US Predators kill six Haqqani network fighters in North Waziristan

November 11, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 


Map of the Miramshah area in North Waziristan. Click to view larger map.

US Predator strike aircraft fired a barrage of missiles at a compound in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan today, killing 6 terrorists.

Unmanned Predators or the heavily armed and deadly Reapers fired at least six missile at a group of “fighters” returning to North Waziristan from Khost province in Afghanistan, AFP reported. The strike took place in the village of Gulli Khel, in the Ghulam Khan area just north of Waziristan.

No senior al Qaeda or Taliban fighters have been reported killed in strike. The nature of the strike indicates a senior commander or wanted operative was targeted in the attack.

The Ghulam Khan is in the sphere of influence of the Haqqani Network, a Taliban group led by mujahedeen commander Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son Siraj. The Haqqanis are closely allied to al Qaeda and to the Taliban, led by Mullah Omar. Siraj Haqqani is the leader of the Miramshah Regional Military Shura, one of the Afghan Taliban’s top four commands; he sits on the Taliban’s Quetta Shura; and he is also is a member of al Qaeda’s Shura Majlis. The Haqqanis are based on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border.

The US has targeted Siraj and other top-level Haqqani Network commanders since 2008. On Feb. 18 of this year, the US killed Mohammed Haqqani, another of the 12 sons of Jalaluddin Haqqani, in an airstrike in Danda Darpa Khel just outside Miramshah. Mohammed served as a military commander for the Haqqani Network. Siraj is believed to be sheltering in the neighboring tribal agency of Kurram to avoid the Predators.

The Haqqani Network operates on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border. The US military has heavily targeted the Haqqani Network’s leadership in raids and airstrikes in the Afghan provinces of Khost, Paktia, and Paktika.

On Nov. 5, US and Afghan forces captured the Haqqani Network’s shadow governor for the Spera district in Khost province. The Spera district directly borders Pakistan, and the shadow governor, who was not named, coordinated “the facilitation of foreign fighters from Pakistan” as well as directed and executed ambushes against combined forces.

On Oct. 31, five Haqqani Network leaders, including Zubair, a foreign fighter weapons facilitator for foreign fighters in the area, were killed during a raid in Paktia’s Zadran district.

Also, on Nov. 9, US and Afghan forces captured a Haqqani Network weapons dealer as he was enroute to to Saudi Arabia.

The Predator strikes, by the numbers

Today’s strike is the seventh US attack in Pakistan this month. On Nov. 1, a strike in Mir Ali, a large town in North Waziristan, killed six “militants.” Three strikes on Nov. 3 killed 13 terrorists, and a pair of strikes on Nov. 7 killed 14 more.

The pace of the strikes since the beginning of September is unprecedented since the US began the air campaign in Pakistan in 2004. September’s record number of 21 strikes was followed by 16 strikes in October. The previous monthly high was 11 strikes in January 2010, after the Taliban and al Qaeda executed a successful suicide attack at Combat Outpost Chapman that targeted CIA personnel who were active in gathering intelligence for the Predator campaign in Pakistan. In the bombing at COP Chapman, seven CIA officials and a Jordanian intelligence officer were killed.

The US has carried out 98 attacks inside Pakistan this year, which is more than double the number of strikes in Pakistan just two years ago. A few months ago, the US exceeded last year’s strike total of 53 with a strike in Kurram in late August. In 2008, the US carried out a total of 36 strikes inside Pakistan. [For up-to-date charts on the US air campaign in Pakistan, see LWJ Special Report, Charting the data for US airstrikes in Pakistan, 2004 – 2010.]

All but nine of this year’s 98 strikes have taken place in North Waziristan. Of the nine strikes that have occurred outside of North Waziristan, seven took place in South Waziristan, one occurred in Khyber, and one took place in Kurram.

The US campaign in northwestern Pakistan has targeted top al Qaeda leaders, al Qaeda’s external operations network, and Taliban leaders and fighters who threaten both the Afghan and Pakistani states as well as support al Qaeda’s external operations. [For a list of al Qaeda and Taliban leaders killed in the US air campaign in Pakistan, see LWJ Special Report, Senior al Qaeda and Taliban leaders killed in US airstrikes in Pakistan, 2004 – 2010<

The Long War Journal

Haqqani Network facilitator arrested on plane bound for Saudi Arabia

November 9, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Coalition and Afghan forces arrested a Haqqani Network weapons facilitator who was on an airplane destined for Saudi Arabia today.

The Haqqani Network facilitator, who was not named, was identified by “multiple intelligence sources,” the International Security Assistance Force stated in a press release. The facilitator and three other companions, who also have not been named, boarded a plane to Saudi Arabia, which then took off. Afghan authorities ordered the plane to return to Kabul International Airport, where joint security forces detained the Haqqani network operative.

ISAF said the Haqqani Network facilitator “was wanted for facilitating weapons and ammunition used in attacks against ANSF [Afghan National Security Forces] and International Security Assistance Forces” and “was also known to have participated in numerous IED attack against ANSF and ISAF.” One of the three others detained “had an active warrant issued by Afghan authorities.”

ISAF would not disclose why the Haqqani Network facilitator was traveling to Saudi Arabia; an inquiry sent by The Long War Journal was not answered.

A US military intelligence official contacted by The Long War Journal said that the Haqqani operative was traveling to secure funding for weapons purchases.

Top Haqqani network leaders are known to routinely travel to Saudi Arabia to receive funds from wealthy Saudis who back jihadist activities worldwide. This group of wealthy donors is known as the Golden Chain.

Nasiruddin Haqqani, the brother of Haqqani Network leader Sirajuddin Haqqani, is known to have traveled to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates between 2004-2009 to carry out fundraising for the Haqqani Network, al Qaeda, and the Taliban.

“As of mid-2007, [Nasiruddin] Haqqani reportedly received funding from ­donations from the Gulf region, drug trafficking, and payments from al Qaeda,” the US Treasury Department stated in a press release that announced Nasiruddin’s addition to the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists. “In 2004, he traveled to Saudi Arabia with a Taliban associate to raise funds for the Taliban.”

Nasiruddin is based out of Miramshah in the tribal agency of North Waziristan in Pakistan. He is known to speak Arabic and is also a close aide to his father, Jalaluddin, the patriarch of the Haqqani family.

The Haqqanis are closely allied to al Qaeda and to the Taliban, led by Mullah Omar. Siraj Haqqani is the leader of the Miramshah Regional Military Shura, one of the Afghan Taliban’s top four commands; he sits on the Taliban’s Quetta Shura; and he is also is a member of al Qaeda’s Shura Majlis. The Haqqanis are based on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border.

The Long War Journal

Joke network lifts suspension of joke pundit

November 8, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

(Paul)

NBC has lifted its suspension of Keith Olbermann. The sports highlights presenter turned deranged political commentator reportedly will return to the air on Tuesday night.

A number of excellent conservative bloggers have criticized the suspension of Olbermann, but I think it was well deserved. Olbermann violated the unambiguous policy of his employer. If the policy is a senseless one, which I think it is, NBC should change the policy. But past violations should not go unpunished.

Olbermann’s arrogance is legendary, and his employer acted reasonably in trying to remind him that he is not exempt from its policies. My guess, though, is that the suspension will prove too brief to serve that purpose.




Power Line

Joke pundit suspended by joke network

November 5, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

(Scott)

The news of the day is that MSNBC has suspended Keith Olbermann without pay for his contributions to three Democratic candidates this election season. Olbermann is said to have violated the company policy prohibiting the talent from making political contributions. Such contributions give the appearance that the talent might have an interest that colors otherwise impartial reportage.

We all know that MSNBC — featuring Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz and the other paragons of journalism that fill its on-air ranks — is full of left-wing operatives in the tank for the Obama administration. Earlier this year Mika Brzezinski confessed to “working with the White House” on talking points (regarding the Gulf oil spill). She even read the White House talking points on the air: Brzezinski made no bones about what she was doing, and no one was particularly shocked to learn that the talent was reading Democratic Party talking points on the air.

What is to be said? The Olbermann case features a joke pundit working for a joke network. It is impossible to take seriously.




Power Line

Shortly After Major Bush Donor Takes Over MSNBC, Network Selectively Applies Rules To Suspend Olbermann

November 5, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Earlier today, MSNBC declared that it would be suspending progressive host Keith Olbermann because he violated NBC’s ethics rules by donating to three Democratic candidates for Congress. As many bloggers have noted, conservative MSNBC host Joe Scarborough has donated to Republican candidates for Congress while promoting the same candidate on air, but has never been disciplined. Moreover, Gawker notes that MSNBC has been exempt from the formal NBC ethics rules for years. It is still a mystery why MSNBC selectively applied NBC’s ethics rules to Olbermann. However, it important to realize that MSNBC has undergone a fundamental change in leadership in the last two months.

Late last year, Comcast — the nation’s largest cable provider and second largest Internet service provider — inked a deal taking over NBC Universal, the parent company of MSNBC. Comcast moved swiftly to reshuffle MSNBC’s top staff. On September 26th of this year, Comcast announced perhaps the most dramatic shift, replacing longtime MSNBC chief Jeff Zucker with Comcast executive Steve Burke. Burke has given generous amounts to both parties — providing cash to outgoing Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) as well as to Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) and other top Republicans. But as Public Citizen has noted, Burke has deep ties to the Republican Party. Public Citizen’s report reveals that Burke served as a key fundraiser to President George Bush, and even served on Bush’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology:

Comcast – the country’s largest provider of cable TV and broadband Internet services – has increased its political giving along with its mergers and acquisitions. CEO Brian Roberts was a co-chairman of the host committee at the 2000 Republican Convention. Comcast Cable President Stephen Burke has raised at least $ 200,000 for Bush’s re-election campaign. […] Comcast’s political giving has increased along with its mergers and acquisitions. The company was a “platinum sponsor” at the 2000 GOP convention, and Roberts was a co-chairman of the host committee at the Philadelphia event. Burke was appointed to the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology in 2002.

Why would Comcast be interested in silencing progressive voices? Historically, Comcast has boosted its profits by buying up various telecommunication and media content companies — instead of providing faster Internet or better services (overall, American broadband services are far slower than in many industrialized nations). Many of these mergers, as Public Citizen and Free Press have reported, have been allowed by regulators because of Comcast’s considerable political muscle. Comcast’s latest regulatory battle has been to oppose Net Neutrality — a rule allowing a free and open Internet — because the company would prefer to have customers pay for preferred online content.

Olbermann has been a strong voice in favor of a free and open Internet. Republicans, on the other hand, have supported the telecommunication industry’s push to radically change the Internet so corporate content producers have the upper hand over start-ups like blogs, independent media, small businesses, etc. As Reuters has reported, the incoming Republican Congress has signaled that it will vigorously side with companies like Comcast against an open Internet.

It is not clear why MSNBC has selectively suspended Olbermann indefinitely without pay — but the move showcases the limits of the corporate media. While modern technology has created a seeming multitude of entertainment and television choices, the reality of corporate media consolidation has resulted in fewer investigative news options and less voices in the media with a critical perspective on powerful business interests. Olbermann has stood out as a voice for working people in a media universe dominated by “reality television” and business lobbyists posing as political pundits. It is unfortunate that Comcast and MSNBC have chosen to suspend him.

ThinkProgress

Network Analaysis of How Congress Differs Under GOP and democrat Control

November 2, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

i09 has a very interesting post and some really cool graphics. Money quote, among many:

Porter and colleagues write, “The committee reorganization following the Republican Revolution produced a sharp decline in the typical numbers of committee assignments per Representative compared to the 101st–103rd Houses [and] seems also to have tightened the compartmentalization of the House committee assignments.” There may have been fewer committee appointments than under Democrats, but it was much more likely that committees and subcommittees would share members. This creates more modular networks, with areas of tightly connected nodes.




ProfessorBainbridge.com

ISAF: Haqqani Network suffered heavy losses in assault on Paktika outpost

October 31, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

The Haqqani Network suffered heavy losses in yesterday’s massed assault on a US combat outpost in the eastern Afghan province of Paktika. The International Security Assistance Force estimated that 78 Haqqani Network fighters were killed and said two more were captured, while Afghan officials claimed that more than 80 fighters had been killed.

Haqqani Network forces launched the attack just after midnight on Oct. 30, attacking Combat Outpost Margah in Paktika’s Bermal district from four sides while mortar and rocket teams fired on the troops.

The Haqqani Network was backed by fighters from al Qaeda as well as the Taliban, and several hundred fighters as well as a large support element are believed to have participated in the attack, a US military intelligence official told The Long War Journal.

The top US generals in the region attributed good intelligence and a well-sited observation post with aiding in the defeat of the Haqqani Network assault.

“We had multiple indicators an attack like this was going to happen in that area in an attempt to gain victory before the end of the fighting season, and our combined Afghan and coalition forces were ready for them,” said Major General John Campbell, the commanding general of Regional Command-East.

“COP Margah has a squad-sized observation element on the high ground near the COP to provide early warning to the main base,” Brigadier General Stephen Townsend, the operations chief for Regional Command East, said. “Not only did the Soldiers and Afghan Border Policemen warn of the attack, they also disrupted it for approximately 20 minutes allowing the main defense to decisively respond. Once their mission was complete, they repositioned to reinforce the main defense.”

Since late August, the Haqqani Network has carried out six major assaults against US combat outposts in Khost, Paktika, and Paktia provinces. US and Afghan troops defeated all of the attacks, often inflicting heavy casualties on Haqqani Network forces. [For more information on the recent and previous assaults, see LWJ report, US troops repel Haqqani Network assault on eastern Afghan base.]

Top US military commanders, including General David Petraeus, have claimed that the Haqqani Network’s leadership has been disrupted by the heavy regimen of special operations forces raids that have killed or captured scores of mid- and senior-level commanders and facilitators.

Some US military and intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal disagree, however, and said the latest attack is an indication that the Haqqani Network remains cohesive, despite the failure of the attack.

“Planning, organizing, and executing a complex attack involving hundreds of fighters, mortar teams, and support elements requires command and control, and the Haqqanis still have those capabilities,” a military intelligence officer said. “As long as they are untouchable in Pakistan, they’ll be able to carry out attacks such as the one at COP Margah. And they only need to succeed once; overrunning a US base would have a devastating impact.”

The Long War Journal

US troops repel Haqqani Network assault on eastern Afghan base

October 30, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 
afghanistan_map_thumb.jpg

Map of Afghanistan’s provinces. Click map to view larger image.

US troops beat back the latest attempt by the Haqqani Network and the Taliban to overrun a combat outpost in eastern Afghanistan. The US troops killed more than 30 Haqqani Network fighters who carried out a coordinated, massed assault in Paktika province.

The attack began at 1:30 a.m., when the Pakistan-based Haqqani Network massed a large number of fighters outside of Combat Outpost Margah, an International Security Assistance Force public affairs official told The Long War Journal. The fighters “attacked from all directions with rocket-propelled grenades, small arms and mortar fire,” ISAF stated in a press release.

US troops returned fire and called in air and helicopter support against the enemy fighters. Aircraft launched three guided bombs at “an insurgent firing position” and attacked “a large number of insurgents near the outpost,” ISAF stated.

ISAF estimated that more than 30 of the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network fighters were killed in the strike. Five US soldiers were wounded in the clash, “however all continued fighting.”

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Al Jazeera that the fighters inflicted “high casualties” on Afghan and ISAF forces after overrunning six Afghan police outposts. He claimed that only eight Haqqani network fighters were killed during the assault. The Taliban exaggerate Afghan and Coalition casualties on a daily basis, claiming that scores of troops are killed and dozens of “tanks” are destroyed.

The Taliban and its sub-group, the Haqqani Network, are seeking to overrun ISAF and Afghan outposts in an effort to gain a propaganda victory. The massed attacks are carried out by anywhere from 50 to 200 fighters, and are filmed by propaganda teams. Al Qaeda and other terror groups often participate in the attacks.

The attacks often begin early in the morning. Enemy forces often begin the attack with mortar and rocket strikes, while waves of fighters move towards the outer perimeter and attempt to breach the wire. The enemy fighters seek to get as close to the base as possible to negate the ISAF air advantage; once inside the security perimeter ISAF air crews would have to risk firing on their own personnel.

Repeated Taliban assaults against remote US combat outposts in Kunar and Nuristan provinces, and the near-overrunning of outposts in Kamdesh and Wanat contributed to the decision by ISAF to withdraw from the area. The Taliban and al Qaeda quickly moved into the abandoned regions and established safe havens in the area, then proceeded to launch attacks on neighboring districts.

Background on recent attacks on US outposts in eastern Afghanistan

The Haqqani Network launched five massed assaults on US outposts between late August and September. Each of the attacks failed, and the Haqqani Network incurred heavy casualties. The bases are strung along the Haqqani Network’s rat lines into North Waziristan in Pakistan, where the terror group’s leadership is based.

On Aug. 28, Haqqani Network fighters launched coordinated attacks against Forward Operating Bases Salerno and Chapman in Khost province. US and Afghan troops routed the Haqqani Network fighters, killing more than 35, including a commander, during and after the attacks. Several of the fighters were wearing US Army uniforms, and 13 were armed with suicide vests. During raids in the aftermath of the attacks, US forces killed and captured several commanders and fighters.

On Sept. 2, the Haqqani Network attempted to storm Combat Outpost Margah in the Bermel district of Paktika province. US troops repelled the attack with mortar and small-arms fire, then called in helicopter gunships to finish off the attackers; 20 were reported killed.

On Sept. 21, US troops killed 27 Haqqani Network fighters as they mustered to assault Combat Outpost Spera.

And in the last attack, on Sept. 24, Haqqani Network suicide bombers attempted to breach the outer perimeter of Forward Operating Base Gardez in Paktia province. Five suicide bombers were killed by US forces.

The Taliban and the Haqqani Network have launched attacks at several major installations across the country this year. In May, a small team attempted to breach security at Kandahar Airfield after launching a rocket attack on the base; another small team conducted a suicide assault at the main gate at Bagram Airbase in Parwan province. In June, the Taliban launched an assault against Jalalabad Airfield in Nangarhar province. The Taliban carried out a suicide assault against the Afghan National Civil Order Police headquarters in Kandahar City in July; three US soldiers were killed in the attack, which included a suicide car bomber and a follow-on assault team. And in early August, the Taliban again conducted a complex attack at Kandahar Airfield. All of the attacks were successfully repelled by Coalition and Afghan forces.

For more information on the Haqqani Network, its links to al Qaeda, and ISAF operations targeting its leadership, see LWJ report, US troops defeat Haqqani Network assault on base in Khost.

The Long War Journal

Oprah Slams Joy(less) Behar, Barbara Walters: Bans Word ‘Bitch’ On New Network

October 28, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

UPDATE: Feeling the heat, Behar backtracks, takes “bitch” back. In other news, Behar helps power Angle’s fundraising efforts to unseat Reid.

ee

How will television’s living symbol of ex-wifery respond to Oprah Winfrey’s rebuke? Joyless Behar can’t fire back, by her own twisted worldview that would be racist.

Hollywood Reporter:

Don’t expect Oprah to go down market on her network OWN, launching in January.

In a speech at Maria Shriver’s Women’s Conference, she said her cable net will be “fun and entertaining without tearing people down and calling them bitches. Imagine that. Imagine.”

Over to you, Barbara Walters…


Big Journalism

After Pulling Two Misleading Ads, American Action Network Says ‘This Is All Democrat Hyperventilation’

October 27, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Yesterday, FOX CT, a local Fox affiliate in Connecticut, pulled an ad bankrolled by undisclosed donors to the American Action Network because “the commercial’s claims are unsubstantiated” and made “false or misleading statements” about the Affordable Care Act. Now, Politico’s Pulse is reporting that in Colorado, “AAN voluntarily took down an ad on the local NBC affiliate, 9News, that claims Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) supported a health reform bill that would pay for Viagra for rapists” after “a 9News reporter had posted a fact check challenging the ad’s claims late Monday.”

WOMAN 1: You have to check the article I sent you. Apparently convicted rapists can get Viagra paid for by the new health care bill.

WOMAN 2: Are you serious?

WOMAN 1: Yep! I mean Viagra for rapists? With my tax dollars? And Congressman Perlmutter voted for it.

Watch it:

But as the K9News fact check notes, “this is false. Perlmutter never voted for it.” “The new health law treats sex offenders who are not incarcerated the same way the old law did. They can buy any health plan they choose. Some might cover drugs like Viagra, some might not. The new law doesn’t say anything about these types of drugs.”

Meanwhile, an AAN spokesperson tells Politico that “This is all Democrat hyperventilation” and claims that they were planning on taking down the Colorado ad anyway.

Wonk Room

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