < asmaaan208@yahoo.co.uk >
Reply-To: balochunity@yahoogroups.com
To: balochunity@yahoogroups.com
Subject: [balochunity] Re: [BSO_NA] Re: [ alblush_union ] GOB discovered
Date: Tue, 2 May 2006 21:04:54 +0100 (BST)



Dear Brother Dr.Wahid Baloch

I would like to repeat exactly what i said earlier , that the idea of B.O.G. is a good idea as long as it is real . There was nothing wrong in Azaad Baloch ideas , but he had jumped the gun a bit too early , that's all , especially by including people in the structure of B.O.G. , who obviously claimed they had no knowledge of it .
Your analysis on what needs to be done among the Baloch community is a 100% correct , and yes you are right we are running out of valuable time . Small groups here and there are good , but they are not the '' be all and end all of everything '' . Many of us totally agree with you , and lets not forget Nawab Akbar Khan Bugtis' call for unity and a broader political platform for the Baloch . Therefore lets all of us be serious about this , and come up with ideas , and follow the ideas through . We can say anything we like , but at the end of the day we are measured by our deeds .

Sincerely

Shabir Ahmed

May 04, 2006

Encounters with reality

V R Raghavan
http://indianexpress.com/story/3290.html

Posted online: Friday, April 28, 2006 at 0000 hrs
V R Raghavan:

The news carried in this paper yesterday, about four army officers to be held accountable for deliberate killings in J&K, is a stunning revelation. It is a matter of pride that the Indian media has led the movement to investigate and expose wrongdoing by the government machinery in different walks of life. The military cannot be exempt from public scrutiny into its flawed working. Given the political and security environment, the military and the paramilitary forces will continue to operate in what are termed Low Intensity Conflicts. There will be more and even worse cases of excessive and indiscriminate use of the power to kill vested in the military. It is time to introspect on the deeper set of factors that have led to such instances.

Military excesses and indiscriminate use of force is not new in the history of warfare. It was to put an end to such excesses that the concept of Just Wars had been introduced. In modern times, human rights law, humanitarian law, the Geneva Convention were all brought into force to limit the excesses of military force. In our own generation, warfare itself has changed from large scale wars between states to small scale military operations over long periods.

Military force, which had been applied in wars that were conducted separate from civil society, is now required be used in conflicts within it. This mutation of military conflict has had a serious impact on the professional parameters that should guide military forces.

That the Indian military, despite its decades long active role in such operations has had a fine record in civil society is a matter of no small pride. The Indian military ethos is uniquely humanistic and value based. The evidence, unfortunately on the increase in indiscriminate and excessive use of its powers, is therefore a serious warning signal. What leads to the erosion of human and professional values in a disciplined force like the military is to be pondered over. The action of some officers and men, horrendous as they are, point to a deeper set of causes that destroy the honour based military culture.

The Indian armed forces are a performance-based system. Finite and measurable yardsticks measure success. Qualifications and theoretical excellence in themselves do not obtain promotion or recognition. Performance in peacetime is measured by efficiency in processes. Performance in operations, even of the Low Intensity kind, gets measured in the effectiveness with which objectives are attained. The military objectives set in the North East and in J&K derive from the political directions received from the government. The governments in New Delhi, to their credit, have never set the objective of eliminating or destroying the armed dissidents, unless they resort to military action. The Indian military is thus required to create conditions by its operations, in which the militants can be brought to the negotiating table. The military obtains this limited objective time and again only to find that resolution of the conflict escapes the political executive. Such operations therefore carry on for decades.
In military operations continued in the midst of civil society over decades, how is military success to be measured? It has in the past distorted the military’s perspective of success. In Vietnam, at one stage, weapons recovered became a yardstick. At another time, the number of Vietcong killed became the measure. Such perverse ideas led to the military doctrine of weapons and body counts. Later, the number of encounters a battalion had became the yardstick. That in turn led to staged encounters and killings. It took decades for the Colin Powell generation to remake the US military after the regressions of Vietnam.

It has taken only a few years of the mistaken belief in military force, for that fine military to be bogged in Iraq. Now, a new generation of Generals is blaming the political masters for the Iraq imbroglio.

Distorted priorities and emphasis on body and weapons count is often linked with performance measures. In recent years, military units that perform well by such yardsticks are cited for excellence. In the Indian system, gallantry awards play a major part in the performance-based promotion system. Is such recognition now being earned from faked encounters? Even in Siachen, there has been a notorious case. At one time, it was enough to have served in Siachen and no further testimony was required for courage or fortitude. It would appear that things are changing towards the less worthy side of recognition and honour.

The reality of the Indian scene is that Low Intensity Operations will continue indefinitely. The Indian military will continue to be employed in such operations. Army Chiefs can continue to plead with the political executive to desist from using the army for such work. The Indian state is not yet ready to take the bold measures that will resolve the long-lasting internal conflicts. It must also be accepted that foreign involvement makes such bold measures difficult to initiate.

The way forward lies in a fresh inquiry into the state-making apparatus India has used. It has utilized language, federal structures, devolution of powers and social justice in a tolerant and democratic polity. This experiment in democratic social engineering has amazed the world. A false belief in the instrument of military force in the state-making enterprise therefore needs to be recast. That must remain the starting point of examining the question of military success and victory. Even recent history shows that military victory is no guarantor of peace. The spectacular victories by both sides in the Arab-Israeli Wars, victory declared after the military action in the wars in Iraq, or the defeat of the Taliban, have not led to success in obtaining the peace dividend.
When such military victories are sought or claimed in domestic conflicts, and are conducted in the midst of civil society, the extent of damage lasts longer. The damage to the professional code of the military is even greater.

The writer, a retired Lieutenant-General, is Director, Delhi Policy Group

Advice to Baloch freedom fighters

Human Rights violation of Israel and Mailing Address of GOVERNMENT OF BALOCHISTAN IN EXILE : Gul Agha explains



rabfish.blogspot.com/2006/04/human-rights-in-sindh.html

On 5/3/06, Khalid Ahmed khalidahmed@att.net wrote:
While in complete agreement with the Baloch cause it is shocking to see the mailing address of this Govt in exile. They choose Israel of all countries, one of the biggest human rights violators in the past and unforseeable future that I am sure gives loads of credibility to the Baloch cause.
--
Regards.
Khalid Ahmed
KhalidAhmed@att.net




Saaiin Khalid,

I understand where you are coming from. I don't know if the address is real but it has created some controversy on the Baloch email discussion groups. You can follow the discussion there. I haven't paid too much attention to the discussion and don't have much of an opinion.

I agree that it is clear Israel has engaged in HR violations -- although nothing of the scale of Pakistan in the past or now or likely in the future. Aerial bombardment, massacre of civilians, shelling of temples, towns and villages, ...

In my own personal view: Syria, or Egypt, or Saudi or Jordan, etc. are also at least just as big violators of human rights.. But I suspect if the site had used, for example, a Syrian address (remember Hama?) it wouldn't create any controversy. Which is interesting.. something I put out to to provoke thinking about, but it is not something I would spend much time arguing about. I realize others may have different opinion, since all the data and arguments we might come with, are available on the net, and to this data and arguments I have nothing to add, and I suspect anything I likely hear in a discussion, I have heard before, so a discussion may take more energy than the expected benefit.

I think it would be prudent of the Baloch to stay away from the Israeli Palestine problem. Certainly, the Baloch have conducted their war themselves with honor and dignity -- no bombings of 'falafel' stands (pan shops) or school children or atheletes or civilian buses, so they should never compare their tactics or in any way be associated with those employing terrorism. On the other hand, the Baloch need not let themselves be identified with Israeli land grabbing mafia policies either. It is enough for the world to know that the Baloch are a tolerant people and not anti-Semitic.

Certainly, I don't think they will not get any support from the Arabs. If they can get support from the Israelis, and I have doubts that they can, who would I be, sitting comfortably in my home, to question it? Their very survival is at stake.. if they feel they have to find allies whereever they can, so be it.

But I am not a strategist for the Baloch... anyway, I am a pacifist and the Baloch have chosen to wage a war for a just cause. They can resolve their own issues. You are welcome to ask to join their discussion groups.

Peace,

Gul Agha

Petro rubles help boost Russian defense budget

RUSSIAN ENERGY PROFITS AID RUSSIAN MILITARY, BUT NOT MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL SECTOR

Although energy and foreign policy issues have dominated reporting from Russia in 2006, there have also been interesting developments in the defense sector. The Putin regime has launched a comprehensive effort to modernize the Russian military, including its defense-industrial sector. Moreover, this effort has included substantial increases in defense spending, which has tripled since 2000. Although inflation has reduced this growth in real terms, the rise in spending is quite substantial and reflects both the economic revival of Russia since 1999 -- largely due to energy profits -- and the realization that no reform of the armed forces was possible without increased defense spending.

Yet despite the increases in defense spending, official figures indicate that annual spending remains at 2.7% of GNP. This is considerably less than the 3.5% ceiling stated in Russian laws. In other words, while raising spending on defense, Russian President Vladimir Putin has not acceded to the demands from military men, some Duma delegates, and Russian pundits to exceed those levels, at least in officially reported figures. Whether official figures are accurate and realistic is altogether another question. Moreover, both Putin and Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov have made it clear that they will not allow spending to exceed growth or to endanger the stabilization fund, which is intended to protect Russia against the ravages of inflation and the Dutch disease due to its reliance on energy. Even so, pressure to raise spending is growing.

This pressure comes from many sources. Inflation is undermining procurement by raising costs for all kinds of basic goods, such as metals and energy. The defense industry, despite endless reorganizations, remains unable to provide Russian forces with weapons and apparently prefers to sell abroad. Moreover there are still 1,550 firms in this sector, and many of them cannot work effectively under market conditions. Thus it is clear that this sector remains in crisis, stimulating demands for not just another reorganization -- which is occurring -- but for more spending on it. Other voices in the Duma are calling for increased spending either on conventional weapons, nuclear weapons, or both, citing either aggressive Western intent or the fact that only 20% of Russian weapons are at a contemporary level of effectiveness as justification.

Hitherto Ivanov and Putin have resisted going beyond the 2.7% figure even as that absolute total rises due to economic growth. As recognized by pundits like Alexei Arbatov, this steady course signifies their belief in a fundamentally benign threat environment, despite rhetoric to the contrary. However, they have moved to reestablish the old Soviet military-industrial commission under Ivanov, and he is calling for defense firms to produce more for the civilian market, just as their Soviet predecessors did. Furthermore it is apparent that the state, using organizations like Rosoboroneksport or the creation of industrial holding companies in the airplane and, soon, shipbuilding industries, is seeking to bring this sector under greater control. In this respect trends in the defense sector parallel similar ones in the energy sector, where state controls are also growing.

Past experience suggests that neither renewed state control nor neo-Soviet approaches can be effective. But it is also clear that market-based solutions to pressing economic problems do not enjoy state or public support in today's Russia. Consequently the trend towards enhanced state control is likely to continue for some time. Thus despite the fact that Ivanov is actually delivering many times more new weapons to the Russian armed forces than was the case when he assumed office in 2001, the crisis of the defense-industrial sector will continue. At the same time, precisely because anti-Western rhetoric is now dominant and transparency and rule of law have been suppressed, Russia's elite believe that Russia's energy holdings allow it to defy or threaten the world, and neo-imperial objectives dominate foreign policy; it is likely that the pressure for ever more defense spending is going to grow regardless of Russia's actual performance.

But even as this pressure grows, and even if actual spending continues to rise, either within or beyond the present ceilings, it is also unlikely that the Russian government or the Duma will have a clear idea of what Russia is actually buying and what it gets for its defense ruble. Absent any real internal accountability or rule of law in the government and genuine parliamentary and public control over state spending, this sector is likely to remain one of the most corrupt and opaque sectors of the Russian economy. That outcome can only continue to hobble recovery even as it moves forward. Two reliable indicators of Russia's future trajectory in both domestic and foreign affairs will be the debate over defense spending figures and targets and the actual response by the government to the military-political pressure to raise that spending.

(Interfax-AVN, April 17, 20; RBK TV, April 18; Interfax, April 20; Izvestiya, March 15, 22, 29; Kremlin International News Broadcast, March 28, April 11; Novye vremya, April 20)


--Stephen Blan

Emerging Terrorist Trends in Spain's Moroccan Communities

By Kathryn Haahr

Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, also known as Abu Musab al-Suri, traveled through Andalucia.
Recent counter-terrorism operations in Spain have spotlighted an increasing presence of Salafi-Islamists and al-Qaeda "loyalists" in Andalucia and, more alarmingly, in the Spanish autonomous communities of Ceuta and Melilla (located on the northern coast of Morocco). Since the 2004 terrorist attacks in Madrid, Spanish security services have arrested dozens of GSPC-/GICM-affiliated members and al-Qaeda sympathizers in Ceuta, Melilla and Andalucia. There are no proven links between Islamist activities in the enclaves to the known al-Qaeda associated terrorists and Salafi-Islamists in Andalucia and the enclaves. The proximity of Ceuta and Melilla to Andalucia, however, coupled with the "Maghreb-Andalucia" clandestine immigration pipeline, increases the risk of terrorist infiltration.

Cultural and Historic Setting

Historically, Ceuta and Melilla are multicultural cities in which Christians, Muslims, Jews and other ethnic groups live together. The majority of Muslims in the two enclaves consider themselves to be Spanish citizens. There are, however, segments of the population that have vocalized their allegiance to the King of Morocco. In 2002, the Counsel of the Moroccan government called for a "mobilization" to free the "occupied territories of Ceuta and Melilla" (http://www.gees.org, January 24), and the Moroccan Islamist Party of Justice and Development (PJD) called for a public march to "free Ceuta and Melilla" (El Mundo, July 18, 2002; February 8, 2002). The issue of Ceuta and Melilla—in terms of its political, religious and socio-economic relationship to Morocco—will remain a challenge in Spain's domestic policy and in its bilateral relations with Morocco.

Melilla's Muslim population is 40 percent of the total population (65,488 as of 2005) and is mainly of Moroccan origin. The city has 14 mosques. The most important religious organization is the Islamic Commission of Melilla (CIM), which is very active in promoting the religious, social and political rights of its imams and Muslim members. The Badr Islamic Association, which engages in religious instruction of Muslim children in Melilla, was formed in the early 1990s by Mustafa Aberchan, leader of the Coalition for Melilla (CpM). Of note, the Badr Islamic Association disassociated itself from the CIM (El Mundo, October 24, 2001). Another organization, the CpM, a cross-section of Muslims, attempted to separate women from men in the municipal pools in 2003, prompting the Melillan government to warn the group against "sectarian" activities.

In Ceuta, there are approximately 25,000 Muslims and 12 mosques. Reportedly, the most radical is the Barella in the Radou quarter. In terms of organizations, there is the Islamic Community of Al Bujari de Ceuta.

To date, there is a relative absence of radical Islamic groups in Ceuta and Melilla. The few "fundamentalists" who exist are more inclined to incite the youth to adopt a political rather than religious agenda (http://www.bladi.net). The burning of a tomb of a Muslim spiritual leader in Melilla in 2005, however, combined with other recent developments—including the appearance of pro-Osama bin Laden slogans in a Jewish cemetery, a Christian church and a synagogue—are worrisome. Some sources believe that the Badr Islamic Association was responsible for these actions and elements of the Muslim population are increasingly supporting this group. Abdelkader Mohamed Ali, the spokesman for Badr, denied the allegations, calling the attacks "repugnant" and "a barbarian act inappropriate for a Muslim" (El Mundo, October 24, 2005).

Counter-Terrorism Activities in Melilla, Ceuta and Andalucia

The profile of Melilla, Ceuta and Andalucia, as "hosts" to Islamist terrorist activities, demonstrates the degree to which various terrorist groups have penetrated mainstream Spanish cities and populations. Several significant counter-terrorism operations in 2005 (resulting in the arrest of approximately 85 individuals) netted an al-Qaeda cell with a nucleus in Andalucia, as well as GSPC members dispersed throughout southern Spain (El Mundo, December 20, 2005). Of significance, Spanish police arrested a Moroccan national, Bahbah El H. (last name not available) in Nerja, Malaga, who had formerly been the imam of a mosque in Ceuta (http://www.canalsur.es, December 12, 2005; El Pueblo de Ceuta, December 20, 2005). It is also important to note that the "first Spanish Taliban," Hamed Abderrahaman Ahmed, was from Ceuta. He spent two years at Guantanamo Bay on suspicions of being an "enemy combatant" allied to al-Qaeda (El Mundo, February 17, 2002).

According to Spanish Minister of the Interior Jose Antonio Alonso, the al-Qaeda network was broken into three command cells: a "command and control" decision-making cell, a cell that recruited mujahideen for Iraq and one devoted to falsifying documents. Alonso also noted that the network maintained "contacts with the nucleus of al-Qaeda in Iraq" (http://www.canalsur.es, December 12, 2005). The most important al-Qaeda leader to travel through Andalucia is Mustafa Setmariam Nasar (also known as Abu Musab al-Suri, who lived in Granada for two years (El Mundo, November 23, 2005). During that time, Nasar maintained contact with various al-Qaeda linked personalities, including Mohamed Bahaiah, the presumed courier of the terror network in Europe.

The Spanish Guardia Civil (a Spanish police force with both military and civilian functions) noted in an internal memo that "support cells for Islamist terrorists" exist in Ceuta and Melilla, in addition to other Spanish cities. Moreover, the report notes ties between these cities and some of the Islamists detained after the terrorist attacks in Casablanca in May 2003, and that the imams of several mosques (not identified) are radicalizing the Muslim community. The same report reflects a conviction by Spanish security officials that both autonomous cities are being utilized by individuals associated with "violent Islamism" (La Razon Digital, May 15, 2004).

As a result of the increasing presence of Islamists in the enclaves and Andalucia, Spanish security authorities have deployed counter-terrorism agents to Ceuta, Melilla and other cities in southern Spain. As part of their activities, they have stepped up efforts to identify Islamic extremists among the thousands of Spanish Muslims who attend mosques in the two enclaves and Andalucia. According to press reports, the Spanish security services have monitored all of the mosques in Ceuta and Melilla and "analyzed the number of Muslims who attended them, as well as the profile of each of the adherents" (El Mundo, November 24, 2001; El Pueblo de Ceuta, December 20, 2005).

In Ceuta, the Ministry of Interior specifically investigated those mosques that are "sponsored" by Morocco and reported its findings in a special intelligence report (El Mundo, November 24, 2001). Security officers noted that 200 and 500 Muslims attend the Benzu and Pasaje Recreo mosques respectively. The ideological orientation of the mosques' imams was recorded as well. The report notes that the Moroccan Ministry of Islamic Affairs office in Tetuan, Ceuta pays the salaries of the imams and that these community leaders owe their loyalty to the Moroccan king, whom they recognize as the most senior religious authority. The report notes that the same situation exists with most imams in Melilla.

In Andalucia, there are approximately 100 known mosques and around 250,000 Muslims. Major cities such as Granada and other towns have unwittingly hosted terrorists tied to 9/11 and Salafi-Islamists linked to terrorist activities in Spain. Due to the increase of Muslim immigrants flowing into Andalucia, unregistered prayer sites have multiplied (http://www.abc.es, February 26). According to the Ministry of Justice, there are only 36 registered Islamic entities while the Islamic Council estimates that there are 74 groups with (mostly make-shift) prayer sites (El Pais, January 15).

Spanish security officials continue to worry that members of al-Qaeda will take advantage of the clandestine immigration pipeline route by inserting terrorists to make their way to either the enclaves or to the Spanish mainland. To this regard, the Directorate General of National police recently advertised 357 posts for anti-terrorist officers to monitor potential Islamists in areas where the presence of Muslim immigrants is well known, such as Melilla, Ceuta, Granada, Malaga and Alicante.

Trends in Ceuta and Melilla

According to a document from the Centro Nacional de Inteligencia (CNI, Spain's intelligence agency), intelligence officials are worried about the increase in the Muslim populations in the autonomous cities. The fear is that the burgeoning Muslim population (which in 15 years could become the majority), coupled with the suspected presence of militant Islamists, will, in due course, morph into a very serious threat to national security (El Pais, September 12, 2005; El Telegrama Melill, September 13, 2005; http://www.lejournal-hebdo.com, April 7).

Moreover, census information from the CNI and the Spanish Army predict that Ceuta and Melilla's Muslim population will become the majority in about 13 years (http://www.madridhabitable.org, December 9, 2005). In addition to the demographic trend, another one to closely watch is the appeal of Muslim political parties in both autonomous cities: in Ceuta, for example, there are only 25 Muslim representatives in the Assembly but they are organizing to win more seats in the autonomous elections of 2007. It remains to be seen whether the rise of Muslim political consciousness will interface with radical Islamism to create yet more potential terrorist threats.

Prosecuting Terrorism: Yemen's War on Islamist Militancy

By Andrew McGregor
Any observer of Yemen's political scene cannot help but notice that Yemen appears to be awash with al-Qaeda suspects. Mass trials follow mass arrests as hundreds of suspects flow through Yemen's legal system. Some are selected for execution and others for lengthy prison sentences, but many avail themselves of early release or periodic amnesties. The system seems designed to weed out those who present a direct threat to Yemen or its regime, while relieving U.S. pressure in the war on terrorism by offering a constant demonstration of activity. In the wings of this performance is the constant threat of an insurgency led by Yemen's powerful Islamist movement.

The Legal Frontline

A continuing irritant in Yemen-U.S. relations is the status of Sheikh Abd al-Majid al-Zindani, the country's most prominent Islamist and leader of the Iman University in Sanaa. In February 2004, the U.S. Treasury Department identified al-Zindani as a "specially designated global terrorist" (Terrorism Monitor, April 6). The U.S. would like to see the sheikh extradited for his al-Qaeda connections and possible involvement in the USS Cole bombing, but al-Zindani enjoys the personal protection of Yemen's president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who describes him as "a moderate." The president called such extradition attempts "unconstitutional" and noted that "we are not the police of any other country" (Yemen Observer, March 1)

The sheikh met in early April with Khaled Meshaal, the Syrian-based leader of Hamas. At a fundraising event for the new Palestinian government (which has lost nearly all foreign aid from the West), al-Zindani referred to Hamas as "the jihad-fighting, steadfast, resolute government of Palestine" (UPI, April 14). Al-Zindani is a leading member of Yemen's Islah Party, an Islamist opposition party that often works closely with the government. The leader of Islah is Sheikh Abdullah al-Ahmar, chief of the powerful Hashed tribe. President Saleh and many other government figures are members of the Hashed. Al-Ahmar is close to the Saudis, and it is partly through his mediation that many long-standing territorial and security disputes have been resolved in the last few years.

Al-Zindani is one of many Yemeni "Afghans," the term used for veterans of the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan. Rather than alienate the so-called Afghans, Saleh's regime has used them to eliminate opponents of the government, most notably in the assassination campaign against members of the Yemen Socialist Party in the period 1990-94. Others are reported to have been deployed against Zaidi Shiite militants in Northern Yemen.

Meanwhile, Saudi-born Mohammad Hamdi al-Ahdal is facing the death penalty in another U.S.-related prosecution. A veteran of conflicts in Afghanistan and Chechnya, al-Ahdal is charged with being a leading member of Yemen's al-Qaeda network, raising funds and organizing bomb attacks on U.S. interests in the country. He has admitted to collecting over one million Saudi riyals to buy the allegiance of Yemeni tribesmen in the Marib region. Nineteen security men were killed in a three-year pursuit of al-Ahdal that ended in 2003. Al-Ahdal used his chance to speak in court to charge Saudi and U.S. authorities with pressing Sanaa for a conviction. Al-Ahdal's onetime superior in al-Qaeda, Ali Qaed Senyan al-Harthi, was killed in Marib in 2002 by a U.S. unmanned Predator aircraft.

Nineteen men currently on trial in Sanaa are accused of planning attacks against U.S. interests as revenge for the killing of al-Harthi. The suspects, including five Saudis, are accused of operating under the instructions of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of the al-Qaeda faction in Iraq (Yemen Times, April 16). Two of the accused have admitted to possessing arms and explosives for use in training fighters for Iraq and Afghanistan, but proclaimed that their war was with the United States, not Yemen (Yemen Observer, March 4).

In an interesting case that attracted little attention, a group of former Iraqi army officers were acquitted on appeal in March on charges of plotting to attack the U.S. and UK embassies in Sanaa. Other former Iraqi officers are reported to have found employment in Yemen's military. The two armies cooperated extensively in the Saddam Hussein era, and a large part of Yemen's military received training in Iraq. The Iraqis have spent three years in prison, but appealed to be allowed to stay in Yemen over fears for their safety in Iraq.

Furthermore, on April 19, a group of 13 Islamists led by Ali Sufyan al-Amari were handed prison terms of up to seven years for plotting attacks against political and security officials in Yemen. Prosecutors announced in late April that 60 more suspected members of al-Qaeda are being brought to trial (26September.com, April 25).

Though the mass prosecutions suggest Yemen is mounting a successful campaign against Islamist militants, hundreds of convicted extremists have found a quick route to freedom through cooperation with Yemen's Dialogue Committee, which engages the prisoners in a Quran-based rehabilitation program. Other convicted Islamists are released in periodic amnesties, while suspects with political connections are often never brought to trial. Over 800 Zaidi Shiite rebels were freed in March in order to resolve the 2004-2005 conflict that erupted in the mountains of Northern Yemen. While the "revolving door" system of Yemeni justice frustrates U.S. security agencies, dispute resolution, mediation and reconciliation are all traditional art forms in Yemen's fractious social framework. They are what prevent the state from disintegrating, and Saleh's proficiency in these skills keeps the regime afloat.

Hunting Fugitives

Yemeni security forces continue the hunt for the 23 Islamists who escaped prison in Sanaa in February 2006. The facility was run by Yemen's leading intelligence service, the Political Security Organization (PSO). Particularly distressing to the U.S. was that many of the fugitives had been involved in terrorist attacks against U.S. interests, while some were making their second escape from PSO prisons. Eight of the escapees have surrendered or been captured, but the two most prominent fugitives, Jamal al-Badawi and Jaber Elbaneh, remain at large. Al-Badawi was sentenced to death in 2004 for planning the attack on the USS Cole, while Elbaneh was one of the so-called "Lackawanna Six," a terrorist cell based in upper New York state. Of the six, five are serving sentences in U.S. prisons, but Elbaneh escaped to Yemen where Yemeni police eventually detained him.

Security forces are reportedly using tribal and religious leaders in negotiations with the other fugitives for their surrender (Yemen Observer, April 3). Several PSO prison governors were put before a military tribunal on April 27 on charges of "inadequate conduct" in relation to the escape. The PSO is widely believed to include Islamists in its ranks, and there were serious questions raised at the time of the escape regarding PSO assistance to the escapees.

The escape has created barriers to the release of over 100 Yemeni detainees in Guantanamo Bay. The Yemen government maintains that 95 percent of the prisoners have no involvement in terrorism. According to a government study, most of the captive Yemenis worked in Afghanistan as teachers of the Quran or the Arabic language (26September.com, March 21). Nevertheless, some prisoners already released from Guantanamo Bay have been charged in Yemen with membership in al-Qaeda. One Yemeni prisoner who is unlikely to be released anytime soon is Sheikh Muhammad Ali Hassan al-Muayad, who is serving 75 years in a Colorado prison for financing terrorism. The sheikh was a member of the Shura Council of the Islah Party and imam of the main mosque in Sanaa before he was arrested in Germany in 2003 and extradited to the U.S. Al-Muayad complains of mistreatment in the U.S. and his family is appealing to President Saleh to intervene.

Yemen and the War in Iraq

U.S. intelligence has identified Yemen as a leading source of foreign fighters in the war in Iraq. The leader of the Islamic Army of Aden-Abyan (one of Yemen's largest Islamist militant groups), Khalid Abd al-Nabi, has complained that members of his group were arrested by PSO officers and then taken before U.S. operatives for interrogation regarding plans to fight coalition forces in Iraq (Yemen Times, April 4). The Islamic Army was formed in 1994 from "Afghans" who had helped Saleh's regime defeat Southern Yemen's socialists. They are accused of maintaining ties with al-Qaeda while sending fighters to join al-Zarqawi's network in Iraq.

In 2002, the government mounted a largely ineffective assault with heavy artillery and helicopter gunships on the group's training camp in the mountains near Hatat in Abyan district. Abd al-Nabi surrendered to the government, but was only briefly detained before being released without charges. Convicted Islamist militants released through the Dialogue Committee program agree to avoid further militancy within Yemen, but there is no mention made of Iraq.

Conclusion

A report released in April by Yemen's Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation revealed that 41 percent of Yemenis are below the poverty line and lack access to basic health and educational services (Yemen Times, April 25). Rising food prices, a 17 percent unemployment rate and a general lack of opportunity for Yemen's youth provide a pool of dissatisfied recruits for Islamist organizations.

The number of Yemenis currently fighting in Iraq is probably not large, but the presence of the conflict provides an external outlet for Yemen's most militant Islamists, much like Afghanistan once did. With the Islamist opposition forming the largest political force in Yemen outside of the current government, the United States will continue to find it difficult to leverage the Saleh regime. Any U.S. intervention at this point would present serious consequences for the stability of the region. For now, Yemen will remain a troubling ally in the war on terrorism.

Radical Networks in Middle East Prisons

By Chris Zambelis
Prisons have traditionally been breeding grounds for some of the world's most violent street gangs and organized criminal organizations. The hostile and dangerous environment of prison life inspired the creation of a diverse array of well-organized gangs and networks that thrived behind prison walls in everything from extortion, drug and weapons trafficking, smuggling, gambling and other illicit activities. In a testament to their organizational capacity and reach, many gangs spread to prisons outside of their place of origin and continue to flourish among seasoned members released into the general public.

Originally, U.S. prison gangs such as the Mexican Mafia (MM), also known as La Eme, the Aryan Brotherhood, and its prison offshoot the Nazi Low Riders, and the Black Guerilla Family (BGF), to name a few, were formed in an effort to bolster ethnic and racial solidarity among jailed Hispanic, White, and African-American inmates who competed for power and influence inside the penal system. In varying degrees, penal systems in Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia are struggling with their own breed of dangerous prison networks.

In many cases, these networks are comprised of effective leadership councils, chains of command, and strict codes of conduct for members that often include sworn oaths of allegiance and a complex system of communication based on secret codes and signs designed to circumvent prison authorities.

Members of prison gangs often include psychologically vulnerable inmates seeking the physical protection that gang membership appears to provide. Many are also forced to join a particular gang on the threat of violence by gangs determined to swell their ranks. For others facing long-term sentences, gang affiliations based on ethnic, racial, or regional allegiances provide aspiring members with what they perceive as a worthy cause or a sense of belonging, in addition to the protection of membership in a larger social network that claims to speak and act on their behalf.

Prisons in the Middle East

Given this background, it is worth considering the recent prison riots in Jordan and Afghanistan reportedly instigated by jailed radical Islamists, including alleged members of al-Qaeda and the Taliban, respectively (al-Jazeera, March 2; Azadi Radio, March 6). The daring escape of 23 high-profile al-Qaeda inmates from a Yemeni penitentiary also raises interesting questions (Yemen Times, February 4).

Regional sources are convinced that organized radical networks operating within the confines of the prisons in question planned each of these incidents in concert with assistance from the outside and the support of new followers recruited from within. These cases may shed light on the nature and scope of radical networks and organizational structures in foreign prisons in countries of critical importance in the war on terrorism.

These incidents also have serious implications when we consider that the periodic release of incarcerated Islamists that run the gamut from moderate democratic reformers to others tied to violent extremist activities is a favorite political tactic employed by incumbent authoritarian regimes in the region. This strategy is generally aimed at easing internal tensions centered in the Islamist opposition over the lack of progress toward political reforms, increased repression and other grievances.

For example, Egypt recently released over 900 members of the radical Gama'a al-Islamiyya, some having spent over 20 years in prison (al-Jazeera, April 12). Tunisia recently freed over 1,600 members of its own Islamist opposition. Algeria also released over 2,000 imprisoned Islamist activists in a sign of good faith as part of its plan to promote its Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation initiative (al-Jazeera, March 4).

It is not in the interest of the governments in question to release inmates considered to pose a credible and immediate terrorist threat, given that the incumbent regimes would likely be targeted in due course as they were in the past. Moreover, the release of jailed extremists is generally accompanied by a negotiated pact with former radical leaders who in turn often praise the incumbent government's action as a sign of goodwill while renouncing the use of violence and terrorism.

In fact, it is precisely this process that contributes to the creation of extremist splinter groups headed by emerging radical leaders determined to carry on their war against the hated incumbent regimes or their benefactors in the West.

A number of prominent Islamist radicals, including Ayman al-Zawahiri and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, spent years in prison in Egypt and Jordan, respectively. By all accounts, both were subjected to harsh conditions that included systematic torture and often humiliating abuses against them and their fellow inmates. Many observers believe that these experiences contributed to their radicalization and that of many of their followers (see Montasser al-Zayat, The Road to al-Qaeda: The Story of Bin Ladin's Right-Hand Man).

In March, Jordan's penal system was struck with a series of what appeared to be simultaneous and coordinated uprisings in three separate prisons. Rioting inmates in Jwaideh prison took hostage Colonel Saad al-Ajrami, director of the kingdom's prison system, along with a host of security guards. The Jwaideh inmates reportedly took up arms in a demonstration of solidarity with two prisoners incarcerated in Swaqa prison that Jordanian officials link to al-Qaeda, including one convicted for the 2002 assassination of a U.S. diplomat in Amman. They also demanded the immediate release of the would-be Iraqi female suicide bomber who participated in the November 2005 attacks in Amman and protested conditions inside the jail (al-Jazeera, March 2).

Jordanian officials claim that over 180 radical Islamists, including extremists linked to al-Qaeda, are currently being held at Jwaideh prison (as-Sharq al-Awsat, March 3). After a period of tense negotiations, the 14-hour siege ended peacefully with all of the hostages released unharmed.

According to Judge Ali al-Dhmour, Jordan's secretary general of the Justice Ministry, rioting inmates at the Jwaideh facility coordinated their planned takeover of the facility with their fellow inmates in other prisons through an elaborate system that included cell phone and internet communications and messages passed along to visiting relatives. Al-Dhmour also raised questions regarding the wisdom of having violent Islamist extremists serve their sentences alongside their known colleagues, essentially ensuring that already tight-knit networks remain cohesive and operational behind bars. He also questioned the logic of placing ordinary criminals together with hardened extremists in the same facilities due to fears that the latter may influence disaffected prisoners (al-Jazeera, March 2).

Ibrahim Zeid al-Kailani, Jordan's former religious affairs minister, echoes these sentiments. He believes that radical extremists, especially individuals tied to al-Qaeda, should be insulated from other inmates and separated from their known associates in an attempt to weaken networks. He also claims that because many prisoners suffer from depression and frustration, they are more likely to be attracted to radical and violent strains of Islamism (al-Jazeera, March 2).

In another incident in April, inmates in the Qafqafa prison rose up violently, taking two guards hostage before Jordanian security forces stormed the facility to end the crisis (as-Sharq al-Awsat, April 14).

Rioting inmates took security guards hostage in Afghanistan's notorious Pol-e-Charkhi prison in Kabul in February, the second uprising of its kind in a little over a year in Afghanistan. Apparently, grievances stemming from systematic abuses and poor living conditions boiled over when prison authorities tried to implement a new policy requiring all inmates to wear bright orange uniforms. According to Afghanistan's Deputy Justice Minister Muhammad Qasim Hashemzai, rioting inmates received instructions from outside of the prison via cell phones. It is still unclear how the inmates managed to acquire the cell phones. Afghan security officials claim that 350 out of the approximately 1,000 inmates estimated to have participated in the uprising are linked to al-Qaeda and the Taliban (Azadi Radio, March 6).

In February, 23 members of al-Qaeda managed to escape from the maximum security Political Security Central Prison in Sanaa, Yemen. Among the escapees included 13 radicals tied to al-Qaeda cells believed to be responsible for the attack against the USS Cole in October 2000 and the strike against the French oil supertanker Limburg in October 2002. A similar escape orchestrated by ranking al-Qaeda members, this time from the Political Security Central Prison in Aden, occurred in 2003 (Yemen Times, February 4).

Initial reports from the scene claimed that the fugitives managed a daring escape by digging a 300-meter long tunnel from their cells to the women's prayer yard at the al-Awkaf Mosque located just outside the prison. Other reports, however, say that the prisoners left from the main entrance of the facility. Considering the high-profile stature of the inmates and the heightened level of security at the facility, it is inconceivable that the escapees could have succeeded without close coordination and assistance from prison staff and others from the outside (as-Sharq al-Awsat, March 10).

Conclusion

As the incidents in Jordan, Afghanistan, and Yemen demonstrate, the activities of convicted terrorists and other radical extremists inside prisons in countries of strategic importance in the war on terrorism should remain of vital concern. It is also worth considering the effect that systematic and indiscriminate torture in penal systems across the region has on creating potential recruits for al-Qaeda and other extremist

Sitaram Yechurys attempt to divide the nation further

K.G.Acharya
21/33 Sagar Aptt.
Link Rd., Lokhandwala Cx.
Andheri – Mumbai 400 102
Tel.:25119890 - Cell No.9820954450

Sir,

Sitaram Yechury’s article in his column “ Returning to
Gujarat 2002” ( May 4, 2006) is an attempt to divide
the nation further on religious ground. Otherwise
there is no reason, why he should recall the past
unhappy history of communal riots in the state. By
referring only to the burning of a Muslim in Vadodara,
where Hindus were also stabbed to death he is trying
to show his lip sympathy to Muslims and develop a vote
bank of Muslims.
I advise Yechury to read the news of killing of
Subedar Ramchandra Meena and Biren Shah as reported in
the patriotic newspaper Indian Express of May 4, 2006.
A partisan attitude in riots is like adding fuel to
the fire of communal frenzy. It can help neither
Muslims nor Hindus, but weakens the nation in many
ways. Sitaram must note that communalists, whether
journalists or politicians cannot cheat the people
all the times, but will be exposed ultimately.
Yours faithfully,
K.G.Acharya

NB:
Subedar Ramchandra Meena (35), belonging to the
Patiala unit of the EME Corps, and his nephew Manoj
Meena were on their way to the Kendriya Vidyalaya in
Harni to secure admission for his three daughters,
when they were attacked by a riotous mob as a sequel
to the demolition of a darga in Vadodara. They asked
for a short cut to Harni and entered Yakutpura, when
their motorcycle was stoned from a neighbouring
building and then about a dozen men gheraoed them. The
mob started beating Subedar Ramchandra Meena and
confined Manoj Meena inside Minara Masjid. When Manoj
Meena got a chance to get out of the Masjid and visit
the Swamy Premadasa Hospital, he found that his uncle
Ramchandra died of stab wounds, according to post
mortem reports.

Like Meena, Biren Shah (23), another one stabbed to
death had taken a shortcut to his Mandvi residence via
Lal Akhara. He was attacked with a chopper on his neck
and shoulder. His body was mutilated and left on the
street.

(Source: Indian Express: May 3, 2006)

Marad massacre & conpiracy of silence

www.organiser.org

The judicial commission set up to probe the Marad massacre (May 2003), has revealed what was till now only an apprehensive whisper. The politicians in Kerala, both the Congress and Communists have for long now been cultivating terrorist organisations, often funded from abroad for the Muslim vote-bank. The report of the commission headed by District Judge, Thomas P Joseph was submitted to the government two months back and the United Democratic Front government in Kerala has been sitting tight on it. The commission’s findings were reported by The Indian Express (April 26, 2006).

Marad, the tiny sleepy village along the Arabian Sea in Kerala was not merely yet another communal flare-up points in India. When eight Hindu fishermen (reportedly attending a Shakha) were hacked to death, on May 2, 2003, the massacre blew the cover on the surreptitious communal fever spreading in the state, with covert and overt support by the Muslim League, Congress and Communists and funded by foreign agencies.

The UDF, led then by A.K. Antony swept the matter quickly under the carpet. The reasons were not far to seek. The assailants had taken shelter in the Juma Masjid, Marad and the police were prevented by people from entering the mosque. It was all too clear that the massacre conspiracy was hatched at the Masjid and the politicians did not want to enquire. In fact T.K. Vinod Kumar, the then Kozhikode Police Commissioner has asserted in his deposition before the commission that “the conspiracy was hatched in the Marad Juma Masjid and other places.”

Strangely, in a curious post-massacre twist, the RSS became the target of the ire of the politicians for what they called as the forced eviction of Muslims from the village. Instead of focusing on the massacre, the government and the media focused on the deserting Muslim families, whose members were involved in the massacre or were in the know of it and could identify the killers.

The commission report has said that at least one Muslim League MP, now a minister in the Congress-led coalition, was aware of the conspiracy beforehand. The state government had rejected a CBI probe. From the depositions before the commission, it is evident that the CBI probe was refused because the Muslim League did not want it. The commission report has trashed the investigation done by the state police. It has asked the government to set up a special investigation team.

The commission has strongly criticized the role of T.O. Sooraj, who was then the Kozhikode District Collector for allowing Muslim leaders especially E. Ahmed, into the mosque after taking custody of the place for possession of huge arms cache. Sooraj is now Industries Secretary.

The Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s reaction to The Indian Express report would have been comical if the matter was not this grave. He said “nobody could now accuse me of leaking the report to the Press because everyone in the Home Department knows I have not read one line of the report.” Antony, who was the chief minister at the time of massacre, has not “seen even one page” of the two-volume report.

The Communists, who have a partial vision when it comes to communalism, are playing coy about the newspaper revelation. Instead of taking on the UDF government head-on at this crucial election campaign phase, the comrades are tarrying the matter by saying that they will study the report when they come to power. The Communists are bidding for power with the support of the Islamic extremist elements in Kerala as is clear from the support announced by Madhani, incarcerating in Tamil Nadu jail, in the Coimbatore bomb blast case. The support of the PDP, Madhani’s party, has been “graciously” accepted by the Communists.

The commission has stated that there are active bases of several terrorist organisations in Kerala, operating with foreign funds and direction and local support. It has indicted the government for not taking action against them as it was “interested only in their vote-bank.” The report has called for further investigation, as the commission believed that there is larger conspiracy than what the crime branch revealed. Will the politicians of Kerala wake up before another Marad happens?

US-funded NGOs spreading disaffection

US-funded NGOs spreading disaffection
By Sandhya Jain

The American Academy for Religion (AAR) has sought data on the number of major Hindu temples in India that are patronized by caste Hindus and have ex-untouchable priests. This is doubly mischievous because if AAR means OBCs when it talks of ‘caste Hindus’ as opposed to upper caste Hindus.

Under the guise of human rights and freedom of religion, America has for some time been promoting certain activists from weaker sections, who regularly report to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, about India’s internal affairs. Now, American academics are synergizing their work with the political concerns of their government, seeking to aggravate and exploit differences in Hindu society.

The American Academy for Religion (AAR) has sought data of a number of major Hindu temples in India that are patronized by caste Hindus and have ex-untouchable priests. This is doubly mischievous because if AAR means OBCs when it talks of ‘caste Hindus’ as opposed to upper caste Hindus, then it would know very well that it is the OBCs who oppose the entry of SCs/STs in temples. This kind of study by an outside agency is dangerously divisive, and a combative Hindu intellectual has countered that Indian intellectuals should in turn ask how many American churches attended by White people have Black priests.

In any case, since the Hindu tradition is not centralized in the manner that denominational churches are, it is unlikely that any such statistics would be available in Hindu society, and the concerned academics would certainly know this. They would also be aware that there are several gurus and paramparas in India today that are training SCs/STs as priests, should they desire to be priests. What is interesting to note, however, is that SC/ST desire to have temples with Brahmin priests, because they feel confident that they know the proper way to conduct pujas!

Another question is how many formerly lower caste Hindu leaders have a significant following among the other castes. Politically, Smt Mayawati is way ahead of all leaders in Uttar Pradesh, and in Bihar, Shri Ram Vilas Paswan has a certain following. In the spiritual tradition, one of the most important leaders is Ma Amritanandamayi, a woman from the fisherman caste, whose most loyal devotees belong to the upper castes. Thus, the tradition of overlooking the caste of a realized saint is very much alive in India. But I can’t think of a single significant Black politician in the United States who would be cultivated by White people; not even the late Martin Luther King, or a Hispanic or Native American spiritual leader with a White Anglo Saxon following.

Becoming more overtly political, the American scholars want to know how many SCs/STs figure on the VHP’s governing board. Here I think the more pertinent question would be how many such persons figure in the Congress Working Committee, especially as that party flourished for decades on SCs/STs support, and is today headed by a White European Catholic, whose Government is committed to such token affirmative action. Even more pertinently, since the Church has long evangelized most of the African continent, how many Black cardinals are there in the Vatican, and how many bishops in the Baptist, Adventist, Methodist and other churches?

The American scholars wonder why former weaker sections form separate sects of their own rather than with other castes; and whether they prefer to call themselves Dalits or Harijans in order to gain the respect of caste Hindus. It is obvious that the questions are more political than academic, and such studies are intended to promote the agendas of successive American administrations in interfering in the internal affairs of other countries.

Hindu society does not have sects; by definition, sects are splinter groups within monotheistic religions. I do not know if American Blacks are a separate sect or not, but it is a fact that covert discrimination even today compels them to have separate churches, and this apparently applies to other ethnic minorities in that country. Moreover, those minorities do not get respect by calling themselves Christian, but they get a political value by calling themselves Black, Hispanic, Korean, Chinese and seeking safety in numbers. Hindu society is a concentric circle of jatis, which are cohesive social groups claiming descent from a common ancestor, or some other common affinity. Thus, SCs/STs that adopted the Sikh faith constituted themselves into the Ramgarhia community, to distinguish themselves from their former Hindu brethren. Proliferation and distinction go hand in hand in India, and do not lead to disintegration or division.

In this context, it is worth mentioning that just as the dominant White Christians have failed to assimilate other groups on an equal basis in their own societies, despite converting them to their faith, so also in India the church has failed to uplift the weaker sections despite luring them away from Hindu society on the pretext of granting them social equality and economic mobility. The church has inflicted grievous injuries upon its constituents from weaker sections, forcing them to build separate churches or to sit in segregated areas of the church, take their dead to separate cemeteries, take holy water and communion separately.

Christian activists of weaker sections estimate that church institutions and Christian NGOs together receive approximately Rs. 2,500 crore of foreign aid annually, but there is no intra-community transparency regarding the utilization of these funds. Christian bodies earn huge incomes from elite schools, colleges and hospitals managed by them, as also from massive commercial properties they own in major cities. Yet weaker sections which comprise the bulk of the community get no share of its enormous wealth.

It is a travesty of justice that the church is now shifting the burden of its responsibility to the Indian Government and demanding reservation benefits for the weaker section Christians. The latter were misled away from the Hindu fold and then betrayed by denying them a just share in the church’s colossal resources.

According to Census 2001, there are 24.20 million Christians in India, more than half of whom belong to the weaker section of South India. Yet power in the Indian church is jealously guarded by priests belonging to upper castes. The 200-member Catholic Bishops Conference of India will never disclose the number of bishops or cardinals from weaker sections, possibly because there are none. The UPA government has done the rich Christian educational institutions a favour by exempting minority institutions from the burden of reservation quotas that have been (and are being) extended elsewhere, so they are literally without accountability to their poorer brethren.

What have we learnt from mindless Taliban killings?

Title: What have we learnt from mindless Taliban killings?

Author: K. Parthasarathi

Publication: Free Press Journal

Date: May 4, 2006



http://www.samachar.com/
features/040506-features.html



What have we learnt from the mindless Taliban killings?

By K. Parthasarathi

One more young man following that of Maniappan Kutty has been put to
mindless death by the Taliban outfit for no fault of theirs. The
circumstances and locale of their tragic ends have not varied. Unarmed and
unguarded they fell victims in the hands of the thugs for doing nothing
more than what was expected of them in their call of duty. They were the
hapless targets for Taliban to vent its anger at the Indian government.

India in its strategic wisdom had agreed to put in its men and money in
what is considered a noble task of developing a war ravaged
Afghanistan. It did not anticipate fully the extent of animosity that Taliban
nurses against India.

The Taliban does not want India to be involved in the development of
Afghanistan. The mad outfit dislikes India working hand in hand with US,
its sworn enemy, and its Afghan president Mr.Hamid Karzai. It is common
knowledge now that the threat from Taliban is real and the two thousand
odd Indian workers when they stray into the interior parts without
adequate security cover are sitting ducks to these terrorists.

No government can provide the kind of security to prevent kidnapping of
men by terrorists waiting in ambush. Even a worker of Border Roads
Organization, that is known to have protective rings around its workers,
fell a victim last year.

Taliban’s ultimatums for Indians to leave Afghanistan within an
unrealistic deadline with no room for any negotiation both in the past and in
the latest case of slaughtering the victims reveal their malicious
intent. The message of such dastardly killings is loud and clear that India
should steer clear of any programme for development of Afghanistan and
not get close to the current Afghan ruling set up.

It is true, no government can submit to such diktats from such ruthless
terrorist outfits in shaping its foreign policies. The government as
expected has made it clear that India would not be deterred by such
threats from Taliban and would continue to assist in the development of
Afghanistan. But the consequences of such a refusal have been tragic. The
government should devise ways to prevent recurrence.

More so when the government cannot do much to secure our men’s safety
when they work in unknown surroundings for private companies. The safety
and security of India’s workers were unfortunately allowed to depend on
the protection of local forces and the private companies. The writ of
Afghan President does not seem to spread far and wide as Taliban could
strike at will and his government is too weak to protect its own people,
let alone the Indian workers.

The danger of an attack by the capricious and barbaric insurgents, who
owe allegiance to our inimical forces, cannot be termed as unexpected.
Yet the workers were insensitively allowed to fend for themselves in a
hostile environment with no security ring capable of thwarting
murderous attempts.

Assessment of risks to the Indian workers in vulnerable areas and
forewarning them is the prime responsibility of the government and its
minions in various organizations.

What the government could have done is to advise its countrymen the
dangers in working in such places without condign security cover. They
should have been barred from going alone in the interior parts even when
working in private companies.

Commiserating with bereaved families after the brutal murders and
compensating them with large amounts may bring immediate succour to the
families and soothe the shocked sentiments of Indian citizens but cannot
bring back the valuable lives lost.

Fighting a war to safeguard the integrity of the nation and losing men
in the battles is an accepted risk with the men in army trained and
well equipped to protect themselves and the others with them. The country
does also send its army for peace keeping operations under the auspices
of UN notwithstanding the dangers involved. There is a well organized
plan and strategy by the military establishment behind these operations.
But the case of developing a hostile area without the cover of armed
men is of a different nature.

Permitting our personnel of BRO travel in the interior parts in the
company of other Afghans, who are incidentally not seen as enemies by the
insurgents, is a very risky proposition. No government with the best of
intentions can save the people once fallen in the hands of fanatical
and ruthless outfits.

There are lessons to be learnt from these gruesome killings. What steps
are envisaged by the Indian government to prevent a recurrence of
similar fate to other Indians and to ensure their full safety is not known.
It is hoped that they will not be allowed to work under the care of a
feeble Afghan government and exposed to the mercies of mindless Taliban?

When Afghanistan, to whose help we have gone, is unable to contain the
insurgents and provide a safe climate for our men to lay the roads, it
is perhaps necessary to review our own earlier decision. Would it not
be better like many other countries to offer money and materials for
development instead of sending men particularly to such countries where
there is a religious slant and jihadi movements?

There is no detraction from prestige in going back on our commitment
and withdrawing our men from places where they are easy targets for the
insurgents. Such a denouement should not be seen as a victory for
Taliban. It is a tactical move to protect our men without weakening the
country’s close relationship with Afghanistan and its current rulers.

India need not dilute its support for reconstruction of Afghanistan
through liberal aid. There seems no other credible way for the Indian
government to prevent recurrence of such civilian tragedies in future.

May 03, 2006

The conspiracy of selective silence

The conspiracy of selective silence

Op-Ed
The Pioneer
Wednesday, May 3, 2006

When a mosque was demolished in India there was an
international outcry, but nothing when a temple was
destroyed in Malaysia, says Seema Sarin

A century-old Hindu temple was demolished in Malaysia
despite devotees pleading with the authorities to stop
the operations. Though the Malaysian Hindus were
understandably upset, the Hindus in India did not
react, which is fine.

The Government of India did not react, which might
have been right, had it not officially objected to the
Danish Government about the publication of the
Prophet's cartoons in a Danish newspaper. The UPA
Government had even suggested the Danish Prime
Minister to postpone his visit to India.

The International Herald Tribune published a cartoon
depicting US President George Bush as Lord Shiva.
Though an organisation, Indiacause, did find the
cartoon offensive, most Hindus did not react to it.
When Mohammed's offensive cartoons were published,
Muslims all over the world, including in India,
protested. One must not forget that the cartoons were
first published in September and the protests occurred
months later.

Hindus did not react similarly when the Malaimel Shri
Selva Kaliamman temple was destroyed in Malaysia, nor
when a Krishna temple was demolished in Moscow. Hindus
are not obliged to react like Muslims when such
incidents occur. Even many Muslims, though they might
have been offended by the Danish cartoon, did not
participate in the protests. But should not have the
Government of India reacted in similar manner to these
religious incidents?

Secularism means treating all religions equally. If
the Government can officially object to the point of
postponing a prime ministerial visit on cartoons of
the Prophet being published in a Danish newspaper
(which had nothing to do with the Government), how can
it claim to be secular when it says nothing to another
(Malaysian) country about demolition of a Hindu temple
- an act which done by the Malaysian authorities?

Perhaps the best policy would be not to react to
religious incidents abroad, be it related to Hindus or
Muslims. Religious occurrences abroad are not the
affair of the Government of India, whether they
involve the publication of offensive cartoons or
demolition of Hindu temples. The UPA Government does
seem to observe that policy, except in the case of
Muslims. Is it fair to have different policies for
different religions in a secular country?

As for the world and the media, these too seem to have
double standards when it comes to religion. There was
a huge outcry when an unfrequented mosque was
demolished in India, but nothing happened when a
well-frequented temple was destroyed in Malaysia.
Never mind that the temple was destroyed at a time
when 300 devotees were praying there.

Now the Indian press has found some justification for
reacting to the first incident, while ignoring the
second - because the former incident happened in
India, while the second occurred in a foreign country.
But why should the global media create such a hue and
cry over the destruction of a mosque in India, but
remain silent over the demolition of a temple in
Malaysia?

Wall Street Journal debunks Amartya Sen

http://www.opinionjournal.com/
la/?id=110008272

Identity and Violence
Why we can't get along.

BY TUNKU VARADARAJAN
Friday, April 21, 2006 12:01 a.m.

One might have been tempted--had one been consulted--to suggest a renaming
of this latest book by Amartya Sen. "Identity and Violence" is much too
lurid. "Sen and Sensibility," by contrast, would have been a perfect title,
reflecting better the author's exquisite concern for everyone's personal
feelings and his desire to make large-hearted accommodation for every
political and social bent--except, notably, the religious and nationalist
kind.

Mr. Sen, now a professor at Harvard, was awarded the 1998 Nobel Prize in
economics for his contributions to the field of welfare economics. He has a
CV so seriously good that everyone, surely, knows of his being (in his
previous post) the Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, the apex of the
British academic pyramid.

Everyone, that is, except a British immigration official at Heathrow
Airport a few years ago who, on looking at Mr. Sen's Indian passport and
then at his home address on the immigration form--"Master's Lodge, Trinity
College, Cambridge"--asked whether Mr. Sen was a close friend of the
Master. This question made Mr. Sen enter into a private contemplation,
rather self-indulgent in the circumstances, of whether "I could claim to be
a friend of myself."

As the seconds ticked away without answer, the immigration officer asked
whether there was an "irregularity" with Mr. Sen's immigration status. And
can you blame the man? Yet Mr. Sen--in his amused-but-chippy recall of the
episode--says that the encounter was "a reminder, if one were needed, that
identity can be a complicated matter."
Well of course it can, professor. But in the 700-odd years of its
existence, Cambridge had never before had a nonwhite head of college.
Cannot immigration officers be just as empirical as economists?

'Miniaturization of Human Beings'
"Identity and Violence" is not an entirely tedious book, although it is
more than a tad repetitive. Its thesis is that the ascription to
individuals of "singular identities"--in other words, to speak of a person
as "a Muslim" to the exclusion of other facets of his personality--leads to
the "miniaturization of human beings." And this, he avers, is Not Good. It
is also Not Accurate. And Unhelpful. And Divisive. And Dangerous.

Put another way, the reduction of individuals to a "choiceless
singularity"--religion being, for the most part, a state one is born
into--leads to the "solitarist belittling of human identity." Such
reductiveness, Mr. Sen claims, merely plays into the hands of that
rabble-rouser Samuel Huntington, who insists on seeing the world in terms
of differentiated civilizations based largely on religion. Mr. Huntington's
"The Clash of Civilizations," published in 1996, continues to play a
Manichaean role--in Mr. Sen's view--in the war on terror. Mr. Sen asserts
that, in truth, people have multiple identities and that the Huntingtonian
view (which Mr. Sen simplifies to the point of caricature) is willfully
blind to this complexity. But what exactly are these layers of identity
that Mr. Sen speaks of?

Here is what he says: "The same person can be, without any contradiction,
an American citizen, of Caribbean origin, with African ancestry, a
Christian, a liberal, a woman, a vegetarian, a long-distance runner, a
historian, a schoolteacher, a novelist, a feminist, a heterosexual, a
believer in gay and lesbian rights, a theater lover, an environmental
activist, a tennis fan, a jazz musician, and someone who is deeply
committed to the view that there are intelligent beings in outer space with
whom it is extremely urgent to talk (preferably in English)."

Apart from being a flawless recitation of a left-liberal catechism--except
for the bit about outer space--what exactly does this mean? And how does
all this help us? Mr. Sen is here conflating identity with predilection, as
well as denying that there is--or can be--a hierarchy of potency within a
catalog of personal states. I don't mean to belittle the power of
endorphins, but is being a long-distance runner the same, in an accounting
of identity, as being a Christian or an American? This is, perhaps, a ludic
list of identities; but it is also faintly ludicrous.

Cricket and Feminism
Naturally, to say that a Muslim has only one dimension to his identity--to
wit, the Islamic one--is unhelpful and unsound. But contrary to Mr. Sen's
repeated assertion, few in the West take so reductionist a position. We
speak of the "Muslim world," of course, and of "Muslim communities," but
that is because both exist in the real world. They have not been willed
into existence by our own taxonomical miscalculations. And by referring to
countries or societies as "Muslim," we are not suggesting either that a
Pakistani is identical to a Sudanese or that an individual Muslim cannot
also be a cricket player, a gourmet, a qawwali singer or--Allah willing--a
feminist.

So when Mr. Sen asks--Is a "religion-centered analysis of the people of the
world a helpful way of understanding humanity?"--I ask back: Is ignoring
religion, or diminishing its importance, a helpful way of understanding
humanity? The view from Cambridge (Mass. and England) is clearly not the
same as the view from my office in New York, which overlooks Ground Zero.

To understand Mr. Sen's desire to get away from religion-based political
taxonomy, one must be aware of where, as they say, he is coming from. The
Nobel laureate--who has taken to describing himself as a "feminist
economist"--is a full-fledged member of the Indian "progressive" left. If
there is one concern that drives this group, that animates its politics
like no other, it is the perfectly well-meaning desire to safeguard India's
Muslim minority from the excesses of the country's Hindu right. This desire
has led to such contortions as the left's defense of a separate personal
law for India's Muslims (which leaves Muslim women at the mercy of
inequitable rules on divorce and inheritance) merely because the Hindu
right campaigns for a uniform civil code for all Indian citizens,
irrespective of religion.

'Brutal Manipulation'
People like Mr. Sen overlook Muslim or Islamic failings for fear of
appearing "unsecular." Any political conflict in which one side is
characterized as "Muslim" is automatically disparaged as being anti-Muslim.
Conversely, if there is to be fault-finding based on religion (or
civilization), then both sides must be depicted as guilty. So al Qaeda and
the American soldiers at Abu Ghraib are grouped together as examples of
what happens when there is "identity thinking" amenable to "brutal
manipulation."

There is also a tendency on the part of thinkers like Mr. Sen to diminish
the political and scientific contributions of the West and to glorify the
achievements of non-Western (and, where possible, Islamic) societies. So
the Muslim emperor Akbar, the lofty Mughal, is lauded for his tolerance of
all faiths. But no one stops to ask why the edifice of Islamic tolerance
collapsed after his death in 1605.

Likewise, early Islamic-Arabic breakthroughs in mathematics are held up as
proof of intellectual greatness--and, yes, at the time of their conception
they were indeed great. But why did the Islamic world flounder later into a
state of long-running anti-scientism? As always, Mr. Sen compares the very
best of the non-West with quotidian practice in the West. This is a common
problem with the defenders of Islam--or, in Mr. Sen's case, with the
critics of the critics of Islam.

Mr. Sen, inescapably, is a member of Bengal's bhadralok, or gentleman
class. (As the joke goes: One Bengali is a poet; two Bengalis are a film
society; three are a political party; and four are two political
parties--both leftist.) What Mr. Sen really wants is for all of us to be
"fair" to each other. Fair enough. But his idealistic thesis twists and
turns to remake the world in its own image. Ultimately, his picture--though
pretty--bears little relation to reality. It makes me so sad.

Mr. Varadarajan is editorial features editor of The Wall Street Journal.
Copyright © 2006 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

B-52s in Afghanistan , coalition forces welcome

5/3/2006 - SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFPN) -- Thirty thousand feet above Afghan terrain, the presence of B-52 Stratofortresses is felt. Their presence is welcomed by U.S. and coalition forces fighting in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, but unwelcome by the terrorists who operate from there.

Maintaining the fleet of B-52s here is no easy task. Over the past eight months B-52 pilots have flown more than 450 combat sorties, equaling more than 7,500 hours, and have released more than 150 weapons on the enemy. That adds up to a lot of wear and tear on the airframe, and this is where the maintainers come in.

“The B-52 maintainer’s mission is clear and simple: provide safe, reliable, combat-ready B-52s to the aircrews ready to perform their assigned missions,” said Master Sgt. Carl Paskey, 40th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron lead production superintendent.

“The part that’s not so clear and simple is what it takes to perform such a mission. We have Airmen in 17 (Air Force Specialty Codes) working 24/7,” Sergeant Paskey said.

Challenges for the maintainers here are limited equipment and resources. Because of this location, aircraft parts are difficult to get in a timely manner. Back-shop specialists have achieved some great repairs to broken parts here that kept the B-52s in the air.

Another challenge is the weather. It is hot, humid and salty.

"The environment adds to our work here, with salt in the air and an aging metal aircraft. It is a constant battle to preserve the aircraft and keep them healthy," Sergeant Paskey said. "Each aircraft gets a clear-water rinse every two weeks and a wash every 30 days. These are things that are (done) three times as often here than back home.”

Pilots know how pivotal the maintainers are to their mission of providing close-air support for U.S. and coalition forces.

“We have flown 200-plus sorties and have released more than 105 weapons on terrorists, and none of it would have been possible without this group’s maintainers,” said Col. Mick R. Guthals, 40th Air Expeditionary Group commander. “They have made magic happen."

Together with aircrew and support agencies, the maintainers feel they are saving lives.

"Our mission here is vital to life,” said Tech. Sgt. Perry Pagan, 40th EMXS B-52 structural maintenance craftsman. “It’s vital because when you hear of a group of Marines pinned down with a fire fight in Afghanistan calling in an air strike, you better bet they appreciate that."