Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Have a heart for Syria

A grim catalogue of torture has emerged from former detainees describing their treatment in Syria’s detention centres since the predominantly peaceful protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s government began in March 2011. This report reveals that all the various security forces are routinely torturing and ill-treating detainees held in the context of the protests and unrest, using methods of cruelty mostly used for decades. The torture carried out appears to be part of a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population as part of Syrian government policy to crush dissent.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Ahmad Shah Massoud - The Man Behind The Legend

Ahmad Shah Massoud : احمد شاه مسعود Aḥmad Šāh Mas'ūd; September 2, 1953 – September 9, 2001, was a military and political leader in Afghanistan known as the "Lion of Panjshir" (شیر پنجشیر). His role as a central leader against the Soviet in
vasion and occupation of Afghanistan between 1979 and 1989 made the Wall Street Journal name Massoud "the Afghan who won the Cold War" following the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan in 1989

In 1992, as militia leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was placing Afghanistan's capital Kabul under heavy bombardment, Massoud was appointed to the post of Minister of Defense by the peace and power-sharing agreement Peshawar Accord. Following the rise of the Taliban and Al Qaeda in 1996, Massoud served as the main anti-Taliban and anti-Al Qaeda resistance leader providing shelter to over 400,000 internal Afghan refugees. He united the different ethnicities of Afghanistan in the multiethnic United Islamic Front (also known as Northern Alliance) and played a major part in the so-called Rome process which put into effect an even wider alliance against the Taliban and sought to find a peaceful post-Taliban solution for Afghanistan. In 1997, he helped end the civil war in neighboring Tajikistan urging parties to accept a United Nations peace plan

In 2001, Massoud issued several warnings that his intelligence had gathered information about a large-scale terrorist attack against the United States being imminent

Massoud was assassinated in Afghanistan's Takhar Province by two Arab suicide bombers, allegedly belonging to Al-Qaeda, on September 9, 2001, two days before the attacks of September 11 that caused the US and NATO to invade Afghanistan, allying themselves with the United Front. His earlier effort, together with the most senior leaders of Afghanistan's ethnicities, at forging a wide coalition across political and ethnic factions was instrumental in preparing the ground for the ultimate overthrow of the Taliban in 2001 and the establishment of a multiethnic government. His followers call him Āmir Sāhib-e Shahīd ("Our Beloved Martyred Commander"). Massoud was posthumously named "National Hero of Afghanistan" by order of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The date of his death, September 9, is observed as a national holiday known as "Massoud Day" in Afghanistan

In 2002, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How the CIA created Osama bin Laden

How the CIA created Osama bin Laden - by Norm Dixon

"Throughout the world ... its agents, client states and satellites are on the defensive — on the moral defensive, the intellectual defensive, and the political and economic defensive. Freedom movements arise and assert themselves. They're doing so on almost every continent populated by man — in the hills of Afghanistan, in Angola, in Kampuchea, in Central America ... [They are] freedom fighters."
Is this a call to jihad (holy war) taken from one of Islamic fundamentalist Osama bin Laden's notorious fatwas? Or perhaps a communique issued by the repressive Taliban regime in Kabul?
In fact, this glowing praise of the murderous exploits of today's supporters of arch-terrorist bin Laden and his Taliban collaborators, and their holy war against the "evil empire", was issued by US President Ronald Reagan on March 8, 1985. The "evil empire" was the Soviet Union, as well as Third World movements fighting US-backed colonialism, apartheid and dictatorship.

How things change. In the aftermath of a series of terrorist atrocities — the most despicable being the mass murder of more than 6000 working people in New York and Washington on September 11 — bin Laden the "freedom fighter" is now lambasted by US leaders and the Western mass media as a "terrorist mastermind" and an "evil-doer".

Yet the US government refuses to admit its central role in creating the vicious movement that spawned bin Laden, the Taliban and Islamic fundamentalist terrorists that plague Algeria and Egypt — and perhaps the disaster that befell New York.

The mass media has also downplayed the origins of bin Laden and his toxic brand of Islamic fundamentalism.


In April 1978, the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) seized power in Afghanistan in reaction to a crackdown against the party by that country's repressive government.

The PDPA was committed to a radical land reform that favoured the peasants, trade union rights, an expansion of education and social services, equality for women and the separation of church and state. The PDPA also supported strengthening Afghanistan's relationship with the Soviet Union.

Such policies enraged the wealthy semi-feudal landlords, the Muslim religious establishment (many mullahs were also big landlords) and the tribal chiefs. They immediately began organising resistance to the government's progressive policies, under the guise of defending Islam.

Washington, fearing the spread of Soviet influence (and worse the new government's radical example) to its allies in Pakistan, Iran and the Gulf states, immediately offered support to the Afghan mujaheddin, as the "contra" force was known.

Following an internal PDPA power struggle in December 1979 which toppled Afghanistan's leader, thousands of Soviet troops entered the country to prevent the new government's fall. This only galvanised the disparate fundamentalist factions. Their reactionary jihad now gained legitimacy as a "national liberation" struggle in the eyes of many Afghans.

The Soviet Union was eventually to withdraw from Afghanistan in 1989 and the mujaheddin captured the capital, Kabul, in 1992.

Between 1978 and 1992, the US government poured at least US$6 billion (some estimates range as high as $20 billion) worth of arms, training and funds to prop up the mujaheddin factions. Other Western governments, as well as oil-rich Saudi Arabia, kicked in as much again. Wealthy Arab fanatics, like Osama bin Laden, provided millions more.

Washington's policy in Afghanistan was shaped by US President Jimmy Carter's national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and was continued by his successors. His plan went far beyond simply forcing Soviet troops to withdraw; rather it aimed to foster an international movement to spread Islamic fanaticism into the Muslim Central Asian Soviet republics to destabilise the Soviet Union.

Brzezinski's grand plan coincided with Pakistan military dictator General Zia ul-Haq's own ambitions to dominate the region. US-run Radio Liberty and Radio Free Europe beamed Islamic fundamentalist tirades across Central Asia (while paradoxically denouncing the "Islamic revolution" that toppled the pro-US Shah of Iran in 1979).

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Attack of the drones

CIA Drone Strikes in Pakistan 2004 – 2012

Total US strikes: 343
Obama strikes: 291
Total reported killed: 2,558-3,319
Civilians reported killed: 474-881
Children reported killed: 176
Total reported injured: 1,226-1,359

US Covert Action in Yemen 2002 – 2012

Total confirmed US operations (all): 51-61
Total confirmed US drone strikes: 39-49
Possible additional US operations: 115-130
Possible additional US drone strikes: 59-69
Total reported killed (all): 347-1,005
Total civilians killed (all): 58-165
Children killed (all): 24-31

US Covert Action in Somalia 2007 – 2012

Total US strikes: 10-21
Total US drone strikes: 3-9
Total reported killed: 58-169
Civilians reported killed: 11-57
Children reported killed: 1-3