Afghanistan Elections Marred By Murders, Again, At Least 28 Dead

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) At least 28 people have been killed in violent incidents across Afghanistan as people voted Saturday in long-awaited legislative elections, officials said.

Meantime, balloting hours were extended — some into Sunday — at many polling stations across the country after technical glitches and lack of staff delayed operations, leading to long lines, the country’s Independent Electoral Commission, or IEC, said.
The elections already had been delayed for three years because of security concerns, and the assassination Thursday by the Taliban of an important provincial police chief only added to many Afghans’ sense of unease as they turned out to cast their ballots.
Afghan men line up to cast votes Saturday in Helmand province.

Seventeen civilians, 10 police officers and one army officer were killed, Afghan Interior Minister Wais Ahmad Barmak said, adding that at least 192 incidents had also left dozens of people injured.
One deadly attack was carried out by a suicide bomber who targeted a polling station in Kabul, the capital, said Basir Mojahid, a spokesman for the city’s police chief. The attacker was identified and detonated his bomb before reaching the station, he said. The death toll wasn’t immediately known.
An explosion in Kabul killed a child as voting was underway, Italian-run nongovernmental organization EMERGENCY said, adding that its staff had received 36 patients needing treatment.
Afghan women line up to cast their votes Saturday outside a polling station in Kabul.

Much rests on the vote: Hundreds of women and young people are among candidates standing for election, riding a wave of hope that the notoriously corrupt and inefficient political system in Afghanistan can be overhauled.
After casting his ballot Saturday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani thanked law enforcement, election officials and citizens who made the election possible, “despite the risks involved.”
“Today we proved together that we uphold democracy. With casting our ballots without fear we honor the sacrifices of the fallen,” he tweeted.
The Taliban had warned Afghans ahead of the vote not to participate in what they called “an American project from start to finish.”
It’s not yet clear how logistical problems at many polling stations will affect turnout figures, but the IEC said 401 polling stations would open on Sunday — including 45 stations in Kabul — due to Saturday’s technical and staffing issues.
Voter enthusiasm may already have been chilled by the killing of Gen. Abdul Raziq Achakzai, Kandahar’s police chief, the latest in a long line of violent attacks in the country. Two Americans also were wounded in the shooting attack.
Voting in Kandahar was delayed for a week after Raziq’s death.
A woman casts her vote at a polling station in Jalalabad, the capital of Afghanistan's eastern Nangarhar province.

‘This is a failed process’

Efforts were being made to resolve delays in the opening of some of the voting sites and centers due to technical issues, Shaima Alam Soroush, a deputy spokeswoman for the IEC, told reporters in Kabul.
A campaign manager, Israr Karimzai, told CNN that he had “20 reports of different centers across the country where people are being denied their right to vote” because “no ballot papers or no biometric devices or IEC staff have shown up” at the polling stations.
A candidate in Kabul told CNN she had been waiting for more than an hour to vote.
“This is a failed process,” Mariam Solaimankhil said.
Idrees Stanikzai, also in Kabul, told CNN that voters were complaining about still waiting for their polling station to open more than two hours after their arrival.
Afghan women wait in line to vote Saturday at a polling center in Herat province.

The head of the provincial council in Maidan Wardak province, Sharifullah Hotak, told local Afghan TV station Shamshad that the biometric system in voting centers was not working in the whole of the province.
And in Herat, hundreds of people were standing in line as polling stations there also experienced technical issues.
More than 20,000 polling stations were open across the country, with the exception of Kandahar and Ghazni provinces, where voting will take place at a later date, Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danesh said earlier.
Some 70,000 members of the Afghan forces have been deployed to ensure the security of the elections, he said.

Women and young people stand for election

The risks have not deterred more than 2,500 candidates nationwide, including more than 400 women, to run for 250 seats in the Wolesi Jirga, the lower house of the Afghan parliament.
Maryam Samaa, a 26-year-old former journalist and news presenter on the nation’s largest private broadcaster, TOLO TV, felt a duty to stand, she told CNN. She is running for one of Kabul’s 33 parliamentary seats.
“It’s a responsibility every human being must take on,” she said. “Everyone has to question the society around them: Why is there so much inequity, and what is my role in reforming that society?”
Like many other young candidates, Samaa said she decided to run because there are few “actual representatives of the people” in the current parliament. Rather than the house of the people, Samaa said, the parliament has become a home for competing “mafia networks.”
Only 9.6% of respondents were satisfied with the work of the current parliament, a survey conducted this year by the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies, an independent research institute based in Kabul, found.

Only Believers Of Islam Can Stop Islamic Terrorism: Nothing Else Can

TODAY THE SOUL CRIES 

(FIRST PUBLISHED ON January 27th, 2018)

The news today out of Kabul Afghanistan is both sad and sickening. The Islamic murder group who calls themselves the Taliban had one of their members drive an ambulance into a highly populated facility that was loaded with explosives and blew himself up. The saddest part is that this child of Satan has killed at least 95 innocent people along with himself. Just in this past week in Afghanistan there was an attack on a hotel that left 22 people dead, this attack was claimed by another Islamic murder group that call themselves ISIS. There was even an attack on an NGO group called Save The Children, I am not sure of the death toll in that attack nor which Demonic group took ‘credit’ for it.

 

According to the CIA Fact Book the U.S. government has spent over 2 Trillion American tax payer dollars in Afghanistan since 2001, my question is, for what? Have the American soldiers along with other Allied soldiers killed thousands of Taliban fighters plus some from other groups fighters, yes. Have many hundreds of ‘Western’ soldiers been killed and wounded, yes. Have at least a few thousand innocent civilians been killed in Afghanistan since 2001, yes. Yet for many years, including right up till now, the government of Afghanistan and the U.S. Government has been trying to have talks with the Taliban to create a ‘shared government’. A government where leaders of the Taliban will join with the civilian Government to mesh into one and form as one. The U.S. Government has been trying to broker this deal for at least ten years now, folks, the whole concept is insane. These attempts are no more than an attempt at ‘saving face’ for the U.S. Government via giving them a ‘way out’ of this quagmire. The Taliban, if they really had an interest in ‘sharing’ governance of Afghanistan they could have done this years ago. The current Leaders of the Civilian government know very well that if the Taliban is welcomed in they will quickly turn on the civilians Legislators and murder them all. Another question I have to bring up is about that 2 trillion dollars, where did it all go? Two trillion dollars could have totally and completely rebuilt the entire infrastructure of the U.S., so, where has all of that money gone? To me it seems that the majority has gone toward military actions, planes, tanks, bombs, soldiers and the such. I have heard reports several times that about 90% of the civilians in Afghanistan don’t even have one change of clothes, why folks? If we wanted to win the hearts of the civilians of the country we should have invested a whole lot of that money in their infrastructure, making sure they all had electricity, clean water, sanitation, a reliable food chain and jobs.

 

Whether the location is Afghanistan, Sudan, Nigeria, Libya or the Gaza Strip it is my belief that there is only one way that the world will ever be rid of ‘Islamic Terrorism’ and that is if the believers of Islam shut it down themselves. I know it has been the case for about 1,400 years that the Islamic faith has had a lot of infighting between their two main factions, the Sunni’s and the Shiite’s and that during this 1,400 years there have probably been as many or more Muslim and Persian people killed as there have been of Westerners killed. One would think that at some point this madness would stop but there appears to be no end of the innocent bloodshed being stopped. It is my belief that there is only one way that there can ever be an end to this madness and that is if the believers of Islam themselves decide that they have had enough. The ‘innocent’ family members, if they are indeed innocent must turn in their own family members and their own Iman if they are preaching hate and violence. Groups like President Abbas of the PLO and the leaders of Hamas must stop giving prize money to the families of ‘Martyr’s’ who kill other people. This theology is morally sick, the people of Islam themselves must shut it down because the Western World can not do it on their own. Until the rest of the world sees that the extreme mass majority of the Islamic believers are doing exactly this, how can the rest of the world believe that the extreme mass majority of Islamic believers are not complicit in this evil?

 

 

 

3 Czech NATO Service Members Killed In Afghanistan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR NEWS AND THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

 

3 Czech NATO Service Members Killed In Afghanistan

Three Czech service members with NATO’s Resolute Support mission were killed Sunday in eastern Afghanistan by a suicide bomber, the U.S. military and Czech authorities said.

In addition, one American service member and two Afghan soldiers were injured.

They were on foot patrol with Afghan forces, according to NATO.

The Czech Republic’s Interior Minister Jan Hamáček confirmed the deaths on Twitter, saying, the “Czech Republic has suffered a terrible loss. Our three soldiers were killed in a suicide attack while on a foot patrol with Afghan forces in Parwan province. My thoughts remain with the families and friends of our fallen [soldiers].”

The Czech Republic “had recently approved a plan to deploy 390 soldiers in Afghanistan through 2020, up from the current 230,” as part of NATO’s Resolute Support mission, according to The Associated Press.

“My thoughts and prayers, along with those of all of the 41 Resolute Support nations, are with the families and friends of our fallen and wounded service members, and our injured Afghan brothers and their families,” U.S. Army Gen. John Nicholson, the commander of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, said in a statement.

The Taliban claimed responsibility, Reuters reported, and claimed to have killed “eight U.S. invaders in a tactic bombing,” according to a spokesperson quoted by the wire service.

The bombing happened in the area of Charakar, in the east of the country and north of Kabul, according to reports.

Separately, The Associated Press reports the Taliban attacked a district headquarters in Afghanistan’s Uruzgan province Saturday, killing four Afghan soldiers, while nine Taliban fighters died in a gunfight with Afghan soldiers.

ISIS affiliates have also continued to carry out deadly attacks in Afghanistan. ISIS claimed responsibility this weekend for a Friday attack on a Shiite mosque in Afghanistan’s Paktia province that killed at least 29 people and injured at least another 80 people, according to reports.

NATO describes the Resolute Support mission as “a NATO-led, non-combat mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF).” The organization says the current mission includes about 16,000 personnel.

NATO formally ended its main combat mission against the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2014.

As of almost a year ago, the U.S. military reported having 13,329 uniformed American forces in Afghanistan, but has since stopped providing troop numbers.

U.S. service member Cpl. Joseph Maciel of South Gate, Calif. was killed last month in southern Afghanistan in what the military called an “insider attack.”

Afghan Clerics Label Suicide Attacks a Sin. Then, a Bomber Strikes Their Meeting.

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WALL STREET JOURNAL)

 

Afghan Clerics Label Suicide Attacks a Sin. Then, a Bomber Strikes Their Meeting.

Top clerics and religious scholars also declare country’s 17-year war illegal under Islamic law

Afghan security forces guard the site of the attack in Kabul. At least 14 people were killed when a suicide bomber hit a meeting of religious leaders.
Afghan security forces guard the site of the attack in Kabul. At least 14 people were killed when a suicide bomber hit a meeting of religious leaders. PHOTO: OMAR SOBHANI/REUTERS

KABUL, Afghanistan—A suspected Islamic State suicide bomber struck a meeting of Afghanistan’s top clerics and religious scholars in the capital on Monday, killing 14 people shortly after the large gathering declared such suicide attacks a sin and the country’s 17-year war illegal under Islamic law.

The Afghan branch of Islamic State said through its Amaq news agency that it carried out the attack, which occurred as the meeting of the Afghan Ulema Council was adjourning and attendees were departing the assembly grounds. The Taliban, Afghanistan’s largest insurgency, denied any involvement in the bombing.

Islamic State’s affiliate here, which has claimed responsibility for a spate of attacks in Kabul in recent months, is under intense military pressure from U.S. Special Forces and from stepped-up U.S. airstrikes in eastern Nangarhar province, its Afghan stronghold.

One of those injured in the attack, center. The gathering of clerics and religious scholars declared suicide attacks a sin.
One of those injured in the attack, center. The gathering of clerics and religious scholars declared suicide attacks a sin. PHOTO: REUTERS

A senior Afghan security official said 17 people were also injured in the bombing at one of the exits from the meeting grounds, near Kabul Polytechnic University in western Kabul.

Sayed Ehsan Tahiri, spokesman for the government’s High Peace Council, said the meeting was attended by some 3,000 religious figures from across the Central Asian nation. He said he escaped the blast by a matter of seconds. “God has given me another life,” he said.

Shortly before the attack, the convocation had issued an Islamic ruling, or fatwa, declaring suicide attacks forbidden.

“Suicide attacks, explosions for killing people, division, insurgency, different types of corruption, robbery, kidnapping and any type of violence are counted as big sins in Islam and are against the order of the Almighty Allah,” they said.

Suicide bombings are a relatively recent phenomenon in Afghanistan, having been rejected as a form of combat during the uprising against the occupation of Soviet forces in the 1980s and the takeover by Taliban forces in the mid-1990s.

Rather, they became a feature of the Afghan war in the mid-2000s, as the tactics used by Islamist militants against U.S. forces in Iraq rebounded here.

The clerical gathering also denounced the 17-year war in Afghanistan as illegal under Islamic law, calling it nothing but “shedding the blood of Muslims,” and urged the Taliban to take up the Kabul government’s offer of unconditional peace talks.

In perhaps the most public peace overture since the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 to remove the Taliban from power, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in late February offered political recognition to the Taliban in exchange for a stop to the fighting.

The Taliban hasn’t replied formally to the bid. It has said it will only negotiate with the U.S. since, it says, America is the main engine of the war and the Kabul government is illegitimate.

Write to Craig Nelson at [email protected]

Appeared in the June 5, 2018, print edition as ‘Afghan Clerics Targeted in Deadly Bombing.’

Pakistan Army Confirms Death Sentences for 11 Taliban

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Pakistan Army Confirms Death Sentences for 11 Taliban

Saturday, 5 May, 2018 – 09:30
Pakistani soldier stands by ammunition seized during a military operation against Taliban militants, Miranshah, North Waziristan, July 9, 2014. Reuters
Asharq Al-Awsat
Pakistan’s army chief has confirmed death sentences for 11 “hardcore terrorists” after military courts found them guilty of carrying out multiple deadly attacks in recent years.

In a statement Saturday, the military said Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa also approved imprisonment for three people for their involvement in acts of terrorism.

It said the 11 convicted Pakistani Taliban had killed 36 civilians and 24 troops in separate attacks in the country.

The trials are closed to the public but defendants are allowed to hire lawyers.

Pakistan resumed military trials for militants and lifted a moratorium on the death penalty after a 2014 attack on a school in Peshawar that killed more than 150 people, mostly young students.

On Friday, unknown gunmen shot dead six laborers in a remote southwestern Pakistani town, officials said, in the latest bout of violence to rock the restive region.

The murders took place overnight in Lajjey, about 170 kilometers southwest of Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province, where militants — including the Taliban– are active.

“Unidentified gunmen shot dead six laborers and wounded another, who is in critical condition,” local government official Hashim Ghilzai told AFP.

No group has claimed responsibility for the killings.

Israel Is Not The occupier

                                           Israel is not the occupier-First Published On 9-23-2013

 

The Hebrew/Jewish people are not the occupier of the Holy lands, saying they are is an ignorant statement in itself. That statement is about as intelligent as saying the Navajo people are the occupiers of the white man’s lands in New Mexico. The Jewish/Hebrew people had lived in the Holy Lands for about 2,200 years before the creation of the Islamic religion. If people would check the history books you would find that Islam began in/about 632 A.D.. You might also be surprised to find out that Christian and Jewish Peoples dominated the whole Middle-East at the time of Islam’s inception. Israel is today only on a small sliver of the land that actually belongs to Her. If you look at the map of Israel that God Himself gave to the Hebrew people then you would see that it is not the Israelis who are living on Palestinian land.  By God’s orders all the land that the media is saying Israel is the ‘occupier’ of is totally a lie and they know it. In fact every inch of the ground that is currently Israel as well as all of Gaza and the West-Bank belongs totally 100% to Israel not the ‘Palestinians’. The only thing that doesn’t allow all the people of Palestine, Islamic, Jews and Christians to live in peace in the land of Israel is the teachings of the Islamic Faith. All people should be able to live in peace in the Holy Land together with no fear of any violence.

When Mohammed came back to Mecca from Media he came as a conquering general, not as a Holy man. Soon thousands of uneducated violent men were ridding rampant across all of the Middle-East and then up into France and Spain until they were finally turned back by force, back across the sea into North Africa. Holy man, really? Their MO was the same then as it is now, murder everyone who refuses to bow to their God, then take all of their possessions as spoils of war.

The Quran is not the primary Holy book of Islam; it is the secondary book of their faith. The Quran is the “sayings of the Prophet”. There is a book called the Hadith which is the book of “the works/actions” of the Prophet. All “good” Muslims are required to “do as the prophet did, to imitate his works”. This is the book that Islam tries to hide from the rest of the world because it shows their “action plan for Jihad on the rest of all the nations”.  It is no secret to the 20% or so of their faithful male population that can read, nor to the 50% or so of their preachers who can read, that Islam is at war with the rest of the world, and that war will never stop until Gabriel sounds God’s trumpet.

The Western countries and America are to lazy and to ignorant of religious realities to understand that a billion people are at war with them. There is an old reality, when only one side of something is at war, that is the side that will win. If you know Scripture, you would know these things and you would be able to see this blueprint being followed.

About 98-99% of all of the earth’s people who follow the God of love/kindness/ and caring are going to be murdered for their faith and for their possessions. Those that conform to the evils that are now upon all the earth in the effort to just get along, and to survive for now, will be crushed like the grapes in the wine-press at the sounding of God’s trumpet. All I can do is to feel sorry for those shallow scared people, that and pray for them to wake up before they are also murdered by this “God” of hate. God is love, God is not hate. If you are a person who is following a God of hate, you will forever live in the fire with him.

When you begin to realize that in the Middle-East that with Islam and with Judaism their religion is their politics and their politics is their religion, maybe you will begin to understand reality a little more. Just like Hamas took over Gaza and next they will root out Fatah (because they consider them to be more liberal), in the West Bank. Fundamental Islam will not share any power longer that they feel is necessary to do so. ISIS is a Sunni group, among the things they are trying to eradicate is everyone who is not a faithful follower of Sunni Islam, that does include all Shiite Islamist believing people. Iran is Shiite as is the Government of Syria and Iraq. For now this is where ISIS is concentrating most of it military power, for now. People the Middle-East is a total tender box, when it goes up the world economies are going to have the proverbial cow. This hell will soon be on our shores. Most folks in the world are totally unaware of it but many of the first shots have been fired in WWIII. If President Putin would wake up and realize where his and his country’s real enemies are and stop trying to act like a WWII thug it would be very helpful for world and Russian economies and their safety. We the people must have each others backs or we will all die.

Do you see how much good all the blood and money we poured into Iraq has done? Now we will have civil war there until one sect rules the others, then we get another cancer for their “Supreme” leader. Next, the president of Afghanistan is in talks with the Taliban to work out a government sharing plan “with American guidance”. Why did we “the west and the US” put all the blood and money into this country, to get this result? It will not be long until their president is dead or living in exile, and the Taliban will again rule that country. The only way to put an end to terrorism is to completely eradicate the cancer that is trying/going to kill you. America and the West are of to weak of a stomach for that. This is why one of the three Demons/anti-Christ will be from the Americas’, and all who will not “submit” to them will die. Friends/people/brothers, the world IS at war, everyone, everywhere has a decision to make (doing nothing is in itself a decision), are we going to die like free God-loving human beings, hoping and waiting on Gods’ trumpet, or we will die like animals on our knees before the ultimate tyrant.      

 

The people of Israel are well aware of all of these truths about their neighbors on all sides. The people of Israel know that they are hated by almost all of their neighbors people and their Governments. These people know that everyday they and their families are on the front lines of this war that all of the west seems to turn a blind eye to, as much as they feel they can get away with. If you pretend something isn’t there, it isn’t is it? The American Government doesn’t seem to understand the region. Our Governments Leaders all need to wake up, Israel is the best friend the United States has ever had. 

                                            

Only Believers Of Islam Can Stop Islamic Terrorism: Nothing Else Can

TODAY THE SOUL CRIES 

(FIRST PUBLISHED ON January 27th, 2018)

The news today out of Kabul Afghanistan is both sad and sickening. The Islamic murder group who calls themselves the Taliban had one of their members drive an ambulance into a highly populated facility that was loaded with explosives and blew himself up. The saddest part is that this child of Satan has killed at least 95 innocent people along with himself. Just in this past week in Afghanistan there was an attack on a hotel that left 22 people dead, this attack was claimed by another Islamic murder group that call themselves ISIS. There was even an attack on an NGO group called Save The Children, I am not sure of the death toll in that attack nor which Demonic group took ‘credit’ for it.

 

According to the CIA Fact Book the U.S. government has spent over 2 Trillion American tax payer dollars in Afghanistan since 2001, my question is, for what? Have the American soldiers along with other Allied soldiers killed thousands of Taliban fighters plus some from other groups fighters, yes. Have many hundreds of ‘Western’ soldiers been killed and wounded, yes. Have at least a few thousand innocent civilians been killed in Afghanistan since 2001, yes. Yet for many years, including right up till now, the government of Afghanistan and the U.S. Government has been trying to have talks with the Taliban to create a ‘shared government’. A government where leaders of the Taliban will join with the civilian Government to mesh into one and form as one. The U.S. Government has been trying to broker this deal for at least ten years now, folks, the whole concept is insane. These attempts are no more than an attempt at ‘saving face’ for the U.S. Government via giving them a ‘way out’ of this quagmire. The Taliban, if they really had an interest in ‘sharing’ governance of Afghanistan they could have done this years ago. The current Leaders of the Civilian government know very well that if the Taliban is welcomed in they will quickly turn on the civilians Legislators and murder them all. Another question I have to bring up is about that 2 trillion dollars, where did it all go? Two trillion dollars could have totally and completely rebuilt the entire infrastructure of the U.S., so, where has all of that money gone? To me it seems that the majority has gone toward military actions, planes, tanks, bombs, soldiers and the such. I have heard reports several times that about 90% of the civilians in Afghanistan don’t even have one change of clothes, why folks? If we wanted to win the hearts of the civilians of the country we should have invested a whole lot of that money in their infrastructure, making sure they all had electricity, clean water, sanitation, a reliable food chain and jobs.

 

Whether the location is Afghanistan, Sudan, Nigeria, Libya or the Gaza Strip it is my belief that there is only one way that the world will ever be rid of ‘Islamic Terrorism’ and that is if the believers of Islam shut it down themselves. I know it has been the case for about 1,400 years that the Islamic faith has had a lot of infighting between their two main factions, the Sunni’s and the Shiite’s and that during this 1,400 years there have probably been as many or more Muslim and Persian people killed as there have been of Westerners killed. One would think that at some point this madness would stop but there appears to be no end of the innocent bloodshed being stopped. It is my belief that there is only one way that there can ever be an end to this madness and that is if the believers of Islam themselves decide that they have had enough. The ‘innocent’ family members, if they are indeed innocent must turn in their own family members and their own Iman if they are preaching hate and violence. Groups like President Abbas of the PLO and the leaders of Hamas must stop giving prize money to the families of ‘Martyr’s’ who kill other people. This theology is morally sick, the people of Islam themselves must shut it down because the Western World can not do it on their own. Until the rest of the world sees that the extreme mass majority of the Islamic believers are doing exactly this, how can the rest of the world believe that the extreme mass majority of Islamic believers are not complicit in this evil?

 

 

 

 Marines Take Out Taliban Kingpin Responsible for Killing, Maiming Troops

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TASK AND PURPOSE)

 

Marines with the Maritime Raid Force, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, board a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 162, prior to conducting a night raid operation during Realistic Urban Training at Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina, August 25, 2017.

NEWS
 Marines Take Out Taliban Kingpin Responsible for Killing, Maiming Troops

By

HOPE HODGE SECK, MILITARY.COM

on 

T&P ON FACEBOOK

 

This article by Hope Hodge Seck originally appeared on Military.com, the premier source of information for the military and veteran community.

HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan — A Taliban shadow governor who had planned and executed improvised explosive device attacks on Marines and Afghan soldiers for well over a decade was killed in a precision airstrike just days before Christmas, Marines here told Military.com.

Task Force Southwest, the 300-Marine element that deployed to Helmand province as an advisory force for the Afghan National Defense Forces in April, does most of its work from inside the wire, supporting the local troops who patrol and launch ground attacks. But this recent strike on local Taliban mastermind Qari Fida Mohammad illustrates the impact Marines continue to have on the active fight.

Mohammad, longtime shadow governor of the restive Helmand district of Marjah, was killed Dec. 20, task force spokeswoman Maj. Kendra Motz said.

Standing inside the unit’s operations center, where 11 large flat screens featured detailed live drone footage from around Helmand province, Capt. Brian Hubert explained how the strike happened.

“Through the work of the intelligence sections as well as the operations in here, and coordination with the Afghans as well, we were able to conduct a strike on him a few days ago,” said Hubert, battle captain for Task Force Southwest. “Basically, we’re very familiar with the battlespace now. So when we see the leaders we know are important there, we can kind of do a bead on them.”

The unit started tracking Mohammad with its eyes in the sky. When he was well positioned as a target, the Marines called in two Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons to execute the strike.

“He was in a vehicle traveling with deputies, bodyguards, and a cousin of his, who was also a sub-commander,” Hubert said. “We took the shot successfully, and [he was] dead on the spot, which was huge.”

Mohammad, who was based in the Taliban hotbed of Marjah, but operated throughout Helmand province, had been well-known to the Marines for years.

Col. Matthew Reid, deputy commander of the task force, told Military.com he had known about Mohammad in 2010, when he deployed to Helmand for active combat operations.

“We’re still not really fully aware of the exact ramifications of taking him out,” Reid said. “It was a pretty big takedown, so we’re pretty happy about it. He was behind a lot of attacks against Marines back in the day — really high profile attacks.”

Hubert said the task force was now tracking the impact of Mohammad’s elimination. Ahead of the strike, he said, Marines had watched via drone footage as local civilians took to their homes, fearful of being blamed and facing violent reprisal if any attack were launched on the shadow governor. Now, he said, newly leaderless Taliban fighters in southern Marjah are acting disorganized and confused, without orders to carry out.

“Supposedly, [Mohammad] also had a lot of intimidation where he killed full families; he was absolutely just a Mafia-style Taliban leader in that area,” Hubert said, adding that he regularly demanded ‘taxes’ from local civilians by force. “Taking him out … hopefully provides the residents of Marjah and the southern end a little bit of a ‘hey, maybe it’s a turn.’”

For the Marines, Marjah is a region full of history. It’s the site of some of the service’s most hard-fought battles in Helmand. Some 50 American troops died in the 2010 joint siege on Marjah, known as Operation Moshtarak. When Marines departed Afghanistan in 2014, Marjah was considered relatively stable; but by 2016 it had fallen back under Taliban control.

Marines are now working to empower Afghan troops from the local 215th Corps of the Afghan National Army to hold the line. When the small task force arrived, the provincial capital city of Lashkar Gah was on the verge of being overtaken by the Taliban, Marines said. Now, with support from the Task Force, the soldiers have restored stability to the town and are beginning to move offensively against the Taliban.

In a shura with Navy Secretary Richard Spencer and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller on Dec. 23, Helmand provincial governor Hayatullah Hayat said Afghan troops continue to take daily casualties in the fight.

But task force personnel continue to exact a daily toll against the Taliban as well. On a December visit to the operations center, a dark plume of smoke rose from a road on one of the screens — evidence of a precision strike carried out only minutes before.

From the screens, Hubert said, Marines had watched a pair of Taliban fighters carrying weapons dig a hole in a road south of the Marjah district center, intending to emplace IEDs ahead of a trip Afghan National Security Forces intended to make to the center.

Afghan Air Force A-29 Super Tucanos were in the air at the time, and Marines reached out and shared what they were seeing, offering them the opportunity to take out the fighters.

“They couldn’t quite get it, so we stepped in,” Hubert said. “We took the shot with F-16s and killed the two enemy. So now, they’re free to move toward the Marjah district center unimpeded by any kind of enemy contact right now.”

The process of identifying targets and executing strikes is a collaborative one, Hubert explained. Often the Marines will share what they’re seeing and make recommendations to the Afghan troops about how to respond, but leave the decision-making to them. The Afghan troops also play a significant role in the intelligence-gathering: in addition to ground reports, they maintain their own ScanEagle drone, its footage featured on one of the screens at the operations center.

As one target smoldered on the screen, Marines were tracking another: two men traveling up a road, south of friendly forces, one carrying a weapon on his back, concealed by clothing.

“We can see [the weapon] by the shape and size of what it looks like, then we’ll see him take it out,” Hubert explained.

In the course of several hours that morning, the Marines would coordinate the elimination of a half-dozen Taliban fighters.

The recent strike against Mohammad, and the daily strikes on Taliban targets, illustrate the intensity of the fight the Marines are still waging, albeit from a greater distance than they were during active combat in support of Operation Enduring Freedom four years ago.

“I know we want to bring in governance, and I know we want institutional fixes. But right now, this is a fight,” said Reid, the task force deputy commander. “And as Marines, when we’re fighting, we’re going to kill the enemy, and we’re going to kill as many as we can.”

This article originally appeared on Military.com.

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Fact-checking President Trump’s speech on the Iran deal

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

Fact Checker

Fact-checking President Trump’s speech on the Iran deal

 October 14 at 3:00 AM
 Play Video 3:00
Trump’s Iran deal announcement, in 3 minutes
President Trump announced Oct. 13 that his administration would take new steps going forward to confront Iran. (The Washington Post)

In his speech on the Iran nuclear agreement, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), President Trump made a number of factual assertions. The deal was negotiated by Iran, the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France and China), Germany and the European Union.

Here’s a guide to some of his rhetoric, in the order in which he made these statements.

“The regime harbored high-level terrorists in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, including Osama bin Laden’s son.”

The president recounted a long list of aggressive acts by the Iranian government toward the United States since the shah was overthrown in 1979, many of which would be familiar to Americans. This claim — that Iran harbored al-Qaeda terror suspects — might be less well-known, but it was recently documented in a 2017 book, “The Exile,” by investigative reporters Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy.

The book noted that the steady flow of senior al-Qaeda figures into Iran after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks was controversial among various factions. The government actually made some arrests and sent some al-Qaeda figures back to countries of origin. But the Revolutionary Guard was more supportive. Trump, in using the phrase “regime,” glosses over the debate within the country.

“The regime remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, and provides assistance to al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Hezbollah, Hamas and other terrorist networks.”

Trump suggests the assistance to al-Qaeda continues to the present day. This is in line with the latest State Department Country Reports on terrorism, released in July, which said: “Since at least 2009, Iran has allowed AQ facilitators to operate a core facilitation pipeline through the country, enabling AQ to move funds and fighters to South Asia and Syria.” This phrasing marked a shift from previous reports, which indicated the support was in the past.

“The previous administration lifted these sanctions, just before what would have been the total collapse of the Iranian regime, through the deeply controversial 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.”

There is little evidence that the Iranian government was on the verge of “total collapse,” though it was certainly struggling because of international sanctions. The Obama administration had been able to win broad international support for crippling sanctions precisely because it convinced Russia and China, two major Iranian partners, that the pressure was designed to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions and force the government into negotiations. If the government had started to teeter because of the sanctions, especially if it was perceived as part of an American campaign of regime change, that support probably would have been withdrawn.

JCPOA “also gave the regime an immediate financial boost and over $100 billion its government could use to fund terrorism. The regime also received a massive cash settlement of $1.7 billion from the United States, a large portion of which was physically loaded onto an airplane and flown into Iran.”

Trump often suggests the United States gave a $100 billion to Iran, but these were Iranian assets that had been frozen. The Treasury Department has estimated that once Iran fulfills other obligations, it would have about $55 billion left. (Much of the funds were tied up in illiquid projects in China.) For its part, the Central Bank of Iran said the number was actually $32 billion, not $55 billion. Iran has also complained that it cannot actually move the money back to Iran because foreign banks won’t touch it for fear of U.S. sanctions and their U.S. exposure.

As for the $1.7 billion in cash, this was related to the settlement of a decades-old claim between the two countries. An initial payment of $400 million was handed over on Jan. 17, 2016, the same day Iran’s government agreed to release four American detainees, including The Washington Post’s Jason Rezaian. The timing — which U.S. officials insisted was a coincidence — suggested the cash could be viewed as a ransom payment.

But the initial cash payment was Iran’s money. In the 1970s, the then-pro-Western Iranian government under the shah paid $400 million for U.S. military equipment. But the equipment was never delivered because the two countries broke off relations after the seizure of American hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Iran.

Two other payments totaling $1.3 billion — a negotiated agreement on the interest owed on the $400 million — came some weeks later.

“The deal allows Iran to continue developing certain elements of its nuclear program and, importantly, in just a few years, as key restrictions disappear, Iran can sprint towards a rapid nuclear weapons breakout.”

JCPOA has been in place for two years. Certain provisions of the nuclear aspects of the deal do not last indefinitely, but virtually all phase out between years 10 and 25. It’s doubtful Iran would have agreed to an indefinite ban on nuclear activities, given that it has a right to have a nonnuclear program under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Critics of the agreement argue that Iran’s past behavior suggests it will cheat in any case and thus has forfeited its rights.

Trump does not mention that under the agreement, Iran is permanently prohibited from acquiring nuclear weapons, and will be subject to certain restrictions and additional monitoring indefinitely. (Readers may also be interested in a previous fact check we did on whether Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons; we found the claim dubious.)

It’s unclear why Trump refers to a “few years” before a potential nuclear breakout. Nonnuclear provisions having to do with arms-related transfers to and from Iran will expire in three years, or possibly sooner. In six years, U.N. Security Council restrictions end on any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

“Those who argue that somehow the JCPOA deals only with nuclear matters and should be judged separate from the restrictions in [U.N.] Resolution 2231 fail to explain that a nuclear weapon is a warhead and a delivery system,” noted David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, in testimony before Congress. “Today, the delivery vehicle of choice is a ballistic missile.”

“The Iranian regime has committed multiple violations of the agreement. For example, on two separate occasions, they have exceeded the limit of 130 metric tons of heavy water. Until recently, the Iranian regime has also failed to meet our expectations in its operation of advanced centrifuges.”

Trump is right that Iran twice exceeded the deal’s limit on heavy water. But supporters of the deal say it shows JCPOA is working. Iran tried to take advantage of fuzzy language in the agreement but was immediately caught by international inspectors; the other partners objected and forced Iran to come back into compliance.

As for the centrifuges, the deal limits both the number and type of centrifuges Iran is permitted to use. Again Iran tried to take advantage of ambiguous limits — “roughly 10” advanced centrifuges — by operating slightly more than that number.

The dispute for the moment also appears to have been resolved, though Albright in his testimony noted that “Iran has also built and operated more advanced centrifuges than it is allowed, and it has misused quality assurance limitations to conduct banned mechanical testing of advanced centrifuges.”

“There are also many people who believe that Iran is dealing with North Korea. I am going to instruct our intelligence agencies to do a thorough analysis and report back their findings beyond what they have already reviewed.”

This was a puzzling statement. The phrasing suggests there is not enough evidence to claim that Iran has dealings with North Korea, but the intelligence agencies will keep looking. But it raises the question about why the president made the assertion in the first place.

“It is under continuous review, and our participation can be canceled by me, as president, at any time.”

The other partners to the agreement dispute that Trump has the authority to end the deal. In an unusual joint statement, British Prime Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron noted: “JCPOA was unanimously endorsed by the U.N. Security Council in Resolution 2231. The International Atomic Energy Agency has repeatedly confirmed Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA through its long-term verification and monitoring program.”

Similarly, Federica Mogherini, the E.U. foreign policy chief, said no one country could terminate the deal. “This deal is not a bilateral agreement,” she said. “The international community, and the European Union with it, has clearly indicated that the deal is, and will, continue to be in place.”

However, a president can stop waiving nuclear sanctions at any point, causing nuclear sanctions to come back into force. Moreover, U.S. law requires Trump to waive nuclear sanctions regularly, so he could simply not do anything and nuclear sanctions come back. In effect, that would terminate the deal, whether the other partners like it or not.

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The U.S. And Their ‘Alliance’ (Except For The Kurd’s) Need To Leave Syria Right Now!

 

Any time that a person or more so a military, are in or flying above another Nation without the permission of that Nations government then you are an illegal intruder and you have declared war on that Nation. Syria’s President Assad has made it very clear that he considers the U.S. and their Alliance partners to be in his Country illegally and that he does not want them there. Even though I am an American citizen I cannot condone our actions in this Syrian Civil War nor with Syria’s inner-border conflict with the terrorist group called ISIS. We were never invited to step into this conflict within Syria’s borders and we should never have gone into that country, we have no right to be there. I will try to keep this article as short as I can yet I will do my best to explain my thoughts/beliefs as to why I believe as I do, for your consideration.

 

As I have written a few times before on this site that history shows within the Islamic world that it appears that about the only way to not have total chaos is if a rather brutal dictator rules their country. I personally do not like anything to do with brutality or with dictators, I am merely expressing an observation. I know that Syria’s President Assad is both of these elements yet I believe that the people of Syria as a whole were far better off six years ago than they are today. In Islamic countries there has been a civil war raging for about 1,400 years now between their two main sects and this hatred of each other still shows no sign of ending, ever.

 

Just like in Afghanistan the U.S. is in an Islamic country with our military and we have no exit strategy, as is the case in Syria. In Afghanistan the American tax payers have spent well over a trillion dollars to help bring peace to this tribal war-torn land and we have spilled the blood of many of our soldiers, and for what? In the long game our government has been trying to get the Taliban and to sit down with the very weak Government in Kabul to form a ‘sharing’ government, so why are we there? Unless a person is totally ignorant of reality they must know that once there is a ‘sharing’ government and the U.S. pulls out of the country that the Taliban will simply murder the civilian government people and everything will go back to the Taliban like it was 15 years ago. So, all of that gold and all of that blood spilled, for what? With all of this money the American government has spent in this country it is estimated that 90% of the civilians there only have one set of clothing, our occupation time there could have been spent in more productive ways.

 

Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam, all far away countries that in the long run where our blood and gold have really accomplished very little to nothing. There is always one ‘positive’ to these military campaigns and that is the jobs provided by the ‘war-machine’ industry and of course the billions of dollars that go to the corporations leaders and to the people who are able to afford stock in these companies. To many government leaders in to many different countries seem to believe that their infrastructure must have a very strong weapons export economic base. People in these ‘second and third’ world nations (economically) need safe housing, schools, clothing and food. They need an infrastructure, roads, bridges, hospitals and jobs. I am sure that you noticed that these items I mentioned are the same exact things that the people of the economic powers also want and need, in most respects all people need and wish for the same things. The ‘Western Powers’ have a long history of setting up ‘war lords’ to rule small countries, then sell them a lot of weapons whom they use against their own citizens and then we wonder why their people hate us so much.

 

Now, back to the main line of thought, the situation in Syria. The Syrian President Mr. Assad has many economic and security issues within his borders and hundreds of thousands of people have died because of this Civil War that has been raging for the past six years. Back in the first term of U.S. President Obama when he had Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State the so-called Arab Spring started. Mrs. Clinton pushed Mr. Obama into trying to ‘help’ fire up the civil war in Libya to over through their dictator, look at the total mess that Libya still is. Egypt came next where we helped to over through their dictator then we got the Muslim Brotherhood who had to be over thrown by the Egyptian Army before Egypt became another Libya. Then Hillary set her eyes on removing President Assad from power in Syria, now look at what a disaster Syria has become.

 

The U.S. encouraged the Syrian citizens to revolt against President Assad and we have spent several billion dollars on training and supplying weapons to ‘moderate Islamist’ whom Assad calls terrorist, if the situation were reversed would we not call them terrorist? As we all know when we decided to pull out of neighboring Iraq we opened up a vacuum along their western border which made a very weak Iraqi government even weaker. We should have stayed longer just doing border control help while the government soldiers and police tried to keep the peace in the cities and the country’s interior. Our governments failures helped open up the eastern part of Syria and the western part of Iraq (both Shiite Islamic nations) for a new Sunni military army to step in and form their own government in these two countries. ISIS is a result of our governments ignorance of reality in this part of the world. We say we are in Syria to fight against this group of mass murderers and that we are not at war with Syria itself but that is an obvious lie. If we are training and supplying groups like the ‘Free Syrian Army’ who are fighting to bring Assad’s government down then we are in an ‘undeclared’ war with the Syrian government.

 

The Syrian government has many allies to help them fight the different intruders trying to over through them. Russia of course is their most powerful ally but they do have several more including other Shiite countries like Iraq, Iran and basically Lebanon through their proxy Hezbollah. The ethnic people know as Kurd’s are also fighting against ISIS but their case is a bit different because several hundred thousand Kurdish people have lived within these borders for thousands of years so in a sense they are fighting against ISIS and to a degree against the Syrian government in an attempt to keep and to achieve their own Nation. The recent episodes where we have shot down a Syrian jet fighter and a couple of Iranian drones has brought the U.S. closer to direct war with Syria, Russia and Iran. These events would not be a reality if we simply weren’t there. Some will say that we have to be there to fight ISIS but this is not true. The American people have spent our own money and blood in a Nation who has not attacked us or declared war on us and whom does not want us there. If the U.S. and our ‘Alliance’ partners were not there then Syria’s allies would have and could have taken our place with their bombers and their soldiers. But the real question is why are we doing what we are doing there? My question is, is it because of the trillions of dollars in war materials our economy produces and of course the jobs this creates for our economy? Could the reason partly be because of the friends our politicians have on the Boards of these companies, or is it because of the stocks that our Senators, Congressmen and women and also this President own in these companies?

 

 

 

 

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