[Dawn] US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta ...current SecDef, previously Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Panetta served as President Bill Clinton's White House Chief of Staff from 1994 to 1997 and was a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1977 to 1993.... on Friday voiced frustration at Afghanistan's Caped PresidentHamid Maybe I'll join the Taliban Karzai ... A former Baltimore restaurateur, now 12th and current President of Afghanistan, displacing the legitimate president Rabbani in December 2004. He was installed as the dominant political figure after the removal of the Taliban regime in late 2001 in a vain attempt to put a Pashtun face on the successor state to the Taliban. After the 2004 presidential election, he was declared president regardless of what the actual vote count was. He won a second, even more dubious, five-year-term after the 2009 presidential election. His grip on reality has been slipping steadily since around 2007, probably from heavy drug use... over the latter's preference to "criticise" American troops, instead of acknowledging the sacrifices they made.
Panetta, who arrived in Peru to begin a Latin American tour, earlier told news hounds aboard the military plane taking him to Lima that Karzai should remember that more than 2,000 US troops had died in Afghanistan.
The angry riposte came after Karzai said on Thursday that the United States was failing to go after beturbanned goons based in Pakistain, another charge that Panetta chose to hit back at.
"We have made progress in Afghanistan because there are men and women in uniform who are willing to fight and die for Afghanistan's illusory sovereignty and their right to govern and secure themselves," Panetta said.
"We've lost over 2,000 US men and women, Isaf has lost forces there and the Afghans have lost a large number of their forces in battle.
"Those lives were lost fighting the right enemy, not the wrong enemy. And I think it would be helpful if the president, every once in a while, expressed his thanks for the sacrifices that have been made by those who have fought and died for Afghanistan rather than criticise."
The outburst was rare for Panetta and the remarks come as relations between the United States and Afghanistan come under strain in the wake of several deadly and high-profile attacks on American troops by their local comrades.
In Afghanistan, the United States has also seen its image tarnished among ordinary Afghans this year by the burning of Korans at a military base, the abuse of corpses and a massacre of civilians by a rogue American soldier.
An unprecedented number of Afghan security personnel have turned their weapons against their allies, killing at least 51 NATO ...the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. A single organization with differing goals, equipment, language, doctrine, and organization.... soldiers this year.
Despite this, many Afghans, particularly in the cities, fear the departure of the Western troops in 2014 from a country where the government of Karzai is widely seen as corrupt and dependent on foreign support.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta lashed back at Afghan President Hamid Karzai Friday, saying the Afghan leader should say thank you now and then to the allied forces who are fighting and dying there, rather than criticizing them.
Panetta was responding to Karzai's complaints Thursday that the U.S. is failing to go after militants based in Pakistan, and instead is concentrating on the insurgents in Afghanistan.
Any time Karzai and the ANA want to step up...
The uncharacteristic shot from Panetta comes as tensions between the two countries have escalated over the increase in insider attacks, where Afghan security forces or insurgents dressed in their uniforms have turned their guns on coalition troops. And it raises the temperature on the heels of the announcement that, as of last weekend, 2,000 U.S. troops had lost their lives in the war.
[Al Ahram] Somalia's president has appointed as prime minister a relatively little known businessman, Abdi Farah Shirdon Said, senior government sources said Saturday. "Said has been named as the prime minister," a government official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, ahead of an expected official statement.
Yet another round in the Washington Blame Game:
U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice told Republican senators that her televised statements last month on the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi were based entirely on information she was given by the intelligence community.
"In my Sept. 16 Sunday show appearances, I was asked to provide the administration's latest understanding of what happened in Benghazi," Rice wrote in a Thursday letter. "In answering, I relied solely and squarely on the information the intelligence community provided to me and other senior U.S. officials, including through the daily intelligence briefings that present the latest reporting and analysis to policy makers. This information represented the intelligence community's best, current assessment as of the date of my television appearances, and I went out of my way to ensure it was consistent with the information that was being given to Congress."
And you had just fallen off the turnip truck on the 15th and so didn't even begin to question what you'd been told by the intelligence community -- nor what Axelrod told you...
Rice was responding to a Sept. 26 letter from the GOP senators in which they accused Rice of jumping the gun and disseminating false information about the attack. The letter quotes Rice's comments selectively, leaving out the context where she cautioned that the information was based on initial assessments. Rice emphasized in her response that she had caveated her remarks in her TV appearances. She also pointed to a Sept. 28 statement from Shawn Turner, spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, admitting that the intelligence community had changed its view of the attack. She also pointed to a Sept. 28 statement from Shawn Turner, spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, admitting that the intelligence community had changed its view of the attack.
A circular firing squad with no GOP members. A sight to see.
Posted by: M. Murcek ||
Rice emphasized in her response that she had caveated her remarks in her TV appearances.
Yeah Susie eveyone knows your fluent in diplo-speak. But you see it's now been confirmed that the chum you were trowlling out wasn't the Intel community's best current assessment. So we're left with the same question we have for your boss. Are you dishonest or just incompetent?
Bunch of spoiled narcissistic kids running Washington. None of your screw ups are your fault--always someone else is to blame. Bush is to blame. The intelligence agencies are to blame. The altitude was to blame for the One's drubbing in the debates. Americans are to blame. Romney is to blame a man's wife dying. These people should be disgusting to everyone. Why the polls are close is beyond me. This got old long ago. Obama has never manned up to anything. Those in his administration are the same.
A brave and very frustrated SF officer who was reassigned before the attack speaks out. Attack survivors and walking wounded... nothing heard from any. How many were there ? No one knows, no one reporting. No one from Landstuhl Hospital in Germany reporting. All the Langley, VA. Klingons got out safely.... nothing heard from them. Number of Klingons who were there ? Their duties and reporting ? Klington Go-to-hell, E&E plan (escape and evasion), etc.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.... called for Gen. James Clapper to resign or be fired as Director of National Intelligence, citing his comments before the Senate Armed Services Committee... Clapper had stated his belief that the Qaddafi regime, in the long term would "prevail" in Libya, and also assessed China and Russia to be primary threats to the United States...earlier missteps cited were Clapper's ignorance of a major anti-terror raid in London and his recent assertion that the Muslim Brotherhood is essentially a "secular" organization.
The changing accounts prompted the spokesman for the nation's top intelligence official, James R. Clapper Jr., to issue a statement on [September 28th] acknowledging that American intelligence agencies "revised our initial assessment to reflect new information indicating that it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out by extremists."
The unusual statement was not solicited by the White House, according to Shawn Turner, the spokesman for Mr. Clapper, the director of national intelligence, but it seemed calculated to relieve some of the pressure on the White House for the contradictory accounts given in the two and a half weeks since the attack.
To be fair, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) is basically a herder of cats; the office relies on its 'subordinate' agencies to provide it with information. The DNI has no legal authority to hire or fire, very little ability to shift funds between agencies, and even less influence over operations. So that means any power the DNI has relies on a 'personal relationship' with the White House.
she needs to be mocked and ridiculed as the lying partisan tool she is
Posted by: Frank G ||
Correct Pappy. The DNI essentially has no power. Without hiring and firing authority and control of the budget within the intelligence community (IC), you don't have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out! We were ALL watching for this when the position was initially established. When the authority and funding lines were not given to the DNI, it became a high paid, notional position.
A list of people who have been fired from the US intelligence community, who they worked for, who fired them, and why they got fired might be interesting. Hansen, Ames and Pollard do not count as list items.
Posted by: M. Murcek ||
Next time the terrorists should be allowed to use a teleprompter.
Amen CL. Those two fellas probably had a WTF moment, then seized the guard force weapons and began returning fire. I'd still like to see a detailed time line. A time line that starts with the first indication that something was amiss, hours or days before the take-down. I've got a wicked hunch someone in Washington was watching blow-by-blow while events unfolded leading to the er huh "spontaneous" event. Once the kak went too far, the entire mission was written off and the cover stories were circulated. Things just don't phueching happen at US Missions, those facilities are monitored.
B, story is that good guys stationed elsewhere in Benghazi moved to the sound of gunfire and executed an extraction of captured/surrounded personel in the most dire of circumstances. This tragedy could have been much, much worse. Truth will out, eventually.
WASHINGTON - Congressional investigators have issued a subpoena to a former top security official at the US mission in Libya. The official is Lt. Col. Andy Wood, a Utah National Guard Army Green Beret who headed up a Special Forces "Site Security Team" in Libya.
Lt. Col. Andy Wood led a 16-member Special Forces site security team responsible for protecting U.S. personnel in Libya. The subpoena compels Lt. Col. Wood to appear at a House Oversight Committee hearing next week that will examine security decisions leading up to the Sept. 11 Muslim extremist terror assault on the U.S. compound at Benghazi. U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three of his colleagues were killed in the attack.
Lt. Col. Wood has told congressional investigators that his 16-member team and a six-member State Department elite force called a Mobile Security Deployment team left Libya in August, just one month before the Benghazi assault. Wood says that's despite the fact that US officials in Libya wanted security increased, not decreased.
Wood says he met daily with Stevens and that security was a constant challenge. There were 13 threats or attacks on western diplomats and officials in Libya in the six months leading up to the September 11 attack.
A senior State Department official told CBS News that half of the 13 incidents before September 11 were fairly minor or routine in nature, and that the Benghazi attack was so lethal and overwhelming, that a diplomatic post would not be able to repel it.
And it was also 'spontaneous', remember...
Wood, whose team arrived in February, says he and fellow security officials were very worried about the chaos on the ground. He says they tried to communicate the danger to State Department officials in Washington, D.C., but that the officials denied requests to enhance security.
"We tried to illustrate...to show them how dangerous and how volatile and just unpredictable that whole environment was over there. So to decrease security in the face of that really is... it's just unbelievable," Wood said.
The State Department official says there was a "constant conversation" between security details in Libya and officials in Washington D.C.
Sources critical of what they view as a security drawdown say three Mobile Security Deployment teams left Libya between February and August in addition to the 16-member Site Security Team on loan from the military. That's 34 highly-trained security personnel moved out over a six month period.
One State Department source told CBS News the security teams weren't "pulled," that their mission was simply over.
An obviously frustrated Baptist National Guard SF officer from Utah speaks out. Very interesting.
six-member State Department elite force called a Mobile Security Deployment team
State Department "elite"...??? Things have surey changed in the last few years. Whatever is being reported, I cannot believe the late Ambassador does not share some responsibility for his demise, and the demise of the others. Again, unless things have change dramatically, the Chief of Mission (COM) has a great deal of authority over who comes and goes and what security measures are in place in the host country.
The last chapter on this one should be quite interesting.
[Al Ahram] On the 39th anniversary of the 1973 war with Israel, Moslem Brüderbund's Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie attributed the "great October victory" to "Egyptians, Moslems and Christians, coming back to God" via the Islamist group's official Twitter account, Saturday.
The "brilliant victory" Badie added, "abolished the Zionist myth that its army was invincible." Ummm... Correct me if I'm wrong, but they lost, didn't they? Maybe a thorough trouncing is an Islamic brilliant victory?
They got the Sinai back. Thus it is proved that they won.
6 October is an annual national holiday marking the start of the 1973 war, which Egyptians consider to be an historic victory over Israel, as it lead to the liberation of the Sinai Pensinula which the self-proclaimed Jewish state had held for six years.
How long do you s'pose they'll hold it next time, given that land for peace has been proved not to work?
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, who hails from the Islamist group, is expected to give a speech 6pm Saturday during the annual celebrations at captial's Cairo Stadium.
given that a large, maybe majority, of the population believe both that Israel was behind the 9-11 atrocities and that Osama is to be praised for those same events, we should not be surprised to hear/see strange interpretations of historical events
Posted by: lord garth ||
If you erase history, you may just go and do it all over again! How revolutionary!.
Details Grom, details. The important thing is that that Isreal lost something.
Posted by: Charles ||
I know, from hearing their version of it multiple times, that they believe that was part of the agreement they worked out with the US at the time of the war after they almost destroyed Israel and forced the US to the brink of war with the Soviets at the time, in order to save their client.
They believe that only massive US material and logistical aid by a Nixon Administration concerned with not losing the Cold War kept Israel from collapsing.
The problem with fighting Arabs is they view reality differently. If you slaughtered them all, all except one, and then left the one would claim it a glorious victory that he drove you off of Islamic land.
It creates a more militaristic region but I suspect ensures their militaries are never as effective as they might be if they looked and learned from the game tapes.
[France24] An influential Yemeni tribal chief called on Saturday for the repeal of ousted former president President-for-Life Ali Abdullah Saleh's ... Saleh initially took power as a strongman of North Yemen in 1977, when disco was in flower, but he didn't invite Donna Summer to the inauguration and Blondie couldn't make it... immunity from prosecution.
Saleh was granted immunity under Gulf-brokered deal last year in which he stood down, bowing to domestic and international pressure, but is accused by his detractors of fuelling instability in Yemen since his departure.
"We invite brothers and friends who sponsor the Gulf initiative to lift the immunity granted to Saleh because he has not respected the conditions of this immunity," Sheikh Sadeq al-Ahmar said at a meeting of the "Alliance of Yemeni Tribes" in Sanaa.
Saleh stepped down after 33 years in power during last year's popular uprising against him, in exchange for a deal that gave him and his relatives immunity.
Saleh still leads the General People's Congress party, and is accused of sowing domestic instability.
[Bangla Daily Star] The Rohingya Death Eater groups of Rakhine state in Myanmar are suspected of being among the key planners of last week's mayhem on Buddhist community at Ramu.
Leaders and activists of four Rohingya outfits have long been staying in Bangladesh, especially in Chittagong, Cox's Bazar, Bandarban, Khagrachhari and Rangamati.
These organizations are Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO), Arakan Rohingya Nationalist Organisation (ARNO), National United Party of Arakan (NUPA) and Istehadul Tullabul Muslemin (ITM).
The RSO tops the list of suspects as it participated in attacks on Buddhist temples and houses on the night of September 29, according to a person who has long and intimate relations with some RSO leaders and activists.
Meanwhile, ...back at the Hubba Hubba Club, Nunzio had his hands full of angry bleached blonde... sources said a group of RSO leaders had been staying in a Cox's Bazar hotel for a few days before the Ramu attacks.
Some of these leaders belonged to Abdullah Mohammad Salamatullah's faction in the bad turban organization, sources claimed.
A police official confirmed that they have been gathering information in this regard but would not disclose any progress for the sake of investigation.
As law enforcers have information on the presence of some RSO leaders in Cox's Bazar immediately before the attack, suspicion fall on other Rohingya groups too, the official added.
The person close to the RSO told this correspondent that several hundred rioters who came to Ramu from Garzania and Naikhangchhari in Bandarban were RSO members.
They belonged to Muammed Yunus-led faction and Yunus's follower Hafez Abdullah and Mahmudullah played key roles to mobilise them.
Another group of Rohingyas came from Cox's Bazar.
Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh The JMB is said to be the youth front of Al Mujahideen, the parent organization that began working toward establishing Bangladesh as an Islamic state in the mid 1990s which remains obscure even today. Other organizations, such as Jama'atul Jihad, JMB, Jagrata Mohammedan Janata Bangladesh (JMJB), Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI), Hizbut Tawhid, Tawhidi Janata, Islami Jubo Shangha, Islami Shangha, Al Falah A'am Unnayan Shanstha and Shahadat-e al Hiqma are believed to be part of the Al Mujahideen network. The JMB at its peak was reported to contain at least 100,000 members, and an alleged 2,000-man suicide brigade, few of whom actually went kaboom!. JMB allegedly received financial assistance from individual donors in Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Libya. Reports have claimed that funding of JMB by international NGOs like Kuwait based Society of the Revival of Islamic Heritage (RIHS) and Doulatul Kuwait, Saudi Arabia based Al Haramaine Islamic Institute and Rabita Al Alam Al Islami, Qatar Charitable Society and UAE-based Al Fuzaira and Khairul Ansar Al Khairia. The top leadership of JMB was captured in 2005 and hung in 2007, which pretty much shot their bolt. (JMB), a banned Islamist bad turban organization of the country, had close links with the RSO, JMB's explosives expert Boma Mizan said during interrogations.
Some JMB operatives received training from RSO arms experts in camps in remote hilly area of Chittagong Hill Tracts.
Harkat-ul-Jihad-al Islami (HuJI Founded in 1984 by Fazlur Rehman Khalil and Qari Saifullah Aktar. The Bangla branch was established in 1992 with assistance from Osama bin Laden. Recruits come mostly from Deobandi madrassahs. HuJI and Fazlur Rehman Khalil are signators of bin Laden's declaration of war on the west. ) Bangladesh, another outlawed Islamist outfit, too had strong connections with RSO.
Internal groupings under the leadership of Yunus, Salamatullah and a few other leaders have been weakening the RSO gradually since the late 90s.
Having the blessings of Nurul Islam, known as a boss of RSO, Salamatullah has been elevated to the top of the organization.
There was also rivalry among RSO, ARNO and NUPA. More than a year ago, Salamatullah strove to unite all the Rohingya bad turban groups to regain strength.
The Istehadul Tullabul Muslemin -- known as student front of RSO -- acts as the main force behind all Rohingya terror operations. Its leaders are well trained in arms and explosives and also provide arms training to others.
An Islamic political party and its student wing leaders also played a significant role in bringing attackers from Cox's Bazar and some other areas, the source close to RSO added.
The Daily Star earlier talked to a number of witnesses who claimed they saw Rohingyas in anti-Buddhist processions and rallies on the night of September 29.
Abu Hamza, the notorious hate preacher, has appeared in court in New York after finally losing his extradition battle.
A few streets from the scene of the September 11 attacks that he hailed as "a towering day in history", Abu Hamza
...lunatic Finsbury Park mosque preacher and recruiter for al-Qaeda, aka Captain Hook...
was in a New York courtroom on Saturday night facing terrorist charges.
The one-eyed Islamic preacher appeared in the dock minus the hook that he has used since his hands were blown off by a bomb after US officials ordered it to be removed them for security reasons.
He stood in the dock, the stumps of his arms protruding from a navy blue jumpsuit. During the hearing, in which he did not enter a plea, his lawyers asked for the return of his prosthetics, saying they were essential for him to "function in a civilised manner".
Hamza, whose fiery ...a single two-syllable word carrying connotations of both incoherence and viciousness. A fiery delivery implies an audience of rubes and yokels, preferably forming up into a mob... sermonds helped to inspire one of the September 11 plotters, and four other alleged terrorist suspects were flown into the United States from RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk, in the early hours of Saturday after losing their long and expensive battles against extradition from Britannia.
Their arrival on American soil was the cause of as much delight to US officials as it was relief to British ministers, who had long been frustrated in attempts to extradite the men by European courts.
The accused were "at the nerve centres of Al Qaeda's 'terror networks' and will finally face justice", said Preet Bharara, the US district attorney who will lead the prosecution in New York.
Hamza, 54, an Egyptian-born naturalised Briton who once worked as a London nightclub bouncer, is being held in the maximum-security "terror wing" of the Metropolitan Correctional Centre (MCC) with Adel Abdel Bary, 52, and Khaled al Fawwa, 50.
He was led through a tunnel under the street to the federal courthouse in lower Manhattan for his first appearance before a magistrate on Saturday.
Hamza faces terrorism charges for the 1998 kidnapping in Yemen of Western tourists in which three Britons and an Australian were killed, supporting the establishment of a terrorist training camp in Oregon and facilitating violent jihad in Afghanistan.
Bary and Fawwaz are also charged with participation in the bombings of two US embassies in east Africa in 1998 that killed 224 people, including 12 Americans. Among the defendants on that charge sheet is the late the late Osama bin Laden ... who is now among the dear departed, though not among the dearest... , the former al-Qaeda chief.
Two other defendants, Syed Talha Ahsan, 33, and Babar Ahmad, 36, who are both British, pleaded not guilty "Wudn't me." at a separate appearance in US District Court in New Haven, Connecticut, on Saturday morning.
They are charged with operating websites that sought to raise cash and equipment and recruit fighters for al Qaeda and for terrorist groups in Afghanistan and Chechnya.
Mary Galligan, head of the FBI in New York, added "The extraditions of Abu Hamza, Bary and Fawwaz are a major milestone in our effort to see these alleged high-level bully boyz face American justice. The indictments allege the direct participation of these defendants in planning and carrying out some of the most odious acts of al Qaeda terrorism."
In the 1990s, Hamza turned the Finsbury Park mosque into a recruiting ground Islamic radicals. Among congregation for his hate-filled anti-Western sermons were Sept 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and failed "shoe bomber" Richard Reid, who are both serving life sentences in the solitary confinement in the "Supermax" in Colorado.
Lawyers for Hamza, who described al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden as a "hero", had fought a long battle against his extradition, arguing that he suffered from depression, chronic sleep deprivation, diabetes and other ailments.
They and lawyers for the other four men argued that the threat of indefinite solitary imprisonment in such harsh conditions in the US was "inhumane" under European statutes.
But European judicial authorities finally rejected their cases and on Friday, the High Court in London ruled that the men had run out of grounds for appeal and could be extradited immediately.
"I'm absolutely delighted that Abu Hamza is now out of this country," British Prime Minister David Cameron ... has stated that he is certainly a big Thatcher fan, but I don't know whether that makes me a Thatcherite, which means he's not. Since he is not deeply ideological he lacks core principles and is easily led. He has been described as certainly not a Pitt, Elder or Younger, but he does wear a nice suit so maybe he's Beau Brummel ... said. "Like the rest of the public I'm sick to the back teeth of people who come here, threaten our country, who stay at vast expense to the taxpayer and we can't get rid of them."
"I'm delighted on this occasion we've managed to send this person off to a country where he will face justice," he added.
Hamza, the son of an Egyptian army officer who gained British nationality by marriage, had previously been convicted in London on separate charges of inciting racial hatred and encouraging followers to kill non-Mohammedans.
The extradition of Ahmed caused particular controversy as his alleged crimes were committed in Britannia but British courts declined to prosecute him for lack of evidence. He is facing charges in Connecticut because as an Internet service provider there was allegedly used to host one of the websites.
The court had earlier ruled that the conditions at "Supermax" do not amount to torture, a key plank of the accused men's attempts to fight extradition under the European Court of Human Rights.
Due to his poor health, it is thought Abu Hamza may be sentenced to serve a jail term in another high-security facility. But if convicted, the other four are expected to be sent to Supermax.
Under the terms of the extradition deal, they cannot face the death penalty or be sent the Guantanamo Bay prison camp for prosecution at a special military tribunal. They must be tried in a federal civilian courts.
It could take anywhere from nine months to two years before the men face a full trial. They will initially be defended by court-appointed lawyers, but there is an experienced group of attorneys who have represented Guantanamo detainees who may be interested in taking their cases.
US legal analysts said the men might be advised to strike plea bargains and receive sentences in the region of around 15 years for co-operating with prosecutors.
The Manhattan Federal Court where Hamza was scheduled to appear yesterday is a tall, imposing stone building located in downtown New York which has dealt with some of the most high profile cases in recent history, including disgraced financier Bernie Madoff.
Three coppers stood outside the court wearing bullet proof vests and armed with guns. Crowd control barriers had been put out the front of the building.
Hamza is expected to be held awaiting trial at the Metropolitan Correctional Centre in near solitary confinement in the prison's "special housing unit". The MCC is a grim, fortress-like structure, standing 14 stories tall and made of concrete that has stained over the years.
Previous terror suspects held there have been kept in solitary for 23 hours a day and 24 hours on weekends.
Even during Hamza's hour out of his cell he is unlikely to see anyone else and will instead be allowed to exercise in the caged area on the roof for an hour a day on his own.
Lawyers for convicted arms trader Viktor Bout, who spent 14 months there in solitary, said it was so vile that it was like the jail depicted in the Alexandre Dumas novel The Count of Monte Cristo. Prison guards are also known to pound on the doors at 2am and 5am and shine their flashlights in to make sure prisoners are still there.
The only TVs are in the common areas which Hamza will probably never be allowed to visit.
The prison holds about 750 inmates, though not all of them will be of the same standing as Hamza and include drug pushers and gangsters.
Among those who have been held at the MCC include mafia crime boss John Gotti, failed Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad and 1993 World Trade Centre bomber Ramzi Yusef.
Intelligence officials angered by Obama administration cover up of intelligence on Iranian, al Qaeda surge in Egypt and Libya
Weeks before the presidential election, President Barack Obama's administration faces mounting opposition from within the ranks of U.S. intelligence agencies over what career officers say is a "cover up" of intelligence information about terrorism in North Africa.
Intelligence held back from senior officials and the public includes numerous classified reports revealing clear Iranian support for jihadists throughout the tumultuous North Africa and Middle East region, as well as notably widespread al Qaeda penetration into Egypt and Libya in the months before the deadly Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
"The Iranian strategy is two-fold: upping the ante for the Obama administration's economic sanctions against Iran and perceived cyber operations against Iran's nuclear weapons program by conducting terror attacks on soft U.S. targets and cyber attacks against U.S. financial interests," said one official, speaking confidentially.
The Iranian effort also seeks to take the international community's spotlight off Iran's support for its Syrian ally.
...When they say "intelligence officials", are they saying CIA or State? State has been its own little world for two hundred years; they don't consider themselves bound by things like Presidents and laws. CIA, on the other hand, has already been acknowledged to have done their best to bring down W, and Leon Panetta was sent there to keep the same thing from happening to Obama. Looks like he wasn't quite able to change the culture over there.
Posted by: Mike Kozlowski ||
In recent months Egypt-based al Qaeda terrorists were dispatched to Libya and Syria, where they have been covertly infiltrating Libyan militia groups and Syrian opposition forces opposing the Bashar al Assad regime.
Anyone care to speculate on what the role of clandestine US Intelligence personnel might have been in Behghazi ? (Hint - see the italicized para directly above) Yes, the same clandestine personnel (however many there were) who managed to grab their bug-out bag and safely escape when the poo this the fan on 9/11.
Well, sure. The Taliban are infamous for killing those they dislike in more or less nasty ways.
Writing in Jang Saleem Safi noted that a letter written by Taliban for the attention of Pak religious leaders (Learned Elders of Islam) was publicised by him after which people wrote abuse against him. The Learned Elders of Islam who should have answered the letter kept quiet even though the Learned Elders of Islam were sent the letter. Ulema came out aggressively against ordinary people if they challenged them but when it came to Taliban they refused to speak. Taliban defended their acts of killing Paks on the basis of Koran and Hadith but the Pak Learned Elders of Islam keep quiet.
Drones hurt Taliban
Journalist Saleem Safi asked in Jang whether it was wise on the part of the Army to invade North Wazoo while earlier operations in Swat, Bajaur and Orakzai had produced mixed results. Beautiful Downtown Peshawar ...capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly known as the North-West Frontier Province), administrative and economic hub for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. Peshawar is situated near the eastern end of the Khyber Pass, convenient to the Pak-Afghan border. Peshawar has evolved into one of Pakistan's most ethnically and linguistically diverse cities, which means lots of gunfire. and Lahore and Islamabad had not become safe as a result of these operations. The fact was Taliban and Al Qaeda were not hurt by the Army but by the drones which took heavy toll on them. The fact was that Al Qaeda's commanders were killed by them and Taliban leaders like Baitullah Mehsud and Qari Hussain also fell to drones.
Woo hoo! More drones, Manolo! It has been requested by one who knows.
Mullah Umar & Co in Bloody Karachi ...formerly the capital of Pakistain, now merely its most important port and financial center. It may be the largest city in the world, with a population of 18 million, most of whom hate each other and many of whom are armed and dangerous... Quoted in Express American military commander General Allen said that Mullah Umar the chief of Afghan Taliban was hiding in Bloody Karachi along with his lover companions and family. He was sending hundreds of violent warriors into Afghanistan while giving orders from inside Pakistain.
Imran Khan: after Waziristan, Bajaur
Daily Express quoted Imran Khan ... aka Taliban Khan, who ain't the sharpest bulb on the national tree... saying that after he had successfully taken a procession of Tehrik Insaf to Waziristan he would head for Bajaur Agency, aka Turban Central ...Smallest of the agencies in FATA. The Agency administration is located in Khar. Bajaur is inhabited almost exclusively by Tarkani Pashtuns, which are divided into multiple bickering subtribes. Its 52 km border border with Afghanistan's Kunar Province makes it of strategic importance to Pakistain's strategic depth... . He said this to a delegation that visited him from Bajaur where the Army has been in operation for the last many years.
Talaq, Talaq, Talaq!
Famous columnist Abdul Qadir Hasan wrote in Express that ex-ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani had stated that Pakistain and the US should admit honestly that their relations have broken down and announce that a talaq (divorce) had occurred between them. Because men are more powerful they usually issue talaq to wives but wives can only give a lesser talaq called khula with the help of a judge. Hence America was the husband who had given talaq to Pakistain which was the obedient wife. Pakistain had spent a lifetime staying in wedlock with America but now America was tired of this wife. Husband America was sleeping in the same bed but facing away from wife Pakistain.
Pakistain's take from America
Daily Express had Abdul Qadir Hasan saying that according to Husain Haqqani Korea took $10 billion and took off; but Pakistain had taken $40 billion and got nowhere. Korea had become a power to reckon with while Pakistain had eaten up all the money without showing any result.
Oh, come now. How many Pakistani bank accounts have grown considerably from American dollars falling off the truck on the way to its destination? No further result is needed.
People less keen on Imran Khan
About bloody time they realized the man is nothing more than an empty cricket uniform.
Daily Jang reported that Tehrik Insaf of Imran Khan was worried that after the grand showing of the party in October 2011 in Lahore fewer people were joining the party. They hoped that this trend was temporary, touched off by the intake of party from among tried and tested leaders from the rival parties.
Media scandal will be fruitless
Daily Express reported TV anchor Talat Hussain as saying that the latest media scandal about TV anchors taking bribes would go nowhere because of lack of proof
but those journalists who were doing a good job would be targeted needlessly by these campaigns. Anchor Javed Chaudhry said that people were trying to sully the honour of anyone working in the profession.
'Hijab' invades Egyptian TV
Reporting on the consequences of the Arab Spring in Egypt daily Express reported that the newscaster ladies on Egyptian TV had taken to wearing hijab or head-cover and that religious programmes were once again in vogue on TV.
No proof of 9/11
Famous columnist Abdul Qadir Hasan wrote in Express that so far no cause was made available as to why the two buildings in New York were destroyed through a stupid (bhonda) plot of colliding two aircraft with them. Later the destruction of the buildings was attributed to Moslems and that was made the pretext of attacking Afghanistan and Iraq. Today it is clear that the old war of extinction of Moslems had been imposed on the world. It was painful that some Moslem rulers had joined hands with America in this evil enterprise.
When physics and chemistry calculations must include the impact of jinns, this kind of thinking naturally follows.
What is obscene?
Famous chief news hound Ansar Abbasi wrote in Jang that it was very easy to decide what was obscene in Pakistain. There were two institutions suitable for this finding: parliament and Federal Shariat Court where enough philosophers and scholars were available to decide what was not morally suitable for Moslems. Some people wrongly said that Pak culture was not Islamic but Pak-Indian in which obscenity was allowed.
Gilani doing contempt again
Veteran journalist Altaf Hasan Qureshi stated in Jang that the Supreme Court was being insulted with impunity in Pakistain and it was going on even after the dismissal of PM Gilani for contempt of court. Real Estate tycoon Malik Riaz had dishonoured the Court by discussing horrible scandals about the son of Chief Justice Chaudhry but when he came on a TV channel to do some more, the discussion misfired and it was discovered that ex-PM Gilani was prompting the whole show from behind the scenes.
Politicians and beauty
Daily Jang reported that Pak politicians were using beauty-enhancing devices to preserve themselves against the onrush of senility.
I'm pretty sure that doesn't work...
A lot of them were consulting beauticians and cutting their eyebrows to size before they became bushy; and were using ample helpings of black paint to prevent white from showing on the heads. Zardari, Rehman Malik Pak politician, Interior Minister under the Gilani government. Malik is a former Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) intelligence officer who rose to head the FIA during Benazir Bhutto's second tenure. Malik was tossed from his FIA job in 1998 after documenting the breath-taking corruption of the Sharif family. By unhappy coincidence Nawaz Sharif became PM at just that moment and Malik moved to London one step ahead of the button men. He had to give up the interior ministry job because he held dual Brit citizenship. , Ch Shujaat and Ch Pervaiz Elahi were foremost in this process of self-preservation. The Sharif brothers had already grown a fresh crop of hair on their bald heads through hair transplants.
All of Man's beauty products will not reverse what Allah wills, guys.
Zardari and his guns
Columnist Hamid Mir wrote in Jang that during the Memogate case against his ambassador Husain Haqqani at the Supreme Court President Zardari was extremely nervous and carried guns in the presidency, just in case. Mir recalled that one evening in December 2011 in his bedroom at the back of presidency Mr Zardari waited all night, gun in hand, for someone to come and arrest him like so many other politicians in power, saying he will not surrender, nor will he resign or offer arrest; but that he will fight to the last.
Ansar Abbasi versus 'chirya'
Famous chief news hound Ansar Abbasi wrote in Jang accusing another journalist of his own group misreporting on him: about Abbasi going to the Supreme Court on the question of obscenity. In fact, Abbasi had not approached the Court. He wanted the said journalist to acquire some more facts in addition to what his spying sparrow (chirya) was doing for him.
[Guardian.uk] Thousands of Paks, joined by a group of US anti-war activists, headed toward Pakistain's bad boy-riddled tribal belt on Saturday, to protest US drone strikes -- even as a Pak Taliban faction warned that jacket wallahs would stop the demonstration.
The motorcade march was led by Imran Khan ... aka Taliban Khan, who isn't your heaviest-duty thinker, maybe not even among the top five... , the former cricket star turned populist politician who heads the Pakistain Tehrik-e-Insaf ...a political party in Pakistan. PTI was founded by former Pakistani cricket captain and philanthropist Imran Khan. The party's slogan is Justice, Humanity and Self Esteem, each of which is open to widely divergent interpretations.... party. Militants have dismissed Khan as a tool of the West despite his condemnations of the drone strikes, which have killed many Islamist bad boy leaders.
Paks in small towns and villages along the 250-mile route warmly welcomed the convoy, which included more than 150 vehicles. Footage broadcast on Pak television showed people showering rose petals on the motorcade. But by late Saturday, it appeared increasingly less likely the protesters would reach the South Wazoo tribal area, where they hoped to stage a major rally.
Government officials had warned of dangers in South Waziristan, which is a frequent focus of drone strikes and was the scene of a 2009 Mighty Pak Army offensive. Pak media reported authorities used shipping containers to block the main road leading into the region, where access has long been heavily restricted.
In an interview with the private Dunya TV channel, Khan said he had reached another major town on the route, Dera Ismail Khan ... the Pearl of Pashtunistan ... , and that he would consult with his party leaders on the situation. The protesters had planned to stay overnight in the Dera Ismail Khan area before heading to South Waziristan on Sunday.
"We have come here for peace," Khan said. "I don't want to put the life of my guests in danger, but I would like to know the level of the threat."
Around three dozen Americans from the US-based anti-war group Code Pink ... an anti-war group that is mainly composed of women. Code Pink describes itself as a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, stop new wars, and redirect our resources into healthcare, education, green jobs and other life-affirming activities. It was founded in 2002 by Jodie Evans, Medea Benjamin and other usual antiwar suspects. Its website lists hysterical allegations of US war crimes, and states that thousands of non-combatants were killed in Fallujah in 2004. Maybe it was millions. Benjamin was a 2000 candidate for the U.S. Senate on the Green Party ticket. She lost... joined the march. Foreigners are normally forbidden from entering Pakistain's tribal regions.
The American protesters echoed Pak condemnations of the US drone strikes, saying that contrary to the claims of American officials, the strikes have terrorized peaceful tribes living along the Afghan border and killed many innocent civilians, not just Taliban and al-Qaeda gunnies.
"I'm hoping that what [the protest] will show is that the Pak people and American people and even the people in the tribal areas want peace," said Joe Lombardo, a US activist from Delmar, New York.
James Ricks, another American, said he was going along with the convoy despite the danger. "I am taking this risk because my government is committing international war crimes and we want to stop this," said Ricks, of Ithaca, New York.
James Ricks was born in Ithaca in 1949 and moved to Brooklyn at the age of ten. As James learned about his family history he discovered, "My great great grandfather, Charles Reed had escaped slavery in the south, made his way to Canada, where he married my great great grandmother a Mohawk woman.Together they returned to upstate NY, settled in the Ithaca area where my family has lived for generations." In Brooklyn he went to Catholic school and then to Oswego state, where he was involved in politics, during the Vietnam era. In 2004 James moved back to Ithaca.
As an adult James became Muslim. In the 90's he became acutely aware of US intelligence operations and its manipulative nature during Desert Storm and later "Shock and Awe". He saw a significant parallel in attitudes and tactics between the genocide of first nation people here and in the countries we occupy, employing racial dehumanization, divide and conquer strategies and a legacy of death and exploitation. At home, concerned with racism, James became involved with issues surrounding the killing of Shawn Greenwood by the Ithaca police, a killing which exacerbated class and racial polarity and left the community strongly divided.
During this period James Ricks learned of Ithaca's anti war, anti drone community and became active in the anti drone civil resistance,joining in several actions at Hancock Air Field and raising consciousness about the illegal assassinations and war crimes committed by the USAF and US government at this installation. The trial of the Hancock 38 became a formative experience for James.
[Dawn] Activists of the infamous and banned Sipah-e-Sahaba (SSP) organization held an unlawful rally under the banner of Ahli-Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) at Aabpara on Friday, under the nose of the ISI and unchallenged by the police.
A successor to SSP, the ASWJ too was banned but its top leaders, Maulana Mohammad Ahmed Ludhianvi and Maulana Khalid Dhillon were there to fire up the rallyists despite restrictions on their movements.
Maulana Ludhianvi declared at the Shuhda Conference that preceded a planned march on the U.S. embassy to protest the infamous anti-Islam film that ASWJ would contest the coming general elections in every constituency.
His deputy Maulana Dhillon elaborated the announcement by telling the nearly 3,500 followers and supporters, mainly young seminary students, that ASWJ would seek "seat adjustments with like-minded parties" in the electoral contest.
By like-minded he meant "people who are ready to push for an international law that punishes blasphemy against any prophet by death".
Maulana Dhillon also dwelt on the sectarian violence by pleading to Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry to revive the suo motu ...a legal term, from the Latin. Roughly translated it means I saw what you did, you bastard... proceedings that one of his predecessors, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, had started years back. His plea had reference to the Shuhda Conference that was arranged in memory of slain SSP leader Maulana Azam Tariq, who fell victim to sectarian warfare in 2003.
Maulana Samiul Haq ...the Godfather of the Taliban, leader of his own faction of the JUI. Known as Mullah Sandwich for his habit of having two young boys at a time... , president of his own faction of Jamaat Ulema-e-Islam ...Assembly of Islamic Clergy, or JUI, is a Pak Deobandi (Hanafi) political party. There are two main branches, one led by Maulana Fazlur Rahman, and one led by Maulana Samiul Haq. Fazl is active in Pak politix and Sami spends more time running his madrassah. Both branches sponsor branches of the Taliban, though with plausible deniability... party as well as the Difa-e-Pakistain Council, warned on the occasion that "blasphemous acts by myrmidons and gunnies in the Western world are hurting the religious sentiments of the Mohammedans that can provoke Third World War".
Other speakers also echoed the foreboding and criticised and warned the government for what they saw as its inaction in the face of Western provocations.
Surprisingly, the speeches did not fire up the rallyists to storm their way to the U.S. embassy. Police had sealed off the diplomatic enclave with containers anyway.
But what brought the rally to a peaceful end was said to be a tacit "don't riot, won't touch" agreement reached between the Islamabad administration and the organisers overnight.
Instead of marching on the U.S. embassy, the organisers nominated four persons who, escorted by police officials, went and handed a memorandum of protest to a security officer of the embassy at the enclave's Shams Gate entrance.
An officer at the scene confided to Dawn though the rally was unlawful, the Islamabad administration feared a showdown if it tried to stop it.
"We have clear instructions to keep away from the Aabpara rally and avoid a confrontation," added a police officer. Policemen in plainclothes, however, mingled in the crowd,
gathering intelligence. What the police worried about was that Malik Ishaq, a leader of the banned Lashkare Jhangvi, does not sneak into the rally. Mercifully, he did not turn up there.
Maulana Ludhianvi and Maulana Dhillon, however, came unchallenged all the way from Kamalia and Khanewal in Punjab. Restrictions on them required that they inform the local police before moving out of their city, which would pass on the information to the police of their destination.
Talking to some young seminary participants, officials' fears about a confrontation appeared misplaced. "I am here to celebrate the martyrdom of our legendary leader Maulana Azam Tariq," Mohammad Shahzad, a native of Muzaffarabad studying in a seminary at Pirwadhai, told Dawn.
But the boy who wore a headband declaring love for Sahaba, the companions of Prophet Muhammad ((PTUI!)), knew nothing more about the legendary leader.
Another student Azam Khan from Battagram was seen trudging with a friend towards Rawalpindi to their madressah as the bus that the organisers had provided had vanished after dropping them at the venue of the rally.
"We have just Rs40 between us whereas we need twice that much to reach our madressah," he said.
[Dawn] The judicial remand of 52 people cooled for a few years Youse'll never take me alive coppers!... [BANG!]... Ow!... I quit! in cases of arson and riots during protests on Yaum-e-Ishq-e-Rasool was extended until October 13 by an Anti-Terrorism Courts in Rawalpindi, DawnNews reported on Saturday.
The accused were cooled for a few years Youse'll never take me alive coppers!... [BANG!]... Ow!... I quit! for their involvement in the violence and rioting during protests carried out on September 21 against an anti-Islam film.
Upon the completion on the judicial remand, the accused were presented before ATC judge Chaudhry Habib-Ur-Rahman in an ATC in Rawalpindi.
During the hearing, officials of federal police requested the judge for an extension in the remand period in order to carry out the investigations. Accepting the request, the judge extended the remand by seven days to October 13.
Police cooled for a few years Youse'll never take me alive coppers!... [BANG!]... Ow!... I quit! the accused from the limits of Pir Wadhai, Sabzi Mandi, Aabpara and Secretariat cop shoppes for their involvement in the riots during the September 21 protests.
No. Would you like some tea and a slice of cake to go with that?
[Dawn] Interior Minister Rehman Malik Pak politician, Interior Minister under the Gilani government. Malik is a former Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) intelligence officer who rose to head the FIA during Benazir Bhutto's second tenure. Malik was tossed from his FIA job in 1998 after documenting the breath-taking corruption of the Sharif family. By unhappy coincidence Nawaz Sharif became PM at just that moment and Malik moved to London one step ahead of the button men. He had to give up the interior ministry job because he held dual Brit citizenship. has appealed to the US Administration to repatriate placed in durance vile Youse'll never take me alive coppers!... [BANG!]... Ow!... I quit! Pak neuro-scientist Dr. Aafia Siddiqui ...American-educated Pak cognitive neuroscientist who was convicted of assault with intent to murder her U.S. interrogators in Afghanistan. In September 2010, she was sentenced to 86 years in jug after a three-ring trial. Siddiqui, using the alias Fahrem or Feriel Shahin, was one of six alleged al-Qaeda members who bought $19 million worth of blood diamonds in Liberia immediately prior to 9-11-01. Since her incarceration Paks have taken her to their heart and periodically erupt into demonstrations, while the government tries to find somebody to swap for her... to her home country on humanitarian grounds.
Malik, who met several top American officials, said that he cited the plight of Aafia's ailing mother and the adverse impact of years of separation on her children who intensely want to meet her and want her back in the country.
The poor darlings. If only their mama had chosen a different occupation, they would not be in this mess. Still, when they are old enough to travel, they can fly to America and gaze lovingly at her prison.
"I raised the issue with the full force of Pak people's emotions, let us hope the request is considered sympathetically," he told Washington-based Pak journalists on Friday evening.
No. More tea?
Malik met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ... sometimes described as For a good time at 3 a.m. call Hillary and at other times as Mrs. Bill, never as Another Daniel Webster ... , Secretary Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Director FBI Robert Mueller and US Special envoy for Pakistain and Afghanistan Marc Grossman.
"One way to deal with the situation resulting from Aafia's imprisonment here," he suggested, "could be that she be allowed to complete rest of her sentencing in Pakistain."
Seriously? Wow. No. Perhaps a bit more cake?
But he dismissed the notion that there could be a trade-off that Aafia be repatriated in exchange for release of Dr. Shakil Afridi, a Pak, who worked for CIA in hunt for the late Osama bin Laden ... who is now among the dear departed, though not among the dearest... , and had been placed in durance vile Youse'll never take me alive coppers!... [BANG!]... Ow!... I quit! by a tribal court for his links to bully boy organizations.
"These are two totally different cases," Rehman Malik remarked.
Oh well. Perhaps next time you'll reject trading your nuke collection for her.
[Al Ahram] Iran's foreign ministry on Saturday appealed for the release of 48 of its citizens held hostage by rebels in Syria and threatened with execution one by one unless Syria's army withdraws from an area in Damascus ...Capital of the last overtly fascist regime in the world... province.
The statement, relayed by the official news agency IRNA, described the captives as "pilgrims."
The Syrian rebels, in an August 5 video, showed the Iranians and said they were members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards conducting a military mission in support of Syria's regime.
On Friday, a rebel commander told AFP via Internet that the regime had until late Saturday to withdraw its forces from the embattled Eastern Ghuta area of Damascus province.
"We also have other secret, military demands. If the regime does not fulfill them we will start finishing off the hostages," warned the commander, Abul Wafa, of the rebels' Revolutionary Military Council in Damascus province.
The Iranian statement, by foreign ministry front man Ramin Mehmanparast, said: "The hostage takers of the Iranian pilgrims in Syria as well as those supporting them are responsible for their lives."
The statement called on "international organizations to prevent such acts and to do everything to obtain the immediate liberation of all the pilgrims and Iranian nationals."
Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi also called his Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu, to ask for Turkey's help in freeing the Iranians, the Fars news agency reported. Ankara has in the past been instrumental in the liberation of other Iranians taken in Syria.
Salehi on August 8 said "retired" Revolutionary Guards members were among the hostages held by the rebels. He denied they were on active service in Syria.
The head of the Revolutionary Guards, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, told a September 16 news conference in Tehran that Iran has no "military presence" in Syria.
He said "a number of (the Guards' external special operations) Quds Force members are present in Syria and Leb" but purely to provide Syria's government with "counsel and advice."
Iran's foreign ministry front man the next day stressed that "Iran does not have any military presence in the region, especially in Syria," and said any suggestion to the contrary was "not in any way valid."
[France24] A mafia-style shoot-out in the traditional home of Syria's ruling Assad clan - in which an influential cousin of the country's dictator Bashir al-Assad is thought to have been killed - has exposed a dangerous rift in the country's Alawite community.
Qardaha, a small town of less than 10,000 inhabitants, is perched in mountains overlooking the coastal town of Latakia.
Its population is overwhelmingly Alawite, the minority Moslem sect to which the Assad family belongs, and is seen as the heart and soul of the regime.
But according to a local Revolutionary Coordination Committee, local strongman Mohammed al-Assad - known as the "Lord of the Mountain" - was killed in a shoot-out on September 28 with rival Alawite clans, putting the Assad stranglehold under unprecedented pressure.
'Lord of the Mountain'
According to the account published on the Committee's Facebook page, Mohammed al-Assad was in a town café when he overheard a discussion of the country's plight and fears for the future, especially for Alawite children caught up in Syria's ongoing civil war.
Al-Assad saw red when a member of the Khayyer clan said that Syria's ruler should step down and that he had mishandled the situation.
The "Lord of the Mountain" pulled out his gun and started shooting, igniting a prolonged gunbattle between his supporters and members of the rival Khayyer and Othman clans, both of them Alawite families.
According to Syrian writer and opposition figure Samar Yazbek, five members of the Othman family were killed in the shoot-out. The local Revolutionary Coordination Committee claims that Mohammed al-Assad also died.
'Qardaha is Syria's Corleone'
"If it's a scene reminiscent of the film 'The Godfather', that's because this is indeed a town run by a ruthless mafia-style family," said Syria expert Fabrice Balanche, who is head of the Mediterranean and Orient Research Group at Lyon University.
"Qardaha is Syria's Corleone," he said in reference to the Sicilian town immortalised in Francis Ford Coppola's classic mafia trilogy. "The Assad family has ruled the town mafia-style with impunity for decades."
Balanche was not surprised that rival clans had started to turn against the Assads, who have maintained a stranglehold over the town since before they changed their family name from al-Wahhish in the 1920s [Wahhish is Arabic for "Monster" -- Assad means "Lion"].
"They were originally a minor Alawite family that over time imposed itself on the region by brute force," Balanche said.
"Many previously powerful clans have been marginalised, and we've been hearing for months that Alawite families are fed up of seeing their sons die and are worried for the future.
"But this is the first time we've heard of Alawites in Qardaha in anything like open rebellion."
Terrorising the local population
The story of the shoot-out at Qardaha has also been told by former French diplomat Ignace Leverrier on his Un Oeil sur la Syrie (An Eye on Syria) blog.
Leverrier paints Mohammed al-Assad as a government-sanctioned Mafia lord, making huge profits from business across Syria and of using the Mukhabarat secret intelligence service as a weapon to terrorise the local population.
Al-Assad even made money, according to Leverrier, by taking payments from families with relatives in prison in exchange for information on their health and whereabouts, continuing to give positive reports for cash when some of these prisoners had been long dead.
His killing would prove to be a key turning point in undermining the family's control of a town with huge Symbolic importance, where former President Hafez al-Assad and Bashar's brother Basel are buried (see main picture) and whose mosque is named after the Hafez's mother.
Since September 28, Qardaha has been locked down, according to information from the local Revolutionary Coordination Committee. All roads leading to the town are blocked and no information has been allowed to come out.
Fabrice Balanche said the regime blackout was a desperate gambit by the regime to preserve its image: "The Assads' biggest fear is that the Alawite community, the cornerstone of their power, starts to split into factions.
"This is why the Assads have historically always resolved any clan feuding in strict secrecy."
Since the uprising began in March 2011, the Assad regime has relied on the support of the religious minorities -- Alawite, Christian and Druze -- under its protection. Some 70% of Syrians are Sunni Moslems, who are the vanguard of the rebellion.
According to Balanche, the Assad regime has real cause to fear that these minorities may be starting to turn their backs on it.