June 17, 2006

WHAT IS COOKING IN THE JIHADI KITCHEN---MENU 1

by B. Raman

Getting ready for Jihad in China

The usually reliable "Daily Times" of Lahore carried the following report on June 15, 2006:" Most of the 917 foreign students from 46 countries in the International Islamic University in Islamabad are from Afghanistan, China and Somalia. Six hundred of the 917 students, are from these three countries. There have been reports of repeated clashes in the university between foreign and Pakistani students. The most popular faculty among foreign students is Usuluddin (principles of Islam), which has 316 foreign students including 72 girls. Shariah and Law and Arabic are also popular faculties among the foreign students. Up to 289 students are from Afghanistan, 172 from China, 149 from Somalia, 89 from Indonesia, 33 from Nigeria, 19 from the Maldives, 19 from Tajikistan, 17 from Thailand, 13 from Jordan, eight from Bosnia, seven each from Bangladesh and Nepal, six each from Malaysia, Sudan and Turkey, four each from Algeria, Egypt and Ghana, three each from England, Kenya, the Philippines, Poland, the USA, Uganda and Yemen, two each from Ethiopia, Iraq, Palestine and Rwanda, and one each from Azerbaijan, Burma, Belgium (girl), the Comoros, Fiji, Gambia, Ivory Cost, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Mauritania, Russia and UAE."

Oil for Jihad

2. According to reliable sources, there has been large-scale smuggling of oil from Iran into Pakistan by road. The smuggled Iranian oil is being sold by Pakistani retailers at prices which are 10 to 15 per cent cheaper than the market rates. The permits for bringing the oil by road from Iran at concessional rates are reportedly being issued by the Iranian Embassy in Islamabad. The only condition imposed by the Embassy on those getting the permits is that they should send part of the profit earned by them to the Hamas-led Government in the Palestinian territory. One does not know how the money will be remitted by them to the Hamas-led Government.

Indonesia: From Bin Laden with Love

3. According to the same sources, in a recent communication to Prof.Hafiz Mohammad Sayeed, the Amir of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD), the political wing of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (JET), Osama bin Laden has expressed his appreciation of the humanitarian relief work done by the JUD and the LET in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK), which was hit by a massive earthquake in October last year. He has suggested that the JUD and the LET should build up on the expertise and experience gained by them and provide similar disaster relief in other countries struck by natural disasters. The JUD and the LET were planning to despatch a team of their volunteers to Indonesia to provide relief to the victims of the recent earthquake there.

4. Independently, the "Daily Times" of May 31, 2006, reported as follows: " The Jamaat-ud-Dawa has despatched the first consignment of relief goods worth Rs.1.8 million for Indonesian earthquake victims and it will send a team of doctors and volunteers to the quake-hit areas soon...Amir Hafiz Sayeed has contacted the Indonesian Ambassador for facilitation for sending relief goods and doctors' teams."

5. My comment : Both JUD and the LET have been designated by the US State Department as Foreign Terrorist Organisations (FTO). The LET was so declared after the attack on the Indian Parliament in December, 2001. The JUD was so declared early this year. The LET is banned in the UK as a terrorist organisation. It is an important member of bin Laden's International Islamic Front (IIF). The Government of Pakistan banned the LET on January 15, 2002, but this ban is not being enforced. Moreover, the ban applies to only the activities of the LET in Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and the North-West Frontier Province. It does not apply to its activities in the POK, the Northern Areas (Gilgit and Baltistan) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). There is no ban on the JUD. The Pakistani authorities contend that the JUD and the LET are not connected. During the earthquake in POK in October last year, the JUD and the LET suffered many fatal casualties. Their jihadi infrastructure in the area was damaged. Despite this, they recovered rapidly and organised relief work all over the POK. They organised relief work even in remote villages, which the Pakistani army could not reach. There was a large flow of funds from Saudi Arabia and other countries of the Islamic world to the fund for quake relief set up by the JUD and the LET. The US Embassy in Islamabad had expressed its concern to the Pakistani authorities over the attempts of the LET to get itself legitimised under the cover of humanitarian relief and over the dangers of the funds being received by it being diverted to fund jihadi terrorism. Despite this, the Pakistani authorities did not take any action against them.

August 17, 2005 -- Bangladesh and June 15, 2006-- Southern Thailand

6. On August 17, 2005, the Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JUM) organised over 450 carefully synchronised explosions all over Bangladesh, including Dhaka. They used primitive forms of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) with very small quantities of explosives. Their objective : To demonstrate their following, reach and capability to the Government and the public without causing many civilian casualties, which might have antagonised the local population. On June 15, 2006, one saw in Southern Thailand what seems to be a similar modus operandi----31 well-synchronised explosions in the Muslim majority provinces, but with a fatal casualty of only one. Objective: Apparently same as in Bangladesh. The connecting link is the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami of Bangladesh (HUJI-B), which is a common mentor for the jihadi terrorists of Bangladesh as well as Southern Thailand.

7. The AFP news agency of France reported as follows: "At least 31 bomb attacks hit police and government offices in Thailand's insurgency-hit south Thursday, killing one official and wounding 22 people, police said, blaming Islamic militants. The wave of blasts within about 30 minutes of each other rocked the mainly Muslim provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat near the Malaysian border, with five military and one police officers among the injured, police said. "Militants are likely to have coordinated the attacks and planned them in advance because the bombs went off between 7:45 and 8:15 am (0045-0115 GMT)," said Colonel Sommai Phutthakun, deputy police commander in Narathiwat. "They wanted to show their power," he said, referring to Muslim insurgents. The attacks, using mostly remote-controlled explosives, followed a week of relative calm when predominantly Buddhist Thailand celebrated King Bhumibol Adulyadej's 60-year reign. In Pattani, nine blasts killed one official at a tea shop near a Khko Pho district police post and wounded 15 more people, two seriously, police said. In Narathiwat, 16 bomb attacks hit the Muang, Ruso, Ra Ngae and Takbai districts, wounding five marine troops. In Yala, six attacks wounded at least two people."

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd.), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail:itschen36@gmail.com)

Woman Army Officer commits suicide in Kashmir

Jammu, June 16: In the second incident of its kind in less than a month, a woman army officer allegedly committed suicide in Jammu and Kashmir`s Udhampur district, officials said here today.

Lt Sushmita Chakraborty shot herself at the Northern Command Headquarters last night after taking a rifle from a guard outside the officer`s mess, saying she wanted to use it for training purposes. She did not leave any suicide note, the officials said.

While her mother Sadhana claimed Sushmita was "depressed" about her job, army officials said the officer had not put in any request to leave the service.

Sushmita was commissioned into service on September 17, 2005 and was serving with an army service corps battalion.

On May 29, Major Shobha Rani, an army doctor attached to the Air Force Command Hospital in Bangalore, had committed suicide.

While there have been numerous instances of male officers and Jawans committing suicide in Kashmir apparently due to stress, Sushmita`s was the first case of a lady officer taking her life in the state.

Sushmita was suffering from depression due to low self-esteem, which was reflected in psychiatric reports, brig K K Chopra, Brigade Commander of the ASC, told a press conference at Nagotra.

"She never wanted to quit her job. Instead, she had picked up as she was slow during her posting as Platoon Commander of a mechanical transport unit at Northern Command headquarters," he said.

The army has instituted a court of inquiry into the incident, officials said.

Officials said Sushmita had gone on leave for 15 days in December last year and on her return, her Commanding Officer had observed a "change in her behaviour". After this, she underwent psychiatric counselling for 15 days at the Command Hospital in Udhampur, they said.

After the treatment, Sushmita reported she was feeling fine and sought leave for 60 days to visit her hometown Bhopal. She returned for duty on June 1, bringing her mother along with her.

She was scheduled to attend a young officers` course at the ASC Centre in Bangalore from next week, officials said.

Officials said Sushmita, who had complained about some problems at work, last night took the rifle of a guard outside the officer`s mess, went inside and shot herself. An army doctor who rushed to the mess declared her dead. Her body was handed over to her mother for the last rites.

Though Sushmita`s mother has said that she was depressed with her job and wanted to quit, army officials said no such request had been forwarded by the officer and they had come to know of this only through her mother after the alleged suicide.

They also said the mother had told them that Sushmita had tried to commit suicide twice earlier.

Chopra said Sushmita was first sent for psychiatric counselling on March 20, 2005 with a history of "finding it difficult to cope with the service". She was also "feeling frustrated, disillusioned and out of place in the present environment", he said.

"She denied any tensions at home and any harassment in the unit. On the contrary, she said all her colleagues are very supportive and kind," Chopra said.

Bureau Report
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RJD MP Mohd Shahabuddin threatens jail superintendent



Siwan, June 17: Landing into fresh trouble, controversial RJD MP Mohd Shahabuddin today allegedly abused and threatened to kill the superintendent of Siwan jail, where he is lodged, and refused to appear before a special court in the jail premises for the third consecutive day.

"The MP used expletives against the jail superintendent Lalan Kumar Sinha and threatened to kill him when he read out the production warrant against him in his cell," superintendent of police Sunil Kumar told mediapersons.

He said a case for obstructing a public servant in performing his duty and issuing threats has been registered with the town police station against Shahabuddin.

Jail sources told mediapersons that when Sinha approached the MP, who is suffering from a spinal problem, to take him in a wheel chair before the court, Shahabuddin refused to go.

He demanded that a stretcher be brought. When it was brought he again refused and demanded one with an iron sheet because of his spinal problem. By the time that one arrived, the court had risen for the day.

A special building has been designated as court in the divisional jail premises for the last three days to start trial proceedings against Shahabuddin in connection with six of the 40 cases against him, including that of sedition.

The cases relate to seizure of firearms, ammunition with Pakistan Ordnance Factory markings and attempt on the life of former CPI(ML) MLA from Mairwa Satyadev Ram.

Shahabuddin was transferred from Bhagalpur Central Jail to Siwan on May eight.

Bureau Report

June 16, 2006

BALOCHISTAN : Video footages of Jondullah group

BALOCH FREEDOM FIGHTERS OF IRAN : Jundallah Video footage


Video 1
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Video 2
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Video 3
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FRESH AIR STRIKES IN BALOCHISTAN


FRESH AIR STRIKES IN BALOCHISTAN


by B. Raman

Even six months after President General Pervez Musharraf ordered his Army and the Air Force to suppress the freedom struggle launched by the Baloch nationalist elements, the freedom struggle continues to gather strength with no sign of any impact on the freedom-fighters despite the large-scale use of heavy weapons and air strikes. Their motivation and determination to achieve independence remain as strong as ever. There has been a steady flow of volunteers to the Balochistan Liberation Organisation (BLO) and other groups carrying on the freedom struggle and the military operations have not been able to disrupt the training of the new volunteers by these organisations in the liberated pockets set up by them.

2. The ban imposed by the Army on the BLO has had no effect on it. On the contrary, it has only further increased its popularity among the Baloch people and demonstrated the ineffectiveness of the army and its inability to have the ban enforced. The freedom-fighters have not been short of funds and weapons. While the funds have been coming from the Baloch diaspora abroad, the arms and ammunition have been seized by the freedom-fighters from the stocks of the security forces during raids on their posts.

3. In the face of international concern over the large number of civilian casualties due to the military operations, the Pakistani military had suspended the use of Air Force planes and helicopter gunships for a while. Helicopters were used only for logistics purposes and not for strikes directed against the freedom-fighters. But for the last few days, the use of air strikes has been resumed and over eight helicopter gunships have been going into action against the freedom-fighters resulting in many casualties. Air strikes have been directed against not only the armed freedom-fighters, but also against villagers suspected of assisting them. While the air strikes have been taking place in many parts of the province, they have been particularly concentrated in the areas inhabited by the Bugti, Marri and Mengal tribes. The freedom-fighters have claimed to have shot down two helicopters, but the shooting down of only one has so far been confirmed.

4. There has been no change in the modus operandi of the freedom-fighters. It continues to consist of attacks on the posts of the security forces, ambushes of military convoys, attacks on gas pipelines and railway lines. They have taken care to ensure that their operations do not cause civilian casualties. The freedom-fighters have denied responsibility for an explosion with an improvised explosive device outside a roadside tea stall near Quetta on June 12, 2006, in which five bystanders were killed and 17 others injured. They have accused the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of having organised this explosion with the help of people brought from outside the province in order to discredit the freedom struggle.

5.The Army had moved in a large number of Balochs living in Punjab and Sindh into the province and distributed to them the land vacated by the members of the Bugti tribe who had run away from their places of residence due to suppression by the Army. The Army was hoping that these re-settled Balochs would help it in fighting against the freedom-fighters. Its hopes have been belied. Many of the re-settled Balochs, who faced the hostility of the local population, have run away to where they were brought from.

6. The anti-Chinese anger amongst the Balochs continues to be as strong as ever, but the moves for a joint freedom struggle by the Balochs, the Shias of Gilgit and Baltistan and the Uighurs of Xinjiang have not made much headway so far, but the contacts are continuing. There are two groups of Uighur militants. One group, like the Balochs, is fighting for independence for the Uighur homeland. It is not pan-Islamic and does not accept the ideology of Al Qaeda. Another group is pan-Islamic and has accepted the leadership of Al Qaeda in the International Islamic Front (IIF). The move is for co-operation between the Balochs and those Uighurs, who are fighting for independence for their homeland, but do not accept the pan-Islamic ideology of Al Qaeda.

7. Faced with increasing threats to their existing projects in Balochistan such as the ones for the construction of the Gwadar port and the development of the copper mines, the Chinese are reported to have expressed their inability to help Pakistan in the construction of a nuclear power station in Balochistan. During his present visit to China to attend the summit of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation, Gen. Musharraf is expected to discuss with the Chinese a Pakistani request for a Chinese-aided 600 MW nuclear power station at Karachi.

8. The Chinese continue to evince interest in the construction of a pipeline from Gwadar to Xinjiang, a road linking Gwadar with the Karakoram Highway and a huge oil refinery complex at Gwadar, which would partly meet the requirements of Pakistan and Xinjiang. A proposal for the emergency evacuation of the Chinese personnel working in Balochistan by sea should the situation in the province deteriorate seriously is also under discussion between the two countries. Though Gen. Musharraf has assured the Chinese that such a situation is unlikely to arise, the Chinese reportedly do not want to take risk and want to keep a drill for emergency evacuation ready. The proposal is that Pakistani helicopters and ships would be used for the evacuation, if it becomes necessary. There is at present no proposal to station Chinese helicopters and ships for that purpose. A team of Chinese naval and intelligence officers is reported to have visited Islamabad, Karachi and Balochistan for discussions in this regard.

9. It has been reported that the Baloch freedom-fighters are disappointed that after its initial expression of concern over the military operations against the freedom-fighters, the Government of India has not come out with any other statement on the continuing suppression of the Balochs by the Pakistani military establishment. The freedom-fighters have been closely following the reports of the discussions involving India, Pakistan and Iran on the construction of an Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline. They are determined not to allow this pipeline or any pipeline from Turkmenistan to pass through their territory unless they are also involved in the talks on the subject and part of the transit fee is paid to them. Similarly, they are determined to oppose any pipeline to Xinjiang. The Government of India should at least have discussions with the overseas representatives of the Baloch freedom-fighters on this subject in order to find out their thinking.

10. The situation in Balochistan and the progress of the freedom struggle are attracting increasing attention abroad. It is learnt there were recently discussions on the subject at the International Institute For Strategic Studies (IISS), London, and the Congressionally-funded US Institute of Peace in Washington DC. Delhi-based think-tanks should invite the overseas Baloch leaders in order to educate Indian public opinion on the on-going freedom struggle in Balochistan. India should not hesitate to extend its political, diplomatic and moral support to the Baloch freedom-fighters.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd.), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail:itschen36@gmail.com)

PAKISTAN: MYSTERY DEATH CASTS SHADOW OVER BALUCHISTAN

PAKISTAN: MYSTERY DEATH CASTS SHADOW OVER BALUCHISTAN



Karachi, 16 June (AKI) - By Syed Saleem Shahzad - The first post mortem on Hasan Gichki said he died of a brain haemorrhage, the second from wounds to the head and spinal cord, while the prison authorities said he died of drink. The mysterious death of Gichki, 45 an engineer married to a woman from an influential Baluchistan tribal family, took place in January 2006 in a Pakistani jail. It stirred sentiments in the restive energy-rich province - especially in the coastal belt of Makran and Gwadar, where the Pakistani government has major plans linked to oil and gas pipeline developments. Adnkronos International (AKI) has been re-tracing the conflicting accounts and evidence of how and why he died.


Gichki, former managing director of Lasbel Industrial Development Authority, left his home in March 2005, and never came back. His relatives were informed that he had been arrested by the anti narcotics force.

Some political analysts say the killing was the first blatant move by the Pakistani state to subjugate the political renegades in Baluchistan and eliminate political opponents who happen to be the chieftains of varous powerful tribes.

"The case was in fact fabricated. Since Hasan Gichki was my brother-in-law, it was an effort by the state to break us" said former chief minister of Balochistan, Akhtar Mengal at his Quetta residence. "Hasan was kept in Bostal Jail Karachi then shifted to another jail for no reason. We filed court applications, arguing his life was in danger, but no one took heed. One day we were informed he was found dead in his prison cell," he said.

Akhtar Mengal has been declared a wanted fugitive by the Pakistani authorities and a court has ordered all his properties be confiscated. "Every other day, cases are being registered against me. This is just to terrify us, and we would give up struggle for the right of the Baloch people," Akhtar Mengal maintained.

"I do not comment on Hasan Gichki's murder, but I would say that this whole family and all Baluch Chiefs are tyrants of the highest order. They consider Baluchistan their own fiefdom," said Shafiqur Rehman Mengal, an opponent of the chieftan's family, whose father is a federal state minister for petroleum.

"The area belong to Mengal tribe is completely hostage by Sardar Attaullah Khan Mengal and his family. All mineral resources, cromite and other minerals are exploited by Attaullah and his family," he added.

He argued that some tribal leaders are allergic to democratic changes and intimidate their rivals. "All political parties are banned. I was Tehsil Nazim (Mayor), but I cannot walk into the Wadh market area. My office was also burnt," he said.

"Sardars killed many of their political opponents and even humilated religious personalities.
They played the same game with the state and killed six soldiers. Would any state or country tolerate this kind of attitude?" said Shafiqur Akhtar Mengal and his relatives
Gambar Gichki and Javed Mengal were also involved in drug trafficking and everybody knows that" Shafiqur Rehman Mengal alleged.

However, the Hasan Gichki murder case is complex. Adnkronos International investigated the case from Karachi up to Quetta, and it emerged that the Pakistani state never wanted him dead and that the incident ignited sentiment against the government.

One of the interviewees, Amanullah Khan Niazi, a deputy prison superintendent, was shot dead on Thursday morning in a drive-by shooting in Karachi.

He told AKI that while Gichki was a high security prisoner he had never given the prison authorities any trouble: "He was alcholic and he died because of that."

Amanullah Khan cited a bail application on behalf of the late Hasan Ghichki in which it was argued that he is physically unfit and suffering from kidney and liver problems. "When he used to appear on court hearings, he used to drink a lot," Amanullah maintained, without explaining how police and prison guards allowed him to drink liquor, which is a prohibited commodity in Pakistan."

The slain superintendent said he remembers two things vey clearly. "When any guard spoke to him harshly, he always reminded them he was a chieftan and deserved respect, and second, he could not bear name-calling," Amanullah Khan recalled.

Highly reliable sources believe name-calling was precisely what enraged him and led to his death. They say that officials of a high profile intelligence service unlawfully visited Karachi Central Jail, just hours before Gichki died. They had come on other occasions to try to find any concrete evidence against his in-laws, like Sardar Attaullah Khan Mengal (former chief minister exiled for many years in London and back in Pakistan from 2002) and Sardar Akhtar Mengal, also a former chief minister of Balochistan.

Sources allege that a few hours before his death, an intelligence operative came and used the usual 'third degree' methods on Hasan, who remained silent. However when the operative insulted Hasan's mother, he became uncontrollable and, a powerfully built man, lashed out at those around them. Those who were punched and kicked by Hasan retaliated by beating him so severely that he eventually died.

The security situation in the coastal belt of Baluchistan has recently deteriorated and all non-Baluchi Pakistanis - especially Punjabis - are targets - killed while travelling in a bus or when grenades are thrown into their houses. Gichki's ghost will haunt government and its mega projects along the coastal region for a long time to come.


(Syed Saleem Shahzad/Aki)

June 15, 2006

BALOCHISTAN : Chinese Intelligence to assist Pakistan in countering Baloch freedom fighters

The Chinese Intelligence has been secretly collecting information on all Baloch leaders including their phone call records , and their movements using shophicated equipments and networks . Afghan sources told IntelliBriefs that Pakistani Millitary has received some sophisticated electronic devices from china and also some chinese intelligence personell are stationed in Rawalpindi to assist in counter insurgency efforts. It is no surprise that Chinese are baying for blood of Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Bugti, sources told IntelliBriefs , they are seeking revange for killing of Chinese Engineers by Baloch Freedom fighters , and also believed to be disappointed over the impediments created by BLA in Gawadhar project . Balochis are opposing construction of Cantomnents and Gawadhar Port , which they say will benefit outsiders and a conspiracy of Punjabis to decimate Baloch in their homeland.

Baloch nationalists close to Nawab Bugti said ,in the past their leader escaped narowly three times . Now living in rugged mountains where Pakistani Millitary don't dare to venture for fear of landmines and BLA guerillas , analysts say he is almost invincible . His grandson is assisting him in his day to day planning and operations ,and believed to be the successsor of Bugti clan .

Chinese have finally realised that Pakistan cannot fight back insurgency by following current strategy , our sources told that a senior chinese Millitary expert visited Islamabad and discussed to explore areas of chinese counter insurgency experts cooperation . Though the details of discussion are secret , was briefed to Musharraff in private. Sources tell that Pakistan is seriously thinking to eliminate Akbar Bugti to please Chinese , and requested chinese for the use of their satellite services for sensitive millitary operations .

IntelliBriefs predict that with chinese involvement in Counter Insurgency operations and Planning , Baloch leadership will take this very seriously and could only make the situation from bad to worst . Pakistan will target all second rung leadership and allow senior leadership wither away , a strategy that was crafted by ISI to finish off the Baloch movement once and for all . However , second generation Baloch leadership is very mature , unlike seniors they have shown considerable maturity in their leadership, forgoing personality clashes they worked hand in hand , networking around the world , mobilized world support to their cause . Current generation is the deciding factor for Balochistan and also Pakistan's future , seniors have reduced to mere PR personell .

June 13, 2006

Meet the Kurdish guerrillas who want to topple the Tehran regime

6/13/2006 Slate.com - By Graeme Wood

Guerrillas in the Shahid Harun (Aaron the Martyr) camp
QANDIL, Iraq—The very large potential bombs being built in Iran, as well as the somewhat smaller real bombs detonating in Baghdad, have distracted attention from the pitiless barrage of medium-sized ones that Iran lobbed into Iraq last month. In the first week of May, the Iranian military sent hundreds of artillery shells and Katyusha rockets whistling over the mountaintops into Iraq's Qandil region. As soon as the blasts began, most of the local villagers jumped into Land Cruisers, pickups, and tractors and fled for the nearby cities of Qala'at-Diza and Raniya. They came back a week later and found many of their sheep blown up or starving to death.

Iran had little interest in the sheep, or, for that matter, in the Iraqi Kurds whose villages they destroyed. Tehran was aiming at the Iranian Kurdish guerrillas who during the last two years have become Tehran's most noisome domestic pest and who openly seek ways to become an international irritant as well. The Iranian Kurds hate the conservative, ethnically Persian government, and they want federal autonomy in Iran to match their Iraqi Kurdish cousins' arrangement next door. To prove they're serious, the Kurds have rioted nonstop in Iran's Kurdistan province since 2005, and snipers from the Kurdistan Free Life Party (known as PJAK), the Iranian Kurdish guerrilla movement, have even been taking potshots at Iran's Revolutionary Guards, killing dozens.

The Qandil Mountains are Iraqi soil, but no Iraqi government agent has set foot there on official business for years. They are a steep and dramatic range, with folds and crenelations seemingly terra-formed to shelter the Kurdish rebels who run the area. The guerrillas prowl around with Kalashnikovs, levy taxes on the local Iraqis, and from camouflaged aeries monitor who ventures into their tiny territory. A few hours' hike away—across a border so textured with ravines and peaks as to be essentially unsecurable—lies Iran.



PKK military subcommander Xabat Gel
o
PJAK fled to the Qandils in 2004, under the mistaken impression that Iran would not hunt down its members if they were on Iraqi land. They joined members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (known as PKK), the Maoist rebel force that for more than a decade has been fighting Turkey. To many Turks, these training camps inspire the same fear and loathing that al-Qaida's old Afghan bases inspire in the rest of the Western world. (One possibility is that Iran, fast losing friends over its uranium fetish, shelled the Kurds as a goodwill gesture to Turkey, whose relationship with Washington makes bombing Iraq awkward.) A PKK military commander, Xabat Gelo, said that, like the Taliban holdouts in Afghanistan, the PKK and PJAK could hunker in caves for months, eating withered tomatoes and blocks of hardtack, to wait out air raids.

Even in these relatively peaceful times, their camps barely exceed Neolithic comfort levels. In almost a week of living among the guerrillas, I ate nothing more complicated than a French fry. I slept in dwellings literally built into the sides of mountains, with plastic sheets to keep clods of the mud wall from crumbling onto my face during the night. But the guerrillas looked healthy and seemed happy enough to be living in a place where Kurdish is the dominant tongue and where the landscape is lovelier than in any soap commercial or Bollywood dance number. Indeed, the terrain exudes rude health: The snowmelt water tastes sweet straight from the stream, and the thin mountain air smells fresh, especially if you're upwind of the sheep dung.

The Iranian Kurdish militia probably numbers less than 1,000 in Qandil and thousands more underground in Iran. It recruits female guerrillas and boasts that its cruelest and fiercest fighters are Iranian women drawn to the movement's radical feminism. Even the Westernized Turkish soldiers who temporarily seized my digital camera on the way back into Turkey from Iraq gave low, disgusted whistles as they looked at photos of the girls, some as young as 16, merrily toting Kalashnikovs along mountain trails. The guerrillas pride themselves on godlessness and sexual freedom, although they are celibate. Their version of sexual liberation is facile (one party member asked, "What is your opinion of sexual intercourse?"; before I could answer, he said he thought it was "very good"), but for many young Iranians, swapping a chador for a grenade launcher is a sweet deal indeed.

Iran would not have pulverized a whole Iraqi mountainside so unsubtly unless it saw a foe worth risking an international incident to snuff out. Although a latecomer to the insurgency game in the Middle East, PJAK seems to have thought shrewdly about its Kurdish forerunners' blunders and successes. The PKK, its direct ancestor, lost the PR game early by blowing up public squares, kidnapping journalists, and generally acting as though it was trying to open a Kurdish franchise of the Khmer Rouge. PJAK central committee member Zanar Agri says his party still venerates the PKK's imprisoned leader, Abdullah Ocalan (a man who ordered the execution of his own wife, Kesire, for political dissent). But Agri also says Ocalan made mistakes, and that in owning up to them, he has turned completely to "democracy, federalism, and human rights," the three values PJAK now takes as a slogan.

These words are not quite coded speech, but they are PJAK's way of batting its eyelashes at the United States, of implying that the world's superpower and this ornery Maoist gang might find common cause against Tehran. Most of the freedoms Turkish Kurds have been eager to spill blood over have been available in Iran for years; Iran constitutionally recognizes the Kurds' language and minority ethnic status, and there is no taboo against speaking Kurdish in public. The PJAK Kurds want more: They want secular democracy, they say, and they want the United States to go into Iran to deliver it to them. Kurds enthusiastically boycotted the sham election that won Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Iran's presidency last year, and they speak of him in doomsday terms that would fit in at the American Enterprise Institute but sound awkward in this rebel camp where everyone's heroes are Che Guevara and Spartacus.

"Ahmadinejad does not respect the Sunnis. He thinks they are agents of Israel and the USA," says PJAK spokesman Ihsan Warya, an ex-lawyer from Kermanshah. (Most Kurds are Sunni.) Warya nevertheless points out that PJAK really does wish it were an agent of the United States, and that they're disappointed that Washington hasn't made contact.

PJAK has watched how Kurds in Iraq have won their autonomy, and its strategy is to duplicate those efforts in Iran. After the first U.S. war against Saddam Hussein, Iraq's Kurds seized the moment to massacre local Baathists and create a de facto independent Kurdish state. They then waited for a decade to act as a proxy for the United States in executing a coup de grâce against Saddam.

The Iranian Kurds in Qandil are eager to do the same against Ahmadinejad and the ayatollahs in Tehran—first by working with other Sunni minorities to destabilize the central government's hold on Kurdish areas, then by waiting for Washington to come in and help it make Kurdish autonomy official. "Ahmadinejad waits for Imam-e Zaman," says Warya, referring to the quasi-messianic "hidden" imam whose return Twelver Shiites await as a day of righteous vindication. "Kurdish people say Imam-e Zaman is George W. Bush."


Graeme Wood is a writer in Sukhumi, Abkhazia. Photographs by Graeme Wood.

Time To Consider Nepal’s Merger With India

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Contributed by Dipankar Biswas

Nepalese Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala’s four-day visit to New Delhi last week has triggered considerable enthusiasm among Indians over an upturn in bilateral ties. Indeed, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s decision to break with protocol and go to the airport to receive the guest underscored India’s willingness to take bilateral relations to new heights. Koirala, moreover, is among the rare Nepalese leaders who have remained a true friend of India regardless of whether his Nepali Congress party has been in power or in the opposition.

The Nepalese premier has returned home with pledges of Rs.1,000 crore in short- and long-term Indian assistance. After arriving in Kathmandu, Koirala stressed the “special” relations Nepal enjoys with India as well as the urgency of involving New Delhi in the resolution of the Maoist conflict and in the long-term reconstruction of Nepal.

What India must recognize is that such sentiments are far from universally shared by Nepalese politicians or people. Mainstream communist parties, which cautioned the premier against signing any controversial deals in Delhi, have expressed concern over the “concessions”
India must have extracted in exchange for its munificence.

Maoist Chairman Prachanda has described Koirala’s visit as part of a wider Indian conspiracy against the Nepalese people. No matter what India does, there are enough people in Nepal who see ulterior motives in New Delhi’s policies. Indian leaders must avoid the temptation to apologize for any real or perceived slight to Nepal. Bigger countries can be magnanimous, but such sentiments will amount to little as long as the smaller partner refuses to see it as such.

The Indian government must craft a policy on Nepal that places our national interests at the core. The massive rally the Maoists organized earlier this month in Kathmandu has proved that they can no longer be marginalized. The Nepalese rebels’ ideological and operational ties with Indian Naxals have been sufficiently established by events. The mainstreaming of the Nepalese rebels would be an important way of resolving the Naxal problem, which Prime Minister Singh and others have described as the most serious internal security challenge India has confronted since independence.

However, any attempt to bring the Nepalese Maoists into the political mainstream while the rebels still carry arms must be strenuously avoided. Through enough political carrots – such as participation in an interim government – and military pressure, the rebels can be brought into a broader and durable peace process.

The retention of a constitutional monarchy in Nepal would be in the overall interest of India. King Gyanendra may have grossly miscalculated by throwing in his lot with China after his seizure of full executive powers last year. Clearly, that policy could be ascribed more to his ill-intentioned advisers, many of whom have established a record of rabid anti-Indianism to fulfill their political ambitions.

King Gyanendra’s close family and social ties with former royal households of India, his contacts with Indian business leaders built during his years as prince-businessman, and the mixture of political, security, economic and commercial realities that define his overall outlook on Nepal’s place in South Asia make him a natural friend of India. Even in a secular Nepal, the king would retain enough influence among Hindus of all ages that would continue to predispose the Nepalese toward a healthy partnership with India.
Indeed, the ultimate decision on whether to retain the monarchy or establish are republic lies with the Nepalese people.

Considering that the monarchy is at the nadir of its popularity, India’s must brace itself for a vote in favor of a republic. Meanwhile, India must need to focus attention on one feature that has largely been ignored in contemporary discussions. In recent weeks, there has been a transformation in thinking among a small but potentially influential section of Nepalese society vis-à-vis India. With the monarchy rapidly losing its influence and the mainstream political parties having reverted to their propensity for infighting, the Maoists have made considerable inroads.

For the aforementioned group of Nepalese, the prospect of a life in a Maoist-led state is becoming menacingly close. While no one has come forth with a proposal for a formal association with India, this alternative is figuring high in private conversations and social engagements. Doubtless, India’s incorporation of the former kingdom of Sikkim continues to inflame passions among most Nepalese. At the same time, there is growing appreciation of how the Sikkimese people have benefited through the merger with India.

While encouraging a peaceful and stable transition to constituent assembly elections in Nepal, India must prepare for the possibility of a Maoist takeover should the Nepalese vote in favor of a republic. The Maoists have shrewdly used the mainstream opposition parties in their final assault against the royal regime. The Maoist rank and file considers the republican agenda its own and is against any association with the mainstream parties.

With the monarchy out of the way, the Maoists would certainly begin to marginalize the mainstream parties and eventually decimate them. A Maoist takeover of Nepal would pose an enormous security threat to India, where extreme leftist groups are waging war in at least 13 states.

India must vigorously oppose the intervention of any third country or the United Nations in Nepalese affairs. China would not oppose an exclusively Indian initiative in Nepal once Beijing is sufficiently assured of the diminution and eventual end of American influence in the country.

India’s rapid economic growth, emergence as a major regional power, prospect of gaining a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, among other things, has inspired respect among the aforesaid group of Nepalese. The globalization of Indian society and culture along with the internal harmonization of disparate groups into one nation is increasingly being appreciated in Nepal.

Ultimately, India should prepare itself and the Nepalese people to accept the country as one of its states in a federal setup. Defense, currency, communication, vital transport, federal court and external affairs shall be retained by New Delhi and all other jurisdictions shall be conferred on the state of Nepal. Let this forward-looking agenda compete with the Maoists’ ideology of death and destruction.

June 12, 2006

BJP's Yayati syndrome

SAndhya Jain
The Daily Pioneer


Some time after the arrest of the Kanchi Acharyas, the BJP think-tank hosted a talk where an ideologue defended the greatest civilisational insult Hindu India has suffered since the assassination of Guru Tegh Bahadur by a rabid Islamist ruler. The speaker diminished the seers and insinuated that Chief Minister Jayalalithaa would prove the charges against them in court. This caused grave disquiet among the audience and many bemoaned the low calibre of the BJP leadership that abysmally failed the Hindu community.


I remember telling those who sought my views on the appalling state of the party that, having shed the Hindu cause under coalition compulsions, the aged leadership was reluctant to resume the Hindu burden. Like king Yayati, however, it was so intoxicated with office that it would not see the exit signs Fate was beaming so insistently. Like the king, it swallowed the youth of its children (Generation Next), for public good, of course. In the Mahabharata story, wisdom finally dawned and the old king sought to return his son's youth. But that great renunciate refused to take back his gift, so father and son renounced the world together, after placing the grandson on the throne. Sadly, the BJP's Geriatric Club thirsts for the youth of its grandchildren also (Generation Next to Next).


Nothing illustrates this more vividly than the attitude towards the double tragedy that has hit the Mahajan family. The murderous assault on Pramod Mahajan was little more than a photo-op for some leaders, and a perfect excuse to cancel a flop yatra. BJP leaders maligning the late leader are oblivious of the possible political ramifications of the murder. If reports that assassin-brother Pravin had joined the Congress party a month before the crime are true, the case acquires a new dimension.


Strangely, BJP has left the probe entirely to the police, who have taken Pravin's anger that his brother did not make him richer, at face value. We know nothing about the persons Pravin was in touch with in the days and hours prior to and after the incident. After all, he took an unusually long time to reach Pramod's place, and later, the police station. Pravin's telephone records are being kept secret.


A month later, Pramod's secretary Bibek Maitra dies mysteriously and his only son, Rahul, barely survives. The conspiracy angle is obvious, but after the impromptu concern of president Rajnath Singh, a powerful force reins in party sympathisers. Sushma Swaraj (who dismissed the Ram Janmabhoomi as an encashed cheque) twice emerges from LK Advani's residence to declaim that BJP has no truck with the tragedy. This approach suits a rival political entity admirably. Interestingly, amidst this baffling tragedy, NCP leader Sharad Pawar breaks ranks with Congress to field nationalist tycoon Rahul Bajaj for the Rajya Sabha. BJP supremos, who once preferred Sanjay Gandhi acolyte Lalit Suri and Congresswoman Najma Heptullah to Mr Bajaj, have to concur.


There is more to the Rahul Mahajan episode than meets the eye. On June 1, Sahil Zaroo takes Rahul Malhotra and Karan Ahuja to the house; on hindsight, it seems he needs witnesses to something likely to unfold there. They arrive at 11.30 pm and after a private talk with Maitra (recently changed to Rahul), Sahil claims receiving Rs 15,000 to buy cocaine. Sahil and Karan buy five grams of cocaine from Vasant Vihar, and Karan decides to go home. Sahil returns alone; he and Maitra snort the stuff, but the latter says it is not genuine and demands a replacement. We do not know what Rahul Malhotra does all this time.


Police say Maitra sent his driver Anil with Sahil and Rahul Malhotra to change the material, but now Rahul also opts out. Sahil is physically well at this point; he gets Trishay Khanna to accompany him to the Mahajan residence around 2 am. As Sahil, Anil and Trishay enter the room, they find Maitra frothing at the mouth and Rahul's body cold. Sahil calls the servants while the driver telephones former aide Harish Sharma for guidance.


If Sahil went to change the dubious powder, what did Maitra and Rahul consume that caused such deterioration in their condition, and how? Did Sahil return merely to check their condition? What did Sahil imbibe that caused delayed illness, not serious enough to prevent him from flying to Srinagar? Sahil and Trishay had the presence of mind to remove Sahil's car from the scene and get him an injection at Spring Meadows clinic; this suggests he got a specific antidote.


Sahil's lawyer claims his client met Maitra to get an air ticket to Srinagar released from the VIP quota. This is easy to verify, but it does not explain why Sahil went to the residence twice with 'witnesses'. Police say Abdullah gave cocaine to Sahil, but Maitra died of heroin overdose, and servants say Sahil switched a packet of white powder in Maitra's pocket. A television channel reveals that on the night of the crime Sahil made 18 calls to Abdullah, one to a film producer, and numerous calls to the daughter of a Mumbai police officer. For someone intending to spend the night doing cocaine, it sounds strange.


Something is rotten. Rahul Malhotra, Trishay Khanna and Karan Ahuja consider their moves, find a reputed narcotics lawyer, speak to a news channel, and then surrender to the police. Although it may have been too late to find alcohol in their blood, it is surprising they were not medically examined for consumption of drugs. If the police makes them approvers, the entire case will appear fraudulent and contrived. It is pertinent that after making a huge splash about Rahul using a five hundred rupee note to chase the cocaine (now heroin), the police have not told us if they recovered the remains of any such note; they have changed the quantity of drugs involved.


The determination to prove that Rahul consumed and distributed drugs smacks of political vendetta. Defamatory stories are being planted against Maitra and Rahul. However, some observers point out that if Rahul really was a drug addict, he would have displayed the classic 'withdrawal' symptoms in custody. Yet Rahul has not asked jail authorities for a 'fix'; such self-control is not possible for a 'regular' on the drug circuit.

June 11, 2006

Bhutto: Hindus in Sindh being harassed

www.indianexpress.com

Press Trust of India
Posted online: Saturday, June 10, 2006 at 1828 hours IST

Islamabad, June 10: Former Pakistan Premier and Opposition leader Benazir Bhutto on Saturday alleged that several Hindu families supporting her Pakistan People's Party in Larkhana in southern Sindh province were being threatened to switch loyalities.

The Hindu community has complained that some prominent members in Shahdad Kot, Larkhana have been receiving threatening telephone calls demanding money and asking them to renounce their association with the PPP, Bhutto, who lives in self exile in Dubai, said in a statement.

She cited the case of a noted Hindu family of Warand Mal whose son was recently shot and wounded.

Another Hindu youth was shot and killed in Larkhana last month by unknown assailants, she said adding 'threatening calls and letters were being routinely sent to Hindu families asking them to give up their association with the PPP'.

"No action has, however, been taken on the complaints filed by the affected Hindu families with police," she said.

Bhutto said she was shocked at the manner in which the 'state apparatus had been let loose against the Hindus and that the life and honour of Hindus was not safe and they lived in a reign of terror in Sindh'.

"What al-Zarqawi's Death Means for Iraq"

In December 2005, according to press reports, U.S. military intelligence identified Sheikh Abd al-Rahman as al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's spiritual mentor. By following al-Rahman for months, and gathering further information, the U.S. military was able to confirm that al-Zarqawi was at a safe house near Baquba, north of Baghdad, on the night of June 7. An air strike was called in and al-Zarqawi died shortly thereafter as a result of injuries sustained from the bombing run. Hours after the announcement of al-Zarqawi's death, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki appointed his ministers of interior, defense and national security. These incidents marked two positive developments for Iraq's transition. Nevertheless, when analyzed in context, they are unlikely to reverse the trend toward instability that has dogged Iraq since shortly after the fall of Saddam Hussein's government.

Al-Zarqawi's Legacy

As a result of the nature of al-Qaeda in Iraq, it is difficult to asses the impact that al-Zarqawi's death will have on the insurgency and the sectarian violence. It seems certain, however, that it will do little to stem the bloodshed. The impact of his death depends largely on how much control he had over al-Qaeda in Iraq and the importance of this organization to the insurgency. By looking at both aspects, it appears that al-Qaeda in Iraq will most likely survive its leader's death and that its impact on the fighting in the country will be marginal, if only because al-Qaeda comprises a small portion of the insurgency.

The hierarchy of al-Zarqawi's organization is rather opaque, and it is not clear how much control he had over the network of foreign fighters in Iraq. At least 20 of al-Zarqawi's "lieutenants" have been captured or killed in Iraq since 2003, but it seems that the organization has been able to quickly fill any open posts. In fact, shortly after al-Zarqawi's death, an Islamist network published a statement naming Abu Abdul-Rahman al-Iraqi, who was apparently al-Zarqawi's "deputy emir," as the new leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq. Some confusion has developed over this announcement because al-Iraqi has the same name as al-Zarqawi's spiritual adviser, who U.S. authorities claim was killed in the bombing run. Analysts have speculated that these may be two different individuals. At the same time, U.S. authorities put forth another name, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, as the likely successor of al-Zarqawi. Abu Ayyub al-Masri was named by Major General William Caldwell, the U.S. spokesman in Iraq. Al-Masri is an Egyptian who allegedly came to Iraq in 2002 from Afghanistan where he shared "communications" with al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. These two developments indicate that al-Qaeda in Iraq's organizational structure will continue, and it may even grow in strength if the new leader proves to be more effective.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's reputation as a brutal, uncompromising militant, without strong religious credentials, likely made even Osama bin Laden and al-Zawahiri uncomfortable in aligning with him. His violent attacks made him unpopular with segments of the Sunni Arab population in Iraq, who shared his goals of forcing the United States out of the country and reestablishing Sunni dominance. Al-Zarqawi also weakened a Muslim front against the United States by encouraging attacks on Shi'a. For instance, in an audiotape that al-Zarqawi released shortly before his death, he said, "The roots of Jews and the Shi'a are the same" and even went so far as to brand Shi'a leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani as an "atheist."

These statements further split the Muslim community in Iraq, and heightened tensions between Sunni and Shi'a elsewhere creating the possibility that Islamist militants could turn on each other, damaging bin Laden's efforts at vitalizing all Muslims against the "far enemy" -- the United States and its allies. In July 2005, for example, al-Zawahiri reportedly sent a letter to al-Zarqawi, questioning his attacks against the Shi'a; the letter warned that "questions will circulate among mujahideen circles and their opinion makers about the correctness of this conflict with the Shi'a at this time."

Al-Zarqawi's Successor

Indeed, although al-Zarqawi was successful in inspiring foreigners to join the insurgency in Iraq, as a popular leader of Iraqis he was a failure. One danger that his death leaves open for the United States and the Iraqi government is the possibility that al-Zarqawi's successor will be more competent. If al-Qaeda in Iraq is successful in winning more Sunni hearts and minds in Iraq, it could prove to be a larger threat to the new Iraqi government than under al-Zarqawi's helm. As a result of the time spent between al-Masri and al-Zawahiri, analysts think that if al-Masri takes control of the organization, he may direct al-Qaeda in Iraq on a course that more closely resembles bin Laden's strategy. Additionally, al-Iraqi, the other possible replacement for al-Zarqawi, is thought to be of Iraqi origin (al-Zarqawi was Jordanian), which means he would probably be better able to rally the support of Iraqis.

It is worth noting that al-Zarqawi's organization represents only a small portion of the insurgency. Still, a higher proportion of the casualties in Iraq are attributed to al-Zarqawi's organization because of its willingness to use controversial tactics that the domestic insurgents are not. Nevertheless, as a result of al-Zarqawi's small role in the insurgency, his death will not diminish the sectarian tensions or the current level of violence.

The Iraqi constitution was drafted along sectarian lines, the government was formed along sectarian lines, and the security forces are largely operating as sectarian forces. The trend toward the fracturing of Iraq along sectarian lines will not be reversed by al-Zarqawi's death, nor will the violence associated with this trend. It appears that most U.S. officials agree that there will not be a fall in the level of violence in Iraq as a result of al-Zarqawi's death.

The appointment of an interior minister shortly after the assassination, however, has the potential to slow this sectarian trend. Jawad al-Bolani is not associated with any militias, unlike his predecessor at the ministry, and will make it his priority to route out the SCIRI-aligned Shi'a "death squads" believed to be targeting Sunnis. His ability to take on the militias, however, will be determined by his capacity to take on the divided factions within the Shi'a United Iraqi Alliance, as each side is unlikely to concede its militia without the other doing so first. Al-Bolani faces a Herculean task in achieving this goal, but the survival of his government may well depend on his success.

Conclusion

While Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's death is a major public relations coup for the U.S. military and the Iraqi government, it is unlikely to have a major impact on the trend toward the sectarian fracturing of Iraq. His forces composed only a small part of the insurgency, and guerrilla fighters associated with other violent organizations and militias will continue their operations against the Iraqi government and U.S.-led forces. Additionally, it appears that al-Zarqawi will be quickly replaced like his "lieutenants" before him. While al-Zarqawi was the face of al-Qaeda in Iraq, and for the most part the organization's only visible figurehead, his replacement may prove more effective at garnering domestic support for the organization. Finally, the appointment of a minister of the interior has the potential for a greater impact on reducing the sectarian violence, although here, too, it seems al-Bolani's task is too great, and he will likely have little impact in reversing the trend toward Iraq's fragmentation.

Report Drafted By:
Adam Wolfe



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