Archive for September, 2009

Al Qaeda ‘Running’ from Pakistan, Again

The good news is Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik seems to have dropped the charade that newly appointed Taliban chief Hakeemullah Mehsud is dead. The bad news is we’re going to be bombarded with more of the “Taliban is collapsing” rhetoric.

Iran Continues to Arm the Taliban


FOX News reports that another shipment of Iranian weapons has been confiscated in western Afghanistan:

Afghan and NATO forces uncovered the weapons cache on Aug. 29 in Herat. It included a small number of Iranian-made “explosively formed penetrators,” hyper-powerful roadside bombs similar to the weapons used to kill U.S. forces in Iraq, a senior U.S. Defense Official told FOX News.Also seized during the raid were 107 Iranian-made BM-1 rockets and dozens of blocks of Iranian C4 plastic explosives.

Iran has been using the same playbook it used in Iraq, but is a little bit more low-key in Afghanistan.

Media Ethics

On Sunday, Billl Roggio reported the kidnapping of New York Times correspondent Stephen Farrell, who was freed today by a NATO operation. Farrell’s driver/interpreter Sultan Munadi was also kidnapped, and lost his life in the raid along with a British soldier. Editors at the Times had been trying to keep the abduction quiet, as they did for 7 months in the case of reporter David Rohde.

Roggio received several private and public appeals in to remove the news. The reason was often presented as a conclusion that “should be self-evident to any apparently decent human being:” a report could get the hostages killed. But this charge, and the ethical issues involved in reporting the kidnapping, merit a closer examination.

The case made by those asking to keep the story quiet revolves around the idea that the information would endanger the reporter, presumably by making his paid release or public execution more valuable. The quick justification given by the Times in the previous case of Rohdes’ abduction was the following:

Iraq-Syria Row Intensifies

The Iraq-Syria row over Syria’s sponsorship of insurgent groups and al Qaeda operating in Iraq has gotten interesting over the past few days. Omar over at Iraq The Model has been closely following the story and has some interesting updates. First, a small group of Iraqis held a protest in Hillah and cleverly used Syrian President Bashir al Assad’s own words as part of their protest:

Afghanistan’s Wild-Wild North

As policymakers and analysts continue to examine the ever-evolving insurgency in Afghanistan, the Taliban infiltration into northern Afghanistan is finally receiving some much needed attention. Often billed as “the stable and secure” northern areas, Afghanistan’s northern provinces have been the target of a burgeoning Taliban insurgency since 2004. When analyzing the northern conundrum it is imperative to view the situation as the Taliban do: a two-pronged approach that includes establishing a stronghold in the northwest province of Badghis and severing the resupply routes available through the Herat-Badghis Sabzak Pass, the sole entry into northwestern Afghanistan, while establishing a northeastern jump-off point in northern Baghlan and Kunduz Provinces.

Taliban Strong in Remote Afghan Regions

DVIDS just posted an interesting story on a complex Taliban ambush against a US Army fuel convoy moving through the mountains at the border of Kandahar and Uruzgan provinces. A battalion of Taliban fighters established a “two-mile kill zone” in the mountains and attacked a 22-truck convoy from the 286th Combat Support Sustainment Battalion.

The Taliban used IEDs, mortars, RPGs, heavy machine guns, and other weapons during the ambush. The Taliban didn’t break contact with the convoy despite being on the receiving end of US air support from helicopter gunships and attack aircraft. The Taliban even attempted to flank the convoy as it regrouped outside of the kill zone, and they inflicted heavy damage on the vehicles in the convoy during the battle.