Thursday, July 31, 2008

Iraq successes: Credit where credit is due

We just published an editorial admitting we were wrong to oppose the surge in Iraq, which I felt was a mischaracterization of the legitimate concerns we've been raising from the beginning about the surge and the entire leadup to it.

The reason the surge was needed was because this administration so badly handled the postwar reconstruction, training and military deployment. The surge wouldn't have been needed had President Bush deployed an adequate number of troops to manage postwar Iraq. The surge wouldn't have been needed had the administration properly conducted training operations to get the Iraqi army and police in shape (instead, the administration left the training to private contractors). The surge wouldn't have been needed had the administration paid better attention to the huge gaps in Iraq's border security, which allowed al-Qaeda supporters to infiltrate with weaponry and bomb-making material, costing thousands of Iraqi and U.S. lives.

So now, half-informed columnists like Mark Davis say that Barack Obama needs to admit he was wrong about the surge. His column showed up on the op-ed page the same day as our editorial.

But Obama and anyone else who opposed the surge would be making a huge mistake to say they were "wrong." Why? Because a very crucial ingredient to Iraq's turnaround was the growing and vocal movement in the United States to withdraw altogether from Iraq.

It absolutely caught the attention of Iraq's leadership. It frightened them into getting serious about Iraqi training and preparation. It made Iraqis realize how serious the political situation was in the United States. The threat by Congress to cut off funding for the war was the biggest wakeup call of all for Iraq's leadership. If they had any hope of preventing total civil war, the Iraqis understood that they needed to get their act together.

Neither Obama nor anyone else who opposed the surge was wrong for doing so. Had the surge occurred without a loud and vocal opposition movement in this country, Iraqis would not have felt even slightly pressured to get moving on their own preparations and political reforms. They would have continued their business-as-usual, let-the-Americans-handle-it posture.

It wasn't the surge, all by itself, that turned Iraq around. It was the intense political pressure applied by opponents like Obama that contributed to the success. Nobody needs to offer mea culpas or apologies for how this process unfolded.

Dallas Morning News

But "Fly Paper". You know some people think it was a necessary evil, and they make a good argument. I personally think it was all mismanaged, but if we win, who really cares.

Sometimes I worry about understanding with too much clarity. Some thing are just not meant to be known. Having the ultimate strategy and the people that can operate it sitting on the shelf sounds like a dangerous power to me. I hope I never have it at my finger tips.


The Army warns you about readjustment and "reintegration." They warn about depression, or let-down. They warn about the family, and things that happen normally as part of reintegration.

Oddly enough, a lot of it is true.

I never felt overly "jacked-up" in Afghanistan. It all felt pretty normal to me, actually. There were a few times when I knew that I could easily be killed, and there were several times when I knew without a doubt that if the ACM* had chosen to hit us at that moment that I was in a very, very precarious position.

I did, however, feel alert. There have been times here in the States that I have been inattentive, even though I was going through the motions. For instance, driving around town running errands but thinking about something else, to the point that I would suddenly realize that I had lost track of where I was. I never lost track so much that I was endangering other people or vehicles around me, just the bigger picture.

I was on autopilot."
Sandbox ~Old Blue

H/T LT Nixon

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Your Filthy Little Mouth

"I wrote this while smoking a La Gloria Cubana Wavel

Every platoon has one. He is that private or specialist who always has that one sarcastic sidebar comment. He is the kid who agrees to do a detail and then complains about why he was picked afterwards. He is the one who could be such a good soldier if only he would keep his mouth shut.

Mine is Private Jell-O. [OPSEC]

“Boy, I wish Sergeant Blackjack [OPSEC] was my platoon sergeant!”

I heard Private Jell-O’s comment all the way from my end of the tent.

Did that private just say what I think he said?

I got up from my chair and walked down the rows of cots. The tent was suddenly transformed into an old western movie when the gunslingers met at high noon. But instead of women herding children indoors and saloon keepers closing their shutters, my platoon saw me coming and dove onto their cots or suddenly became interested in their boots. They heard the comment as well.

I reached Private Jell-O’s cot. He was about to open his laptop when one pissed off platoon sergeant suddenly materialized in front of him.

“Enough!” I said. “If I ever hear you say that again, I will fuck you up.”"
Big Tabacco

The wrong place

Two assertions about Iraq ought to be challenged or at least examined more closely. The first is the idea that security improvements in Iraq and al-Qaeda’s defeat had little if anything to do with the US effort. The second is the assertion that the “real” strategic center of gravity always should have been Afghanistan, because the proper object of the War is to “get bin Laden”.

Take the question of whether the growing success in Iraq had anything to do with US effort. Once violence in Iraq began to wane and al-Qaeda was clearly being defeated, the search to find a non-American explanation began in earnest. For a while it was fashionable to credit Moqtada al-Sadr’s “ceasefire” with improving conditions in Iraq. The Guardian report of February 2008 ascribing nearly miraculous powers to al-Sadr typified the explanation that violence was down because he had turned it off.
the radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr today threatened to end a crucial six-month ceasefire that has been credited with halving the level of violence in Iraq. … His decision to order his militia to stand down last August allowed stretched US forces to re-establish some control in the country and helped reduce violence by 60%.
A variant of the same narrative was that Iran had for reasons never fully explained, decided to let a defeated American army off the hook. The Washington Post reported in December of 2007 that violence in the South had declined because
The Iranian government has decided “at the most senior levels” to rein in the violent Shiite militias it supports in Iraq, a move reflected in a sharp decrease in sophisticated roadside bomb attacks over the past several months, according to the State Department’s top official on Iraq.
Still another line of argument was that the Anbar Awakening occurred prior to and independently of the Surge. The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein for example, wrote, “on Tuesday evening, McCain falsely claimed that the downturn in violence in Iraq’s Anbar province was a result of the surge, when in fact the surge began months afterward.” Others argued that the fall in sectarian violence in Baghdad occurred because the “ethnic cleansing” had already been completed. Taken together the sum of the arguments were that the decline in violence in both northern and southern Iraq was the result of either dumb luck or enemy pity, a view neatly summed up by Barack Obama when he ascribed improvements in Iraq to a confluence of unforseeable factors. He said:
I think that, I did not anticipate, and I think that this is a fair characterization, the convergence of not only the Surge but the Sunni awakening in which a whole host of Sunni tribal leaders decided that they had had enough with Al Qaeda, in the Shii’a community the militias standing down to some degrees. So what you had is a combination of political factors inside of Iraq that then came right at the same time as terrific work by our troops. Had those political factors not occurred, I think that my assessment [that the Iraq was headed for catastrophe] would have been correct.
This discounts the effect of operations prior to the 20% increase in troop strength in Iraq that is commonly regarded as the start of the Surge. It discounts improvements in intelligence gathering, the creation of the Iraqi Army, the election of the Iraqi government, dismantling of the insurgency’s lines of communication of the insurgency, the change in tactics — a whole host of things — almost as if the Surge started from tabula rasa; a blank slate. Future historians can debate whether General Petraeus and George W. Bush won an accidental victory, like a monkeys who have luckily typed out Shakespeare’s XXIXth sonnet or whether the success owed something to skill and intelligence.

But that is a question for history, if Joe Klein of Time is to be believed. He wrote, “the reality is that neither Barack Obama nor Nouri al-Maliki nor most anybody else believes that the Iraq war can be ‘lost’ at this point.” How the quagmire and lost cause became the inevitable victory is of academic interest but the more practical question is what to do next. In the opinion of Barack Obama, the US should withdraw from Iraq to concentrate on Afghanistan, the central theater of the war against Islamic terror. According to Obama said:
It is unacceptable that almost seven years after nearly 3,000 Americans were killed on our soil, the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 are still at large. Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahari are recording messages to their followers and plotting more terror. The Taliban controls parts of Afghanistan. Al Qaeda has an expanding base in Pakistan that is probably no farther from their old Afghan sanctuary than a train ride from Washington to Philadelphia. … I will focus this strategy on five goals essential to making America safer: ending the war in Iraq responsibly; finishing the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban.
But is Afghanistan the enemy’s center of gravity? Juan Cole, who has been a critic of the campaign in Iraq from the beginning wondered whether Obama isn’t jumping from the “frying pan into the fire”. Certainly the Pakistani politicians thought he was.
After Obama met with Karzai, reporters asked his aide, Humayun Hamidzada, if the criticism had come up. He tried to put the best face on issue, saying the Afghan government did not see the comment as critical, but as a fair observation, since it had in fact been tied down fighting terrorism. Less forgiving were the politicians in Pakistan, who reacted angrily to Obama’s comments on unilaterally attacking targets inside that country. … The governor of the North-West Frontier province, Owais Ghani, immediately spoke out against Obama, saying that the senator’s remarks had the effect of undermining the new civilian government elected last February. Ghani warned that a U.S. incursion into the northwestern tribal areas would have “disastrous” consequences for the globe.
Even laymen might wonder whether distant Afghanistan and not the Middle East was the strategic center of gravity of Islamic fundamentalism. In an earlier post I wrote: “In the debate over whether America should have focused its initial response on uprooting al-Qaeda from Southwest Asia, one thing should not be forgotten. From it’s inception al-Qaeda’s center of gravity has been the the Middle East. It was the source of its money, leadership, ideology and manpower. Afghanistan’s importance from the beginning lay in what it could provide Bin Laden in terms of prestige he could parlay into into influence in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq. The strategic value of land-locked, impoverished Afghanistan to the Jihad was as a symbol rather than a geopolitical prize. The image of Jihadis defeating the Soviet Army was the ultimate source of al-Qaeda’s credibility; something that could prise money, men and political authority from their home front, treasury and recruitment depot. Given a choice between giving up Afghanistan and reprising the defeat of a superpower in Iraq, al Qaeda would have clearly preferred the latter. This does not mean that Afghanistan is strategically unimportant, but it was always secondary to the Middle East.”

Kenneth Pollack in his new book A Path Out of the Desert: A Grand Strategy for America in the Middle East essentially agrees that the Middle East, with its petroleum resources, religious ideas and population is the foundation of the Islamic challenge facing the world today. It is in the Middle East that the ideological war against terrorism will be won or lost. And speaking of ideology, America’s efforts to maintain status quo relationships with some of the most repressive and dysfunctional governments on the planet have been much more damaging than the attempt to bring democracy to Iraq has been . It wasn’t driving Saddam from Iraq that has hurt America’s image so much as maintaing support for its loyal “allies”. Lee Smith, in reviewing the book says that “Pollack argues that Washington’s greatest sin in its relations with the Middle East has been its persistent unwillingness to make the sustained and patient effort needed to help the people of the Middle East overcome the crippling societal problems facing their governments and societies.” Whether Iraq, one of the few elected governments in the region, should be written off in order to return to business as usual deserves at least some consideration.

Philip Bobbitt in his new book Terror and Consent argued that “the struggle against terrorism is plainly a war, to be called a war and fought as a war, against religiously driven Islamist ideologues …”. In Bobbitt’s view terrorism is not simply a criminal activity, but a symptom of the convulsive transition between twentieth century state and the freewheeling 21st century “market state”, in which empowered individuals seek to live in a looser — but still ordered — polity. He scathingly criticizes those who would view terrorism as a “tactical event” amenable to a “policy minimimalism” which reduces the current world crisis to an effort to “get bin Laden”. Kenneth Anderson, reviewing Bobbitt’s book writes that:
Thus, in Barack Obama’s reckoning, Islamist terrorism is just one threat among so many: climate change and poverty, genocide and disease. The task is to learn to do as Western European countries do, and manage terror and terrorism, preferably within the existing confines of the criminal justice system.
But it will not be so reduced. The treasury of the Jihad, the wellsprings of its ideology and even the source of its manpower are not to be found in Afghanistan but in the Middle East. Michael Totten, traveling through the Balkans has found that the Binladensa — the people of Osama bin Laden — spreading Wahabism through the Balkans don’t hail from Afghanistan but from Saudi Arabia. “When they came here, the Wahhabis, with the intent to take full control of the Muslim community, they used these people who had been studying in Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries. They were using them to put them in some of the mosques, and now they are in control of eight mosques with these people who had been studying in the Arab countries.” Whatever place Osama Bin Laden temporarily occupies the homeland of the Jihad and the place where it all comes from is arguably the Middle East.

And it is in the Middle East — in Iraq — that the Islamic extremism has been most publicly defeated and humiliated; it is in Iraq where a dictatorial Arab regime has been overthrown. An ordinary observer might be forgiven for thinking the defeat of al-Qaeda right next door to Saudi Arabia was a great victory on strategic ground, which makes the efforts to ascribe improvements in Iraq to Moqtada al Sadr, Iran or the Anbar Sheiks even more puzzling. And as for Afghanistan, even Barack Obama could not seem to muster much of an argument for its strategic importance. At a July 26, 2008 McClatchy Newspaper interview he said:
I’m not here to lay out a comprehensive military strategy. That’s the job of our commanders on the ground. I can tell you what our strategic goals should be. They should be relatively modest. We shouldn’t want to take over the country. We should want to get out of there as quickly as we can and help the Afghans govern themselves and provide for their own security. Our critical goal should be to make sure that the Taliban and al Qaida are routed and that they cannot project threats against us from that region. And to do that I think we need more troops. I also think that we need to deal with the situation in Pakistan and the fact that terrorists are able to operate with relative freedom of movement there right now.
This is a remarkable statement, a complete admission that even if he accomplished all he set out to do, he would not accomplish much. He doesn’t call for a defeat of the Taliban — which would be meaningless — and still less for dismantling of Islamic extremism. One can’t help thinking that Obama’s reason for redeploying to Afghanistan is because it is not Iraq. That is strategic vision of a sort, but of a very political kind.

Pajamas Media

H/T Jeffrey

No I had not seen it.

Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani on Pakistan's Future

On the second day of his weeklong visit, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani gives an address on stability in Pakistan and the future of democracy in the country. On his first trip to the U.S., he met with Pres. Bush yesterday to discuss combating extremists.


30 killed as fighting escalates in Pakistan valley

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) - Pakistani troops battled Islamic militants in a valley near the Afghan border Wednesday, killing 25 insurgents and losing five soldiers as escalating combat threatened the new government's policy of offering peace to pro-Taliban groups.

Authorities said security forces also chased off another band of extremists from a town elsewhere in the Swat Valley, a day after militants captured at least 25 police officers and paramilitary troops and clashes killed two soldiers and two militants.

The military, meanwhile, rejected new claims that Pakistan's main intelligence service has ties with Islamic hard-liners allied with the Taliban and al-Qaida.

Under U.S. pressure to crack down on militant sanctuaries along the border, Pakistan's 4-month-old government has sought to reach peace deals with fundamentalist Islamic groups in the northwestern tribal areas but increasing violence is raising questions about that approach.

Wednesday's clash in Swat began when militants attacked a security post about 12 miles from Mingora, the valley's main town, the army spokesman, Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, said. He said troops repelled the attack, killing 25 militants and wounding many more, while five soldiers, including two officers, also died.

Another group of about 70 militants tried to seize the market area of the town of Matta, but fled when reinforcements reached the police station, Abbas said.

"The situation in Swat is that curfew has been imposed and security forces have been given orders to take strict action wherever militants or miscreants are involved in such actions," he said.

It was not possible to independently confirm the casualty toll because the army refused to let journalists travel to the area.

An aide to Muslim cleric Mullah Fazlullah, Swat's main militant leader, disputed the army's version. Muslim Khan told The Associated Press that only five pro-Taliban militants died in the battle and claimed the insurgents killed more than 30 soldiers.

"The morale of our Taliban is high and security forces are retreating in several areas," Khan said.

An around-the-clock curfew was imposed in the Swat Valley after Tuesday's fighting.

Civilians scurried to buy food Wednesday when the curfew was lifted for an hour during the afternoon. Some people headed to safer areas.

Qazi Shaukat, a 44-year-old shopkeeper in Mingora, said the escalation in violence had killed his business and made life hard for his family.

"We are thinking about leaving this place permanently. But what can I do? My children go to school and college here. How would I get them admitted to some other place?" he said.

Followers of Fazlullah, who rallies support using a pirate FM radio station, seized parts of the valley last year before an army offensive drove them back.

The cleric struck a peace deal with the provincial government in May that provided for the release of prisoners and concessions on militants' demands for the use of Islamic law, but the two sides have traded accusations that the other is violating the terms.

Army and government officials refused to comment Wednesday on whether the Swat agreement was dead, and Fazlullah's spokesman stopped short of disowning it.

"If the government doesn't announce a formal end to this deal, neither will we," Khan said.

Ikram Sehgal, a Pakistani defense analyst, said the flare-up bore out warnings that militants in Swat entered into the cease-fire deal only to buy time to regroup.

He predicted peace negotiations in all the tribal areas along the Afghan frontier would quickly break down, partly because of the growing links between militant groups.

While the government's approach has reduced the number of suicide attacks in Pakistan, NATO complains that the talks and truces have allowed militant groups to step up attacks in Afghanistan.

Pakistan also faces accusations - most vocally from the Afghan government - that its Inter-Services Intelligence agency continues to support Taliban militants even though the previous military government of President Pervez Musharraf allied with Washington after the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S.

A U.S. counterterrorism official in Washington said Wednesday that the Bush administration suspects rogue elements in the ISI are helping militants stage attacks in Afghanistan from strongholds in Pakistan's tribal areas.

The official, who insisted on anonymity because it was sensitive matter involving a critical U.S. ally, outlined the U.S. suspicions while confirming a New York Times report that a top CIA official confronted Pakistani officials with evidence that ISI agents have ties with a network led by Jalaluddin Haqqani, a key figure in the Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan.

Abbas confirmed that Stephen R. Kappes, the CIA's deputy director, had accompanied Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in meetings with Pakistani generals this month.

Abbas said he did not know if the CIA official presented any information on alleged links between the ISI and militants. But he insisted such allegations are "unfounded and baseless."

"ISI has contributed the maximum in fighting the war on terror for the coalition, particularly for the United States," Abbas said.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack declined to comment specifically on the story. He said there was "every indication" Pakistan's government is committed to confronting extremists.


Iraqi parliament deadlocks over Kirkuk

BAGHDAD (AP) - Iraqi lawmakers on Wednesday scheduled an emergency weekend meeting during summer recess to resolve disagreements that have blocked a provincial elections law and threaten a new wave of bloodshed in the disputed northern city of Kirkuk.

The proposed law has raised ethnic tensions in the oil-rich area, which is emerging as one of the biggest threats to U.S.-backed efforts to heal the country's sectarian rifts and prevent a resurgence of violence.

The standoff over control of Kirkuk, 180 miles north of Baghdad, is also the latest example of Iraqi political deadlock despite impressive military gains against Shiite militias and Sunni insurgents.

Parliamentary speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani scheduled a special meeting for Sunday after a deadline passed for the elections law to be ratified in time for the lawmakers' monthlong summer break, which began after Wednesday's session.

"The committee discussing Kirkuk could not find a solution and has asked for more time," al-Mashhadani said. "The problem of Kirkuk is a complicated one, and failure to reach a solution will lead to more bloodshed."

The law enabling elections in Iraq's 18 provinces would divide the ruling council in Tamim - of which Kirkuk is the largest city - equally among Kurds, Turkomen and Arabs. But Kurds and their allies now hold a majority on the Tamim provincial council and oppose any move that would diminish their power.

Kurds consider Kirkuk part of their historical homeland, and are seeking to incorporate it into their semiautonomous region to the north. Arabs and most Turkomen want the Kirkuk area to remain under central government rule.

Tensions escalated Monday after a suicide bomber in Kirkuk struck during a Kurdish demonstration against the legislation, killing 25 people and wounding 187.

The U.S. military and local officials said al-Qaida in Iraq was behind the attack. But dozens of angry Kurds stormed the offices of a rival Turkoman political party believing that the ethnic minority was to blame.

Meanwhile, protests against the election bill have drawn thousands of people daily.

With negotiations at a standstill, U.N. officials put forward a compromise, suggesting provincial elections be delayed in the Kirkuk area while going ahead in the 17 other provinces, according to a copy obtained by The Associated Press from an Iraqi lawmaker.

It suggested a committee should offer new recommendations on the issue so parliament can set a date for the vote by Dec. 31 at the latest.

Sunni lawmaker Mohammed al-Daini welcomed the proposal.

"The only option we have is to delay the provincial elections in Kirkuk, but meanwhile we should have guarantees for the equal distribution of power there," he said.

Failure to compromise on a new law establishing rules and funding for the U.S.-backed provincial vote will likely force the vote to be delayed until next year. Under previous legislation, the election had been scheduled for Oct. 1, but will now probably be put off until December at the earliest.

Lawmakers pushed through a draft of the elections law earlier this month despite a walkout by the Kurdish bloc, but the measure was vetoed by the presidential council, which is led by a Kurd, Jalal Talabani.

U.S. officials have pushed hard for the elections, considered a necessary step toward national reconciliation. Many Sunni Arabs boycotted provincial balloting in January 2005, enabling Shiites and Kurds to win a disproportionate share of power at the local level.

The U.S. military has expressed hope that security gains from an American troop buildup would enable the Iraqi government to make political progress.

But the Iraqis have been unable to push through key laws needed to establish guidelines and funding for the provincial elections and to govern the equal distribution of oil. Both issues have bogged down because of Kurdish objections.

Lawmakers on Wednesday also failed to approve a supplementary budget of $21 billion after the Kurdish bloc walked out of parliament to protest the elections law.

"We have walked out in protest to link this with elections law," prominent Kurdish lawmaker Mahmoud Othman said. "We will not vote for the budget until we vote for the election law."

Finance Minister Bayan Jabr said the additional funding would increase the overall budget to $70 billion this year and was needed for government expenditures on food rations, fuel for power plants and raises for civil servants.

Parliament's summer recess began as the U.S.-backed Iraqi military pressed forward with a new operation aimed at routing al-Qaida in Iraq-led insurgents from Diyala province, one of their last major strongholds near the capital.

The house-to-house search operations, focused on the provincial capital of Baqouba, will be extended to rugged areas near the Iranian border, said Ibrahim Bajilan, the head of the regional council. He said the crackdown involved about 50,000 Iraqi police and soldiers, and would last about two weeks.

Diyala has been one of the hardest provinces to control despite numerous military operations. Baqouba has enjoyed security improvements recently but continues to see attacks, such as twin suicide bombings that killed at least 28 people on July 15 and a number of suicide attacks carried out by female bombers.


I support the Kurds, they should hold out to get an agreement now. The UN is full of shit. If they cant get it now, at the zenith of power, then when.

IOC agrees to Internet blocking at the Games

BEIJING: The Chinese government confirmed Wednesday what journalists arriving at the lavishly outfitted media center here had suspected: Contrary to previous assurances by Olympic and government officials, the Internet would be censored during the upcoming games.

Since the Olympic Village press center opened Friday, reporters have been unable to access scores of Web pages - politically sensitive ones that discuss Tibetan succession, Taiwanese independence, the violent crackdown of the protests in Tiananmen Square and the sites of Amnesty International, Radio Free Asia and several Hong Kong newspapers known for their freewheeling political discourse.

On Wednesday - two weeks after its most recent proclamation of an uncensored Internet during the Summer Games - the International Olympic Committee quietly agreed to some of the limitations, according to Kevan Gosper, chairman of the IOC press commission, Reuters reported.

Gosper said that he regretted the limitations but that "IOC officials negotiated with the Chinese that some sensitive sites would be blocked on the basis they were not considered Games related."

A government spokesman initially suggested the problems originated with the site hosts, but on Wednesday, he acknowledged that journalists would not have unfettered Internet use during the Games, which begin Aug. 8.

"It has been our policy to provide the media with convenient and sufficient access to the Internet," said Sun Weide, the chief spokesman for the Beijing Olympics organizing committee. "I believe our policy will not affect reporters' coverage of the Olympic games."

The Chinese government and the IOC had repeatedly suggested up until two weeks ago that the 20,000 journalists covering the games would have full Internet access. Jacques Rogge, the International Olympic committee president, declared that the foreign media would be able to report and publish its work freely in China and that the Internet would be uncensored.

The revelation that politically sensitive Web pages will be off limits to foreign reporters comes at a time of growing skepticism about the government's commitment to pledges made when it won the right to stage the games in 2001: that it would improve its record on human rights and provide athletes with clean air.

Despite a litany of measures that include restricting private vehicles and shuttering factories, Beijing's skyline in recent days has been shrouded in a thick haze, prompting some hang-wringing over whether the government can deliver on its promise of a "blue skies" Olympics.

In recent months, human rights advocates have accused Beijing of stepping up the detention and surveillance of those it fears could disrupt the Games. On Tuesday, President George W. Bush privately met with five Chinese dissidents at the White House to drive home his dissatisfaction with the pace of change. Bush, who leaves for the opening ceremonies in just over a week, also pressed China's foreign minister to ease political repression.

Concerns about free access to the Internet in Beijing had intensified Tuesday, when Western journalists working at the main press center in Beijing said they could not get to Amnesty International's Web site to see the group's critical report on China's failure to improve its human rights record ahead of the Olympics.

Journalist groups complained last week about treatment from security officials while trying to interview people waiting in line for Olympic tickets, according to Bloomberg News.

Jonathan Watts, president of The Foreign Correspondents Club of China, said he was disappointed that Beijing had failed to honor its agreement to temporarily remove the elaborate firewall that prevents ordinary Chinese from fully using the Internet. "Obviously if reporters can't access all the sites they want to see, they can't do their jobs," he said. "Unfortunately, such restrictions are normal for reporters in China, but the Olympics were supposed to be different."

Sandrine Tonge, the IOC media relations coordinator, said the organization would press the Chinese authorities to reconsider the limits.

How to circumvent censors
Reporters Without Borders is encouraging journalists covering the Beijing Olympics to skirt censorship with tips on how to get around firewalls, lock computer files and find safe translators, The Associated Press reported from Paris.

In a guide published on the Internet on Wednesday, the organization advised reporters to conduct phone calls and write e-mail messages with the knowledge that they might be monitored.

The new guide will probably help only journalists who have not yet left for Beijing: The press freedom group says its Web site,, remains blocked in China. The country has backed away from a promise to lift all Internet blocks on foreign media.


What pimps. They would sell their mothers ass for a profit. All of um

Chavez to U.S. Navy: “Back Off!”

"Two weeks ago the U.S. Navy reactivated the long-defunct 4th Fleet to oversea American warships in South American waters. It was part of the Navy’s new emphasis on the world’s former backwaters, Africa included. The idea? To use a little gunboat diplomacy, plus humanitarian missions and international exercises, to shore up security in developing countries and prevent simmering conflicts from becoming crises.
But Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez doesn’t see it that way. “I don’t have any doubt it’s a threat,” he said of the 4th Fleet in early July. And this week, in a letter to Fidel Castro, Chavez accused the U.S. of rekindling the Cold War through its actions down south. “They’re trying … to press the fear buttons,” he said.

But how scary is this? Next week I’ll join the USS Kearsarge amphibious ship for a mission to Nicaragua handing out free medical care. Such “medical diplomacy” is one of 4th Fleet’s primary missions, according to Southern Command boss Admiral James Stavridis. The admiral said the hospital ship Comfort (pictured) saw 400,000 patients during its recent four-month southern cruise.

Kearsarge’s mission will be “similar,” Stavridis said."
War is Boring

FAQ Version 1.0

"I did not smoke while composing this.

Since I was featured on the military website “The Donovan” I’ve received a traffic explosion that is actually a little frightening. I first started this blog as a sort of virtual memory-jogger and set of breadcrumbs for my friends and co-workers. It has turned into something that people talk about around the water cooler at work and read in the cafes of Paris.

One person even went so far as to say that my blog was like watching Larry David’s: “Curb Your Enthusiasm” but set someplace hotter than Los Angeles.

Ok, I’ll admit that I’m a bit like Larry David: Oversexed, overwhelmed, under confident, and perpetually realizing that the joke is always on me.

I’ve gotten a lot of questions since that July 23rd posting from The Donovan. So here are some of the answers:"
Big Tobacco

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


"Soldiers are not devices that were sharply made in a factory with a strict production plan so that all the products will be exactly the same and the ones that aren't due to some malfunction in one of the production units can be thrown away, Of course they aren't, any army is not a one-unit system, they are just humans and the laws of human psychology applies to all of them, the army (no matter the country) is like any humans group or gathering, it's like a society where you can find the good one and the bad one, just like all the human societies where the bad ones always try to hide their evil and wear the mask of goodness and wait for the right time to release the Satan inside them when there might be no one watching or when they have the power and authority to do evil with a very slight possibility that they might be punished…in the hard times and after some traumatic incidents the good ones might turn bad also; as everybody knows even the most honest and good men have a dark spot and a corner for evil inside them where evil can't wait to go out from that corner in which it has been kept for so many years."
Last of Iraqis

what's going on nowadays...

"Hi , how are you? Different topics,take my attention nowadays, and different funny video I'd like to share with you... First of all, let me show you what's going these days in Faluja and Ramadi which was the hottest area one day...................... believe it or not.............
this is KFC in Faluja, yes itsn't real franchise, they just taken the name.

“it a successful experiment that the city of Fallujah are open to the world and are currently receiving all manifestations of modernity and Western restaurants,most of our costumers from young people like to get out on the tradition even in the food and experience of those meals, especially meat and cheese segments which are in demand, adding that the love of change pushed me to go to this type of work “, the owner of the KFC fast food, Omar Kazem said.
Source: Arabic report

We are busy nowadays for security preparation for annual anniversary of Imam Musa Ja'far Al-Kazem's death (the seventh of the Twelver Shia Imams., more information about Imam Musa Ja'far Al-Kazem,you can find it below:"
Iraqi Translator's

I'm Online At The Plantation

"Over the past month, my friends know whether I'm at home or at the plantation according to my online status... but no more! For now I have a GPRS connection here at the plantation. It's so nice.

It was on my way here last Wednesday that I got the SMS message from Iraqna (but which is now called Zain) saying that the GPRS service is now available and to call to activate it. I called and requested they activate it the next day and they told me to wait 48 hours... well it's been five days that I've been waiting but it finally works after I figured out that I have to include the modem initialization command into my laptop because I kept getting Error 734 PPP link something.

Everything's going fairly smooth over here at the farm. Still not on top of things and I've got a few problems here and there. I've got a cousin that owes me a hundred bucks and that I feel might be avoiding me because of it. There's a lady at the land registry office that won't process my request for land certificates unless I bribe her. I'm going to call dad to see what to do about her."
Baghdad bacon an Eggs

Video tape the bribe, then put it up on the internet.
Remember to make sure there is no identifying information on the video you make.

IRAQ: The colonel deploys to Fallouja

Fallouja, once the hub of the Sunni insurgency, is now deemed safe enough for American fast-food franchises.
In a neighborhood where the U.S. fought two bloody battles against insurgents in 2004, a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet has opened.

Said to be popular with Iraqis and with Marines who still patrol the streets.
Babylon & Beyond

Extra crispy, just has to have a different meaning in Fallouja

Afghan government detains critical talk show host

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - Afghan intelligence agents detained a TV talk show host critical of the government, the president's spokesman confirmed Tuesday, accusing private media of coming under the influence of foreign countries.

The government said in a statement that Nasir Fayaz, who hosted a weekly show called "Truth," made baseless accusations against two ministers and called for his prosecution.

"The Cabinet decided that such people, and any other persons who are working in the media and are making baseless accusations, should be prosecuted," the statement said.

Humayun Hamidzada, the chief spokesman for President Hamid Karzai, confirmed that Fayaz was still being held Tuesday by the Afghan National Directorate of Security.

On Sunday, Fayaz's show was taken off the air after the Ariana Television Network received a phone call from the intelligence service agent ordering them to stop the broadcast, said Abdul Qadir Mirzai, a spokesman for the station.

"(The intelligence officer) told me are you going to stop the program now or am I going to need to send someone to stop it," Mirzai said. The channel complied. Mirzai said Fayaz was detained on Monday.

Hamidzada claimed some foreign countries were trying to influence events in Afghanistan by financing media outlets.

"They want to attack the people of Afghanistan and the government of Afghanistan using these media," Hamidzada said, without naming any country or any media company.

It was unclear if he was referring to foreign governments and organizations, mostly from the West, that provide aid in the form of grants and training to Afghan media networks, or possibly to neighboring countries such as Pakistan or Iran. Kabul has accused Pakistan of supporting the Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan - a charge the government in Islamabad denies.

Hamidzada claimed that some Afghan media ran editorials sent by e-mail from abroad, but provided no examples or evidence.

Since the fall of the Taliban regime following the U.S.-led invasion in late 2001, private media have flourished in Afghanistan and have been touted as part of the success story of the country's new democracy. Television and music was banned during the Taliban rule.

But religious conservatives often bristle over the content, including women singing on TV or presenting the news, and the government has not always taken kindly to criticism of its performance.


You would think there would be an investigation of the ministers first if any action were taken

US-Iraq forces begin new offensive in Diyala

BAGHDAD (AP) - U.S.-backed Iraqi troops sealed off Baqouba and staged house-to-house searches Tuesday as they began a new offensive in Diyala province in the latest bid to clear al-Qaida in Iraq from its last major belt near the capital.

Iraqi security forces hope to build on recent security successes elsewhere in a new test of the country's readiness to take over its own security and enable American troops to withdraw eventually.

The U.S. military said the improved abilities of the Iraqi troops have enabled the Americans to play a less high-profile role in operations, helping to lower the number of U.S. casualties so far this year.

Only nine American troop deaths have been recorded in Iraq in July with only two days left, according to an Associated Press tally based on military figures. The July figures also include the recovery of the bodies of two U.S. soldiers, kidnapped last year, raising the official monthly toll to 11 as of Tuesday.

So far, the lowest monthly death toll for American troops in Iraq was 19 in May. From January to July 2007, there were 655 U.S. military deaths. This year, there have been 219 deaths until now.

"We're more of either enablers or overwatch and providing support as the Iraqis go out in front and conduct these operations," said U.S. military spokesman Lt. Patrick Evans. He said that has helped "reduce many of the numbers across the board."

Sunnis in Diyala and elsewhere often have complained of discrimination at the hands of the Shiite-led government, saying it was ignoring them by focusing on security in Shiite areas. A Sunni decision to join forces with the Americans against al-Qaida in Iraq has been slower to take hold in the province.

Despite numerous military operations, al-Qaida in Iraq has found sanctuary for years in Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, and more remote areas of surrounding Diyala province. The terror group's notorious leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed in a U.S. airstrike in the province in June 2006.

The religiously mixed area contains key supply routes to Baghdad and northern cities. It has been plagued not only by attacks against U.S. and Iraqi forces, but also by the kidnappings and sectarian killings.

"The goal of the operation is to seek out and destroy criminal elements and terrorist threats in Diyala and eliminate smuggling corridors in the surrounding area," the U.S. military said in a statement, stressing it was an Iraqi-led operation.

Baqouba, the provincial capital, has enjoyed recent security improvements but continues to see horrific attacks, such as twin suicide bombings that killed at least 28 people on July 15 and a number of suicide attacks carried out by women.

The new Diyala operation - dubbed "Omens of Prosperity" - follows recent gains against Sunni insurgents in the northern city of Mosul and Shiite militiamen in Baghdad and the southern cities of Basra and Amarah.

Critics said previous operations in Diyala failed in large part because the advance publicity tipped off insurgents, who left the area only to return when the offensive was over. But this time, there is far less friendly territory to which they can flee because of the Sunni revolt against al-Qaida.

On Tuesday, U.S. soldiers took up posts at checkpoints on roads leading to Baqouba but stayed on the outskirts as Iraqi soldiers and police searched buildings inside, meeting little resistance, according to witnesses.

Streets were largely deserted as the operation got under way in the morning. Residents said they were afraid to leave their houses, though some later emerged to buy food at nearby stores.

The normally bustling central market - once the site of public execution-style killings by al-Qaida but more recently touted as a military success story - was closed. Troops armed with a wanted list sought al-Qaida remnants in the network's former strongholds.

Many in Baqouba welcomed the effort despite the inconvenience.

Taxi driver Sadiq Hamid, who said he was out of work for the day because of a curfew, said women and children were waving at the Iraqi troops patrolling in the streets.

"I am stuck at home and the children are playing soccer in the streets," he said, expressing hope some of his neighbors who had fled to Baghdad would return. "The residents of Diyala have been waiting this moment for a long time."

But Ahmed Kadim, a 35-year-old businessman in the city, criticized the decision to announce the operation in advance, saying it had "allowed armed groups to flee outside the province."


`Martyrs' List' tallies Mahdi Army's troubles

BAGHDAD (AP) - Loyalists within Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's militia network call it the "martyrs' list," and it's long and growing: At least three dozen senior members killed in slayings or fighting since last summer and nearly 60 others detained.

The internal document - obtained by The Associated Press - offers a rare look at how the top echelon of the Mahdi Army militia is assessing the sustained blows to its once-mighty shadow state and the challenges to its absentee leader al-Sadr, who is holed up in Iran.

It also underscores the twin pressures on al-Sadr's followers.

Shiite rivals are waging gangland-style hits with diminishing fear of reprisals. Iraqi-led forces, meanwhile, are pressing their advantage against al-Sadr's weakened network - militia cells, quasi-civic groups and street-level operatives who have all crafted reputations as the champions of the Shiite poor.

Each chip in al-Sadr's power base seems to tip the scales a bit more in favor of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his pro-American allies. Most important, the shifts give the government more confidence and room to widen its influence over Shiite politics, the key to control of the country.

As recently as this spring, the Mahdi Army still looked to be gaining ground on its dream of influencing Iraqi affairs the way Hezbollah exerts itself in Lebanon. Now, the al-Sadr leadership is penning more names onto its list and looking how to rebound.

The latest entry in the martyrs' list was July 18 after gunmen waited at a highway choke point to ambush Sheik Saffaa al-Lami, a midlevel al-Sadr functionary who headed the office in the New Baghdad neighborhood in the eastern part of the capital.

He joined 35 other names, including Riyadh al-Nouri, the director of al-Sadr's office in the southern city of Najaf - the spiritual and operational center of al-Sadr's forces where the Mahdi Army fought street-by-street battles with U.S. troops in 2004. Al-Nouri was gunned down in April as he returned from Friday prayers.

The list also has at least 58 midlevel to senior figures and militia commanders who have been detained by U.S. or Iraqi forces.

The al-Sadr leadership began the tally last summer to count perceived abuses after the Mahdi Army declared a shaky truce. Many of the incidents on the list were widely reported, but some could not be independently confirmed.

"No doubt we are facing pressures," Sheik Salah al-Obeidi, spokesman for the al-Sadr movement, told the AP. "Each time we are hit, it encourages others to do the same. But, I assure you, we are not going to break or disappear."

The Madhi Army has never released figures on its membership, but the Iraq Study Group in December 2006 estimated it could have ranged as high as 60,000 fighters. Defections and feuds suggest the current number is smaller.

The Iraqi government, meanwhile, also is gaining some breathing space on another front as al-Qaida in Iraq and other Sunni insurgents are down to only a few key footholds around Iraq.

So who is hunting the al-Sadr ranks?

The targeted slayings are widely blamed on power struggles between al-Sadr's militia and government-allied Shiite groups, which have been mostly absorbed into the security forces.

Meanwhile, al-Sadr's own foundations may be cracking.

Some factions are drifting into the government's fold before important provincial elections, which could come late this year. The mainline al-Sadr forces do not plan to field candidates.

"There is a perception of weakness around al-Sadr now and people will take advantage of that," said Marina Ottaway, director of the Middle East program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.

The Mahdi Army is also on its heels after a series of Iraqi-led offensives that began in March in the southern oil hub of Basra. It then spread to other al-Sadr strongholds, including Baghdad's Sadr City - named for the cleric's father.

The security forces said the main target was breakaway militia groups backed by Iran and not the regular Mahdi Army. But the net effect left the Madhi Army uprooted in its main areas.

Al-Sadr, however, has been an outside observer from the Iranian seminary city of Qom since last year. His aides say he is engaged in religious study. But his absence from Iraq has opened speculation that Tehran could want to bolster ties with al-Makiki and doesn't want the firebrand al-Sadr in the mix.

Al-Obeidi would not elaborate on al-Sadr's self-exile. But he acknowledged: "It encourages our enemies."

No military commander is ready to dismiss the chance of a Mahdi Army resurgence. But its current trajectory shows how much - and how rapidly - its fortunes have changed.

The ambush of Sheik al-Lami offers something of a roadmap to the Madhi Army's diminished grip.

Until about May, the New Baghdad district where he was killed was fully under the control of Mahdi Army checkpoints and patrols that flew banners of al-Sadr. Iraqi forces now move through the area at will.

At his funeral procession, a few hardline Mahdi Army militants chanted against the Iraqi military, calling them occupiers. A shopkeeper, who gave his name only as Ahmed, watched the cortege and dismissed it with a wave of his hand.

"The Mahdi Army acted like kings here and not like helpers of the people," he complained.

Ahmed - still too fearful of Madhi Army backers to give his full name - said the al-Sadr network had controlled nearly everything from the price of cooking fuel to what type of displays appeared in store windows. He put up a poster of al-Sadr to avoid any trouble.

In many places around Baghdad, the former swagger of al-Sadr's followers has given way to worries about trying to hold the movement together.

On Friday in Sadr City, an imam finished prayers by chastising members of al-Sadr's bloc in parliament for appearing to abandon the former Mahdi Army strongholds.

"They stay away like they are strangers," said Sattar al-Battat. "Either they rally to our side or we should cast them off."



"...In order to conjure an excuse to make people take to the streets in defense of the very helpless TSK, they needed an incident: Güngören. This is why Baykal now takes the opportunity to whip the people into a frenzy and, in addition to drumming up support for TSK, he would also like to see a street mob out against AKP.

The icing on the cake can be found in a video at Fethullah Gülen's Zaman. The home video was filmed from a balcony by a resident of Güngören.

In the video, the first bomb has already gone off and a crowd continues to gather. According to reports, there was about a 10 minute delay between the first bomb and the detonation of the second bomb. However, as you watch the video you will see something very unusual for Turkey. There has been an explosion some ten minutes earlier, and there are no police present. There are no police vehicles, no flashing lights, no one securing the crime scene. The police station is a five minute walk from the scene of the bombings; less by police vehicle. So why are no police there?"

Monday, July 28, 2008

Damn, there is tons of post to read and blog, but I am tired as hell. So you'll just have to suffer the internet without me till I find more time and stamina to do this thing right. I look at my reader with fear and loathing. So much to read and every day I fall further behind.

What a quagmire this blog is becoming..

Publicity is...a good thing?

CPT G has gotten a little bit of publicity today. A local paper in Reno ran a profile on CPT G as someone from Reno serving in Iraq. The focus of the article was on CPT G and his decision to join the military. There was, of course, a lot written on his blog and what has happened to it in the last few months. Though extremely well written, the newspaper does not have much of a readership outside of the 775 area code. It did make the front page, though, picture and all.

A second article was written in the Washington Post and made the front page of the Style section. This article definitely focused more on the blog and the spiral effect that has occurred since it got shut down. Even before I woke up there were emails to Kaboom from people who had seen the article. It seems the reporter was a big fan of the blog before it got shut down and was sort of ticked off that he couldn't read it anymore. His solution: write about. Sounds like something CPT G would do.

I am not putting up links for either, but I know how crafty you readers can be. I am sure within a few hours most of you will have read and forwarded the articles to everyone you know. Most of you have already found archived posts from the original Kaboom.

Thank you Kaboom readers. Had you not made such a fuss about its termination, I do not think there would have been such an interest in CPT G and his writing in the news. We shall see what comes of all of this. Good or bad, CPT G has gotten his name out there. Who knows, maybe there will be a write-up in Newsweek in the coming months. Hey, a girl can dream, right?"

Enemies With Benefits

"Don't tell the pathetic non-serving members of the old media (and new media), but the surge wasn't wholly responsible for the drop in violence seen in Iraq over the last year. I have outlined the three main reasons violence has subsided, but one of the more important aspects is still largely misunderstood and mischaracterized by the punditry across the country.

The 'awakening group' movement first appeared in Anbar in late 2005 (or if you're John McCain, it started in a time warp before and after the surge) and has since grown to a large, lethal force that battles elements of al-Qaeda in Iraq and the Islamic State of Iraq. That is usually where the media narrative leaves you, insinuating that these groups are patriotic volunteers casting out the demons of al-Qaeda. What they don't mention is both the original motivations for these groups and their history of battling American soldiers. One of the latest to operate (and propped up by my unit in Diyala Province) is the 1920 Revolution Brigade. I covered their nationalist history a year ago, citing their name was a throwback to the 1920 revolution to oust British influence. So this group in particular didn't start in 2005, 2006 or even 2007, but in 2003 for one reason: to attack and kill Americans.

They got pretty good at it. While in Baghdad in late 2006 and early 2007, any group that we battled that wasn't Sadr's militia was likely the 1920s. Their most dramatic act?"

Army of Dude

Agitprop on Active Duty

"The Army Captain that penned the email heard round the blogosphere about Obama blowing off the troops in Afghanistan is currently in the shits because he made a bunch of it up to flex his political leanings. The rules for talking agitprop in uniform and on the blogosphere can be found here, but it's pretty much taboo in the officer corps to discuss politics at all. Taco from The Sandgram outranks the Army CPT in question, and has first-hand knowledge of what really happened at Bagram. He sums it up pretty well:"
LT Nixon Rants

Chris Hedges

Info: His latest book is called "Collateral Damage: America's War Against Iraqi Civilians." Hedges and his co-author Laila Al-Arian interviewed US military eyewitnesses who told them about Americans actions against Iraqi civilians and how those actions have impacted the Iraqi view of U.S. forces there. Chris Hedges is a former Middle East Bureau Chief for The New York Times. In 2002 he was part of the team that won a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He has also worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, and The Dallas Morning News. He is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute. His previous books include "War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning."


Sort of doom and gloom, but very interesting and worth watching


Here's something I've been holding for a few days until I could get to it: excerpts from Yeni Özgür Politika's report on the execution of five Kurds by the Islamic Republic of Iran:
Iran executed five more Kurds

Being helpless against PJAK guerrillas, Iran began executions in order to suppress the Kurdish freedom struggle and the people's support.

Iran, which executed Hasan Hikmet Demir while he was wounded, this time executed five Kurds, one of whom was a fifteen-year-old child, for helping PJAK. The spokesman for the Islamic Republic of Iran judiciary forces, Ali Rıza Cemşidi, just one month ago had a statement in front of cameras that they were not executing people under the age of 18. However, the Islamic Republic of Iran, which thinks the Kurds deserve the dirtiest methods, convicted five East Kurdistanis under the charge of helping PJAK. Five people, one of whom was a fifteen-year-old boy, were executed in an open field in Tebriz. Iran disregarded the condition in Islam which bans the execution of people before reaching adulthood when it came to the fifteen-year-old Kurdish boy.

Wounded Demir executed

PJAK member Hasan Hikmet Demir was also executed on 20 February 2007, where he was held in the city of Xoy, Elendi region. Code-named Agıt, Hasan Hikmet Demir was arrested last year while he was implementing political activities for the people. Demir escaped from prison and was caught in the Kelareş area, where his feet were frostbitten from snow. For a long time he was kept in a cell and was subjected to torture. Amnesty International began an emergency action campaign on Demir's behalf. Iranian state forces wounded Demir and forcefully executed him while he was bleeding.

Children are being executed

Regarding Iran's human rights, Amnesty International campaigns mentioned that they do not know whether Iran executes children because of its closed system. [?] One of the campaign's spokesmen, Hadi Ghaemi, "Iran is the only country where children are punished with the death penalty." He continued: "This barbaric method is being justified by Islamic law; however, these laws are being debated by several religious scholars." The campaigners mentioned that in the last ten years, 177 children were sentenced to the death penalty; At least 34 of these children were executed and 114 are awaiting execution. Ghaemi said, "It is a shame for Iran to increase the number of children that it executes while the whole world is abolishing the death penalty."

Iran is the first

According to a report from Human Rights Watch, children were executed only in Iran, Sudan, China, and Pakistan since 2004. When compared to the population, Iran is number one [in child executions].

In spite of its international commitment

There are two main international agreements that ban the execution of children: Children's Rights Agreement [of the UN General Assembly] and the [International Covenant on] Civil and Political Rights. Iran had approved both. Iran's executions of children is expected to be brought up in a report in the UN General Assembly in September.

Police link US man's computer to India bomb e-mail

AHMADABAD, India (AP) - Police raided the home of an American citizen in Mumbai, India's financial capital, and seized a computer from which an e-mail claiming responsibility for bombings that killed 45 people in western India was believed to have been sent, officials said Monday.

The 48-year-old American has not been detained and is not currently a suspect, police said.

Anti-terror police also arrested an underworld figure in Ahmadabad with apparent ties to a banned Muslim group and were determining whether he had any connection to the weekend attack in the city, said deputy police chief Ashish Bhatia.

At least 16 bombs tore through Ahmadabad around dusk Saturday, killing 45 people and wounding 161 others, said state Health Minister Jaynarayan Vyas. It was the second series of blasts in India in two days.

An obscure Islamic militant group took credit for the Ahmadabad attack.

"In the name of Allah the Indian Mujahideen strike again! Do whatever you can, within 5 minutes from now, feel the terror of Death!" said an e-mail from the group sent to several Indian television stations minutes before the blasts began.

The e-mail's subject line said "Await 5 minutes for the revenge of Gujarat," an apparent reference to 2002 riots in the western state that left 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, dead. The historic city of Ahmadabad was the scene of much of the 2002 violence.

Saturday's e-mail, sent from a Yahoo account and written in English, was made available to the AP by CNN-IBN, one of the TV stations that received the warning.

Late Sunday, police raided a home in a Mumbai suburb rented by the U.S. citizen, believing the e-mail may have been sent from a computer there. Mumbai police Chief Hassan Gafoor said police confiscated a computer and were analyzing the hard drive.

Police said it is likely the e-mail was forwarded and may not have originated from the computer of the U.S. citizen.

Kirit Sonawane, a police officer involved in the raid, said the American was a resident of California, but gave no other details. "We have not registered any offense. The mail may have been forwarded from his computer," he said.

A.N. Roy, the state police chief of Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the capital, said no arrests had been made. "He is not yet a suspect," Roy said of the U.S. national, declining to give any further details about the e-mail.

"We have not yet come to any conclusions about that yet. Inquiries are on," Roy said.

State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos said the U.S. had no information about the detention. Gallegos offered condolences and called the attack a "heinous act."

In Ahmadabad, police arrested a man identified as Abdul Haleem who was suspected of involvement in the plot, Bhatia said. Haleem had ties to the banned Students' Islamic Movement of India and groups involved in the 2002 riots, he said.

On Monday, an Ahmadabad court ordered Haleem held for 14 days.

The group that claimed responsibility for the Ahmadabad attacks was unknown before May, when it said it was behind a series of bombings in Jaipur, also in western India, that killed 61 people.

In the e-mail, the group did not mention the bombings that killed two people a day earlier in Bangalore, and it was not clear if the attacks were connected.

The Saturday bombs went off in two separate spates. The first, near a busy market, left some of the dead sprawled beside stands piled high with fruit, next to twisted bicycles. The second group of blasts went off near a hospital.

On Monday Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the leader of India's governing Congress party, Sonia Gandhi, arrived in Ahmadabad and visited wounded survivors at the hospital that was also the site of one of Saturday's blasts.

India has been hit repeatedly by bombings in recent years. Nearly all have been blamed on Islamic militants who allegedly want to provoke violence between India's Hindu majority and Muslim minority, although officials rarely offer hard evidence implicating a specific group.


The American victory in Iraq sure is having some ugly repercussions around the world, as angry, dejected and disgruntled terrorist drudge their way home...No wonder no one wanted us to win the Iraq War.

Al-Qaida figure reported killed in missile strike

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) - Missiles hit a building in a Pakistani village on the border with Afghanistan on Monday, and intelligence officials said they were investigating reports that a senior al-Qaida figure was among six people killed.

Pakistan's army said it had not confirmed the strike killed al-Qaida operative Abu Khabab al-Masri, described by Washington as an expert who trained terrorists in the use of poisons and explosives. The U.S. offers a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture.

A Pakistani military intelligence official said al-Masri's wife told authorities that her husband died in the attack in South Waziristan. The woman was wounded and hospitalized, he said.

Another intelligence official said the strike killed four Egyptians and two Pakistanis. He identified one of the Egyptians as "Abu Khuba," but made clear he was referring to al-Masri.

While the Pentagon declined to respond to questions about possible American involvement in the strike, it followed a series of attacks in recent months on militant leaders in Pakistan's tribal belt that are widely believed to have been conducted by the U.S. military.

The attack came just hours before President Bush met with Pakistan's prime minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, at the White House amid rising pressure on the Islamabad government to act against Taliban and al-Qaida strongholds in his country's frontier region.

An American official in Washington expressed cautious optimism about the al-Masri reports.

"There is a real sense that this guy is gone," the official. But he cautioned that there was no material evidence yet to confirm al-Masri's death, such as a photograph of the dead man at the bomb site.

One of the Pakistani intelligence officials said al-Masri's body was now in the hands of local militants - complicating efforts to verify its identity.

Al-Masri was previously reported killed in a January 2006 missile strike in the Pakistani tribal region of Bajaur that targeted and missed al-Qaida's No. 2 leader, Ayman al-Zawahri. Pakistani officials said then that al-Masri was among five al-Qaida militants believed killed in that attack, but bodies were never found.

The U.S. official said al-Masri was not an operations planner for al-Qaida, but played a crucial role because of his knowledge of explosives and poisons and his death would be a significant blow for the terrorist network.

"Not only does he know about these things, he's trained people on them. He has a role to play, a vital role in external operation0s. He trains the people who go out to perform them," the official said.

The recent missile strikes in the border region have strained Pakistan's relations with Washington, particularly since a new government took power nearly four months ago and sidelined the U.S.-allied President Pervez Musharraf.

Pakistani officials are seeking peace agreements in the border region in hopes of curbing Islamic extremists who have been blamed for a wave of suicide attacks across the country in the past year.

NATO contends the cease-fire deals have allowed militants based in the frontier region to step up attacks in Afghanistan, while U.S. officials warn that al-Qaida leaders hiding along the border could be plotting another Sept. 11-style attack on the West.

With U.S. commanders looking to send more troops to Afghanistan to deal with resurgent Taliban fighters, the hard-line Islamic group purportedly issued an Internet statement over the weekend ridiculing the idea, singling out Sen. Barack Obama's call for reinforcements, according to a Washington-based group that monitors militant Web sites.

The Taliban's statement said the insurgency would only increase its efforts to meet any strengthening of foreign forces, the SITE Intelligence Group said Monday.

There authenticity of the statement couldn't be verified, but SITE said it was posted on Web sites used by terror groups.

SITE said the Taliban also issued a separate statement denying there is any Pakistani involvement in the Afghan insurgency. Afghan President Hamid Karzai's government has charged that Pakistan's intelligence agency supports the Taliban.

Several Pakistani officials told The Associated Press that missiles hit a compound near Azam Warsak, a village about 2 1/2 miles from the Afghan border. Security officials initially described the building as a religious school, but a local administrator said the school closed years ago.

One intelligence official said al-Masri had been living in that area for some time training suicide bombers and rigging cars with explosives for attacks inside Afghanistan.

The official said al-Masri's wife, daughter and son were all wounded in Monday's attack and were being treated at a private hospital in Wana, the main town in South Waziristan.

The second intelligence official said the government was working to confirm al-Masri's death. "We believe he's the same guy," the official said.

Both officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment to journalists.

The Pakistani army's spokesman, Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, said troops were trying to reach the area to determine what happened.

The Web site of the U.S. government's Rewards for Justice program says al-Masri, 55, ran a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan before the hard-line Taliban regime was ousted in late 2001.

Al-Masri's "whereabouts are unknown at this time, though he may be residing in Pakistan. It is likely that he continues to train al-Qaida terrorists and other extremists," the Web site says.

Asked if he had any details about Monday's attack, Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman said: "We have a very close working relationship with Pakistan. We respect their sovereignty. Pakistan is an ally in the global war on terror. Beyond that, I have nothing specific for you."


Al-Qaida commander urges killing of Saudi king

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - An al-Qaida commander who escaped from a U.S. prison in Afghanistan has posted a Web video urging Muslims to kill the Saudi king for leading an interfaith conference.

Abu Yahia al-Libi, who escaped from Bagram prison in 2005, said "bringing religions together ... means renouncing Islam."

Saudi King Abdullah sponsored this month's dialogue in Madrid among Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Buddhists, and encouraged all faiths to turn away from extremism.

But al-Libi said "equating Islam with other religions is a betrayal of Islam." He called for "the speedy killing of this tyrant."

The 43-minute video was posted late Monday on an Internet site often used by militants. Its authenticity could not be independently verified.

Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden has frequently lashed out at the royal family of his native Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally.

Iraq: suicide bomber kills 11 in Kirkuk

BAGHDAD (AP) - Officials say at least 11 people have been killed and 54 wounded when a suicide bomber struck a Kurdish rally in the disputed city of Kirkuk in Iraq's north.

Police and hospital officials say the attack occurred as demonstrators were gathered to protest a draft provincial elections law that is being debated in parliament.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to release the information.

Kurdish objections over a proposed power-sharing formula on the provincial council in Kirkuk have blocked the law from being passed.

Kirkuk is in an oil-rich area and many Kurds consider it to be part of their historical land. The area is home to Kurds, Turkomen, Arabs and smaller groups.

Report: Empty prison in Iraq a $40M 'failure'

BAGHDAD (AP) - In the flatlands north of Baghdad sits a prison with no prisoners. It holds something else: a chronicle of U.S. government waste, misguided planning and construction shortcuts costing $40 million and stretching back to the American overseers who replaced Saddam Hussein.

"It's a bit of a monument in the desert right now because it's not going to be used as a prison," said Stuart Bowen, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, whose office plans to release a report Monday detailing the litany of problems at the vacant detention center in Khan Bani Saad.

The pages also add another narrative to the wider probes into the billions lost so far on scrubbed or substandard projects in Iraq and one of the main contractors accused of failing to deliver, the Parsons construction group of Pasadena, Calif.

"This is $40 million invested in a project with very little return," Bowen told The Associated Press in Washington. "A couple of buildings are useful. Other than that, it's a failure."

In the pecking order of corruption in Iraq, the dead-end prison project at Khan Bani Saad is nowhere near the biggest or most tangled.

Bowen estimated up to 20 percent "waste" - or more than $4 billion - from the $21 billion spent so far in the U.S.-bankrolled Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund. It's just one piece of a recovery effort that swelled beyond $112 billion in U.S., Iraqi and international contributions.

But the empty prison compound - in the shadows of more than two dozen watchtowers now dotted by birds' nests - is an open sore for both American watchdogs and local Iraqi politicians who had counted on the prison as an economic boost.

The head of the municipal council in Khan Bani Saad, Sayyed Rasoul al-Husseini, called it "a big monster that's swallowed money and hopes" - including those for more than 1,200 new jobs.

He sometimes drives out to the site, near groves of date palms and a former Saddam-era military training camp about 12 miles northeast of Baghdad and just over the border in the tense Diyala Province.

Al-Husseini says he walks the perimeter and wonders what can be salvaged. A housing development is not possible, he said. Many concrete walls lack proper iron reinforcements and "can collapse at anytime," he said. Birds and small animals have found homes in the towers and crannies.

"But some of the cell blocks are good," he suggested. "So maybe it can become a factory. I don't know. It's depressing."

The idea for the modern-style prison began with the Coalition Provisional Authority running Iraq after Saddam's fall.

On behalf of the authority, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded a $40 million contract in March 2004 to global construction and engineering firm Parsons to design and build an 1,800-inmate lockup to include educational and vocational facilities. Work was set to begin May 2004 and finish November 2005.

Nothing went right from the start, the report says.

The Sunni insurgency was catching fire. The U.S. was under pressure to improve prison conditions following the abuses exposed at Abu Ghraib.

Washington's focus shifted quickly from rebuilding to just holding its ground. The prison project got started six months late and continued to fall behind - until Parsons asked to push the completion date to late 2008, the report said.

The U.S. government pulled the plug in June 2006, citing "continued schedule slips and ... massive cost overruns." But they hadn't abandoned the hope of finishing the project - awarding three more contracts to other companies in a doomed effort.

The waste was made more egregious by the fact that Diyala badly needs more prisons to handle a growing inmate population. Bowen's team was told that about 600 inmates are crowded into an existing Diyala prison designed for 250 inmates and that the overcrowding and health conditions are so grave that several inmates have died, the report says.

The problem at Khan Bani Saad is only one example of the millions of dollars auditors found were wasted on construction projects by Parsons, which left Iraq two years ago.

In a companion report also being released Monday, Bowen said the prison was part of a $900 million Parsons contract to build border posts, courts, police training centers and fire stations. It was one of 12 contracts awarded in 2004 in hopes of restoring Iraq's infrastructure.

Of 53 construction projects in the massive Parson contract, only 18 were completed.

As of this spring, Parsons had been paid $333 million. More than $142 million of that - or almost 43 percent - was for projects that were terminated or canceled.

While the failure to complete some of the work was "understandable given the complex nature and unstable security environment in Iraq, millions of dollars" were likely wasted, the report said.

Bowen said only about 10 U.S. contracting officers and specialists were working on the $900 million contract, whereas 50 or 60 would be assigned to a comparable undertaking in the United States.

In a last wasteful act at Khan Bani Saad, the U.S. government allowed $1.2 million worth of construction supplies to be left unguarded at Khan Bani Saad after work was suspended in June 2007 - fencing, gravel, piping and other items. Most of it is now missing.

U.S. officials turned over control of the semifinished prison to Iraq's Justice Ministry nearly a year ago. The ministry promptly replied it had no plans to "complete, occupy or provide security" for the facility, the report said.

In the end, Parsons got $31 million and the other contractors got $9 million.

Some parts of the facility are usable, but construction in other parts is so substandard that demolition is the only option, the report said. Inspectors found cracking and crumbling concrete slabs, columns not strong enough to support the structure and incorrect use of reinforcement bars meant to strengthen the concrete.

"Khan Bani Saad is a microcosm of the shortfalls in the reconstruction program," said Bowen.

And the choice of Parsons - in retrospect - was part of a far bigger web of alleged shortcomings by the conglomerate in Iraq.

"This is the worst performing contractor that we have identified" among the seven firms so far studied in Congress-mandated reviews of Iraqi projects, said Bowen.

It was not possible to get advance comment from Parsons. Under the rules for the release of the audit, reporters were not allowed to reveal its details until Monday.

But the report said Parsons had argued that the U.S. government misrepresented the security conditions. Parsons said that its subcontractors faced threats that either shut down or slowed work almost daily. In August 2005, the site manager for one of Parsons' subcontractors was shot to death in his office.

Diyala remains one of the most dangerous places in Iraq. In the past week, U.S. and Iraqi forces have stepped up sweeps against insurgents in one of their last footholds near Baghdad.

But officials of the Army Corps of Engineers - one of the agencies that oversaw the prison construction - countered that Parsons understood conditions in Iraq at the time. They also said Parsons rarely reported security threats, and only recorded seven days when it cited delays due to violence.

Bowen said his agency has done 120 audits on Iraqi projects. "And they tell an episodic story of waste," he said.


There was an Iraqi blogger that stopped blogging after he got a job at Parsons. I wonder if he's still alive, and if he will ever come back and update us on what happened to him.

Turkish officials link bombings to rebel Kurds

ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP) - Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan served as a pallbearer at a funeral Monday for some of the 17 people killed by bombs in Turkey's biggest city, an attack the government blamed on Kurdish rebels who have targeted civilians in the past.

The rebel Kurdistan Worker's Party immediately denied responsibility and attributed Sunday's attack to "dark forces" - hard-line Turkish nationalists who allegedly seek to foment chaos to strengthen the political influence of the military.

No one has claimed responsibility for the bombings, and Turkey is home to a variety of violent groups besides the PKK, including Islamic extremists and alleged coup plotters with ties to the secular establishment.

At the funeral, thousands of mourners surged around 10 coffins draped in the red and white Turkish flag at the foot of a mosque in Gungoren, a mostly residential neighborhood near Istanbul's international airport that houses many poor migrants.

Erdogan said the bombings - the deadliest against civilians in five years - appeared to be a reprisal for air raids on PKK positions in northern Iraq, as well as a cross-border ground offensive by the Turkish military in February.

"Unfortunately, the costs of this are heavy," Erdogan said. "The incident last night is one of them."

Some analysts agreed.

"The PKK seems to be the most likely instigator if you look at the type of explosives and the bomb mechanism used," Sedat Laciner of the Ankara-based International Strategic Research Organization told NTV television.

"The terrorist organization has been trying to stage attacks that would shock people at times of high tension, especially recently."

One analyst did not rule out PKK involvement, but said the use of coordinated bombs in a place of no obvious relevance or symbolism to the rebels' fight against the Turkish state did not resemble tactics previously used by them.

"It's not the sort of thing they normally do," said Aliza Marcus, author of "Blood and Belief: the PKK and the Kurdish Fight for Independence."

In the past, Kurdish militants have bombed more high-profile targets such as tourist resorts.

Marcus said the relative sophistication of the twin bombing was more reminiscent of attacks by al-Qaida-linked militants, but cautioned: "There's never any shortage of suspects in Turkey who want to cause some sort of disarray."

The twin blasts happened on the eve of a Turkish court's deliberations on whether to ban the Islamic-oriented ruling party for allegedly trying to undermine secularism, and the timing raised questions about whether there was a link.

The bombings and the legal challenge to the government highlight a growing mood of uncertainty in Turkey, where an Islamic-oriented government that won a strong mandate in elections last year is locked in a power struggle with secular circles in the military and judiciary.

The attack could benefit militants by sowing more suspicion among Turkey's feuding power circles.

Sinan Ogan, head of the Turkish Center for International Relations and Strategic Analysis in Ankara, noted the existence of splinter groups of Kurdish militants, some more violent than others, and that the attack may have been carried out without the knowledge of the entire rebel command.

He said Gungoren was a "softer target" that was easier to infiltrate for the PKK than more central parts of Istanbul with more security.

"I think PKK is trying to say to Turkish officials: 'Look, we can hit you in bigger cities as well. We are already hitting you with land mines in the southeast, but this is not limited to that region.'"

The PKK denied involvement and the pro-Kurdish news agency Firat quoted a rebel leader, Zubeyir Aydar, as saying: "We think this attack was carried out by dark forces. We extend our condolences to the families of the victims and to the Turkish people."

The United States and the European Union say the PKK, which seeks autonomy for Kurds, is a terrorist organization.

The bombings were unusual in their apparent aim at causing as many civilian casualties as possible, without any clear government or strategic target. Authorities said the vast majority of the 17 deaths and 150 injuries occurred when a curious crowd gathered after an initial, small blast. Then, the second bomb exploded.

Five of the dead were children. Anatolia news agency said one victim was a 12-year-old girl who rushed with her parents to the balcony of their apartment to see what was going on after the first explosion.

The Cihan news agency said the second bomb consisted of a plastic explosive of the same kind used in a suicide attack in Ankara in May 2007 that killed seven people. That attack was blamed on the PKK.

The attack was the country's worst since Nov. 20, 2003, when al-Qaida-linked suicide bombings struck the British consulate and a British bank, killing at least 30 people. Five days earlier, suicide truck bombs attacked two Istanbul synagogues, killing 27.

On July 9, gunmen opened fire on police guarding the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul, killing three officers. Three attackers also died in a shootout with police. Authorities were investigating whether the gunmen were inspired by al-Qaida.


True, but it was the PKK taking German hostages just a few weeks ago, now we can blame the PKK for anything that happened. Something I am sure that was not lost on a host of those other groups. Stupid is as stupid does

Report: Torture widespread in Palestinian jails

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) - One detainee told of being beaten with pipes and having a screwdriver rammed into his back. Another said interrogators tied his hands behind his back then lifted him into the air by his bound wrists.

Two human rights groups on Monday decried widespread torture of political opponents by bitter Palestinian rivals Hamas and Fatah, and Associated Press interviews with three victims and a doctor backed the reports of abuse.

The findings emerged as the two sides carried out fresh arrest sweeps in the West Bank and Gaza - highlighting deep tensions in the Palestinian territories after a flare-up in violence over the weekend.

In the West Bank on Monday, the security forces of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rounded up more than 50 suspected Hamas supporters, including mosque preachers and intellectuals, in retaliation for a similar sweep of Fatah loyalists in Gaza, set off by a bombing that killed five Hamas members Friday.

Hamas violently seized power in Gaza in June 2007, leaving the Islamic militant group in charge of the coastal territory and Abbas' forces controlling the West Bank.

The Palestinian human rights group Al Haq said Monday that arbitrary arrests of political opponents have been common since Hamas' takeover of Gaza, with each side trying to defend its turf.

"Arrests for political reasons haven't stopped for a second," Al Haq director Shawan Jabarin told reporters. He estimated that before the latest sweeps, more than 1,000 people had been seized by each side.

An estimated 20 to 30 percent of the detainees suffered torture, including severe beatings and being tied up in painful positions, said Jabarin, citing sworn statements from 150 detainees.

He said three died in detention in Gaza and one in the West Bank.

"The use of torture is dramatically up," added Fred Abrahams, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch, a U.S.-based group that is releasing its own report on abuse this week.

Jabarin said that while he had no proof of an official torture policy, he believed political leaders were indirectly encouraging abuse by looking the other way.

Abbas' prime minister, Salam Fayyad, acknowledged "shortcomings," but said human rights violations have decreased. "I'm not defending anyone, but I can assure you that we have treated flaws and don't allow violations. The upcoming reports will be better," Fayyad said.

In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum acknowledged "mistakes" were made by the Hamas forces, but said that unlike in the West Bank, violators were increasingly being punished. He also accused the Fayyad government of trying to destroy Hamas in the West Bank with U.S. backing.

Human Rights Watch said Abbas' forces need to come under closer scrutiny because of the international support they enjoy. Funding of Abbas' forces should be linked to an improvement in the human rights record, Human Rights Watch said.

Two branches of the Palestinian security, the national forces and the civil police, receive training from the U.S. and Europe, respectively. Neither force was cited in the Al Haq report as being abusive, and in both cases, human rights training is part of the curriculum.

"The Palestinians themselves are looking to restructure the security force into a more accountable, transparent force," said Colin Smith, who leads the European effort.

The U.S. State Department said it had not seen the reports. "However, claims such as this obviously concern us greatly," said spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos. "This is why it's so important to establish a situation where we can provide for the security of all Palestinians."

On the streets, spiraling Hamas-Fatah tensions are setting the tone. The latest round began Friday evening, when a car bomb killed five Hamas members and a 6-year-old girl in Gaza City. Hamas blamed Fatah, which denied involvement, and rounded up some 200 Fatah supporters.

On Monday, Fatah struck back. Abbas' forces set up roadblocks across the West Bank city of Nablus, checking motorists' names against lists of wanted people. Intellectual Abdel Sattar Qassem, a frequent Abbas critic, was taken from his home, his family said.

Nathera al-Qouni stood outside Nablus' Jneid prison, waiting to hand clothes to her 35-year-old son Mustafa al-Qouni, who was arrested at a checkpoint. "He is not Hamas, he is just a mosque preacher," she said.

Al Haq described methods used by interrogators in both territories. Commonly, detainees' heads are covered by sacks and their hands tied behind their backs. They are made to stand for hours. Those who move risked beatings on arms, legs and the soles of feet. Other methods included threats, humiliation and isolation in tiny cells.

Three ex-detainees - two from the West Bank village of Salem and one from Gaza - gave similar accounts to the AP.

Jabour, a 33-year-old construction worker, said he was detained on Nov. 17 by military intelligence in Nablus, near Salem. He said he was asked where he had hidden the automatic rifle of his late brother, a member of the Hamas military wing killed by Israel in 2002.

Jabour insisted he had no ties to Hamas and did not know of a weapon.

He said that for the next six days, he was beaten severely with sticks, pipes and fists, including on the soles of his feet. His legs became so swollen and his feet so sore that he couldn't stand, he said.

Jabour said he was taken to Nablus' Rafidiyeh Hospital after an interrogator rammed a screwdriver into his back, making him pass out.

Dr. Marwan Jayousi, who examined Jabour, told the AP that his legs were heavily bruised and very swollen. "There were a lot of marks of beatings by sticks, on his back, on his scapula, shoulders, and it was painful," the physician said.

Jabour was released without charge several days later.

Hosni Jabara, 50, also from Salem, said he was arrested by the Preventive Security Service in Nablus on Jan. 28, and was tied up in painful positions off and on for 32 days.

At times, he was pulled off the ground by a rope hanging from the ceiling and attached to his hands tied behind his back, Jabara said. He said he told interrogators he's a proud member of Hamas, but that he has no knowledge of weapons, and he eventually was released.

In Gaza, a Fatah supporter said he was beaten severely by Hamas agents for several hours, until he lost consciousness and had blood streaming down his face. After initially agreeing to be quoted and photographed, he withdrew permission, saying he had received new threats from Hamas.


Come on, that can only be the jails infiltrated by the evil US and the Jews.