Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson To Launch Presidential Bid In February?

November 2, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Gary Johnson isn’t your typical Republican.

He supported Ron Paul in 2008, and has spent a good part of the 2010 election season speaking out in favor of California’s Prop 19, which would legalize marijuana. At the same time, he had a fairly successful eight years as Governor of New Mexico, and is one of that small set of Republican politicians who has been fairly consistent in governing as the fiscal conservative he campaigned as.

That’s why I find this possibility very interesting:

Gary Johnson, former New Mexico governor, is hinting he will announce a 2012 presidential bid early next year — in February, to be exact.

Although Johnson refused to directly discuss his widely anticipated run, he did suggest in a meeting with The Daily Caller that should he run, he would announce his candidacy in February.

Johnson would be an incredible long shot, of course, but his candidacy would give voice to a libertarian-oriented wing of the GOP that, until now, only had a few Representatives like Ron Paul, Dana Rohrbacher, and Tom McClintock to count as one of it’s own. He’s one of the few potential Republican candidates for 2012 that actually interests me, so hopefully he’ll be able to make some kind of an impact.

Outside the Beltway

ETIP leader killed in February Predator strike

September 17, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

A Uighur terrorist, thought to be Abdul Haq al Turkistani, from a videotape released by the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Party in 2008.

Abdul Haq al Turkistani, a member of al Qaeda’s Shura Majlis and the leader of the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Party, a terror group that seeks to establish an Islamic emirate in western China and Central Asia, was killed in a US airstrike in Pakistan in February, US intelligence officials told The Long War Journal.

Turkistani was killed in the Feb. 14, 2010 strike on a compound in the village of Zor Babar Aidak near Mir Ali in North Waziristan, officials said. US Predators fired two missiles at the compound, which was being used as a secret training camp. Five terrorists, including Turkistani were reported killed in the strike.

The town of Mir Ali is a known stronghold of al Qaeda leader Abu Kasha al Iraqi, an Iraqi national who is also known as Abu Akash. He has close links to the Taliban and the Haqqani Network. The Haqqani Network and Hafiz Gul Bahadar also have influence in the Mir Ali region.

The Eastern Turkistan Islamic Party is known to operate in in the Mir Ali region along with the Islamic Jihad Group, an offshoot of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.

The Pakistani government first claimed Turkistani was killed in May, when Interior Minister Rehman Malik made an announcement during a conference in Beijing, China. At the time, Malik claimed that the terror group’s “back is broken” and that the group is no longer viable inside Pakistan.

But the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Party is still known to operate in North Waziristan. A “group of hundreds of militants” from the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Party are said to be in the region, US intelligence officials told The Christian Science Monitor.

The Eastern Turkistan Islamic Party has not officially announced Turkistani’s death, but Abdul Shakoor is said to have taken control of the terror group.

Turkistani is one of the top two terror leaders killed in a Predator strike this year. Mustafa Abu Yazid, formerly al Qaeda’s leader in Afghanistan and its top financial official, was killed in a Predator strike in Datta Khel in North Waziristan on May 21, 2010. [See LWJ report, Senior al Qaeda and Taliban leaders killed in US airstrikes in Pakistan, 2004 – 2010, for the list]

Background on Abdul Haq al Turkistani and the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Party

Haq, who is also known as Maimaitiming Maimaiti, became the leader of the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Party in late 2003 after Hassan Mahsum, the group’s previous leader, was killed in Waziristan, Pakistan.

Al Qaeda appointed Haq to its Shura Majlis, or executive leader council, in 2005, according to the US Treasury Department, which designated him as a global terrorist in April 2009. The United Nations also designated Haq as a terrorist leader.

Haq is considered influential enough in al Qaeda’s leadership circles that he is dispatched to mediate between rival Taliban groups as well as to represent the Shura Majlis in important military matters. In June 2009, Haq was spotted in Pakistan’s tribal areas attending an important meeting with Baitullah Mehsud, then Pakistan’s overall Taliban commander. Haq and a senior delegation of Taliban and al Qaeda leaders traveled to Pakistan’s tribal areas to discuss the Pakistani military’s operation in South Waziristan. Among those in attendance were Siraj Haqqani, the military commander of the deadly Haqqani Network; and Abu Yahya al Libi, a senior al Qaeda ideologue and propagandist.

The Treasury Department said Haq has sent operatives abroad to raise funds for attacks against Chinese interests both at home and abroad. He also is involved with recruiting, propaganda efforts, and the planning and execution of terror attacks. In early 2008, Haq openly threatened to conduct attacks at the Olympic Games in Beijing.

Haq was last heard from in August 2009, when he threatened to attack Chinese embassies worldwide as well as targets within the country.

Haq ran a training camp for his recruits at al Qaeda’s camp in Tora Bora in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar prior to the US invasion in October 2001 [see LWJ report, “The Uighurs in their own words”]. He later reestablished camps for the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Party in Pakistan’s lawless, Taliban-controlled tribal areas. The Chinese government has pressured Pakistan to dismantle the camps.

Despite Haq’s connections to al Qaeda, and the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Party’s role in the global jihad, the US is releasing fighters belonging to the terror group from the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. Of the 22 Eastern Turkistan Islamic Party detainees captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002, only seven remain in custody. Five were transferred out of custody by the Bush administration and 10 more by the Obama administration.

The seven remaining Eastern Turkistan Islamic Party fighters in US custody are expected to be freed, as the US government no longer considers them a threat. Two of the detainees have been offered the opportunity to resettle in Switzerland and five others in the island nation of Palau.

The Long War Journal

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