July 27, 2013

CIA’s favorite Saudi prince is laying the groundwork for a post-Assad Syria


Prince Bandar bin Sultan. He’s not happy about the Arab Spring.
King Abdullah names Prince Bandar, director general of the Saudi Intelligence Agency, on top of his post as secretary-general of the National Security Council.


By Zvi Bar'el | Jul. 25, 2012 |

Saudi Arabia's Prince Bandar bin Sultan fell in love with the United States when he was still an air force pilot and took aerobatics training on an American air base. The romance was renewed several years later when he was named the Saudi ambassador to Washington, a tenure that lasted 22 years. He was a regular guest of George H.W. Bush and later his son, and was the only ambassador guarded by the U.S. Secret Service.

Last week, King Abdullah named Bandar, 62, director general of the Saudi Intelligence Agency, on top of his post as secretary-general of the National Security Council, which he has held since 2005.

Bandar's appointment to the Saudis' most important security post is no coincidence. For one thing, he's very well connected to the kingdom's leaders. His wife Haifa was the daughter of King Faisal, who was assassinated in 1975. Her brother Turki al-Faisal once headed Saudi intelligence, and another brother, Mohammed al-Faisal, is one of the kingdom's richest men.

But it seems the main reason for his appointment now is that Saudi Arabia is preparing for the next stage in Syria, after President Bashar Assad leaves the political stage one way or another and Syria becomes a battleground for influence.

An intense campaign is under way over this inheritance, with the United States, European Union and Russia taking part. But the ramifications of Assad's fall on Iran and Hezbollah - and Iraq - are more important. And when Egypt is hobbling in its effort to establish its "Second Republic" and the Arab League is paralyzed, Saudi Arabia is left to draw up the Middle East's new map.

The view from D.C.

From Washington's perspective, Bandar's appointment is important news. Sure, his wife was investigated by Congress a decade ago about her connections to Al-Qaida activists. But Bandar is considered the CIA's man in Riyadh. He's not just a rugby fan and man-about-town - he's known as a can-do person who makes quick decisions and doesn't spare resources to achieve his objectives.

When there was a need to transfer money to the Nicaraguan rebels in the 1980s, Bandar dealt with the Saudi "grants" requested by the White House. He also arranged things when Saudi Arabia was asked to help fund the mujahideen's battles in Afghanistan against the Soviets.

Bandar is a member of the part of the royal family that opposes the revolutions in the Arab states; they see the Muslim Brotherhood's rise no less of a threat than Iran's influence in the region.

He helped King Abdullah (when the latter was still crown prince ) put together the Saudi peace plan - later the Arab Peace Initiative - to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And he fashioned the Saudis' tough stance against Syria and Hezbollah after the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005. A few years later, he suggested that the king change course and reconcile with Syria in an effort to cool relations between Damascus and Tehran.

From Bahrain to Tahrir Square

When the revolutions broke out, Bandar supported sending troops to the small kingdom of Bahrain next door to quell the Shi'ite revolt, which Saudi Arabia perceived as Iranian intervention in the Gulf states' affairs. Saudi Arabia also moved fast to support the new regime in Cairo, depositing more than $3 billion as a guarantee at the Egyptian central bank.

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi knows well that this aid doesn't stem from Saudi Arabia's great love for the Tahrir revolution, let alone for the Muslim Brotherhood. But it's meant to block Iranian efforts to gain a foothold in Egypt. As a result, when Morsi was invited to Tehran for a conference of nonaligned nations, he stopped first in Riyadh so as not to give Iran the satisfaction of being the new Egyptian president's first host.

Saudi commentators say Bandar was the one behind the decision to give money to the Syrian rebels, and even to buy weapons for them. They say the Saudi demand that Assad step down is part of Bandar's strategy, which guides the kingdom far more than the positions of the 88-year-old king, whose health is failing.

The Saudi policy on Syria is being closely coordinated with the United States; both countries (like Israel ) want to separate Iran from its most important Arab base and slow the weapons flow to Hezbollah. These goals haven't eluded Iranian eyes, so Tehran is strengthening its position in Iraq and the Kurdish zone of northern Iraq. Moreover, according to reports from the Syrian opposition, Iran is making clandestine contacts with rebel representatives in Europe.

There's no way to know what Syria will look like after Assad, or which rebel faction it pays to invest in. Saudi Arabia, as is its wont, is investing in them all. Hopefully the United States will get the payoff.

How Saudi Arabia’s ‘Plan B’ became a game-changer in Syria

Friday, 12 April 2013

Saudi Arabia has always been renowned for its signature “silent treatment” on most affairs. Rarely confrontational by nature, and always extra-cautious, Saudi officials often repeat that the Kingdom’s policy is not to interfere in the affairs of other countries.

Rather, things usually happen behind closed doors in Saudi Arabia. Most of the time, issues are resolved through negotiations, and the Saudis usually have the means to make them fruitful. However, striking deals is not always attainable, and there have been instances in the past where Saudi Arabia had to resort to alternatives which secured a quicker remedy.

Recent unconfirmed reports suggest that Saudi patience with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been exhausted and estimates that there could be a possible end to the Syrian regime “within months.”
Over a series of interviews, the source, which has opted to remain anonymous, reveals that Saudi Arabia has managed to secure wide international – albeit unannounced - support for its initiative to end the Syrian crisis. The Saudi efforts are reportedly spearheaded by the Kingdom’s recently appointed intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan.

Ever since, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) has been able to operate in a more effective manner and has enjoyed a significant upgrade in its arsenal; this is mostly due to better international coordination and management of the situation.

A proven track-record?

Despite a reputation for being laidback, inconsistent and ideologically restricted, Saudi Arabia has previously proven that it can be an extremely influential player when it chooses to intervene in global events.
Its role was paramount in ending the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. In addition, the Saudis have been an important – if not the most important – player in the global fight against terrorism falsely conducted in the name of Islam.

The common factor among those three examples of extraordinary Saudi ability is the fact that they all involved very close cooperation with the United States. More importantly, they all required very precise ‘casting’ on behalf of the Saudis to get the right man, or men, for the job.

When it came to the current Syrian crisis, the kingdom chose earlier on to break its silence. Since it became evident that the Assad regime had decided to make a bloody massacre of the peaceful protests that started in March 2011, Saudi Arabia has made its concerns vocal. King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz recalled his ambassador from Damascus, and made very strong statements criticizing Assad.

When it became clear that - due to Iranian and Russian support - Assad was winning the war he is waging against his own people, the Saudis decided they needed a plan B.

However, when it came to logistical and military support for the Syrian opposition, most of the work was being done by the kingdom’s small neighbor Qatar. “The truth was that the Saudis and Qataris had reached an agreement, whereby Saudi Arabia outsources the logistical and military support tasks to Qatar, and confines itself to just paying the bills,” the source told Al Arabiya.

By March 2012, a year after the outbreak of the crisis, the Saudi-Qatari arrangement had achieved very little on the ground. The death toll stood at over 50,000, while hundreds of thousands of innocent Syrians became displaced and sought refuge in neighboring countries
Both the Saudis and the Qataris understand that if the situation is not contained more rapidly, then not only will there be very few Syrians left to save, but Iran will be a major step closer to achieving regional hegemony.
The issue with Iran

Unlike how some orientalists prefer to analyze the situation, the efforts to curb Iranian enthusiasm for regional domination is not due to it being a Shiite state and Saudi Arabia being Sunni.

There is also a widely-believed thought that Saudi Arabia is now acting against Assad because the latter happens to hail from the Alawite minority, while Syria is predominantly Sunni. This is laughable because the same regime has been ruling Syria for 42 years, so anyone who actually believes this is insinuating that it took the Saudis four decades to find out the Assad family’s religious background.

The Saudis and the Assads go back a long way. However, the relation was much better when the late Hafez al-Assad was alive.
“Hafiz rarely said yes, but when he did say yes, he meant it. On the other hand, Bashar always says yes, but he never means it,” the Saudi source told Al Arabiya.

“Bashar is politically immature and a pathological liar. He had full Saudi support when he first assumed office, but the support quickly began to vaporize until none was left at all following the assassination of (former) Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri in 2005.”

Hariri was a moderate Sunni leader whom Saudi Arabia nurtured and supported. His rise to power came as a result of the Saudi-brokered Taif Accord of 1989, which effectively ended 15 years of Lebanese civil war. Syria was responsible for Lebanon’s security as per the Taif Accord, which is why upon the assassination, fingers were quickly pointed at Damascus and its ally, the Iranian-backed Hezbollah.

Albeit a purely Shiite group, Hezbollah enjoyed wide support across various Lebanese sects – including Hariri’s – when it was regarded as a resistance movement fighting the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon. Today, it is labeled a terrorist organization, and reportedly continues to receive weapons from Iran through Syria.

Upon the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, Hezbollah began consolidating power internally. It forced Lebanon into a war with Israel in 2006, and in 2008 it used its arsenal against its own people to occupy Beirut.

The crisis ended after a political agreement was reached, but there is nothing to stop Hezbollah taking over Beirut (or attacking Israel) again. As such, the group continues to be a double-edged bargaining chip for both the Iranians and the Syrians.

Just this week, Bahraini lawmakers voted to label Hezbollah a terrorist organization. The group, along with Iran, have been accused of stirring trouble and promoting sectarian strife between the Sunni and Shiite populations of Bahrain.
As such, it could be argued that the true face of the Saudi-Iranian confrontation is not a Sunni-Shiite one, but an Arab-Persian one, whereby the oil-rich successor to the Persian Empire is using its allies in Syria and Hezbollah to destabilize and control Arab nations. Needless to say, what did not help limit Iran’s regional ambitions was the miserable American failure in handling post-Saddam Iraq.

Following a swift and successful military operation that toppled the long-standing regime of Saddam Hussein in less than a month in 2003, the U.S. administration at the time adopted a series of extremely ill-advised strategies that did nothing except give Tehran more influence over its partly-Shiite neighbor.

With all of this in mind, when it became clear that - due to Iranian and Russian support - Assad was winning the war he is waging against his own people, the Saudis decided they needed a plan B.

B is for Bandar

Throughout 2012, there were many rumors that contrary to the previous arrangement of outsourcing logistics and military support to Qatar, the Saudis were involved in arming the Free Syrian Army, but nothing was ever officially confirmed. In fact, by the end of the year, some senior FSA members were actually predicting that due to a certain “game-changer,” Assad’s fall was only a few months away.

Many analysts argued that what helped change the situation was that the American elections were finally over, and the road was now clear for President Barack Obama to act without restraints. Others said it was likely due to a change in the hitherto extremely pro-Assad Russian position.

Whilst both those reasons were to a certain extent true, the Saudi factor did not emerge as a publically-known reality until the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos in January this year.

“I’m not in government, so I don’t have to be diplomatic. I assume we’re sending weapons, and if we’re not sending weapons, it would be a terrible mistake on our part,” said Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former intelligence chief himself and a former ambassador to both London and the United States as well.

Prince Turki’s statement came as part of a special panel on Syria, which was moderated by Al Arabiya News Channel at the WEF. Unsurprisingly, the statement was all over the international news wires within hours. Of course, it was significant enough that such a statement (albeit carefully worded) came from a senior figure in the Saudi royal family, but the timing of the statement was of particular importance as well.

Only six months prior to the WEF event in Davos, Prince Turki’s brother-in-law Prince Bandar bin Sultan was appointed head of the Saudi Intelligence Agency (al-Istikhbarat).

As in the United States - where the FBI focuses on domestic security, while the CIA is responsible for international intelligence-gathering - in Saudi Arabia, the Istikhbarat handles international threats and operations, whilst another body called the Mabaheth - whose head reports to the Ministry of Interior - handles domestic security.
Despite the fact that his “official” role has long been Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar – especially under the late King Fahd – has always served as his country’s international man of difficult tasks.
During the Lebanese civil war, he was a personal envoy of the late king, mediating between rivals and negotiating with the Syrians. As ambassador, he brokered what was at the time the largest U.S. arms deal in history, to deliver AWACS surveillance planes to Saudi Arabia despite Israeli opposition. Furthermore, he played a significant role in assisting the end of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

Following his tenure as ambassador, he was appointed secretary general of the Saudi National Security Agency. Prince Bandar is believed to be in his mid-60s. In recent years, he was a victim of rumors that raised questions about his health, his loyalty to the Saudi throne and suggested that he was assassinated by the Syrians, all of which turned out to be untrue!
“When Syria started looking like it’s going to be mission impossible, the Saudis turned to Prince Bandar to manage the situation. Knowing him, he would never agree for anyone else to be behind the steering wheel, so Qatar was asked to take a back seat,” Al Arabiya’s source said.

“Prince Bandar toured the world, gathering support for his mission to end the crisis in Syria. Many countries in Asia and Europe offered their support, and began actively arming the FSA with lethal and advanced weapons, although they might deny this publically.”

The source confirmed recent stories in Western media that the weapons were being shipped to the FSA through Turkey and Jordan from countries such as Croatia. These weapons have been reaching FSA fighters since December 2012. “The Jordanians’ help has been crucial. They know that if the Syrian crisis is further prolonged, then the spillover across their border will be inevitable,” the source added.

According to unconfirmed reports, Jordan is supposed to be hosting an advanced joint-operation centre, where the situation is monitored. Throughout the crisis, and especially since the beginning of Plan B, the Americans have been indirectly supplying its allies with highly-sensitive and accurate information about the situation within Syria.
“Jordan has to play its cards very carefully. We’re in a very delicate situation, given our proximity to Syria. Bashar can cause trouble in Amman within hours. This is probably why we haven’t expelled the Syrian regime’s ambassador yet,” a veteran Jordanian journalist told Al Arabiya during a meeting in Amman in March.
So why has Plan B not worked so far? And what happened to the optimism, towards the end of 2012, that gave Assad only a few months before he would be taken down?

“There are a number of factors as to why we haven’t succeeded yet. Unfortunately, we (the opposition) are partly one of them,” a leading Syrian opposition figure told Al Arabiya in a private meeting in the Saudi city of Jeddah last month.
“Can you believe that (the head of the opposition Syrian National Coalition) Sheikh Moaz (al-Khatib) declined to meet (American Secretary of State John) Kerry and senior U.S. military figures? What was he thinking? The Americans were ready to listen to us and to help us early on in the year. We’re still immature politically as an opposition group,” he added.
In the meantime, Al Arabiya sources say Assad’s fall is imminent. How long will it take? “A couple of months, and if it doesn’t happen within a couple of months, then I’m afraid it might be a very long time,” said the source with access to a prominent Saudi official.

*Faisal J. Abbas is the editor-in-chief of Al Arabiya English. He can be reached on @FaisalJAbbas on Twitter.

GAM: Pakistan and Afghanistan problem

The Doctor’s Grim Reward

Shakeel Afridi
Jun 11, 2012 1:00 AM EDT
He helped lead America to bin Laden. Now he rots in a Pakistani prison.

Shaheena Mamraiz can only wish she had never met the man who strode into her office one March afternoon last year. Smiling and well dressed in a black business suit, white shirt, and tie, he seemed bursting with energy. “I’m Dr. Shakeel Afridi,” he announced. “I want to run a free hepatitis-B vaccination campaign in the area. I need the data for women aged between 15 and 40.” Mamraiz, a senior public-health official in the northwestern Pakistani town of Abbottabad, was taken aback. His aggressiveness verged on arrogance. “I refused to cooperate,” she tells Newsweek. “He didn’t seem to have any permission.”

That changed two days later with an urgent call from her supervisor in Peshawar. “Shaheena, please cooperate with Dr. Afridi,” he told her. Despite her doubts, Mamraiz saw no alternative. On March 16, a week after Afridi’s first arrival, he was back in Abbottabad, armed with pamphlets, posters, and ID cards for the roughly 16 health workers and supervisors who would assist in the campaign. It would consist of two steps, each lasting two days, he said, and the first would start the following morning. Each worker was given boxes of syringes and 50 doses of vaccine. The program was a success, Mamraiz recalls—except for one thing: the workers had only enough vaccine to immunize the few neighborhoods Afridi specified. Many locals were disappointed. “Everybody in town was eager to be vaccinated,” says Mamraiz.

As the world now knows, that wasn’t the point. Although the immunization drive was genuine, it also had a covert aim: to confirm the identity of a mysterious man who was holed up unseen inside a high-walled compound. Afridi’s objective was to collect DNA samples from children living in the man’s home, in hopes that one or more might be the subject’s offspring. Newsweek’s interviews with health workers from the hepatitis-B campaign suggest that Afridi never managed to get those DNA samples. Nevertheless, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta publicly praised the doctor this past January for providing “intelligence that was very helpful” in pinpointing the exact location of Osama bin Laden.

The 48-year-old surgeon has reason to regret it now. Just three weeks after the May 2 raid that killed the terrorist leader, Afridi was arrested by Pakistani intelligence officers. A special judicial commission recommended that he be charged with high treason—a capital crime—for secretly assisting the CIA. “His activities were not treasonous, they were heroic and patriotic,” says a senior U.S. official with knowledge of counterterrorist operations against al Qaeda in Pakistan. “The doctor was never asked to spy on Pakistan. He was asked only to help locate al Qaeda terrorists, who threaten Pakistan and the U.S. He helped save Pakistani and American lives.” In fact, bin Laden’s organization has inspired, trained, and supported violent groups that have killed thousands of Pakistanis in recent years.

Shakeel Afridi is a complicated man. Medical colleagues say he was sometimes a party animal and at other times deeply religious, never neglecting to say his prayers. Everyone who knew him agrees that he was intelligent and good-natured. “He loved to tell jokes and then burst into laughter,” a fellow surgeon recalls. In the operating room, Afridi sometimes made the nurses blush with his crude wisecracks about his male patients.

Shakeel Afridi
Afridi during a 2010 malaria-control campaign in the Khyber tribal agency. (Mohammad Rauf / AFP-Getty Images)

His energy seemed almost limitless. In addition to his regular duties as Khyber Agency’s chief health officer and a surgeon at the government-run Agency Headquarter Hospital, he ran a private medical facility called Al Noor Hospital. It may have been inevitable that he was sometimes accused of performing unnecessary operations and overcharging patients at Al Noor, and at this point the validity of those allegations is hard to judge. A typical case is a local shopkeeper named Gulab Noor Afridi (no relation—just about everybody in Khyber Agency goes by the tribal name Afridi), who says his brother went to Dr. Afridi complaining of a stomachache and ended up with an appendectomy. Noor says the doctor wanted more than $100 to perform the operation—an impossibly low price by Western standards, but a hefty sum to most Khyber Agency tribesmen. Noor balked at the amount, and the doctor settled for $80. “I had been warned by friends that Afridi would advise surgery no matter what the illness,” says Noor. “But we don’t have any options.”

At the same time, tribal leaders in Pakistan’s impoverished Khyber Agency described the doctor as a godsend. Few places on earth have living conditions more primitive than those in Khyber Agency and the six other tribal agencies that line Pakistan’s Afghan border. “Agency surgeons had ignored our area for years,” says a Malagori tribal chief. “But once Dr. Afridi took over, our area started to have a very active health sector.” Another chief says Afridi gave priority to patients in remote areas, distributed free medicine, and brought nurses, midwives, and even ambulance service to far-flung villages. When backcountry mullahs denounced the global polio-eradication campaign as an anti-Muslim plot, Afridi made it his personal cause to persuade suspicious tribesmen to get their children immunized. (Pakistan is one of three countries in the world where the virus remains endemic.)

The contradictions extended to his personal life. Some say Afridi is the victim of a deliberate government effort to blacken his reputation, and he’s been characterized as a hard drinker and a womanizer. Nevertheless, his friend and partner in the private hospital, Nasratullah Afridi (likewise no relation), describes him as courageous, committed, and dedicated, both to his medical practice and to his wife and their three children. And yet in August 2010 he was suspended as chief of surgery at Agency Headquarter Hospital after a 39-year-old, unmarried nurse filed a sexual-harassment complaint against him. “He wants to establish an illicit relationship with me, but I always refused such offer,” she wrote, and added that unless her case was taken seriously, she would set herself on fire “in front of Parliament House.” (She later made a similar charge against the doctor who replaced Afridi as chief of surgery. Afridi was reinstated the following April.) During his suspension, Afridi was accused of pilfering six boxes of polio vaccine from the hospital’s storage room. The boxes reappeared three days later.

But of all the allegations against Afridi that have surfaced in recent months, none has been more bizarre than that suggested by last month’s tribal-court verdict. Operating under the Frontier Crimes Regulation—an antiquated and draconian holdover from the 19th-century British Raj—the panel sentenced him to 33 years in prison for the crime of “the waging of war and attacks upon the security forces” via his purported “close links” to and “love for” the outlawed Lashkar-e-Islam militia. His lawyer wasn’t even present. (Fortunately the court ruled that the treason charge was beyond its jurisdiction.)

The truth of the matter is that in 2008 the Islamist group kidnapped the doctor and threatened him with death. Lashkar-e-Islam’s leader, a former bus conductor named Mangal Bagh, dropped out of sight a year and a half ago, possibly killed by Pakistani security forces. Until his disappearance, however, Bagh terrorized Khyber Agency, making a fortune from kidnapping, drug trafficking, and other crimes. Afridi despised him, says a colleague. “He used to call Mangal Bagh all kinds of bad names and always referred to him as da calander bachy—‘son of a bus conductor.’”

Still, Afridi never turned away any of Bagh’s injured fighters who came to him for medical care. “He had no option,” says a colleague. “If you work in a militant stronghold, denying them means the end of your life.” But in early 2008, Afridi received several militants who had been bloodied beyond medical help—and the profoundly uneducated Bagh was furious. “He thought that if a wounded fighter reached the hospital, he would definitely get well,” says Nasratullah. “When they died, he thought it was a result of mistreatment—or that we might have intentionally killed them.”

After the al-Qaeda leader’s death, a Pakistani cop stands guard outside his gate. (Warrick Page / Getty Images)

Bagh struck back by kidnapping Afridi. One of Bagh’s advisers tells Newsweek that the militant leader castigated his prisoner, not only for allowing the wounded fighters to die, but also for “drinking, womanizing, and not following Islam” and supposedly overcharging patients. The adviser (known, confusingly enough, as Hajji Afridi) says the doctor was hauled before a Sharia kangaroo court to answer for his “crimes,” with Bagh’s so-called chief justice presiding. Hajji Afridi says just one witness kept Shakeel from being killed. A long-haired fighter with a bandaged arm testified that Shakeel had saved his life—and that he had personally seen the doctor at prayer. The prisoner was freed. He subsequently denied having paid a ransom, but he’s said to have shelled out more than $10,000 in “restitution” for the fighters he couldn’t save and patients he supposedly overcharged. (In the tribal court’s verdict last month, that shakedown was somehow distorted into a gift of more than $20,000 in “financial assistance” to Bagh.)

Afridi returned home pale, thin, and depressed after his ordeal, Nasratullah recalls. But soon afterward, he says, the former captive received visas for himself, his wife, and his children to visit America, even though their applications had previously been rejected. They spent three months seeing the United States, and the trip seemed to revitalize Afridi. “After he returned from the U.S., he seemed normal again,” says Nasratullah. Afridi’s wife, on the other hand, told friends and family she didn’t enjoy the American visit and wished they had gone to Mecca on the hajj instead.

It may have been during the U.S. visit that the CIA recruited Aridi, as one medical colleague speculates. Afridi came home “praising the U.S. all the time,” the colleague says. “Afridi was always interested not only in what was happening in his immediate surroundings, but also in world politics,” says a tribal journalist who knew him. “But after the trip, if someone asked him why he was interested in such things, he would reply with a smile that he wanted to write a book.” Afridi praised America for being “well developed” and for “its rule of law,” the journalist says. Nevertheless, the medical colleague recalls, Afridi said he wouldn’t want to emigrate to America, no matter how much he admired the country. “I love my own land so much that I can’t move permanently from this soil,” Afridi told him.

Pakistani intelligence officials offer a different account of Afridi’s recruitment. They say he told his interrogators that he was introduced to the CIA by someone at Save the Children. The humanitarian group, the largest NGO in Pakistan, vehemently denies the allegation. If Afridi told his interrogators any such thing, he must have been under extreme duress, the group says.

Whatever the case, the doctor’s far-ranging contacts in the tribal areas made him ideal for gathering intelligence on the foreign jihadis and native extremists who infest Pakistan’s borderland. And Afridi’s experiences with the militants—especially Bagh and his thugs—could scarcely have increased his fondness for them. As a result, Afridi’s travels among the neglected villages won him gratitude in abundance from those he helped, medically and otherwise. Afridi reopened his private hospital away from Bagh’s stomping grounds, and at Agency Headquarter Hospital he was promoted to chief health officer. Life was good. (The sexual-harrassment suspension would come later.) “Over the course of his several years of service, Dr. Afridi was able to provide valuable information on al Qaeda in the FATA [Federally Administered Tribal Area], the group’s safe haven,” says a senior U.S. official. Still, nothing equaled what Afridi helped to accomplish last year in Abbottabad. A longtime local health worker named Amna Bibi was Afridi’s best hope of gaining access to the compound’s residents. In 2010 she had administered polio vaccine to seven children who were living in the high-walled compound. “I never got inside,” Amna tells Newsweek now. Instead the youngsters were brought to the gate by Tariq Khan, the caretaker who lived there. Amna says she still doesn’t know whose children they were—bin Laden’s, or those of Tariq and his brother, who also lived there, or some combination of the families.

As Amna and Afridi made their rounds together last year, she noticed that the doctor seemed unusually curious about the high-walled compound. “Afridi was very interested in knowing about the inhabitants of that compound,” she says. He never told her why, of course. As far as that goes, his handlers seem never to have informed Afridi that the quarry was bin Laden himself. “He was not aware of the target,” says a Peshawar-based Pakistani intelligence officer who has seen the doctor’s interrogation reports. “He seems to have been told that the search was for ‘a high-value target.’”

April 21, 2011, was day one of the immunization drive’s second and final step. That morning, Amna got an urgent call from Afridi on her cellphone. “Amna Bibi, where are you?” she recalls him asking impatiently. “Come quickly. I am waiting for you near the mosque.” She knew where he meant. It was a two-story mosque barely 50 yards from the compound that Afridi seemed to find so fascinating. She knew a little about at least some of the occupants, too: a pair of brothers, known locally as Chota Khan and Bara Khan, who lived there with their families. They were polite but standoffish. If local kids hit a cricket or tennis ball into the compound, the brothers never allowed them in to retrieve it. Instead, one of the Khans would emerge, ask what the ball had cost, and give the children enough money to buy a new one. On trips to local stores for provisions or to the mosque, the brothers sometimes brought along a group of children from inside the compound. There were more than a dozen of them altogether.

Amna and Afridi stood outside the compound’s metal gate, repeatedly knocking and ringing the bell. No one answered. Finally they walked to another house, across an adjacent field. An 80-year-old man lived there with his son, who sometimes helped out in the brothers’ vegetable garden, and Afridi managed to persuade the octogenarian to give him Tariq’s cellphone number. Returning to the gate, the doctor took out his phone and called the number. “Hello, Tariq, it’s me, Dr. Shakeel Afridi,” he said. “I’m in charge of a free hepatitis-B campaign, and I’m standing in front of your house.” Amna says she heard Tariq’s voice: “Right now we are far away from town, and there is no one home. Once we reach there, we will call you.” Afridi jotted the number on Amna’s box of syringes and told her to keep trying.

Tariq never called back, and Amna failed to show up for work the next morning. Her legs were hurting, she says. Afridi called her, insisting that she join him outside the compound. She told him she was too ill.

Ten days later, American commandos stormed the compound and killed bin Laden. Amna calls it “the most disastrous day of my life.” When she heard the news, she called Afridi. He seemed angry. “I am busy in a meeting,” he told her. “Please don’t call me again.” The next day she tried again to reach him. “This time Afridi was more furious,” she says. “He told me he was in an important meeting and that he would call me back.” He never did.

Amna, Mamraiz, and the other Abbottabad health workers endured one shock after another: the American commando raid on their quiet town, the discovery that Osama bin Laden had been living in their midst for years, and finally the arrest of Dr. Afridi, of all people. “He kept us all in the dark,” says Amna. Soon after Afridi’s arrest, ISI plainclothesmen hauled her in for interrogation—and seized the syringe box on which Afridi had written Tariq’s phone number. Since then, Amna, Mamraiz, and eight other health workers from the immunization drive have been fired and stripped of their future pensions. Eight others have been suspended indefinitely. “I am innocent and had nothing to do with that mission,” says Mamraiz, a 27-year veteran of the health service. “Afridi has made our lives hell.”

Osama Bin Laden
Stills from Osama bin Laden’s personal collection of videos of himself. (Pentagon via Reuters-Landov)

A senior U.S. official with knowledge of the immunization program defends it. “The vaccination efforts were both limited and, more importantly, real,” he says. “They were conducted by genuine medical professionals. The idea that these were in any way fake is simply mistaken. Many Pakistani children received vaccinations, and if the effort had not been interrupted by the arrest of the doctor, they would have been fully immunized.” And even though Afridi couldn’t get the DNA samples, he made a valuable contribution to the hunt for bin Laden, the official says: “Dr. Afridi was inadvertently able to confirm what was already suspected—that bin Laden’s couriers [the Khan brothers] practiced extraordinary operational security. Was that a key to the raid? No. Was it important? Absolutely.”

Many of Afridi’s medical colleagues are far less cavalier about the whole affair. No matter what the objective may have been, they say, Afridi’s engagement in covert operations has put them all at risk by raising suspicions that other health professionals in the region might also be working with the CIA. “He put a black mark on the credibility of doctors working in the tribal area,” says a senior physician in the region who has known Afridi and his family for years. “This creates a bad name for all of us.”

Afridi himself has seen better days. Speaking on condition of anonymity, one prison official says the doctor has been experiencing heart problems. He’s being kept in solitary confinement for his own protection, penal officers say. Pakistan’s jails are full of men who want him dead. The government has been asked to move him to a more secure, less overcrowded prison, but so far he remains in the Peshawar Central Jail. The militants will hunt him down no matter where he’s sent, promises Janfida Wazir, a Pakistani Taliban commander in South Waziristan: “Shakeel is a dead man already.”

Mangal Bagh’s cohorts mourn the day they spared the doctor’s life. “If we had killed that guy, our beloved Osama bin Laden would still be alive,” says Hajji Afridi. Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan agrees: “Osama bin Laden was our hero, and Shakeel helped the U.S. to kill him. He is our enemy and is wajib-ul-qatal”—that is, deserving death.

Last week Afridi’s older brother, Jamil, was finally allowed a 50-minute visit with him. It was the first time they had seen each other in more than a year. “Although I tried to control my emotions, tears rolled down on my cheeks,” says Jamil, a schoolteacher. He asked Shakeel about conditions inside the jail. “What kind of life do you expect of a person in prison?” Shakeel answered. Mostly they talked about their families, especially Shakeel’s wife and children, who fled their Peshawar home as soon as he was arrested and are now living at an undisclosed location, in fear for their lives.

Why didn’t Afridi get them out of the country while he had the chance? Washington officials insist that the CIA offered to help them get away, but Afridi said no. The doctor’s chief attorney, Samiullah Afridi, says his client never imagined that what he did could be considered a crime. After all, Shakeel and his family had valid U.S. visas in their passports: “If Afridi felt that he had done something wrong, he and his family would have immediately flown to the U.S. on those U.S. visas.” He says he’s appealing the tribal court’s verdict, and a hearing is scheduled for June 21. Afridi’s lawyers insist that the allegations against their client are “false, concocted, and without foundation.”

More than one government source has told Newsweek there’s still a glimmer of hope for his release. They argue that the evidence against him in the tribal court’s case is so farfetched that Islamabad might eventually find a way to overturn the verdict. Logic may be on Afridi’s side. But so far, logic is losing.

With Daniel Klaidman

Three idiots: Now running at the Congress madhouse

Three idiots: Now running at Congress-UPA mad house

JOHN LAW --The art of accumulating great wealth

Extract "Men of Wealth"

JOHN LAW ...did develop a new technique of money getting. He did not invent, but he did perceive, the possibilities of two instrumentalities that have been at once the blessing and the curse of the modern world. The art of accumulating great wealth had consisted in sharing in a fraction of the labor product of a large number of people.

The monarch had taken his by taxes; the politicians had taken theirs by intercepting the flow of taxes to and from the state; the slave owner had taken his by brute force; the landlord had taken his by owning the land that was the source of wealth drawn from it by many workers; the merchant had taken his by gathering into his hands the product of many small producers, finding a market, and taking a toll on each sale. The moneylender had got his portion because his loans enabled him  to participate in the profits of many farmers, merchants, and producers. The wealth was drawn out of the current income of many people. But Law, by means of speculation in corporate securities, found the means of extracting from many men a part or all of their savings.

He exploited the eagerness of men to grow rich by making their profit, not in producing goods or creating utilities, but gambling on the changes in the price of investment certificates. He perceived also the uses of the bank as an instrument for creating an immense reservoir of savings funds as well as an instrument for actually manufacturing money—bank credit.

It would be a long time before the full possibilities of these weapons would be realized by the acquisitive man. Indeed it would not be until our own time that this would be done. But it has been done, and this civilization will not find its way to peace and grace until it learns how to get these implements out of the hands of the acquisitive enemies of society. Oddly, two hundred years after John Law, the gambler-philosopher, wrought upon society, one may see everywhere the good and the evil fruits of his brief adventure permeating our whole economic edifice. One may say of him as of Christopher Wren—if you would see his monument, look about you.

UPA’s future grim, says writing on wall

 UPA's future grim, says writing on wall
By Gautam Mukherjee on July 27, 2013

The substantial CNN-IBN tracker opinion poll broadcast concluded on the July 26, places the NDA winning up to 180 seats to the Lok Sabha and at the pole position.

It suggests, being an early poll, that the BJP has the momentum to take the tally higher, perhaps to over 200 seats on its own, making the formation of a Government very much easier.

Rajdeep Sardesai, who anchored the poll discussions, said several times that this might be the last poll before the elections because the Election Commission is thinking of banning them.

But everything depends, for the BJP and NDA albeit, on the pronouncements of an urban intellectual set of panellists, on not ending up reinforcing negatives that could put off the undecided and lukewarm.

The poll panellists all agreed that the concern of the voters is largely based on economic issues such as the huge and growing corruption, the massive price rise, the slowing economy, the policy paralysis etc.

The considered opinion of the panellists that included Swapan Dasgupta, Yogendra Yadav, Surjit Bhalla and Ramchandra Guha, was that if the BJP concentrates on addressing these key concerns of the voting public during the poll campaign, in the remaining months before the elections, it will do even better than the poll indications.

There was a possibility discussed that the election could come sooner than the 9 or 10 months that remain between now and April 2014.

Modi will lead BJP to power if polls held today

This, if the UPA thinks it may be better to have the General Election before the forthcoming Assembly Election. Of the ones coming up, they could lose at least three, if not all four of them, said the panellists.

To follow on to the General Election after several defeats may not be very encouraging to their prospects, which are already under siege. That means the General Election could be upon us in three or four months.

While Narendra Modi is the preferred candidate for Prime Minister over Rahul Gandhi as per the poll, he needs to be supported more strongly by the various components and moving parts of the NDA to maximise gains. He is also ideally placed to push the NDA’s economic vision to enthuse the public, having done very well in his home State of Gujarat.

The loud assertion that the BJP is communal, a default posture when it comes to the Congress Party, is losing its power to influence because the Congress is suffering from massive anti-incumbency negatives and is seen to be responsible for the nation’s troubles on multiple fronts.

UPA policy paralysis: Modi challenges Congress for early polls

The poll suggests Congress will lose as many as 70 seats on its own from its previous 2009 tally of 206. Hopefully, Election Commission permitting, there will be more polls conducted that will show this precipitous fall getting worse for the Congress, and BJP and allies gaining further ground.

There is no doubt that economics now leads the purely political in any country around the world. Man cannot live on political rhetoric alone and most people have shifted position to make it very clear that it is important for them to get ahead.

Aspirations now have top billing, as many Muslims in Gujarat have indicated and voted their conviction in favour of Modi, and the political formation which can deliver on this is expected to get the vote nationally too.

The NDA as a whole therefore, along with its supporting organisations, needs to submerge all its long-pending political agenda issues towards communicating this singular objective in a convincing manner. All NDA and allied voices must present a unified vision and commitment to the economic betterment of India as the number one need of the day.

It is very easy to get entangled in debates of secularism versus communalism, but it is not material to the cause of winning this election and forming the next Government.

Even the arduous task of coalition-building after the election results are known will be easier by far if alliances are sought on the basis of an economic vision that potential allies can agree upon.

The other political point that could chime in very well with an economic main thrust is the issue of federalism. This is an election that will be won by a sum of States with the NDA being led by a Chief Minister of Gujarat, rather than someone from the BJP’s own ‘high-command’ sitting in New Delhi. The poll panellists did remark on this aspect as well.

The States of India have been chafing under various pressures exerted by a Centre to extract conformity on various issues and to ensure compliance to a coalition dharma. The States have, in turn, particularly if they are UPA allies but not part of Congress, extracted various concessions from the Centre including Ministerial berths and so on.

A Narendra Modi led Government is likely to give teeth to federalism and its empowerment via decentralisation of many issues in a way that cannot be reversed in future.

Congress has never been very good at treating its allies with respect, once they have managed to get what they want. For that matter, it tends to treat its own Chief Ministers as so many branch heads and the Governors of States and even the President of India, as conveniences to do its bidding.

Misuse of central agencies to harass and confound state governments is also very much part of their political style. Even Union Ministers at the Centre and Ministers of State are kept on a leash by similar means. There are no doubt historical reasons for this, developed from the excessive centralisation of power brought about during Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s long innings.

But the 2014 election may end up changing this model to quite some extent.

Painting Modi out to be an autocratic Chief Minister unsuited to Vajpayee-style coalition-management is also a canard, because no one can be this popular in his home State for over a decade, and now around large parts of the country also, without carrying people along with his vision and style.

As for strategic insight, not only has Modi, early in his campaign, made an impact in Uttar Pradesh, where the CNN-IBN poll puts the BJP tally higher than any of the others, but he was astute enough to realise it was going to be crucial to his campaign from the start.

This is only the first of many intelligent moves expected from him, but he needs to temper his brilliance with caution and discipline so that no one in the BJP or its allies blunts his march to power with discordant notes that don’t belong in his economic symphony

July 26, 2013

India looks back in anger

India looks back in anger

By Shashi Shekhar on July 26, 2013

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, speaking recently in his Lok Sabha Constituency, remarked that there was “anger” across the country. It appears that the Congress general secretary has started to feel the heat of the political reality staring his party in the face. A week-long television show on CNN-IBN presented the results of an electoral survey conducted by a Delhi-based NGO. The findings of that survey reveal the BJP to be on an upswing in Uttar Pradesh and other key States while the Congress struggles in its strongholds like Andhra Pradesh. Perhaps, in a reflection on how hot the “anger” that Rahul Gandhi is perceiving is, the Congress also went into an overdrive on the issue of Telangana. At the time of the writing of this column, it appeared that a decision may be imminent, but given the track record of the Congress on this issue, this writer is not holding his breath.

In a very perceptive remark made on social media a few weeks back, Sidin Vadukut of the Mint wondered aloud if “Anger” was the one issue that would define the next election.

In many ways, Sidin Vadukut may be right. A defining moment earlier in the week was the incident at a restaurant in Mumbai. Mumbai Mid Day had an elaborate series of reports on the innovative and funny manner in which Aditi Restaurant in Mumbai had chosen to express its anger over the Congress-led UPA Government’s economic policies. With a pithy comment printed at the bottom of every sales receipt, this vegetarian restaurant in Parel, Mumbai, chose to remind every one of its customers of the steep price both it — the restaurant — and they — the customers — were paying on account of the UPA’s mismanagement of the Indian economy.

It is interesting how that sales receipt from Aditi Restaurant has now gone on to become an iconic image of the power of social media in shaping the political discourse in India.

While the image had been doing the rounds in Social Media for a couple of days it was not until Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP Campaign Committee Chairman Narendra Modi intervened that it went really viral across both social and mainstream media. The trigger for Modi’s intervention was the report in the Mumbai Mid Day on how alleged workers of the Youth Congress had forcibly shut down Aditi Restaurant in reaction to the protest through sales receipts. The Mumbai Mid Day also had a conversation with the owner of the Restaurant who put the reasons for his protest into perspective.

“Because of the government including all AC eateries in its purview for paying service tax, I suffered losses and I had to shut down the AC section of my restaurant altogether”
“ I had thought of this idea when the law enforcing service tax at all AC restaurants came out. I had wanted to do it since a long time and I did it.”
This innovative protest by a small businessman over the tyranny of an irrational tax imposed by the UPA marks perhaps how the contours of political debate in India are fast shifting from the traditional template of vote-banks and entitlements to the new template rooted in hopes and aspirations of the ‘Neo Middle-Class’.

Following Narendra Modi’s intervention, the sales receipt from Aditi Restaurant went truly viral with thousands of Twitter and Facebook conversations and many hours of television reporting on it. The image of that sales receipt has since found its way to major newspapers like Times of India and the Indian Express apart from television channels like ABP News, Headlines Today and Aaj Tak giving it significant coverage. It was also illuminating that few of the other television channels that belatedly got into the game to report on this story did so only to provide cover to the Congress by beginning their coverage with a clarification from the Mumbai Youth Congress.

The real impact of the spark of protest by Aditi Restaurant in Mumbai can be best appreciated by going beyond the twin echo chambers of social media and mainstream media. In neighbouring Gujarat, prominent business associations have announced plans to do an ‘Aditi’ in their own neighbourhoods by including on their menus dishes named after the many scams and scandals the country has witnessed during the UPA regime of Dr Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi.

What started as a solo token protest over the irrational provisions of the service tax is now on the verge of becoming a wildfire fueled by the latent anger against the UPA’s abject mismanagement of the Indian economy. That iconic sales receipt today has captured both the angry sentiment of the Indian citizen and the hopes and aspirations of the ‘Neo Middle-Class to exemplify what the debate for the next Lok Sabha election will be about.

It is a shame that the Congress led UPA has not learned any lessons from the viral response to the protest by Aditi Restaurant even as its Youth Wing persists with its harassment of this small business through the filing of a police complaint. By giving voice to the angst of this small businessman, Social Media has created a defining moment in the run up to the next Lok Sabha in what perhaps may be described as India’s very own Boston Tea Party moment. Narendra Modi’s intervention gave it a steroid boost.

With the wildfire from the spark in Aditi Restaurant now spreading to other States it will take much more than Anger Management by the Rahul Gandhi-led Congress to shore up its prospects in the upcoming elections.

July 25, 2013

European Parliament identifies Wahabi and Salafi roots of global terrorism


2013-07-22 13:24:10

It is not merely the faith or oil that flows out of Saudi Arabia. The oil-rich Arab state and its neighbours are busy financing Wahabi and Salafi militants across the globe.

A recent report by the European Parliament reveals how Wahabi and Salafi groups based out of the Middle East are involved in the "support and supply of arms to rebel groups around the world." The report, released in June 2013, was commissioned by European Parliament's Directorate General for External Policies. The report warns about the Wahabi/Salafi organisations and claims that "no country in the Muslim world is safe from their operations ... as they always aim to terrorise their opponents and arouse the admiration of their supporters."

The nexus between Arab charities promoting Wahabi and Salafi traditions and the extremist Islamic movements has emerged as one of the major threats to people and governments across the globe. From Syria, Mali, Afghanistan and Pakistan to Indonesia in the East, a network of charities is funding militancy and mayhem to coerce Muslims of diverse traditions to conform to the Salafi and Wahabi traditions. The same networks have been equally destructive as they branch out of Muslim countries and attack targets in Europe and North America.

Despite the overt threats emerging from the oil-rich Arab states, governments across the globe continue to ignore the security imperative and instead are busy exploiting the oil-, and at time times, blood-soaked riches.

The European Parliament's report though is a rare exception to the rule where in the past the western governments have let the oil executives influence their foreign offices. From the United States to Great Britain, western states have gone to great lengths to ignore the Arab charities financing the radical groups, some of whom have even targeted the West with deadly consequences.

While the recent report by the European Parliament documents the financial details connecting the Arab charities with extremists elsewhere, it is certainly not the first exposition of its kind. A 2006 report by the US Department of State titled, International Narcotics Control Strategy Report - Money Laundering and Financial Crimes, reported that “Saudi donors and unregulated charities have been a major source of financing to extremist and terrorist groups over the past 25 years.” One of the WikiLeaks documents, a cable from the US Consulate in Lahore also stated that “financial support estimated at nearly 100 million USD annually was making its way to Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith clerics in the region from ‘missionary’ and ‘Islamic charitable’ organisations in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates ostensibly with the direct support of those governments.”

The European Parliament’s report estimates that Saudi Arabia alone has spent over $10 billion to promote Wahabism through Saudi charitable foundations. The tiny, but very rich, state of Qatar is the new entrant to the game supporting militant franchises from Libya to Syria.

The linkage between Saudi-based charitable organisations and militants began in the late 70s in Pakistan. A network of charitable organisations was setup in Pakistan to provide the front for channeling billions of dollars to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. Since then the militant networks have spread globally, emerging as a major threat to international security. Charlie Wilson’s War, a book by George Crile that was made into a movie, details the Saudi-militancy nexus as well as Ahmed Rashid’s Taliban.

While ordinary citizens in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other countries have suffered the deadly consequences of militancy supported by the Wahabi and Salafi charitable organisations, the Saudi government had remained largely dormant. This changed in 2003 when militants attacked targets in Riyadh. Since then, the Saudi government has kept a close watch on the domestic affairs of charities, making it illegal to sponsor militancy, but the government has done precious little to curtail activities by Saudi charities abroad. In fact, evidence, as per the European Parliament’s report, suggests that Saudi and Qatar-based charities have been actively financing militants in Egypt, Syria, Libya, Mali, and Indonesia.

Pakistan has suffered tremendously over the past three decades from domestic and foreign inspired militancy. The Soviet invasion in Afghanistan and the US-backed Afghan militancy forced Pakistan into a civil war that has continued to date. The faltering Pakistani economy did not help. Successive governments have rushed to Saudi monarchs asking for loans and free oil in times of need. However, Saudi money comes bundled with Saudi propaganda and a license to convert Pakistanis to a more 'puritan', read Wahabi, version of Islam.

In late the 70s, Iranians also intensified their influence in Pakistan. While hardline Sunnis were being radicalised by the Wahabi influences from Saudi Arabia, Iranian influence on Pakistani Shias was also increasing. And whereas Pakistan did not need any further radicalization of its people, the Saudi-Iranian tussle spilled into the streets of Pakistan with devastating consequences for religious minorities and liberal streams of Sunni Islam.

At the same time, the economic collapse in Pakistan forced many to find jobs abroad. Millions of Pakistanis left for the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia. While the remittances kept their families and the Pakistani government afloat, the migrant workers returned to Pakistan after being radicalised during their stay in Saudi. They became the brand ambassadors for the Saudi-inspired Wahabi flavours of Islam, thus expediting the pace of radicalisation in Pakistan.

Pakistan was equally vulnerable to foreign influences after the devastating earthquake in 2005 and floods in 2010 and 2011. The European Parliament’s report revealed that these disasters provided Saudi and other Arab charities to channel millions of dollars in aid, of which an unknown amount was used to fund militant organisations who have broadened their reach in Pakistan resulting in over 45,000 violent deaths in the past few years alone.

Pakistanis have a very strong spiritual link with Saudi Arabia. However, they are suffering for the unbound devotion to the oil-rich state, which has done a poor job of curbing the financial support for militancy in Pakistan. Seeing the plight of violence stricken Pakistanis, one hopes that Saudi charities could be more charitable.

Murtaza Haider, Ph.D. is the Associate Dean of research and graduate programs at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University in Toronto.
2008: Extremist recruitment on the rise in south Punjab madrassahs

2011-05-21 21:43:26
178082 11/13/2008 10:30 08LAHORE302 Consulate Lahore SECRET//NOFORN "ACTION SCA-00




Derived from: DSCG 05-1, B,D

1. (S/NF) Summary: During recent trips to southern Punjab, Principal Officer was repeatedly told that a sophisticated jihadi recruitment network had been developed in the Multan, Bahawalpur, and Dera Ghazi Khan Divisions. The network reportedly exploited worsening poverty in these areas of the province to recruit children into the divisions' growing Deobandi and Ahl-eHadith madrassa network from which they were indoctrinated into jihadi philosophy, deployed to regional training/indoctrination centers, and ultimately sent to terrorist training camps in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Locals believed that charitable activities being carried out by Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith organizations, including Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the Al-Khidmat Foundation, and Jaish-e-Mohammad were further strengthening reliance on extremist groups and minimizing the importance of traditionally moderate Sufi religious leaders in these communities. Government and non-governmental sources claimed that financial support estimated at nearly 100 million USD annually was making its way to Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith clerics in the region from ""missionary"" and ""Islamic charitable"" organizations in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates ostensibly with the direct support of those governments. Locals repeatedly requested USG support for socio-economic development and the promotion of moderate religious leaders in the region as a direct counter to the growing extremist threat. End Summary.

2. (S/NF) During a recent visit to the southern Punjabi cities of Multan and Bahawalpur, Principal Officer's discussions with religious, political, and civil society leaders were dominated by discussions of the perceived growing extremist threat in Seraiki and Baloch areas in southern and western Punjab. Interlocutors repeatedly stressed that recruitment activities by extremist religious organizations, particularly among young men between the ages of 8 and 15, had increased dramatically over the last year. Locals blamed the trend on a strengthening network of Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith mosques and madrassas, which they claimed had grown exponentially since late 2005. Such growth was repeatedly attributed to an influx of ""Islamic charity"" that originally reached Pakistani pseudo-religious organizations, such as Jamaat-ud-Dawa and the Al-Khidmat foundation, as relief for earthquake victims in Kashmir and the North West Frontier Province. Locals believe that a portion of these funds was siphoned to Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith clerics in southern and western Punjab in order to expand these sects' presence in a traditionally hostile, but potentially fruitful, recruiting ground. The initial success of establishing madrassas and mosques in these areas led to subsequent annual ""donations"" to these same clerics, originating in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The value of such donations was uncertain, although most interlocutors believed that it was in the region of $100 million annually.

3. (S/NF) According to local interlocutors, current recruitment activities generally exploit families with multiple children, particularly those facing severe financial difficulties in light of inflation, poor crop yields, and growing unemployment in both urban and rural areas in the southern and western Punjab. Oftentimes, these families are identified and initially approached/assisted by ostensibly ""charitable"" organizations including Jamaat-ud-Dawa (a front for designated foreign terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Tayyaba), the Al-Khidmat Foundation (linked to religious political party Jamaat-e-Islami), or Jaish-e-Mohammad (a charitable front for the designated foreign terrorist organization of the same name).

4. (S/NF) The local Deobandi or Ahl-e-Hadith maulana will generally be introduced to the family through these organizations. He will work to convince the parents that their poverty is a direct result of their family's deviation from ""the true path of Islam"" through ""idolatrous"" worship at local Sufi shrines and/or with local Sufi Peers. The maulana suggests that the quickest way to return to ""favor"" would be to devote the lives of one or two of their sons to Islam. The maulana will offer to educate these children at his madrassa and to find them employment in the service of Islam. The concept of ""martyrdom"" is often discussed and the family is promised that if their sons are ""martyred"" both the sons and the family will attain ""salvation"" and the family will obtain God's favor in this life, as well. An immediate cash payment is finally made to the parents to compensate the family for its ""sacrifice"" to Islam. Local sources claim that the current average rate is approximately Rps. 500,000 (approximately USD 6500) per son. A small number of Ahl-e-Hadith clerics in Dera Ghazi Khan district are reportedly recruiting daughters as well.

5. (S/NF) The path following recruitment depends upon the age of the child involved. Younger children (between 8 and 12) seem to be favored. These children are sent to a comparatively small, extremist Deobandi or Ahl-e-Hadith madrassa in southern or western Punjab generally several hours from their family home. Locals were uncertain as to the exact number of madrassas used for this initial indoctrination purpose, although they believed that with the recent expansion, they could number up to 200. These madrassas are generally in isolated areas and are kept small enough (under 100 students) so as not to draw significant attention. At these madrassas, children are denied contact with the outside world and taught sectarian extremism, hatred for non-Muslims, and anti-Western/anti-Pakistan government philosophy. Contact between students and families is forbidden, although the recruiting maulana periodically visits the families with reports full of praise for their sons' progress. ""Graduates"" from these madrassas are either (1) employed as Deobandi/Ahl-e-Hadith clerics or madrassa teachers or (2) sent on to local indoctrination camps for jihad. Teachers at the madrassa appear to make the decision based on their read of the child's willingness to engage in violence and acceptance of jihadi culture versus his utility as an effective proponent of Deobandi or Ahl-e-Hadith ideology/recruiter.

INSAT-3D launched successfully


The payload of INSAT-3D adds a new dimension to weather monitoring through its atmospheric sounding system, and provides vertical profiles of temperature, humidity and integrated ozone.

India’s weather satellite INSAT-3D, carrying advanced weather monitoring payloads, was launched successfully in the early hours of Friday by the Ariane-5 (VA214) launch vehicle from Kourou, French Guiana.

After a smooth countdown lasting 11 hours and 30 minutes, the Ariane-5 launch vehicle lifted off right on schedule at the opening of the launch window at 1.24 a.m. IST on Friday, an ISRO press release said. After a flight of 32 minutes and 48 seconds, INSAT-3D was placed in an elliptical Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO), very close to the intended one.

Soon after the separation of INSAT-3D from the Ariane-5’s upper cryogenic stage, the satellite’s solar panel automatically got deployed. ISRO’s Master Control Facility (MCF) at Hassan in Karnataka took over the control of INSAT-3D immediately. Preliminary health checks of all the subsystems of INSAT-3D bus were performed and the satellite’s health is satisfactory, the release added.

In the coming days, orbit raising manoeuvres will be performed on INSAT-3D using the satellite’s own propulsion system to place it in the 36,000 km high Geostationary Orbit.

After placing the satellite at 82 deg East orbital slot, it is planned to turn on the meteorological payloads of INSAT-3D in the second week of August 2013 and to extensively test them, the release said.

With a lift-off mass of 2060 kg, INSAT-3D carries four payloads — Imager, Sounder, Data Relay Transponder and Satellite Aided Search & Rescue payload. Among them, the six channel imager can take weather pictures of the Earth and has improved features compared to the payloads in KALPANA-1 and INSAT-3A, the two Indian Geostationary Satellites providing weather services for the past one decade.

The 19 channel sounder payload of INSAT-3D adds a new dimension to weather monitoring through its atmospheric sounding system, and provides vertical profiles of temperature, humidity and integrated ozone.

Data relay transponder, the third payload carried by INSAT-3D, receives the meteorological, hydrological, oceanographic parameters sent by Automatic Data Collection platforms located at remote uninhabited locations and relays them to a processing centre for generating accurate weather forecasts.

INSAT-3D is also equipped with a search and rescue payload that picks up and relays alert signals originating from the distress beacons of maritime, aviation and land based users and relays them to the mission control centre to facilitate speedy search and rescue operations.

ISRO has taken up the responsibility of end-to-end reception and processing of INSAT-3D data and the derivation of meteorological parameters with India Meteorological Department (IMD), New Delhi. An indigenously designed and developed INSAT-3D Meteorological Data Processing System (IMDPS) is installed and commissioned at IMD, New Delhi with a mirror site at Space Applications Centre, Bopal, Ahmedabad

A world where everything is for sale

Those who prostitute their high offices

By Hossein Askari

While growing up, I thought certain things in life were not for sale - that no amount of money could buy them. These included a democratic country? its national interest and its highest offices, the reputation of internationally admired men and women, Nobel laureates, institutions of higher learning and on and on.

Boy, was I naive, Today, it would appear that everything is for sale, even if it belongs to nations. Maybe, just maybe, it has always been so but I was blind.

To my mind, it is not in the United States' long-term national interest to support dictators in the Middle East. If the US supports oppressive, corrupt and incompetent rulers, it is to the detriment of the general citizenry of these countries.

Who would want to live under oppressive rulers who bleed their country dry for their own personal wealth, run their economy into the ground and don't allow their country to flourish? Foreigners who support these rulers hardly endear themselves to the general population. So why do the great powers, today especially the United States, support dictators?

If you ask US government officials, you get answers such as: stability, strategic national interests, regional interests, realpolitik, etcetera. Of course, you would expect there to be short-run stability when those opposed to the regime are jailed, tortured and killed and the population is terrorized. But eventually this state of affairs will give way to a much greater explosion than what might have been had there been no outside support to keep oppressive rulers in power for years and decades. The latest example of this is Egypt.

Why does the US really support these rulers, and why does it risk turning the population of these countries against the US? The answer is invariably because of short-term personal and corporate interests in the US. The corporate interests are obvious, but the personal ones require a little explanation.

Some former leaders of important Western countries, such as US presidents and cabinet members, prime ministers of the United Kingdom, French presidents, German chancellors and the like, have received significant direct and indirect remuneration as high-priced consultants, speakers, representatives of corporate interests and foundations established in their names to support those in power in the Middle East and elsewhere where dictators flourish.

They are in fact glorified influence peddlers and pay little attention to the national interest of their own country (and of course no attention at all to the interests of the exploited countries). Instead, they do all they can to support their benefactors in the Middle East, helping them hang on to power no matter what the consequences for their country.

Although these former Western leaders and so-called dignitaries have a lucrative international market for the public office they once held, their domestic market may be even bigger. They give 45-minute talks that can fetch up to US$200,000 or $300,000. But what is it they say to investor groups or automobile dealers that is worth that kind of money? What are they really selling?

To my mind, what they are selling is the name of the national public office that they once occupied. They took an oath to defend that office and to carry out their duties faithfully according to the laws of the land but now they are cashing in. They get a hefty retirement and could earn an "honest" living on top of that but it would appear that they need more, so they peddle the name and influence of the office they once held, something that does not belong to them but to their nation.

To my mind there is something unseemly in all this, especially when I hear from prominent foreigners that Western leaders and countries are mercenaries. They make this accusation and point to the liberation of Kuwait - all paid for by Arab countries of the Persian Gulf. When I was a student at a US university, we were urged to enter public service as a higher calling; we were told that this was self-sacrifice, pursuing the greater good for the nation and for humanity. But our ex-leaders, those we once hailed as great public servants, seem to quickly forget their higher calling and cash in as soon as their "service" is done. Where's the sacrifice? Has public service become yet another path to amass a fortune.

I have always admired Nobel laureates for their exceptional contributions to humanity. But in recent years I have started to have my doubts. It seems that some Nobel laureates in economics are rushing to cash in on their prize. Just look at the Astana Economic Forum held in Kazakhstan for the past six years and chaired by its longstanding oppressive dictator, Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Why do so many Nobel economics laureates go there year after year? Is it for an important exchange of ideas? Is it to learn about President Nazarbayev's great programs and achievements? Is it to meet famous figures such as Dominique Strauss-Khan (one of the touted invitees in 2013)? Or is it to get a big time "honorarium" for lending their names, or more correctly the name of the award they won?

You be the judge. The Astana Economic Forum's purpose is to show global support for President Nazarbayev's policies - but is it really fair for Nobel laureates to use the name of their award to give credibility to a dictator in office? They won the award but they don't own the franchise. Perhaps the Nobel Foundation should continue to award the prizes but withhold the cash award, donating it instead to needy causes? Perhaps the Nobel Foundation should also put restrictions on award recipients' use of their honor for commercial purposes?

Unfortunately, as academics Nobel laureates receive a terrible example from where most of them work, namely universities. Universities seem willing to do anything for a donation. They will bend the rules and admit unqualified students whose parents have given money or might give money to them. They will lend their names to unseemly rulers who boost their endowments with big gifts.

For example, just look at some of the most famous US universities who have opened satellite campuses in Qatar. Why do they go to Qatar? The answer is simple: big donations. Universities lend their names to Qatar's dictatorial regime, a regime that takes national oil/gas revenues for its own benefit at the expense of the general citizenry and all future generations, and imprisons a poet to life imprisonment for criticizing the ruler (later reduced to 15 years).

Universities educate Qataris who could easily afford to go abroad for an education, but their educational offerings are much more needed in poorer countries. Ah yes, but those countries don't have the money to make big donations! So why should you expect anything more from academics when their universities are such mercenaries?

Whenever I talk of my disgust of those who are selling things that don't really belong to them, I am told that this is the market system. No one is forcing anyone to buy the "services" that are being offered, thus I must be against the market and the free enterprise system.

My comeback is to refer them to Adam Smith, the father of the Western market system. Smith preached morality for all market participants in his book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, which preceded his now more famous The Wealth of Nations. The market system works well when its rules and regulations are respected, and when those who are buyers and sellers imbue it with a good dose of morality.

Hossein Askari is Professor of Business and International Affairs at the George Washington University

China’s Anti-Satellite Program: They’re Learning

Joan Johnson-Freese, Professor at US Naval War College 
July 12, 2013 
Arms control opponents repeatedly and consistently use the difficulty in defining what constitutes an anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon as a reason not to engage in ASAT arms control efforts.  Broadly defined, an ASAT weapon can include anything that can destroy or disable a satellite, including by kinetic impact, ground-based or satellite equipped lasers, or, as the Soviets insisted in the 1970’s, a spacecraft like the Space Shuttle which maneuvers and has a robotic arm theoretically capable of plucking a satellite out of the heavens and capturing it. Some of these are clearly dedicated ASAT weapons with no other real use; others offer ASAT “capabilities” though perhaps not as its primary purpose. Clearly, however, under any definition the 2007 Chinese intercept and destruction of one of its own moribund satellites at about 850 km above the earth constituted the testing of a hit-to-kill ASAT weapon.  China is rapidly learning both the technology and

the political nuance necessary to develop an ASAT capability while avoiding international condemnation.
China suffered global condemnation after that 2007 test, primarily in conjunction with the over 3000 pieces of debris irresponsibly created by the kinetic impact that will dangerously linger in and travel through highly-populated low earth orbits for decades. Lesson 1 for China: Space debris does not distinguish between space assets. The debris created by their ASAT test put everyone’s space assets at risk, including Chinese assets. Ironically, the U.S. government has on several occasions provided collision alerts to China, so they could avoid debris they created. Therefore, creation of space debris is to be avoided.
The United States most loudly protested the test, but even it had to be careful about the language of the protest so as not to create potential inhibitions on its own ASAT aspirations, and to minimize the backlash regarding the do-as-we-say-not-as-we-do nature of its criticism of China. The U.S., after all, developed ASAT capabilities in the 1970’s, though it stopped overtly testing after recognizing the potential damage caused by the debris created. Furthermore, the Chinese have long contended that missile defense technology is basically the same as ASAT technology, a contention with which most American analysts concur and missile defense proponents ignore. 
After China conducted its kinetic test in 2007, the United States used missile defense technology in 2008 to destroy one of its own failing spy satellites, USA 193. Operation Burnt Frost, as the U.S. effort was called, received relatively little press coverage in the United States beyond space and security policy trade publications. In those publications, however, the operation was debated as a genuinely needed effort to destroy the satellite and with it the potentially toxic hydrazine onboard from reaching earth as it deorbited, or a tit-for-tat demonstration of U.S. ASAT capabilities. The U.S. destroyed the satellite at an altitude of about 250 km, low enough that most debris harmlessly burned up as it reentered the atmosphere, and received little international blowback beyond protests from China and Russia.

Hence the conundrum of dual-use technology – valuable to both the civil and military communities, and difficult to decipher as either offensive or defensive – makes a definitive determination of intent nearly impossible. As a high percentage of space technology is dual use, speculation regarding intent is often the best that can be done. Given the low level of political trust between the U.S. and China, both sides often assume the worst.
Operation Burnt Frost confirmed not only the symbiotic nature of missile defense and ASAT technology, but that missile defense tests largely escape the international condemnation of ASAT tests. Also, kinetic impacts conducted at low altitudes where the debris largely burns up as it falls through the atmosphere, or on a ballistic target to minimize debris creation, are politically acceptable. So the second lesson China learned regarding how to develop ASAT capabilities and avoid political condemnation was to not call testing its capabilities ASAT tests, and conduct impact tests in such a way as to not create long-lived orbital debris.
China is not the only country to have learned these lessons. India, which appears determined to develop an ASAT capability, has been conducting missile defense cum ASAT intercept attempts since 2006. India seems to be suffering from a Non-Proliferation Treaty hangover, where it was excluded from nuclear status. India now seems determined to possess an ASAT capability before arms control provisions potentially again separate countries into ASAT have and have-nots.

In terms of technology, China is advancing on the learning curve.
China conducted what it now called missile defense tests, though de facto ASAT capabilities tests, in January 2010 and January 2013. Those tests used the same technology as in 2007, but without intercepting a target and so without creating debris. While there had been speculation in January 2013 that China might attempt to strike a target in medium earth orbit (MEO) to show that vulnerability of US Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites that did not occur.  Not only is China developing its own navigational satellite system, potentially at risk from debris in MEO, experts at the Union of Concerned Scientists have shown that “significantly reducing the capability of the U.S. GPS system would take a large-scale and well-coordinated attack, so much so that targeting these satellites may not be an effective strategy.”
On May 13, 2013, China changed its rhetoric, and demonstrated that it could reach much targets at much higher altitudes than previously. China stated that it had launched a sub-orbital rocket to carry a science payload to study the earth’s magnetosphere. Jonathan McDowell at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who follows Chinese launches, confirmed that the rocket had reached at least 10,000 km, possibly much higher, the highest suborbital launch since 1976. He further stated that most scientific suborbital launches, as the Chinese launch was officially posited to be, are at most to approximately 1,500 km. Lieutenant Colonel Monica Matoush, a Pentagon spokesperson, stated about the Chinese launch, “we tracked several objects during the flight but did not observe the insertion of any objects into space and no objects associated with this launch remain in space.” U.S. defense officials are concerned that the same technology could be
used to destroy U.S. space assets at higher altitudes than previously. 
Whatever China’s real intent, the veil of dual use technology provides plausible deniability, just as it did for the United States with Operation Burnt Frost. Representative Randy Forbes (R-VA), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, sent a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on June 3, requesting more information on the May 13 Chinese launch. The questions to Secretary Hagel included: 1) Was the launch part of China’s antisatellite program and 2) If the launch was part of China’s antisatellite program, why did China attempt to hide disguise it as a scientific experiment? There are no conclusive answers to either. Speculation regarding intent is the best that can be offered in addressing the first question. Concerning the second question, it seems clear that the Chinese have learned, from the U.S. and other countries, to use the political deniability of dual use technology to their

The United States knew that China was intending to test an ASAT prior to its 2007 test. However, it chose to remain silent, and protest later. Keeping quiet and protesting and requesting information afterward has been the U.S. approach since 2007 as well.

Brian Weeden at the Secure World Foundation suggests that while doing so allows the U.S. to protect is intelligence sources and methods, and potentially bolster its own ASAT capabilities, it also allows those opposed to the Obama Administration’s diplomatic efforts to use launches as a political weapon, and potentially sends a signal to Beijing that ASAT tests are acceptable as long as debris is not created. Weeden wants the Administration to be more transparent about China’s ASAT program, in terms of the launch site location, type of missile used, and altitude reached, toward leveraging international opinion against the irresponsibility of testing such systems.

Georgetown Law School Professor David Koplow has an article forthcoming that suggests building on -- basically reinterpreting -- current legal norms as an incremental approach to halting ASAT testing.

Clearly, the keeping silent approach has not been successful if the U.S. goal is to get the Chinese to cease ASAT testing, under any and all names. But as long as the U.S. – and other countries -- continues to develop, test, and deploy missile defense that is unlikely to happen, given the dual use nature of the technology. That being the case, incremental arms control management seems a much more realistic approach – assuming that those countries with potential ASAT capabilities actually want the testing of these technologies to stop. That, however, increasingly seems a big assumption.