Sunday, November 27, 2005

Mac's Regional Intelligence Bulletin 27/11/2005

The "Madam" couching the mullahs while clubbing us errant ‘liberals’ in the theo-fasocracy-dummy-cracy being the opening line, I think that the entire gamut of militants and militancy and what is terrorism and how to address it should be the order of business today in what’s happening in Bangladesh. To that end we have a scholarly piece by Ali Khan a professor of law at Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas who writes in his Op-Ed about the HITLit and that it is intellectualised propaganda.
It has been written and published in the United States years before the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. It is still being produced and published. The HITLit consists of academic books published by elite university presses, popular books, magazine articles, and syndicated columns. This literature is highly influential in that it shapes, defends, and justifies US government policies towards the Muslim world. As referenced in this article, the 9/11 Report adopted many concepts that the HITLit has been spawning for years. Most HITLit authors, known as terrorism experts, are research associates with influential think tanks such as Rand and the American Enterprise Institute, and some teach at Harvard University. Some have worked for the National Security Council and the US Defense Department. These authors include Bernard Lewis, Bruce Hoffman, Steven Simon, Jessica Stern, Daniel Benjamin, Richard Perle, Walter Laqueur, David Frum, Michael Ledeen, Daniel Pipes, and David Horowitz. They appear on National Public Radio and major radio and television networks to comment on terrorist events and disseminate their views to the general public. The HITLit themes of the essentialist terrorist are further disseminated through the views of collaborating journalists such as Thomas Friedman, Charles Krauthammer, David Brooks, and William Kristol.

We were waiting that this would happen, I mean Mahfuz Anam wouldn’t miss an opportunity for his mentor the Jammaat-e-Islami to ‘mention him’ and his Daily Star on a TV channel – and then he would proceed to bark him up the tree (as in ‘woof’) – in the old game of us-versus-them (which is really about us-versus-us ) – shhhhhhh Nizami, how come the whole world is getting to know this and since such a lot of energy has been expendedlets see what his printed words in the “Commentary” are:

The Jamaat Ameer's argument is that by giving prominent news coverage we encourage more people to join the ranks of militants. According to him, if the militancy stories were ignored or given only scant coverage then the religious extremism would not have risen. Let us examine the insidious and totally false nature of this argument. By every intelligence agency account and on the basis of confessional statements of those arrested after the recent bomb blasts, the terrorists have been preparing over the last several years for the recent bombings. The role of Afghan Mujahideen returnees, the extremism funding from the Middle East and the secret training at numerous madrasas in several districts have been going on over the past several years, during which the media coverage was abysmally low, almost non-existent. In fact, so clever were the militants in hiding their terrorist activities and so deep they penetrated the high and the mighty that the government and the ruling alliance went on a vigorous denial when the media first started revealing the militants' activities. It was only after the recent countrywide bombings that the government has taken our recent vigorous reportage somewhat seriously.

Doesn’t end there folks…………….

In fact, the true fault of the media is that we have not done enough to expose the leaders, the groups and the parties who have taken advantage of our democracy, our tolerance and our forgiving attitude towards the war criminals of 1971 to destroy the Bangladesh created through a hard-fought Liberation War. As Jamaat professed to join our democratic polity, we gave them a chance and literally forgot how they had butchered our valiant freedom fighters, how they helped the Pakistan army to destroy our people, our land and our future by conducting genocide. Nothing revealed their viciousness more than the cold-blooded and merciless killing of our intellectuals just three days before their defeat.

With all of the above taken in as ‘the-truth-and-nothing-but-the-truth-so-help-us-dear-gOD, let us examine what he terms By every intelligence agency account and on the basis of confessional statements of those arrested after the recent bomb blasts, the terrorists have been preparing over the last several years for the recent bombings.”

For a starter – we do not know the name of the ‘intelligence agency’ (most likely it is the Indian RAW) that feeds him these ox-faeces but if we have to look at yet another report in his venerated daily today dated lined Magura:

Suspected activists of JMB and HuJi who had fled their strongholds in Jhenidah town after the August 17 blasts are regrouping in their respective areas, taking advantage of alleged lax vigilance by law enforcers, sources claimed. Sources in intelligence agencies and locals said, before the August 17 blasts, over 200 activists including trainers of Harkat-ul-jihad (HuJi) and Allahr Dal, an offshoot of JMB (Jamaa'tul Mujahedin, Bangladesh), were active at different madrasa complexes and mosques in Pabahati, Adarsha Para, Mohila College Para, Hamdah, Sikarpur, Boro amarkundu and Baparipara in Jhenidah municipal area. They have strongholds also in Modhupur, Kangsha and Bharuapara villages in the Sadar upazila, and in Kashimpur and Bakshipur in Shailakupa upazila, intelligence sources said. After recruiting poor youths including madrasa students, JMB under the banner of Allahr Dal, used to train them to use arms and bombs, according to intelligence reports and confessions made by arrested HuJi cadres.

Anybody with the dimmest knowledge on intelligence related matter would note that all of the above is neither credible or actionable intelligence – so if Mahfuz is using ‘sources in intelligence agencies’ to tell us what he has ‘heard’ (borrowing our watch to tell us the time?) about the ‘militants’ and NOT what they are really up to – he might as well take the time to read The Man Who Stole the Warlest he be blamed for selling out Bangladesh?

Politicians, Press, and the police basically having the same character, the recent moves on censoring the press is nonetheless a bit worrying. As the New Age writes in its Editorial today:

Nizami’s interview with a local television channel should have been an opportunity for him to clarify his party’s position in the gathering crisis over Islamic extremism in Bangladesh. Unfortunately, like so many others in the ruling coalition, he squandered the opportunity by spotting in the media the perfect scapegoat for the on-going crisis. It has over the past couple of years become rather convenient for those in power to flail away at the media every time the media do the good and necessary job of highlighting the manifest wrongs that politicians subject the country to. Ministers holding crucial portfolios, having failed to do their job to the nation’s satisfaction, have rounded on newsmen for the bad reputation they have acquired. Even more outrageous is the fact that the national press, because it has faithfully recorded and commented on the poor performance or non-performance of the powers that be, has been accused of sins that could actually read like acts of treason.

On a separate yet serious matter, there are uproarious rebuttals from eminent journalists on the statement by Justice Abu Sayeed Ahammed

"He should have held open and in-depth consultation with working journalists, editors and publishers before making any suggestions for a law to give punitive power to the press council," Ataus Samad, advisory editor of the daily Amar Desh, said.
President of Jatiya Press Club Reazuddin Ahmed said such a punitive provision goes against the very concept of the Press Council. Besides, Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ) in a statement said it would never accept any initiative to enact a law to control the journalists. Press Council Chairman Justice Abu Sayeed Ahammed, in the council's annual report 2004 placed in parliament on Wednesday said,
"I am in favour of adding a punitive provision to the act to make it effective and to strengthen the council."
Justice Ahammed, who was appointed the chairman of Bangladesh Press Council on May 26 this year, said amending the law has become an urgent matter.
"I discussed the issue with the president, prime minister and information minister. They expressed their willingness to amend the provision," he said in the report.

Which brings me back to Mahfuzand why punishments are even being considered? It is only because of statements such as this one:

In fact, the true fault of the media is that we have not done enough to expose the leaders, the groups and the parties who have taken advantage of our democracy, our tolerance and our forgiving attitude towards the war criminals of 1971 to destroy the Bangladesh created through a hard-fought Liberation War.

That’s pure baloney – it was the Press, the Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee and the Indian RAW that pummeled back Gulam Azam, Nizami et al back to limelight, back to prominence and indeed in a round about way Nizami wasn’t entirely wrong yesterday when he said excessive coverage helps rise of militancy; the excessive coverage given to the Jamaat by Mahfuz and his cronies over the year – have placed them (Jamaat) where they are – close to near squeezing out our ‘you know what……………’ – so we might as well try and find out who Mahfuz and gang are working for now?

Back to Mahfuz later -- meantime savour these:

Not everything is all ‘BAD, BAD’ for Bangladesh and certainly not ALL is lost. The BNP has been pumping in a whole lot of money for ‘projecting news with a pro-Bangladesh bias’ – well--- it ought to send a cheque across to the Economic Times of India for this story!

Yes, the man at the helms needs to start from the scratch — whether it is literacy rate (47.5%) or households with access to safe drinking water (59%), Bihar’s social and infrastructure indicators are so low than the national average that it’s worth comparing them with that of Bangladesh — one of the poorest and least developed nations in the world. For the record, Bangladesh’s literacy rate (41%) is marginally lower than that of Bihar, but its 75% households get safe drinking water in comparison to Bihar’s 59%. The growth of Bihar’s gross state domestic product (GSDP) is abysmally low in comparison to India’s GDP growth rate at over 6% which along with China’s growth have drawn attention from the global community. According to estimates, the state’s growth rate averaged just over 3.5% from 1994-95 to 2001-02.

Perhaps another cheque for a couple of million Takas is due to ‘them enemies’ in the Daily Times in Pakistan for this one:

The textile ministry has called a meeting of major players of the textile sector on Saturday as plans for shifting production units to Bangladesh by some of the leading industrialists rang alarm bells in government circles. A recent announcement by Bangladesh, which offers a tax-free investment opportunity to the Pakistani textile industry, has attracted some of the prominent textile industrialists, who now plan to shift their production units. However, the situation has pushed the authorities to offer incentives to the over $8 billion-export industry, otherwise it could trigger capital flight from the country.

Moving in to India today, we have reports of how the Indian RAW used its exclusive Gulfstream jet to corral in the key Mafia don Abu Salem from Portugal to Mumbai, while his (Salem’s) dumb lawyers in Germany were left sucking their thumbs-- Read on:

This was one flight they could not take any chances with. So two days before the authorities brought underworld don Abu Salem to Mumbai, the Gulfstream executive jet of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) which ferried him was ready at the Lisbon airport. An extra crew of the Aviation Research Centre, RAW’s aerial surveillance wing, was waiting at the tarmac of the Cairo airport as a contingency plan.These extraordinary measures were taken as CBI Director U.S. Mishra told the government on November 8 that Salem could not be brought to Mumbai on a commercial liner as there was a stopover at the Frankfurt airport. The CBI Director told Cabinet Secretary B.K. Chaturvedi that a transit visa was required for Salem and Monica Bedi at Frankfurt and there was a strong possibility of another round of legal wrangles in Germany.

Meanwhile the Pakistanis seems to be sorting out its gripe against the Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad sifting through their dirty lingerie’s in trips overseas, and some hotels have been banned for use in future ‘sting operations’ maybe:

According to a report in The Nation newspaper, the (smelly) luggage of some of the Pakistani officials belonging to various ministries were allegedly searched by Israeli and Indian intelligence agencies during their stay in the five-star hotels in the above-mentioned places. In a letter to all federal ministries, divisions and departments, the Foreign Office asked not to make their own arrangements in any country and inform the Ministry of Foreign Affairs 15 days prior to embarking upon their visit, the sources added. According to the sources, suitcases of three high-ranking officials of the Ministry of Petroleum including Joint Secretary, Deputy Secretary and Section Officer Minerals were searched by the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of India and Israeli spying agency Mossad to steal some strategic official documents from them, the report claimed. At that time, these officials were staying in a five-star hotel of Dubai en route to United States during their stopover, the sources said adding these spying agents entered the locked rooms in the absence of Petroleum Ministry officials for searching key Pakistani documents. It was also learnt that the government of Pakistan had also lodged a complaint with the UAE government through diplomatic channels and sought their help to probe the matter. Later, the Pakistani intelligence agency had invested the issue and proved that these two foreign intelligence agencies were involved.

India nonetheless seems upbeat over the Russian’s interest yesterday on the Iran-Pakistan gas line project with Indian minister for petroleum Mani Shanker Ayar vowed on Saturday that work on the much-delayed India-Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline would be expedited.

Mr Ayar expressed this resolve while talking to reporters during a Round-Table Conference of Asian oil ministers here. He said the project was getting immense importance with the passage of time. Therefore, he hoped the Indian cabinet would give permission to take forward tripartite negotiations regarding the execution of the project. About Russian gas company's interests in the project, the Indian minister said he would welcome the company, adding that conditions would be worked out by all the three partners of the project. Russia is keen to participate in the $7 billion pipeline project and sharing the risks involved.

There is a whole lot today on secret CIA torture cells all across the world and it appears that from

Scandinavia to the tropical Canary Islands, the CIA's clandestine use of European soil and airspace for counter-terrorism missions is triggering outrage, parliamentary inquiries and a handful of criminal prosecutions. In the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, Europe was either silent about or unaware of the ways in which American agents operated within its borders. But in recent weeks several European governments have become much more vocal about alleged CIA activity in their jurisdictions. Among the complaints: CIA operatives, without formal permission, have seized suspects in European cities and transported them to third countries for interrogation; CIA flights that have transported suspected terrorists around the world purportedly have used European airports for layovers; and the CIA may be operating clandestine prisons in Europe.

Which brings me back to Mahfuz and his Daily Star when he says “By every intelligence agency account and on the basis of confessional statements ( think of it: the Daily Star fills up its pages with confessions given by people subjected to torture – who could be innocent?) of those arrested after the recent bomb blasts, the terrorists have been preparing over the last several years for the recent bombings” that he better be guided by this touching article by human rights activist Rosa Brooks which concludes succinctly that the best intelligence is never gathered through torture:

Libi subsequently disappeared, becoming one of the "ghost detainees" whose whereabouts and status U.S. officials refuse to discuss. Most likely, he was "rendered" to Egypt: A former FBI official told Newsweek that CIA agents cuffed Libi's wrists and ankles, covered his mouth with duct tape and hustled him toward a waiting plane. "At the airport, the CIA case officer goes up to [Libi] and says, 'You're going to Cairo, you know. Before you get there, I'm going to find your mother and I'm going to [rape] her.' " We don't know exactly where Libi was sent, or exactly who interrogated him when he got there. According to ABC News, CIA sources said Libi was subjected to progressively harsher interrogation techniques, but still refused to give his interrogators the information they wanted. Finally, he was "waterboarded" (a technique designed to make a detainee think he's being suffocated or drowned) then forced to remain standing overnight in a cold cell, where he was repeatedly soaked with icy water. After that, well, there's good news and there's bad news. The good news? Under torture, Libi finally broke and started to talk. The bad news? What he told his interrogators wasn't true.

On human rights in the region – there is more from the region, after some delay the US is likely to release report of burning of Taliban bodies

The US military plans to release today the findings of an inquiry into TV footage purportedly showing US soldiers burning the bodies of Taliban rebels to taunt other militants -- an act that sparked outrage in Afghanistan. Islam bans the cremating of bodies and the video images of the alleged desecration of dead Muslims was compared here to photographs of US troops abusing prisoners at Iraq`s Abu Ghraib prison. The video footage threatens to undermine public support for the US military`s war against a stubborn insurgency.

FOOTNOTE: In Nepal again ‘The King and his Merry Men’ are preparing to sue the rest of us ‘dirty-lot’ and by looks of things, I am gonna support them on this one!

Nepal has decided to express concern and seek compensation for deterioration of country’s natural resources due to emission of harmful gases by the industrialised nations at an international conference that begins on Monday. As many as 189 countries are participating in the Conference of Parties of United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to be held from November 28 to December 9 in Montreal, Canada. Joint-secretary of Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology, Lok Darshan Regmi, will represent Nepal in the conference. His agenda: how can Nepal benefit from the Clean Development Mechanism? It can – do better – it can kick-out the King!

Anybody keen on whether or not will Nepal go Maoists?

Like many others, US ambassador to Nepal James F Moriarty also regards the ultra-left as a threat to democracy. He apprehends that the Maoists have the potential to overrun the royal government and, therefore, suggests that the king should reach out to the political parties to resolve the current crisis. Let us try to enumerate the defenses that Nepal has against the Maoist totalitarian future: The first defense is obviously the country's history. It is a comforting fact that no country having similar social and political history to Nepal has gone in Maoist's hand in South Asia yet. If we look outside the region to countries like Peru where the Maoist revolution reached its height, they have an entirely different historical and social setting.Twelve years of Nepal's democratic exercise has brought sufficient awareness in the people about the benefits of democracy, even though they could not be harvested fully due to the inept leadership. This could be the decisive defense against the Maoist takeover.

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