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Current Topic: War on Terrorism

Blivet = Ten pounds of shit in a five pound bag
Topic: War on Terrorism 1:57 am EDT, Sep 16, 2006

In traditional U.S. Army slang dating back to the Second World War, a blivet was defined as "ten pounds of manure in a five pound bag," (a proverbial description of anything egregiously ugly or unmanageable); it was applied to an unmanageable situation, a crucial but substandard or damaged tool, or a self-important person.

When referring to political issues that are not what they seem, I have used the word "football", mostly because of how they are passed around. Internally to myself, this term has always been "footbal" with only one L. Now, I may have a new term. Or rather, I have a new meme that needs to be carried forward...

Blivet = Ten pounds of shit in a five pound bag

Al Qaeda Finds Its Center of Gravity
Topic: War on Terrorism 12:08 am EDT, Sep 11, 2006

Over the last year, as Iran, Iraq and Lebanon have dominated headlines, hopes of gaining firmer control of a largely forgotten corner of the war on terrorism — the lawless Pakistan-Afghanistan border region — have quietly evaporated.

On Tuesday, the Pakistani government signed a "truce" with militants which lets militants remain in the area as long as they promised to halt attacks.

Is this the "separate peace" that Rumsfeld was talking about? He must be furious about this, right?

The Taliban leadership is believed to have established a base of operations in and around the Pakistani city of Quetta. The Pakistani government sees the group as a tool to counter growing Indian influence in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, roadside bomb attacks have doubled this year, and suicide bombings have tripled.

This year, the United States cut its aid to Afghanistan by 30 percent.

Al Qaeda and the Taliban are no doubt betting that time is on their side.

Al Qaeda Finds Its Center of Gravity

Bin Laden Trail 'Stone Cold'
Topic: War on Terrorism 11:51 pm EDT, Sep 10, 2006

Dana Priest sums up the situation.

In the last three months, following a request from President Bush to "flood the zone," the CIA has sharply increased the number of intelligence officers and assets devoted to the pursuit of bin Laden.

The problem, former and current counterterrorism officials say, is that no one is certain where the "zone" is.

The Afghan-Pakistan border is about 1,500 miles.

At least 23 senior anti-Taliban tribesmen have been assassinated in South and North Waziristan since May 2005.

Pakistan has now all but stopped looking for bin Laden.

"Once again, we have lost track of Ayman al-Zawahiri," the Pakistani intelligence official said in a recent interview. "He keeps popping on television screens. It's miserable, but we don't know where he or his boss are hiding."

"There's nobody in the United States government whose job it is to find Osama bin Laden!" one frustrated counterterrorism official shouted. "Nobody!"

"We work by consensus," explained Brig. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr. "It's not that effective, or we'd find the guy."

This is an interesting vignette:

In early November 2002, a CIA drone armed with a Hellfire missile killed a top al-Qaeda leader traveling through the Yemeni desert. About a week later, Rumsfeld expressed anger that it was the CIA, not the Defense Department, that had carried out the successful strike.

"How did they get the intel?" he demanded.

Gen. Michael V. Hayden, then director of the National Security Agency and technically part of the Defense Department, said he had given it to them.

"Why aren't you giving it to us?" Rumsfeld wanted to know.

Hayden, according to this source, told Rumsfeld that the information-sharing mechanism with the CIA was working well. Rumsfeld said it would have to stop.

Bin Laden Trail 'Stone Cold'

Stratfor: Al'Q wins in London even though the attack was foiled.
Topic: War on Terrorism 1:45 am EDT, Aug 30, 2006

Stratfor: Terrorism Intelligence Report - August 29, 2006
Airline Incidents: Fear as Force Multiplier
By Fred Burton

During the past month, since British authorities announced the
disruption of a bomb plot involving airliners, there has been a
worldwide increase in security awareness, airline security measures
-- and fear among air passengers. At least 17 public incidents
involving airline security have been reported in the United States
and parts of Europe since Aug. 10. Most of these were innocuous,
but many resulted in airliners making emergency landings off their
scheduled routes, sometimes escorted by fighter aircraft.

The spate of incidents -- each of which rings up significant
financial costs to the airline company and governments involved and
causes inconvenience and delays for travelers -- is a reminder that
terrorism, philosophically, is not confined to the goal of filling
body bags or destroying buildings. At a deeper level, it is about
psychology and the "propaganda of the deed." And as far as al Qaeda
is concerned, it is also about economic warfare: Osama bin Laden
personally has stated that one of the group's strategic objectives
is to "bleed America to the point of bankruptcy."

To say that the governments and industries targeted by terrorism
face difficult choices is a gross understatement. The problem lies
in the fact that decision-makers not only must protect the public
against specific groups using known tactics (in al Qaeda's case,
bombs and liquid explosives) but also must protect themselves in
the face of public opinion and potential political blowback.
Officials naturally want to be perceived as doing everything
possible to prevent future acts of violence; therefore, every
threat -- no matter how seemingly ridiculous -- is treated
seriously. Overreaction becomes mandatory. Politicians and
executives cannot afford to be perceived as doing nothing.

This powerful mandate on the defensive side is met, asymmetrically,
on the offensive side by a force whose only requirements are to
survive, issue threats and, occasionally, strike -- chiefly as a
means of perpetuating its credibility.

The Impact to Air Travel

Following the thwarted U.K. airlines plot, security measures in
Britain, the United States and elsewhere were tightened. These new
regulations have included a ban on liquids and electronic items in
the passenger compartment, more stringent baggage checks and
tighter scrutiny of prospective passengers.

These new security measures already have had a financial impact on
the airline industry. On Aug. 25, Irish discount airline Ryanair
filed the lawsuit it had previously threatened against the
British Department for Transport. The lawsuit represents an effort
to change the new re... [ Read More (1.2k in body) ]

Stratfor: Al'Q wins in London even though the attack was foiled.

Coalition Officials See Positive Trend in Baghdad | DefenseLink
Topic: War on Terrorism 10:12 pm EDT, Aug 16, 2006

The disconnects between headline and article were just too great not to pass along. You'll forgive the sarcasm.

Army Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, of Multinational Force Iraq, said operations in and around Baghdad are designed to reduce murders, kidnappings, assassinations, terrorism and sectarian violence in the capital.

My, what lofty goals you have! Who needs kindergarten and women's rights when you can have a 50% reduction in the assassination rate?! Honestly!

Caldwell said the core conflict in the country has changed from an insurgency to a sectarian struggle.

In other words, the sovereign central government is firmly enmeshed in a civil war. "Keep up the good work!," says Caldwell. "Our job here is almost done."

Shiite death squads and Sunni terrorists in Baghdad are locked in a mutually reinforcing cycle of sectarian strife, Caldwell said.

If you look at my chart here, you'll see it's clear that both targeted assassinations and random violence are strongly on the rise over the last six months, and our analysts expect this trend to continue into the fourth quarter.

Al Qaeda in Iraq has launched a propaganda campaign that seeks to portray the terror group as a legitimate political organization and an alternative to the legitimate, democratically elected government of Iraq, Caldwell said.

You know, like Hamas and Hezbollah.

However, the group does not protect citizens, but kills them.

Ah, the old bait and switch. How many election cycles does it take to learn that everyone breaks their campaign promises?

Al Qaeda in Iraq is still bringing in foreign fighters to randomly kill innocent Iraqis.

If only we could get them to do something productive; we could certainly use the cheap immigrant labor. But it turns out these foreign fighters are rather lazy; they make a few killings, and then they think they're entitled to sit around all day sipping tea and reading classic literature.

The group has encouraged sectarian violence and sees it as a road to civil war.

Those fools! Here they are trying to build a road, and I've just told you we're already there! Why can't they see that?

Coalition Officials See Positive Trend in Baghdad | DefenseLink

Overheard on IRC...
Topic: War on Terrorism 12:16 pm EDT, Aug 10, 2006

Excuse me, officer, but I have it on good authority that the man who just boarded the plane is composed of almost 70% liquid!

Oplan Bojinka - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Topic: War on Terrorism 11:30 am EDT, Aug 10, 2006

Oplan Bojinka (also known as Operation Bojinka, Project Bojinka, Bojinka Plot, Bojinga, possibly from Arabic: بجنكة – slang in many dialects for explosion and pronounced Bo-JIN-ka, except in Egyptian where it is Bo-GIN-ka) was a planned large-scale attack on airliners in 1995, and was a precursor to the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Several media outlets, including TIME Asia [1], claim that the word Bojinka means "loud bang" or "explosion" in Serbo-Croatian. In Croatian, "bočnica"[2] translates into English as "boom". Khalid Shaikh Mohammed fought with Muslim fighters in Bosnia and supported this effort financially [3]. Endnote 7 of Chapter 5 of the 9/11 Commission Report states that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed claims that "bojinka" is "a nonsense word he adopted after hearing it on the front lines in Afghanistan." In English, the acronym "BOHICA" for 'Bend Over Here It Comes Again' is common military slang which refers to an incoming enemy attack, often bombs and is also used in online chat, e-mail, or newsgroup postings.

Not all media or text that refer to Oplan Bojinka will call it by that name.

The term can refer to the "airline bombing plot" alone, or that combined with the "Pope assassination plot" and the "CIA plane crash plot". The first refers to a plot to destroy 11 airliners on January 21 and 22, 1995, the second refers to a plan to kill Pope John Paul II on January 15, 1995, and the third refers a plan to crash a plane into the CIA headquarters in Fairfax County, Virginia and other buildings. Oplan Bojinka was prevented on January 6 and 7, 1995, but some lessons learned were apparently used by the planners of the September 11 attacks. This article will cover all three plans.

The money handed down to the plotters originated from Al-Qaida, an international Islamic militant organization which was then based in Sudan. Philippine authorities say that Operation Bojinka was developed by Ramzi Yousef and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed while they were in Manila, Philippines in 1994 and early 1995.

Much of the media commentary on the busted plot in the UK has been referencing Operation Bojinka.

Oplan Bojinka - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Stratfor | Red Alert: The Plot to Attack British Airliners
Topic: War on Terrorism 10:34 am EDT, Aug 10, 2006

Scotland Yard successfully penetrated the plotters of a mass terrorist attack against airliners bound from the United Kingdom to the United States on Aug. 10 British time, resulting in the capture of nine people who planned to use liquid explosives contained in carry-on luggage to down the planes. Current reports indicate at least 21 people have been arrested in total, and perhaps the cell contains as many as 50 people.

There are four takeaway lessons from this incident:

First, while there obviously remains a threat from those not only sympathetic to al Qaeda, but actually participating in planning with those in the al Qaeda apex leadership, their ability to launch successful attacks outside of the Middle East is severely degraded.

Second, if the cell truly does have 50 people and 21 have already been detained, then al Qaeda might have lost its ability to operate below the radar of Western -- or at least U.K. -- intelligence agencies. Al Qaeda's defining characteristic has always been its ability to maintain operational security. If that has been compromised, then al Qaeda's importance as a force has diminished greatly.

Third, though further attacks could occur, it appears al Qaeda has lost the ability to alter the political decision-making of its targets. The Sept. 11 attack changed the world. The Madrid train attacks changed a government. This failed airliner attack only succeeded in closing an airport temporarily.

Fourth, the vanguard of militant Islam appears to have passed from Sunni/Wahhabi al Qaeda to Shiite Iran and Hezbollah. It is Iran that is shaping Western policies on the Middle East, and Hezbollah who is directly engaged with Israel. Al Qaeda, in contrast, appears unable to do significantly more than issue snazzy videos.

This shift will obviously refocus Western -- and particularly U.S. -- foreign policy from the old threat to the new threat.

Send questions or comments on this article to

Debate in the Arab Countries – Is Hizbullah a 'Resistance' Organization or Not?
Topic: War on Terrorism 8:37 pm EDT, Aug  6, 2006

The war between Israel and Hizbullah has revealed profound disagreement in the Arab world concerning the legitimacy of Hizbullah's activities against Israel. Two major camps have emerged. The first camp, led by Saudi Arabia, opposed Hizbullah's activities and called them "uncalculated adventures," not "resistance," and said that in order for a group to be considered a resistance organization it must meet certain criteria that Hizbullah does not meet. The second camp, headed by Syria, has supported Hizbullah and has considered it a true resistance organization that is conducting "glorious national resistance" that brings honor to the Arabs. They contend that resistance is always legitimate, and that its legitimacy is not dependent on any particular conditions.(1)

In a speech at the emergency summit of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo, on July 15, 2006, Lebanese Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh observed that there was a shift in Arab perceptions: "There has been a development in the concepts and criteria employed in the international arena. [These concepts] are crystallizing in a manner that is contrary to the Arab interest. [According to these criteria,] resistance is terrorism, but [Israel is seen as employing] self-defense, which gives it a free hand to destroy and kill without any limitation."(2)

The following are excerpts from statements by Saudi and Syrian officials and media, as well as the Egyptian press.

Debate in the Arab Countries – Is Hizbullah a 'Resistance' Organization or Not?

On the new Ayman al-Zawahiri tape...
Topic: War on Terrorism 3:31 am EDT, Jul 28, 2006

The Counterterrorism Blog has posted a transcript of the tape made by the SITE Institute. The full video can be found via Laura Mansfield's site.

Here are some snippets, starting with Laura Mansfield:

This morning’s video tape is a striking contrast to the normal Al Qaeda videos of Zawahiri, which for several years have featured the terror leader in front of a curtain or fabric backdrop. The tape shows Zawahiri in what appears to be a studio, in front of a backdrop with photographs of Bin Laden's chief aid, Abu Hafs al Masri (who was killed in a 2001 US air raid in Afghanistan) and the World Trade Center exploding in flames.

In the message, Al Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al Zawahiri threatens the Israelis and the west in retaliation for the war in Lebanon.

Zawahiri’s key points are:

* The world is a battle field open in front of us.
* This war with Israel cannot be ended by ceasefires or treaties.
* This is a jihad and will continue until the religion of Allah rules the world
* Everyone taking part in these attacks will pay the price

Evan Kohlmann on the Counterterrorism Blog:

Many observers of the recent violence in Lebanon wondered if and when Sunni Muslims -- particularly Al-Qaida -- might respond sympathetically to their Shiite brethren among Hezbollah in south Lebanon. Some have quickly jumped at the news of a new video from Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri discussing the conflict in Lebanon as incontrovertible evidence of a "seismic shift" within the Muslim world towards a united Shiite-Sunni front against Israel and the West.

However, once again, it would behoove us all to listen to the language and words coming from Al-Qaida supporters and sympathizers, rather than trying to interpret Zawahiri's speech from a outside Western perspective. The truth is, within the community that supports Al-Qaida, there is no precise consensus yet on the meaning of Zawahiri's speech. However, the one comment that seems to resonate most frequently among extremist Sunnis is that, in no way, does this video take away from the dire, existential conflict between Sunnis and Shiites. At a maximum, this is being termed a public relations move by Al-Qaida intended to encourage its operatives to temporarily focus their anger on America and its allies, and waiting until later to deliver the same violent fate to ... [ Read More (0.2k in body) ]

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