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Week in Review

May 10, 2007

Audio Archive

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  • madfuq May 15, 2007 1:21 pm

    lots of information you posted, enlightening in its aspect but…..
    If we are to win against terrorist then we need to change our tactics to treat them as they really are. CRIMINALS!!!
    The international community as a whole working to track down terrorist as criminals is the only sane answer to terrorists activities. THEY ARE CRIMINALS operating outside the law of every nation and as such tracking them down as criminals and not vilifying nationalities or religious faiths is the common sense approach needed by all of us!

  • Robt May 15, 2007 3:54 am

    For the record.
    Since we had a debate over hate speech and public discourse over Ann Coulter. Not long ago.
    Just recently two radio shock jocks, Opie snd Anthony I believe their names are. Got on radio (after previously kicked off for foulness), But recently were on the air again somehow and this time discussed “Raping two wemon” Those two wemon were Laura Bush and Condi Rice.
    They are very out of line. They Should absolutely be banned from public airwaves altogether. This way you will know that I just do not hear and critisize just hate and discourse from the Right of the political spectrum.
    These clowns aren’t Democrats, but al the same.
    They bring nothing worthy of being on the airwaves.
    So you can see some consistency in my stance.

  • Francesca May 10, 2007 8:53 pm

    Regarding the wisdom behind conducting a war in Afghanistan, here is an article by Seymour Hersh from 2004, with a few excerpts:
    In late 2002, the Defense Department’s office of Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict (SOLIC) asked retired Army Colonel Hy Rothstein, a leading military expert in unconventional warfare, to examine the planning and execution of the war in Afghanistan, with an understanding that he would focus on Special Forces. As part of his research, Rothstein travelled to Afghanistan and interviewed many senior military officers, in both Special Forces and regular units. He also talked to dozens of junior Special Forces officers and enlisted men who fought there. His report was a devastating critique of the Administration’s strategy. He wrote that the bombing campaign was not the best way to hunt down Osama bin Laden and the rest of the Al Qaeda leadership, and that there was a failure to translate early tactical successes into strategic victory. In fact, he wrote, the victory in Afghanistan was not, in the long run, a victory at all.

    The report describes a wide gap between how Donald Rumsfeld represented the war and what was actually taking place. Rumsfeld had told reporters at the start of the Afghanistan bombing campaign, Rothstein wrote, that “you don’t fight terrorists with conventional capabilities. You do it with unconventional capabilities.” In December, the Taliban and Al Qaeda retreated into the countryside as the armies of the Northern Alliance, supported by American airpower and Special Forces troops, moved into the capital. There were many press accounts of America’s new way of waging war, including well-publicized reports of American Special Forces on horseback and of new technologies, like the Predator drones. Nonetheless, Rothstein wrote, the United States continued to emphasize bombing and conventional warfare while “the war became increasingly unconventional,” with Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters “operating in small cells, emerging only to lay land mines and launch nighttime rocket attacks before disappearing once again.” Rothstein added:
    What was needed after December 2001 was a greater emphasis on U.S. special operations troops, supported by light infantry, conducting counterinsurgency operations. Aerial bombardment should have become a rare thing… . The failure to adjust U.S. operations in line with the post-Taliban change in theater conditions cost the United States some of the fruits of victory and imposed additional, avoidable humanitarian and stability costs on Afghanistan… . Indeed, the war’s inadvertent effects may be more significant than we think.

  • Francesca May 10, 2007 7:19 pm

    You asked for it …
    What I really objected to in your remarks today is your unequivocal and uncritical endorsement of the Afghanistan war, in contrast to your more nuanced understanding and criticism of the Iraq occupation. The bottom line is that conventional war is by definition the wrong response to terrorism, and this was widely said in the early days after 9/11.
    War was not believed to be the remedy for the 70s hijacking epidemics. It does not work against terrorism, and never has.
    Instead the fight in Afghanistan has shifted back to the Taliban and it is a losing battle as well. This is by no means to say that the Taliban are good for Afghanistan. What I want to point out is that there is so much amnesia here and we must recall the US role in creating and nurturing groups like this; there is little integrity in the act of turning around and demonize them (after ignoring their excesses and cruelties for years) when it suits our foreign policy and/or when we are seeking revenge for attacks on US soil. Which by the way involved victims from many countries, not only the US. It was not 3000-odd Americans who died; hundreds were British and German and other nationalities. This is another objection I have to the 9/11 debates.
    In the meantime remember that there is also evidence of torture going on in Afghanistan’s prisons which has come to light recently in Canada, whose forces have been turning over detainees to these prisons. This is not a good fight. This fight has been going on as long as World War II and there is no end in sight. (The Afghanistan leader, Karzai, has been accused of murdering in cold blood as well, by witnesses who saw him walk into a police station, take a gun off of an officer, and shoot several prisoners.)
    In other words, this is not a clear-cut war in any respect: in terms of the reasons for invading, in terms of the conduct of the invasion, and in terms of the current goals. We have heard many reports of near-misses in the search for Bin Laden, and worse.
    You said that Afghanistan was known to support Al Qaeda, and we know they ran training camps there. However, the 9/11 terrorists were mostly from Saudi Arabia – so by your logic, why did we not also bomb that country, or Yeman, or Pakistan?
    You asked for some postings:
    You have to go beyond the headlines of the BBC report and other articles and reports I found to discern that things moved relatively slowly after 9/11. There was talk of freezing assets right away, but the talk was not followed by rapid and comprehensive action until well into 2002 and 2003. Various reasons for this emerge from the reports. And there is evidence that the cash flow has been revived through various new channels.
    In general however the reports underscore the difficulty of finding and freezing financial sources for terrorist groups. Which it turn underscores the basic problem with fighting terrorism at all. I believe that we need to confront this, and many other truths: the fact that the US both had a hand in creating and arming many leading radical Islamic groups throughout the world (for its own reasons during the Cold War), and that these groups in most cases became further radicalized by US policies that led to economic hardship and political oppression in their respective countries, against the background of its ongoing military support of Israel, which, since they view it as their avowed enemy, they perceive as an increasing threat to their survival as well as to the Palestinians living there. In addition stopping the cash flow and weapons sales, I believe that changing this dynamic, i.e., the nature of US foreign policy, offers the best prospect for bringing about the decline of these radical Islamic groups, by simply removing or reducing their motivation. Clearly, the opposite tactic of military strikes has only increased the influence and number of radical Islamic groups, and is guaranteed to do so in the future regardless of the number of troops sent to Iraq or anywhere else. Of course, the US has not stopped its practices of manipulating terrorist groups for its own ends, as Seymour Hersh’s recent articles in the New Yorker (about funding going to Sunni splinter groups in Iran with connections to Iraq) have illustrated. Thus, the closer you get to the reality, the harder it is to make sweeping statements for or against wars and invasions. Better to express endorsements for or against policies and ideologies, while looking very closely at what is happening – which I grant is not easy.
    But the wellsprings of terror cash — donations raised in mosques and by Islamic charities — have hardly been touched. And the man U.S. intelligence officials suspected of being al Qaeda’s financial mastermind, Sheik Said al-Masri, remains at large.
    And while the U.S. Treasury has put American banks on high alert to catch dirty money, other governments don’t feel the same urgency. Even as they publicly praise the international community for cooperating in the war on terrorist financing, U.S. officials complain privately that foreign government support has been “spotty at best.” Part of the problem comes from Washington. Pleas by Treasury Secretary John W. Snow for allies to curb money flows are drowned out by other messages, including the Bush Administration’s calls to shore up support for war in Iraq. Indeed, that’s why U.S. officials are thought to be going easy now on countries, most notably Saudi Arabia, where terror funders thrive.
    So the fund-raising machine that turns legitimate contributions and profits into blood money is still humming. Despite U.S. raids on Islamic charities in Chicago, New York, and elsewhere, terrorist sympathizers “still fund-raise in the U.S.,” says Rita Katz, director of the Search for International Terrorist Entities Institute in Washington. Meantime, the destruction of the movement’s Afghan training camps — once bin Laden’s most expensive operations — has freed up resources for terror operations, which tend to be low budget: The September 11 attacks are estimated to have cost between $200,000 and $500,000.
    But critics contend that the Bush Administration’s emphasis on arrests and freezes has led officials to neglect more fundamental changes that would starve al Qaeda of funds at the sources. Their main example: Saudi Arabia. U.S. officials have long kept lists of top Saudi businesses and officials who support bin Laden. Last fall, National Security Council staffers threatened to give the Saudis a deadline to block such gifts. But pressure from the Saudis and State Dept. succeeded in blunting that drive. In Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, “the legal and regulatory environment in which terrorists raise and move their money remains unchanged,” says Lee S. Wolosky, co-director of a Council on Foreign Relations study of terrorist financing.
    The U.S. has powerful weapons it could use to punish financial criminals — and countries that harbor them. The Patriot Act, for example, gives Treasury the power to cut off any use of the U.S. financial system by a bank, business, or country that doesn’t exercise adequate controls over money laundering. So far, Treasury has only exercised that power twice — against Naru, a tiny Pacific Island financial haven, and Ukraine. Neither case was related to terror funding.
    At this point in the struggle against terrorism, potential battlefields are overshadowing bank ledgers. With Iraq consuming Washington’s attention, the financial fight inevitably is taking a back seat. But when the bullets stop flying, the U.S. must still maintain a major front against the benefactors of terror to starve al Qaeda of the money it needs for its deadly campaign.
    Al Qaeda Finances and Funding to Affiliated Groups
    Strategic Insights, Volume IV, Issue 1 (January 2005)
    From the beginning Al Qaeda has made use of the international banking community to conduct many of its financial activities. Osama bin Ladin and other top leaders of al Qaeda, as well as many of it Al Qaeda’s financial facilitators maintained bank accounts in Europe, North America and other international banking centers. Since the 1998 Embassy bombings and again after the 9/11/2001 attacks, banks have increased their vigilance concerning possible terrorist funding activities. Freezing orders have been placed against funds identified as belonging to al Qaeda and the Taliban, as well as those associated with them. Banks have also received orders to stop transactions related to Al Qaeda and to report all suspicious transactions to local authorities.. Nevertheless, there is still reason to believe that well heeled financiers, and established charities and businesses with links to al Qaeda, continue to use international banking facilities. They are adept at masking these transactions through the use of trianglarization and intermediaries.
    Current International cooperation against terrorism financing is founded largely on a series of International obligations, regional agreements, and bilateral arrangements. UN Security Council Resolutions 1373 (2001) and 1526 (2004) provide important pillars for this cooperation. The former directs that all countries afford one another the �greatest measure of assistance� in tracing down terrorists and investigating terrorist acts. It also calls on all countries to �find ways of intensifying and accelerating the exchange of operational information.� The Resolution also established a special Counter Terrorism Committee charged with enhancing international efforts to deal with terrorism. But it has not yet provided an effective platform for cooperative counter-terrorism efforts.[60]
    Resolution 1526 (2004) also calls upon all countries to identify al Qaeda members and associated organizations and to provide appropriate information concerning their names and activities to the Security Council�s Al Qaeda and Taliban Sanctions Committee so that they might be included in the Committee�s list of al Qaeda members and associates. This list now includes only 162 al Qaeda members and 103 associated entities, a very small segment of the al Qaeda network. But, many countries continue to feel reticent about providing the names of their nationals or residents to the Security Council for listing. The vast amount of persons and entities listed to date were provided by the United States. But what about the vast majority of al Qaeda members not included on this UN list? Many of them, although known in some countries, remain anonymous in others, and relatively free to roam and support al Qaeda activities.[61]
    UN says al-Qaeda still receiving funds
    Publication: The Financial Times
    Date: August 29, 2002
    Efforts to stem funding to the al-Qaeda terrorist network have stalled according to a United Nations draft report seen by the Washington Post newspaper.
    The report, written by a UN panel responsible for monitoring the enforcement of an arms, travel and financial embargo against al-Qaeda and related terrorist groups, alleges that some $10m has been blocked to the group in the past eight months and that $112m in assets belonging to the network and its associates have been frozen.
    Al-Qaeda continues to draw on personal inheritance money belonging to Osama bin Laden, the group’s leader, and is thought to have access to bank accounts in Dubai, Hong Kong, London, Malaysia and Vienna, according to details in the report.
    Post-September efforts to hinder al-Qaeda’s flow of money have been frustrated through a ‘hawala’ money network. Such a network funnels money through an ancient and informal system that makes transactions hard to trace.
    The report concludes that “despite initial successes in locating and freezing” al-Qaeda assets, the network “continues to have access to considerable financial and other economic resources,” and that the funds have proven to be “exceedingly difficult” to trace.
    Efforts to freeze the terrorists money supply have been at the forefront of the fight against terror following the attacks on New York and Washington.
    The UN is expected to release the report next week. ?
    Al-Qaeda ‘poised to strike again’
    The report says Bin Laden has a large investment portfolio
    Osama Bin Laden’s al-Qaeda terrorist network is alive and well and continues to pose a real threat to the world, a leaked UN report has warned.
    Despite having lost its physical base and sanctuary in Afghanistan, al-Qaeda continues to pose a significant threat to international peace and security
    The report of the UN monitoring group, set to be published next week, says measures to freeze the funds of the organisation and apprehend its members have not been thoroughly implemented.
    Al-Qaeda still has access to considerable funds and arms supplies. In fact its ability to fund activities is thought to have increased as it no longer has to support the Taleban government or training camps in Afghanistan.
    “Despite having lost its physical base and sanctuary in Afghanistan, al-Qaeda continues to pose a significant threat to international peace and security,” the report reads.
    The organisation, warns the report, “is poised to strike again how and where it chooses”.
    ‘Funds flowing’
    The document was prepared by a panel mandated by the UN Security Council to monitor the implementation of UN sanctions.
    In accordance with a January resolution, all nations are required to freeze the finances, impose arms embargos and travel bans on individuals or groups connected with al-Qaeda or Bin Laden.
    But the UN list of people associated with the organisation has not been comprehensively adopted by member states, and al-Qaeda members continue to travel freely.
    Banks meanwhile have lost enthusiasm for freezing accounts allegedly belonging to al-Qaeda members, the report says.
    Despite initial successes in locating and freezing more than $110m in assets belonging to al-Qaeda, it said only about $10m had been frozen this year.
    It estimates that individuals acting on behalf of Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda are managing a global investment portfolio that is valued at anything between $30m and $300m.
    The BBC’s Greg Barrow at the UN says this document reflects the challenge of controlling an organisation that is spread across the world, with no central leadership, and which has a cunning ability to hide itself within benign organisations such as charities or religious groups.
    The Role of Conflict Diamonds in al Qaeda’s Financial Structure
    Published on: Jan 04, 2004
    By?Douglas Farah Washington Post Investigative Reporter
    � Because it had such a limited understanding of al Qaeda’s financial structure before the Sept. 11 attacks, the government was slow to recognize and begin to act on the host of non-traditional financial methods used by terrorists. These include the use of charities, the hawala system of transferring assets and the vital role that gold plays for these groups. It took almost a year for the Treasury Department and others to begin to publicly acknowledge the possible transfer of wealth by al Qaeda to gemstones. Some U.S. intelligence agencies remain reluctant to acknowledge even the possibility that al Qaeda moved significant assets into commodities, especially gem stones, despite the growing evidence, beyond anecdotal evidence and eyewitness testimony to support the veracity of the reporting. Much of the evidence has been uncovered by European law enforcement and intelligence officials who have followed leads the U.S. has chosen not to. The Swiss attorney general, in a recent interview, said it was now accepted, conventional wisdom among European investigators and intelligence agencies that al Qaeda had put most of its wealth, estimated by U.N. experts to be between $30 million and $300 million, into commodities for safekeeping.
    Efforts To Freeze Al-Qaeda’s Funds Stalled, U.N. Report Says
    Tuesday, September 03, 2002
    International efforts to block al-Qaeda’s access to funding has faltered, according to a draft U.N. report due to be released this week, enabling the terrorist network to obtain tens of millions of dollars, the Washington Post reports.
    “Despite initial successes in locating and freezing” al-Qaeda assets, the network “continues to have access to considerable financial and other economic resources,” the report says, adding that “al-Qaeda is by all accounts ‘fit and well’ and poised to strike again at its leisure.”
    While $112 million in assets were frozen in the months after the Sept. 11 attacks against the United States, only $10 million in additional funds have been blocked during the past eight months, says the 43-page report by the U.N. Monitoring Group on al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda, it says, continues to draw on funds from the personal inheritance of Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden, and its backers in North Africa, the Middle East and Asia manage as much as $300 million in investments. The U.N. panel says there are also bank accounts under the names of unidentified intermediaries in Dubai, Hong Kong, London, Malaysia and Vienna, while private donations — estimated at $16 million a year — are believed to “continue, largely unabated.”
    Al-Qaeda’s decision to shift its assets into precious metals and gems and to transfer its money through an informal money exchange network have also hampered internationals efforts to block terrorist funding. Revenue from hard-to-track “illegal activities including smuggling, petty crime, robbery, embezzlement and credit card fraud augment these funds,” along with inadequate auditing of religious charities, lax border controls in several European countries and the “stringent evidentiary standards” required by European governments before they will seize an individual’s assets have also stalled efforts to shut down al-Qaeda financial networks, the U.N. panel says.
    The report also cites U.S. and other governments’ failure to provide complete information about the suspected al-Qaeda members and warns that the publication of different terrorist lists by the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and other countries is creating confusion and undermining efforts to halt al-Qaeda. In addition, “Several states have indicated that they are facing legal challenges to the blocking of assets,” and have also cited humanitarian concerns and the dearth of evidence linking suspects to terrorist activities, the report says (Colum Lynch, Washington Post, Aug. 29).
    The Washington Post reports today that al-Qaeda and Afghanistan’s deposed Taliban militia have shipped large quantities of gold out of Pakistan to Sudan in recent weeks, as their traditional havens — such as Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates — come under intense international scrutiny. European and U.S. intelligence officials said the transferred gold highlighted the potential reemergence of Sudan as a financial center for the organization (Douglas Farah, Washington Post, Sept. 3).
    Dutch authorities meanwhile said yesterday they arrested seven people in several cities suspected of having links to the al-Qaeda network, saying they are thought to have provided material, financial and logistic support to the terrorist group (George/Burns, Financial Times, Sept. 3).
    U.S. Military Seeks Release From Search For Bin Laden
    U.S. commanders are contending that their troops should be released from the hunt in Afghanistan for bin Laden, whom some believe was killed during a U.S. bombing raid at Tora Bora in December (Risen/Schmitt, New York Times, Sept. 3). Pakistani security officials also believe bin Laden is dead, according to their latest assessment of his whereabouts (Farhan Bokhari, Financial Times, Aug. 29).
    Israeli Daily Says Al-Qaeda Suspects Hide In Lebanese Refugee Camps
    The Israeli Ha’aretz daily reported yesterday that between 150 and 200 al-Qaeda operatives, including several senior commanders, have taken refuge in a large Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon. An unnamed source in Jerusalem said the information came from Israeli and Western intelligence agencies (Ramit Plushnick-Masti, Associated Press/Yahoo! News, Sept. 2).
    Palestinian Colonel Abu Ali Tanios, the head of Fatah military intelligence, denied the claim, calling the report “baseless.” Palestinian forces “monitor any suspect entering or going out of the camps,” Tanios said. “Do the al-Qaeda followers have wings to fly and land in the camps?” He added that the Israeli report was meant to “create new disputes inside our camps” (Abdel Mawla Khaled, United Press International, Sept. 2).
    Related: reports that the US delined to freeze Al-Qaeda�s assets before 9/11 and that it dragged its feet on freezing assets of other terrorist groups.
    US Department of the Treasury was a participant or observer in the following events:
    March 8, 2001: US Declines to Freeze Al-Qaeda�s Assets Despite Call from UN and European Union
    In December 2000, the US and Russia cosponsored a United Nations Security Council resolution requiring member states to �freeze without delay� the funds of those on a list of designated terrorists. The resolution passed, and the UN and European Union (EU) release the list on this day. It contains the names of five alleged al-Qaeda leaders, including bin Laden�s security coordinator, brother-in-law, and financial handler. Yet strangely, the US itself does not freeze the assets of these five leaders, and will only so one month after 9/11 (see October 12, 2001). [United Nations, 3/8/2001; Los Angeles Times, 10/15/2001] The Guardian will report after 9/11, �Members of Congress want to know why treasury officials charged with disrupting the finances of terrorists did not follow� the UN and EU. [Guardian, 10/13/2001]
    Entity Tags: European Union, United States, United Nations, Russia, US Department of the Treasury, al-Qaeda
    Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline
    Early 2003-September 5, 2003: US Slow to Freeze Assets in Southeast Asia
    In early 2003, the Treasury Department draws up a list of 300 individuals, charities, and corporations in Southeast Asia believed to be funding al-Qaeda and its suspected Indonesian affiliate Jemaah Islamiya. �Due to inter-agency politics, the list [is] winnowed down to 18 individuals and 10 companies.� [Contemporary Southeast Asia, 8/1/2003] Later, the number of suspected financiers is narrowed down even further, and on September 5, 2003, only 10 individuals, all connected to Jemaah Islamiya, have their assets frozen. [Associated Press, 9/5/2003] The assets of Jemaah Islamiya itself were frozen shortly after the October 2002 Bali bombing was blamed on the group (see October 12, 2002), though ties between the group and al-Qaeda were first publicly reported in January 2002. [Associated Press, 1/18/2002; United Press International, 1/25/2003] Hambali, a notorious leader of both al-Qaeda�s Southeast Asia operations and Jemaah Islamiya, only had his assets frozen in January 2003, even though he was publicly mentioned as a major figure as far back as January 2001. [New Straits Times, 1/25/2001; Associated Press, 1/18/2002]
    Entity Tags: Hambali, al-Qaeda, US Department of the Treasury, Jemaah Islamiyah
    Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline
    November 29, 2005: US Effort to Fight Terrorist Financing Has Been �Spotty,� Plagued by Infighting and Neglect
    A new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), an impartial investigative arm of Congress, claims the US effort to help foreign nations cut off terrorism funding has been frustrated by infighting among US agencies, a lack of funding, and leadership problems. The report says �the U.S. government lacks an integrated strategy� to train foreign countries and give them technical assistance. Officials at the State and Treasury Departments cannot even agree on who is supposed to be in charge of the effort. In at least one case, the State Department refused to even allow a Treasury official to enter a certain foreign country. �Investigators found clear tensions between officials at State, Treasury, Justice, and other US government departments.� Remarkably, private contractors have sometimes been allowed to draft proposed laws for foreign countries to curb terrorist financing. The contractors� work at times resulted in proposals with �substantial deficiencies.� Generally speaking, the New York Times notes that experts say that the Bush administration�s efforts with terrorist financing has been �spotty, with few clear dents in al-Qaeda�s ability to move money and finance terrorist attacks.� [New York Times, 11/29/2005]
    Entity Tags: US Department of State, General Accounting Office, US Department of Justice, Bush administration, US Department of the Treasury, al-Qaeda
    Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline
    U.S. Slow To Sanction Terror Group
    (see for text)