Tag Archives: War on Terror

Al Qaeda Can Run But They Can’t Hide

al Qaeda can't hide

Well, actually al Qaeda can hide – and they do it fairly well. But eventually we’ll get ’em!

Secretary of State John Kerry’s “al Qaeda can run but they can’t hide” statement on Sunday ended off a weekend of al Qaeda raids.

First up, US forces managed to capture Abu Anas al Liby, an al Qaeda leader linked to the 1998 bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The joint mission by the military, the CIA, and the FBI took place early Saturday in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, where a fierce firefight erupted, leaving 15 Libyan soldiers dead at a checkpoint. But that doesn’t matter because the US got what they were after: Abu Anas al Libi – dead or alive (but preferably alive). The embassy bombing terrorist was taken alive and is now in American custody. Sadly Abu Anas won’t get a tropical vacation in Guantanamo Bay, instead he’s expected to stand trial in New York.

After a 15-year manhunt, the US was pretty proud of this one. Abu Anas was, after all, and their “Most Wanted Terrorists” list.

“This operation should be a clear reminder that the United States will seek justice against those who would attack Americans, and never forgets those who are victims of terrorism,” the White House said Sunday.

And Chuck Hagel, undoubtedly in a great mood now that all his minions are back to work, wrote in a statement that the raids “send a strong message to the world that the United States will spare no effort to hold terrorists accountable, no matter where they hide or how long they evade justice.”

US officials insisted the Libyan government was aware of the operation but after al Qaeda leader Abu Anas el-Liby was captured, Libya demanded an explanation as to why the US kidnapped one of its citizens. John Kerry defended the capture, saying Abu Anas was a “legal and appropriate target”. So suck it Libya.

The second al-Qaeda raid of the weekend also took place early Saturday morning and also took place in Africa – but this time in southern Somalia. A team of U.S. Navy SEALs (the same SEALs that killed Osama bin Laden) targeted the leader of the al-Qaeda linked terrorist group al-Shabab. Unfortunately the mission didn’t go quite so smoothly. The SEALs came under fire and withdrew before they could confirm whether they killed their target. In the end they didn’t capture the target they were after. Yet… After all, they can run, but they can’t hide – for more than 15 years…

Via: CNN

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Khalid Sheikh Mohammed: Terrorist / Vacuum Cleaner Designer

 Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

What does Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks do for fun? Design vacuum cleaners of course!

The Pakistan (or Kuwait??)-born mechanical engineering graduate was arrested in 2003 and subsequently underwent harsh interrogations in Poland where he was forced to go without sleep and endure all kinds of water-boarding (well, mainly one kind). After the CIA prison in Poland was closed down, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was transferred to a prison in the Romanian capital, Bucharest. It was there that he made a strange request: he wanted permission to design vacuum cleaners.

CIA officials had to check with the head office but in the end they complied with the request – mainly because they wanted him to stay sane in case he ever went to trial. And they had to undo some of the psychological damage inflicted on him from the interrogations (translation: torture).

“We didn’t want them to go nuts,” a former senior CIA official said anonymously.

Apparently re-engineering vacuums keeps people calm. So Khalid Sheikh Mohammed went about designing his vacuum cleaners using online guides and his somewhat limited engineering background. And it appears to have worked! Recent Guantánamo records show that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed appears to be in good health (unlike some of the others who are suffering from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder).

The Romanian detention centre also reportedly provided books for prisoners to read. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is said to have enjoyed the Harry Potter series.

Sadly, the secret CIA prison in Romania was closed in early 2006 and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s life of vacuums and Harry Potter quickly disappeared. Mohammed was transferred later that year to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he remains today awaiting a military trial that will probably never happen.

Via: The Guardian

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Phone Records

Current Event Cat - Government Phone Records

Listen up: the Obama administration is not only tracking the phone records of AP journalists, they’re listening to your phone calls too. Aka, the US government has ordered Verizon to hand over tens of millions of phone records.

According to the Guardian, the US National Security Agency (NSA) is collecting the phone records for millions of Americans. The newspaper published a secret court order telling Verizon to hand over the goods on an “ongoing” basis.

But don’t worry – they did this for you. The government defended collecting phone records—or snooping on citizens—as a “critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats.” US authorities need the information to protect the nation from terrorist threats (like you).

While the White House has not made any official comment, a senior Obama administration official told the BBC that such records allowed counterterrorism officials “to discover whether known or suspected terrorists have been in contact with other persons who may be engaged in terrorist activities, particularly people located inside the US”.

But before everyone starts blaming Obama for eavesdropping on their conversations, keep in mind this is legal as it falls under the “business records” law of the Bush-era Patriot Act. Just don’t mention anything about bombs, fraternizing with muslims, or say the word “Tea Party” and you should be good to go. 

Via: Current Event Cats & BBC News

The Droning Continues: U.S Drone Strike Kills Six

Drone Strike Kills Six

So much for the stricter drone policies Obama went off about last week…. A U.S drone strike killed six suspected militants in Pakistan on Wednesday—the first attack since President Obama’s speech last week that outlined the administration’s new policy to use drones only when absolutely needed.

According to Obama’s speech last Friday, drone attacks should only be used amid a “continuing, imminent threat” to the US where no other options are available.

So who were the latest drone victims? Although not officially confirmed yet, it is reported that the second-in-command of the Pakistani Taliban was among those killed in the drone strike. Not bad, not bad. The US government had placed a $5 million bounty on his head, accusing him of involvement in attacks on coalition forces in Afghanistan, including the 2009 bombing of a US base in which seven CIA agents were killed. I suppose that falls under Obama’s use of drones as a “just war” of self-defence against militants.

And the other five killed when drone missiles struck a house in the tribal district of North Waziristan? No one really knows yet. Apparently the identities of drone victims are notoriously difficult to confirm and can take days or weeks since the remote tribal areas are inaccessible to foreign and most local journalists.

This latest drone strike is also the first one since the May 11 election in Pakistan. Drone attacks were a key issue in the Pakistani election and Nawaz Sharif, whose party won the recent election in Pakistan and is expected to be sworn in as prime minister next week, is not happy with the drones. Sharif expressed “serious concerns” and says he plans to engage the United States in “serious” negotiations to put an end to the attacks, which Pakistan says violate its sovereignty. In other words, he’s serious.

Via: The New York Times

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Germany Says Goodbye to Graffiti and Hello to Drones

Graffiti No More

Not to be outdone by America’s anti-terrorist (and sometimes anti-civilian) drones, Germany has introduced anti-graffiti drones.

If Germany’s biggest problem is graffiti, then I’d say they’re doing okay. But for Germany’s national railway company, Deutsche Bahn, okay is not enough! The railway is not happy with the amount of graffiti being sprayed on its property. The solution (which is in no way an overreaction)? Drones!

The company plans to test small drones with infra-red cameras to collect evidence needed to prosecute graffiti artists who deface railway property in the darkest hours of the night. Apparently graffiti costs Deutsche Bahn almost 8 million euros a year. And the drones? Each one will cost around 60,000 euros.

But not so fast Deutsche Bahn! Germany has very strict anti-surveillance laws and privacy is a very sensitive issue among the German folk. If they objected to Google Street View, they probably won’t be too pleased with flying surveillance cameras.

A Deutsche Bahn spokesman tried to reassure everyone that its drones would only be used in big depots where vandals enter at night and spray-paint carriages. So unless you are a night-time railway graffiti artist, the drones won’t really care about you. But if you are a night-time railway graffiti artist, the drones will identify you with their sophisticated infra-red sensors and you will go to jail.

Sounds like Germany will have to pull an Obama and weigh the pros and cons of drone use. Except, instead of increased terrorist attacks vs. civilian casualties, it will be annoying graffiti vs. angry privacy loving Germans.

Via: BBC News

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Drones

Current Event Cat - Drones

President Obama defended his use of drones and outlined new polices for overseas drones strikes in a major national security speech in Washington DC on Thursday.

The administration recently admitted that drones have killed American citizens overseas, but in his address at the National Defense University Obama vowed that he would do a better job in the future, stating, “there must be near certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured.”

This doesn’t mean drone strikes will end, but rather he will try to cut back on the number of attacks in general. You just can’t go cold turkey with drones! Instead, Obama will more carefully weigh the risks of using drones against the alternative of more terrorist attacks. While Obama will continue to call the shots drone-wise, he promised to work more closely with Congress and brief them on every strike.

And now for the second part of the speech: Gitmo. Obama promised ONCE AGAIN that he would close the Guantanamo Bay military prison. Obama told his audience: “Guantanamo has become a symbol around the world for an America that flouts the rule of law.”

But one person was not convinced of Obama’s commitment to closing the prison: serial protester Madea Benjamin. Benjamin relentlessly heckled Obama during his speech, shouting about the current hunger strike at Gitmo and demanding the release of the prisoners TODAY! Obama put up with the heckler for a while, saying “I’m willing to cut the young lady who interrupted me some slack because it’s worth being passionate about.” Note: Madea Banjamin is 60 years old. She was later removed from the auditorium.

Via: Current Event Cats

Glenn Beck Knows a Saudi Link When He Sees One

Glenn Beck and the Saudi Link

A terrorist attack just isn’t a terrorist attack if there isn’t a Saudi link. Or at least according to America-loving conspiracy theorist Glenn Beck.

After stringing America along with his promise to reveal what the US government was covering up about the Boston Marathon bombings, Glenn Beck made his “Big Monday Reveal”, showing a letter signed by four congressmen requesting more information about a Saudi “person of interest.” That’s his evidence of a coverup? This was the worst reveal since Donald Trump’s “Big Obama Reveal”, which just turned out to be his half-witted attempt to try and get his hands on the President’s college records.

Anyways, Glenn Beck is a bigger fan of conspiracy theories than he is of Libertyville or whatever his fantasy nostalgia American dream town is called. So it was no surprise last week when Beck insisted that the US government was investigating a Saudi man in relation to the bombing, despite the fact that the Department of Homeland Security had already cleared the innocent man. But Glenn Beck wasn’t convinced: there must ALWAYS be a Saudi link!

Therefore, the only logical conclusion is that there must be some kind of US government coverup of this mysterious Saudi national. Beck suggested that the Saudi man is an al Qaeda operative who recruited the Tsarnaev brothers to carry out the Boston bombing and the US government for “reasons unknown” is trying to cover it up.

Apparently Beck has at least four listeners out there –  four Republican Congressmen—Michael McCaul, Jeff Duncan, Peter King, and Candice Miller— have written to the Department of Homeland Security asking for further information about this “original person of interest.”

Need even more proof of a Saudi link? Glenn Beck has you covered: “No American citizen blows up random people; that’s a Middle Eastern scene, that’s not an American scene.”

Minus Timothy McVeigh, Ted Kaczynski and a long list of others…

Via: Right Wing Watch

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Canada Foils Terrorist Plot… And Other News

VIA Rail Terrorist

Canada has terrorists too! And apparently Canadians are better at catching them.

Canadian authorities have arrested several suspects in Ontario, foiling what could have a been a major terrorist attack. The alleged terrorists had been under surveillance for more than a year in Quebec and southern Ontario.  The Canadian plotters have no connection to the Boston bombers or to the buddies from London, Ontario who died earlier this year fighting for al Qaeda in Algeria. And that’s about all anyone knows about that until the RCMP press conference later this afternoon.

UPDATE: They wanted to attack a VIA Rail train in the Toronto area. Those bastards! National Post

No SmokingMayor Bloomberg really loves banning things. The New York City Council is now considering upping the legal age to buy cigarettes from 18 to 21. “With this legislation, we’ll be targeting the age group at which the overwhelming majority of smokers start,” Council Speaker Christine Quinn said. The proposal, which would give New York the highest smoking age in the country among major cities, is another one of Bloomberg’s efforts to curb smoking. Surveys suggest youth smoking has been declining in New York City, perhaps because young people have been influenced by Bloomberg’s onslaught of public health campaigns. Or perhaps because smoking is now seen as being a very white trash thing to do. The question is does smoking turn people into white trash, or does being white trash turn people onto smoking? New York Times

Taliban-FightersWhat’s worse than having to make an emergency landing in a helicopter? Having the Taliban surround the malfunctioning chopper and kidnap you. An Afghan pilot and nine foreign nationals (7 Turks and 2 Russians) were captured by the Taliban on Sunday. Their helicopter equipment malfunctioned and they were forced to make an emergency landing. The helicopter was being used to deliver food and other items for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force. The Taliban surrounded the chopper, took the nine occupants hostage, texted what they had done, and called it a day. CNN

Reese Mug ShotReese Witherspoon is sorry she pulled the “Do you know who I am!?!!” card when her husband got pulled over for drunk driving in Atlanta early Friday morning. Reese got all up in the cop’s face and refused to sit still in the car. The cop, who was either unaware or unimpressed with her celebrity status, arrested her for disorderly conduct. Reese admitted in a statement on Monday, “I clearly had one drink too many and I am deeply embarrassed about the things I said… I was disrespectful to the officer who was just doing his job. The words I used that night definitely do not reflect who I am. I have nothing but respect for the police and I’m very sorry for my behavior.” Her husband, Jim Toth faces a DUI charge, but at least she can be his lawyer with all that Legally Blonde training. People

Bird Flu CatChina’s got some problems. First, EARTHQUAKE! At least 188 people died and over 11,000 were injured in the 6.6 magnitude earthquake that struck on Saturday in Sichuan province. Second, BIRD ATTACKS! Two more people have died from the new strain of avian influenza over the weekend, bringing the total reported cases to 102. The bird flu death toll is now at 20. This current strain of bird flu, H7N9, was not detected in humans until last month. Before then the virus had only been present in birds. CNN

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Religious Extremist Rehab: New Solution to Terrorism?

Religious Extremist Rehab

Saudi Arabia has opened luxury ‘religious extremist’ rehab center in Riyadh for Al-Qaeda militants, hoping to wean them off their terrorist ways.

The religious extremist rehab centre includes spa treatments, sessions with counselors, talks on religion and plenty of exercise. Militants will enjoy an Olympic sized swimming pool, a sauna, a gym, and a television hall. Good behaviour could earn them a two-day break with their wives. This sounds even better than Lindsay Lohan’s idea of rehab.

The new complex is the brainchild of the Prince Mohammed bin Nayef Centre for Counselling and Care, a body set up seven years ago to rehabilitate extremists jailed during a Saudi crackdown on the local branch of Al-Qaeda. Another rehab centre has already opened in the western port city of Jeddah, and three more are set to be built. What sets the new Riyadh complex apart from the other centres is its luxury element.

Fundamentalist prisoners will have to go through one of these rehab centres before they can be released into the wild.

“In order to fight terrorism, we must give them an intellectual and psychological balance… through dialogue and persuasion,” said the director of the rehabilitation centres, Said al-Bishi.

Said al-Bishi is convinced the program works and that only a small percentage of fundamentalists will rejoin the deviant minority. The rest will go on to live fulfilling non-fundamentalist lives in Saudi Arabia. Unless they are deemed too good-looking – then they will be deported.

Via: Agence France-Presse

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Breaking News: The US Engaged in Torture

US Torture

A nonpartisan, independent review of the United States’ interrogation program in the years after 9/11 concludes what everyone who saw Zero Dark Thirty already knows: the US engaged in torture.

The 577-page report, put together by the advocacy group The Constitution Project and led by a former top Bush administration official, reveals that the former president and his top advisers knowingly ordered interrogation techniques that U.S. officials have previously referred to as torture.

The review is based on numerous interviews with former American and foreign officials, as well as former detainees, and focuses on the post-9/11 treatment of suspects at Guantánamo Bay, war-zone detention centres, and at CIA black sites.

The report confirms the widespread use of waterboarding and other practices such as slamming prisoners into walls, chaining them in uncomfortable positions for hours, stripping them of their clothing, conducting mock executions and keeping them awake for days on end. Or what the Bush administration called “enhanced interrogation tactics”.

I imagine it looked a little something like this:

Water Board Cat

Whether or not these methods amounted to torture is a matter that has been debated both in and out of government. But the report emphasizes that these techniques do meet the clinical definition of torture.

The report concludes that the United States’ use of torture has “no justification” and “damaged the standing of our nation, reduced our capacity to convey moral censure when necessary and potentially increased the danger to U.S. military personnel taken captive.”

Bush, meanwhile, is off in Texas enjoying his retirement hobby of painting self-portraits as well as hundreds of dog portraits. Bush says people are surprised by his love of painting and that “people are surprised I can even read.”

Via: The New York Times

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