Category Archives: Pakistan

The bin Laden death mythology

Nafeez Ahmed writes for Insurge Intelligence:

[…] Hersh’s account has been rejected by some on the grounds that he relies on unverifiable anonymous sources. This investigation conducts a systematic review of open sources and key journalistic reports relevant to the events leading up to the bin Laden raid.

While much corroboration for Hersh’s reporting is uncovered, elements of his account and the Official History contradict a wider context of critical revelations disclosed by many other pioneering journalists. When that context is taken into account, a far more disturbing picture emerges.

The geopolitical relationship between the US, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan played a central role in identifying and locating Osama bin Laden far sooner than officially acknowledged — yet nothing was done. The role of a former ISI officer in blowing the whistle on the ISI’s protection of bin Laden in August 2010, brought his concealment out into the open and triggered high-level White House discussions on how to resolve the situation: to kill or not to kill?

Declassified documents, official government reports and intelligence officials confirm that since before 9/11, and continuing for the decade after, the US intelligence community was systematically stymied from apprehending Osama bin Laden due to longstanding relationships with Saudi and Pakistani military intelligence.’

READ MORE…

Saudis “to get nuclear weapons”

Toby Harnden and Christina Lamb report for The Sunday Times:

King Salman with his son Prince Mohammad. Saudi Arabia has long been suspected of bankrolling Pakistan’s nuclear programme ‘Saudi Arabia has taken the “strategic decision” to acquire “off-the-shelf” atomic weapons from Pakistan, risking a new arms race in the Middle East, according to senior American officials.

The move by the Gulf kingdom, which has financed much of Islamabad’s nuclear programme over the past three decades, comes amid growing anger among Sunni Arab states over a deal backed by President Barack Obama, which they fear could allow their arch foe, Shi’ite Iran, to develop a nuclear bomb.

The agreement, which is due to be finalised by the end of next month and involves the permanent members of the UN security council and Germany, is designed to roll back part of Tehran’s nuclear programme in return for an easing of UN sanctions.

There are concerns that Saudi Arabia joining the nuclear club might provoke Turkey and Egypt to follow suit.’

READ MORE…

Journalists split over Sy Hersh’s bin Laden killing claims: Interview with Gareth Porter

‘The new report on the assassination of Osama bin Laden by famed journalist Seymour Hersh has been garnering major criticism from mainstream press outlets. Ben Swann speaks with investigative journalist Gareth Porter about the flaws in Hersh’s report and where the mainstream media has been failing the public.’ (RT America)

Critics Attack Seymour Hersh After Bin Laden Raid Story Goes Public

‘Seymour Hersh published a HUGE article on what actually happened during the Osama bin Laden raid in Pakistan. There’s a lot of dispute about this article, and Cenk comes out somewhere in the middle. The critics are saying that the reporting is thinly sourced. Cenk Uygur (host of The Young Turks) goes over the disputed details, and goes on to show and discusses the attempts to smear Hersh’s “The Killing of Osama bin Laden“.’ (The Young Turks)

Seymour Hersh Interviewed on Bin Laden Killing Story, Responds to White House and Media Backlash

Editor’s Note: This is a 20-minute exceprt from Hersh’s interview on Democracy Now! You can watch the final 10-minutes here.

‘Four years after U.S. forces assassinated Osama bin Laden, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Seymour Hersh has published an explosive piece claiming much of what the Obama administration said about the attack was wrong. Hersh claims at the time of the U.S. raid, bin Laden had been held as a prisoner by Pakistani intelligence since 2006. Top Pakistani military leaders knew about the operation and provided key assistance. Contrary to U.S. claims that it located bin Laden by tracking his courier, a former Pakistani intelligence officer identified bin Laden’s whereabouts in return for the bulk of a $25 million U.S. bounty. Questions are also raised about whether bin Laden was actually buried at sea, as the U.S. claimed. Hersh says instead the Navy SEALs threw parts of bin Laden’s body into the Hindu Kush mountains from their helicopter. The White House claims the piece is “riddled with inaccuracies.” Hersh joins us to lay out his findings and respond to criticism from government officials and media colleagues.’ (Democracy Now!)

NBC Confirms Hersh: Pakistani Official Turned in bin Laden

Ben Kamisar reports for The Hill:

The CIA discovered Osama bin Laden’s location from a Pakistani intelligence official before the American Special Forces raid that killed the al Qaeda leader, NBC News reports.

A Special Forces operator told the network that the government used a cover story to assert that bin Laden’s courier tipped off the CIA in order to protect the identity of the Pakistani official who gave up the information. The military official added that Pakistani intelligence was hiding bin Laden in the country.

The news comes just one day after a controversial report from journalist Seymour Hersh in the London Review of Books alleged that a Pakistani intelligence official gave up bin Laden’s location to the CIA.

But Hersh’s report also asserts the Pakistani intelligence services cooperated with the mission by helping U.S. helicopters enter the country. It also claims that American forces faced no resistance in bin Laden’s compound because the guards were ordered to stand down.’

READ MORE…

Seymour Hersh on The Killing of Osama bin Laden

Seymour Hersh writes for the London Review of Books:

It’s been four years since a group of US Navy Seals assassinated Osama bin Laden in a night raid on a high-walled compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The killing was the high point of Obama’s first term, and a major factor in his re-election. The White House still maintains that the mission was an all-American affair, and that the senior generals of Pakistan’s army and Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) were not told of the raid in advance. This is false, as are many other elements of the Obama administration’s account. The White House’s story might have been written by Lewis Carroll: would bin Laden, target of a massive international manhunt, really decide that a resort town forty miles from Islamabad would be the safest place to live and command al-Qaida’s operations? He was hiding in the open. So America said.’

READ MORE…

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk writes for The Independent:

[…] It amazes me that all these warriors of the air don’t regularly crash into each other as they go on bombing and bombing. And since Lebanon’s Middle East Airlines is the only international carrier still flying over Syria – but not, thank heavens, over Isis’s Syrian capital of Raqqa – I’m even more amazed that my flights from Beirut to the Gulf have gone untouched by the blitz boys of so many Arab and Western states as they career around the skies of Mesopotamia and the Levant.

The sectarian and theological nature of this war seems perfectly clear to all who live in the Middle East – albeit not to our American chums. The Sunni Saudis are bombing the Shia Yemenis and the Shia Iranians are bombing the Sunni Iraqis. The Sunni Egyptians are bombing Sunni Libyans, it’s true, and the Jordanian Sunnis are bombing Iraqi Sunnis. But the Shia-supported Syrian government forces are bombing their Sunni Syrian enemies and the Lebanese Hezbollah – Shia to a man – are fighting the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s Sunni enemies, along with Iranian Revolutionary Guards and an ever-larger number of Afghan Shia men in Syrian uniforms.’

READ MORE…

When U.S. strikes go wrong, not all civilian lives are equal

Hannah Allam writes for McClatchy:

US NEWS DRONECREWS 3 LAThe unusual announcement by President Barack Obama last week that a U.S. strike on an al Qaida compound in Pakistan inadvertently had killed two hostages – one a U.S. citizen, the other Italian – came with an apology and the speedy pledge of monetary compensation for the families.

None of that happened for another American who was killed in a U.S. strike in 2011. Abdulrahman al Awlaki, the 16-year-old son of al Qaida propagandist Anwar al Awlaki, wasn’t believed to have been involved in militant activities and, by the U.S. government’s own version, was an unintended casualty of the U.S. attack that killed him in Yemen.

Yet four years on, despite a media campaign and a lawsuit, the Obama administration has not apologized for the killing or offered compensation to the Awlaki family. Human rights advocates say the reason is that, when it comes to making amends for civilian deaths in U.S. counterterrorism operations, not all lives are valued the same – even when they’re American.’

READ MORE…

India and Pakistan’s Proxy War in Afghanistan

Catherine Putz writes for The Diplomat:

In an interview Tuesday with TOLONews, Amar Sinha, the Indian ambassador to Afghanistan, called the idea of a proxy war between his country and Pakistan playing out in Afghanistan a myth.

[The] India-Pakistan war is somehow getting reflected in Afghanistan… we see many analysts and journalists [calling] it a proxy war, which is a myth. [Rather] it is a smokescreen created to justify Pakistan’s behavior, which has not been [that] of a friendly neighbor.

Sinha, nonetheless, says that India’s “proxy” in Afghanistan is the Afghan people and that Pakistan’s is the Taliban.’

READ MORE…

Former CIA Chief in Pakistan Faces Murder Charges for Drone Killings

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

‘Former CIA station chief for Islamabad Jonathan Bank is to face charges of murder and waging war against Pakistan, according to a ruling by the high court.

The charges are related to a December 2009 drone strike against North Waziristan in which three civilians were killed. Banks is no longer in the country, and will be tried in absentia.

The CIA has launched scores of drone strikes against Pakistan’s tribal areas, killing countless civilians, of course, but the Pakistani government has shown only vague opposition to the strikes and little interest in identifying the slain.’

READ MORE…

Causing genocide to protect us from terror

Neil Clark writes for RT:

A report called Body Count has revealed that at least 1.3 million people have lost their lives as a result of the US-led “war on terror” in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. It’s a report which should have made front page news across the world.

In the comprehensive 101 page document ‘Body Count, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Physicians for Global Survival and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, have produced figures for the number of people killed from September 11, 2001 until the end of 2013.

The findings are devastating: the in-depth investigation concludes that the ‘war on terror‘ has, directly or indirectly, killed around 1 million people in Iraq, 220,000 in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan. As awful as that sounds, the total of 1.3 million deaths does not take into account casualties in other war zones, such as Yemen – and the authors stress that the figure is a “conservative estimate”.’

READ MORE…

The Great Game in Afghanistan: The US Is Losing Out

Dilip Hiro writes for TomDispatch:

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani stands beside Chinese President Xi Jin-pingCall it an irony, if you will, but as the Obama administration struggles to slow down or halt its scheduled withdrawal from Afghanistan, newly elected Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is performing a withdrawal operation of his own. He seems to be in the process of trying to sideline the country’s major patron of the last 13 years — and as happened in Iraq after the American invasion and occupation there, Chinese resource companies are again picking up the pieces.

In the nineteenth century, Afghanistan was the focus of “the Great Game” between the imperial powers of that era, Britain and Czarist Russia, and so it is again.  Washington, the planet’s “sole superpower,” having spent an estimated $1 trillion and sacrificed the lives of 2,150 soldiers fighting the Taliban in the longest overseas war in its history, finds itself increasingly and embarrassingly consigned to observer status in the region, even while its soldiers and contractors still occupy Afghan bases, train Afghan forces, and organize night raids against the Taliban.’

READ MORE…

Pakistan’s Long History of Fighting Saudi Arabia’s Wars

Ishaan Tharoor writes for The Washington Post:

Saudi Arabia’s campaign against Houthi rebel forces in Yemen, which began with waves of airstrikes overnight on Thursday, has laid down a new marker in the dangerously unstable Middle East.

As WorldViews discussed earlier, the Saudis coordinated their action with a coalition of Sunni majority countries, sharpening the perception that the offensive was part of a wider regional conflict with Iran, a Shiite power that has backed the Houthis and is locked in a larger game of geopolitical chess with the Saudis in various corners of the Middle East.

One conspicuous nation among the list of countries official Saudi media claimed had “declared their willingness to participate” in the anti-Houthi action is Pakistan. A non-Arab state with a sizeable Shiite minority, Pakistan also has an overstretched military, which is wrestling with its own extremist insurgency in the rugged borderlands near Afghanistan.’

READ MORE…

US war on terror has claimed over 80,000 lives in Pakistan, says Body Count report

Khaleej Times reports:

The report titled “Body Count: Casualty Figures after 10 Years of the War on Terror” was released by the Nobel Prize-winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War along with Physicians for Social Responsibility and Physicians for Global Survival, The Express Tribune reported today.

The report, dealing with the conflict from 2004 until the end of 2013, shows that a total of 81,325 to 81,860 persons — including 48,504 civilians, 45 journalists, 416-951 civilians killed by drones, 5,498 security personnel and 26,862 militants — lost their lives in the US-led war on terror.

It also said that around 1.3 million people were directly and indirectly killed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan as a result of US-led wars in the regions during the the same period.’

READ MORE…

Endless War: As U.S. Strikes Tikrit and Delays Afghan Pullout, “War on Terror” Toll Tops 1.3 Million

‘As the United States begins bombing the Iraqi city of Tikrit and again delays a withdrawal from Afghanistan, a new report has found that the Iraq War has killed about one million people. The Nobel Prize-winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and other groups examined the toll from the so-called war on terror in three countries — Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The investigators found “the war has, directly or indirectly, killed around one million people in Iraq, 220,000 in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan. Not included in this figure are further war zones such as Yemen. The figure is approximately 10 times greater than that of which the public, experts and decision makers are aware. … And this is only a conservative estimate.” The true tally, they add, could be more than two million. We are joined by two guests who worked on the report: Hans von Sponeck, former U.N. assistant secretary-general and U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, who in 2000 resigned his post in protest of the U.S.-led sanctions regime; and Dr. Robert Gould, president of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility.’ (Democracy Now!)

US won’t be able to control terrorism, because it’s unwilling to alter its imperial policies

Waqas Mirza writes for Jacobin:

US-backed rebels in Afghanistan, October 1987.‘[…] The problem is not that the Obama administration lacks the information to formulate an effective counter-extremism strategy that doesn’t scapegoat Muslims. The problem instead is that the most effective way to reduce the threat of terrorism is to retreat from empire.

It is no surprise that imperial wars and longstanding alliances with authoritarian states responsible for funding right-wing Islamist movements do not reduce the threat of terrorism. This holds true not just for “homegrown” terrorism but also for terrorist groups abroad. Unwilling to abandon policies that continually produce recruits for militant Islamism, the US falls back on blaming an ideology and the community which supposedly harbors it. Hence the focus on Muslims and the battle for “hearts and minds.”’.’

READ MORE…

Almost 2,500 now killed by covert US drone strikes since Obama’s inauguration six years ago

Jack Serle reports for The Bureau of Investigative Journalism:

A ground creman walks in front of a US Air Force Reaper as it sits on the tarmac in the desert lanscape of an air base in AfghanistanAt least 2,464 people have now been killed by US drone strikes outside the country’s declared war zones (Afghanistan and Iraq) since President Barack Obama’s inauguration six years ago, the Bureau’s latest monthly report reveals.

Of the total killed since Obama took his oath of office on January 20 2009, at least 314 have been civilians, while the number of confirmed strikes under his administration now stands at 456.

Research by the Bureau also shows there have now been nearly nine times more strikes under Obama in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia than there were under his predecessor, George W Bush.

And the covert Obama strikes, the first of which hit Pakistan just three days after his inauguration, have killed almost six times more people and twice as many civilians than those ordered in the Bush years, the data shows.’

READ MORE…

Pakistani cartoonists tread fine line in land of blasphemy laws

Guillaume Lavallee reports for AFP:

In the face of Pakistan’s prolific use of blasphemy laws and a culture of political violence, cartoonists must tread a thin line. But they do find ways to poke fun at the powerful — including religious extremists.

The conservative nation of 200 million people is consistently ranked one the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists, with reporters often caught between powerful spy agencies and Islamist militants.

Without subscribing to all the ideas of Charlie Hebdo’s satirists killed this week for their depictions of Prophet Mohammed, the country’s caricaturists have sustained a proud, decades long tradition of pushing the envelope of free speech.’

READ MORE…

Obama Has Killed More People With Drones Than Died On 9/11

Washington’s Blog writes:

‘Law school teacher Marjorie Cohn – president of the National Lawyers Guild – writes:

Obama has killed more people with drones than died on 9/11. Many of those killed were civilians, and only a tiny percentage of the dead were al-Qaeda or Taliban leaders.

She may be right …

The Council on Foreign Relations estimates that U.S. drone strikes outside of Iraq and Afghanistan have killed 3,674 people.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports that up to 4,404 people have been killed – just in Pakistan and Yemen alone – between 2004 and 2014.

While it’s hard to estimate how many additional people have been killed by drone in Iraq and Afghanistan, a December 2012 report by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that US and UK forces had carried out over 1,000 drone strikes in Afghanistan over the previous five years.  Given thatnumerous people are often killed by  each drone strike, it is reasonable to assume that several thousand people have been killed by drone in that country.

And many Iraqis have also been killed by drones … long before ISIS even appeared on the scene.    So – altogether – the number of people killed by drone is probably well above five thousand.

In contrast,  under 3,000 people were killed on 9/11.’

READ MORE…

Pakistan government says it suffered $80bn loss and 50,000 lives in ‘war on terror’

Tanveer Ahmed reports for the Daily Times:

‘Pakistan suffered a colossal loss of almost $80 billion as well as 50,000 precious lives of civilians and law enforcement agencies during the decade long war against terrorism, government told National Assembly here on Friday.

In a written reply Interior Ministry informed the house that Pakistan has been victim of terrorism for the last ten years. The Parliamentary Secretary for Interior, Maryam Aurangzeb said extremist groups have been active throughout the country with their own ideology and motives. Maryam Aurangzeb said several policy steps have been taken for controlling and improving law and order situation in the country. She said the government has prepared a new policy for strengthening internal security and to improve law and order.’

READ MORE…

Global terror attack deaths rose sharply in 2013, says report

Helier Cheung reports for BBC News:

GTI2014‘The number of deaths from terrorism increased by 61% between 2012 and 2013, a study into international terrorism says.

There were nearly 10,000 terrorist attacks in 2013, a 44% increase from the previous year, the Global Terrorism Index 2014 report added.

The report said militant groups Islamic State, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and the Taliban were behind most of the deaths.

Iraq was the country most affected by terrorism, the report said.

The report by the Institute for Economics and Peace says that nearly 18,000 people died from terrorist attacks in 2013.

“Not only is the intensity of terrorism increasing, its breadth is increasing as well,” it notes.’

READ MORE…

On Media Outlets That Continue to Describe Unknown Drone Victims As “Militants”

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

It has been more than two years since The New York Times revealed that “Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties” of his drone strikes which “in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants…unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.” The paper noted that “this counting method may partly explain the official claims of extraordinarily low collateral deaths,” and even quoted CIA officials as deeply “troubled” by this decision: “One called it ‘guilt by association’ that has led to ‘deceptive’ estimates of civilian casualties. ‘It bothers me when they say there were seven guys, so they must all be militants. They count the corpses and they’re not really sure who they are.’”

But what bothered even some intelligence officials at the agency carrying out the strikes seemed of no concern whatsoever to most major media outlets. As I documented days after the Times article, most large western media outlets continued to describe completely unknown victims of U.S. drone attacks as “militants”—even though they (a) had no idea who those victims were or what they had done and (b) were well-aware by that point that the term had been “re-defined” by the Obama administration into Alice in Wonderland-level nonsense.’

READ MORE…

Is Longtime U.S. Diplomat Robin Raphel A Spy?

Over half of US drone strike victims may be civilians: Interview with Marjorie Cohn

Pakistan, U.S. appear once again to be cooperating on drone strikes

Tom Hussain reports for McClatchy:

0711162-F-9126Z-793‘A series of CIA drone strikes launched last week against Taliban insurgents in Pakistan’s northwest tribal areas provide the clearest demonstration yet that the U.S. intelligence agency and Pakistani security forces are once again cooperating on defeating the insurgents.

The drone strikes – nine in all, launched daily with a day off on Friday – targeted Taliban fighters as they retreated from the country’s advancing military, which has launched an offensive in the North Waziristan tribal area. Pakistani authorities have billed the campaign as the decisive battle of a seven-year war against Pakistan Taliban insurgents.’

READ MORE…

Missing Malala’s Message of Peace: Drones Fuel Terrorism

Peter Hart writes for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:

yousafzai‘On October 10, Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai–who received worldwide attention after being attacked by the Taliban for her advocacy for girls’ education–was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, along with Indian activist Kailash Satyarthi.  Yousafzai’s work on educational equity is well-known. But less well-known is what she said to Barack Obama about how his wars were undermining the fight against terrorism.

Last year, Yousafzai’s White House meeting with Barack Obama received wide media coverage.  But as I pointed out  back then (FAIR Blog, 10/15/13), part of Yousafzai’s message didn’t make it into most media accounts: She told Obama that drone strikes in her country were fueling more terrorism.’

READ MORE…

Malala Yousafzai a Polarizing Figure in Her Homeland

Mustafa Hameed reports for ABC News:

‘While most in the country, including leading politicians and public figures, have reacted with pride at her award and have supported her over the years for her activism, a vocal segment of Pakistan’s population has not been so pleased with her global recognition.

Some portions of Pakistani society, leaning on ultra-conservative ideologies and conspiracy theories, hold onto the belief that Malala’s assassination attempt was sensationalized, or even faked, in order to discredit the country and its right-wingers. For them, this victory has done little to change their views.’

READ MORE…

Spasm of Violence in Kashmir Worst in Years

Anjum Naveed and Aijaz Hussain report for The Associated Press:

‘[…] The clashes — which both India and Pakistan blame the other for starting — come even though both governments say they want to improve ties and even resolve the conflict. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited Pakistan’s leader, Nawaz Sharif, to attend his inauguration in May, saying he wanted to engage the archrival more assertively.

But relations remain fragile, even hostile. India in August abruptly canceled talks with Pakistan after its ambassador met with Kashmiri separatist leaders. The mostly Muslim region, divided into zones controlled by India and Pakistan, and even a chunk by China, has seen fighting off and on for decades. Pakistan and India have fought two wars over the mountainous territory.

Modi, a strident Hindu nationalist, seems intent on showing he represents a new, more forceful India.’

READ MORE…

Drones, the Media and Malala’s Message

Editor’s Note: In light of Malala Yousafzai sharing the Nobel Peace Prize this year, it’s worth reminding ourselves of her visit to the White House last year. Particularly her much ignored words to President Obama about his administration’s use of drone strikes and their links to fuelling the very terrorism that they claim to be fighting.

Peter Hart wrote for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting in October 2013:

Malala-Yousafzai_2700395b‘Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai’s visit to the United States was widely covered in the media, including interviews with ABC‘s Diane Sawyer (10/11/13), CNN’s Christiane Amanpour (10/14/13) and Jon Stewart of the Daily Show (10/8/13). She was selected as ABC‘s “Person of the Week” on October 11, and was considered a serious contender for the Nobel Peace Prize.

And for good reason; just one year ago, Malala was attacked by the Taliban for her outspoken advocacy on behalf of educational equality, surviving a an attack where she was shot in the head.

But one part of her message didn’t seem to penetrate the corporate media.

During her October 11 visit to the White House, Yousafzai told Barack Obama that his administration’s drone strikes were fueling terrorism.’

READ MORE…