October 31, 2006

Pakistan Kills Innocent Terrorist Trainees!

Hatched by Dafydd

Yesterday's newswires were abuzz with the raid by Pakistan forces on a very radical "madrassa," or Moslem religious school, near Peshawar -- many of which "schools," especially this one, serve as sources of jihadism, radicalism, and even suicide bombers:

Pakistani army helicopters killed around 80 suspected militants on Monday in a dawn attack on a religious school run by a [now deceased] pro-Taliban commander wanted for harboring al Qaeda fighters, a military spokesman said.

The army said the religious school or madrasa in Chenagai, 10 km (six miles) north of Khar, the main town in the Bajaur tribal region bordering Afghanistan, was being used as a militant training camp.

The strike killed almost everyone present in the madrasa, although at least three wounded were taken to hospital in Khar.

The main purpose of the raid was to capture or kill the leader of the compound, Maulana Liaqatullah (or Liaquat Hussain, or just Liaqat; sources differ); he was in fact killed in the raid. Liaquat was a close associate of Ayman Zawahiri, the reputed Number Two in al-Qaeda (some say Number One). There was early speculation that Zawahiri himself might have returned and been hit; but that seems not to be the case, alas.

[Pakistan army spokesman, Major-General Shaukat] Sultan said there were no women or children present.

Some villagers said there were young children among those killed, but Maulana Faqir Mohammad, a militant commander at the target site, told Reuters Television that the dead were aged between 15 and 25.

But all is not well in the region, which borders Afghanistan and appears (from a BBC map) to be just north of North Waziristan: according to a local unbiased "eyewitness" interviewed by the Beeb, the dead were not militants and terrorist wannabes, no sir, not at all: they were students at the madrassa!

"We received confirmed intelligence reports that 70-80 militants were hiding in a madrassa used as a terrorist training facility, which was destroyed by an army strike, led by helicopters," army spokesman Maj Gen Shaukat Sultan told the Associated Press news agency.

However, an eyewitness told the BBC that the madrassa school was filled with about 80 local students who had resumed studies after the Muslim Eid holidays.

Pardonez-moi, but how does the second claim contradict the first? The whole point of this kind of madrassa is to teach students how to be proper terrorist jihadis. It's like saying that the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis isn't full of Naval personnel... just students!

One (now ex-) Pakistan cabinet member called the slain students innocent; but he offers no explanation why students at a radical, terrorist supporting madrassa should not be considered radical and terrorist supporting:

A cabinet minister from Pakistan's North West Frontier Province, Siraj ul-Haq, has resigned in protest over the attack.

"This is a very wrong action. They [the innocent victims] were not given any warning [say, there's a good point -- from now on, each attack will be preceded by a couple of days of warnings to the intended targets!]. This was an unprovoked attack on a madrassa. They were innocent people," Siraj ul-Haq told the Associated Press before resigning.

Many local tribesmen, who are very radicalized themselves (it's not Waziristan, but it's right next door), are protesting -- well, rioting is the better word -- by the tens of thousands; this more than anything tells me that we're finally getting some serious cooperation from Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf (who seized power via a bloodless coup d'état in late 1999):

As many as 20,000 people protested Tuesday in Khar, the main town in Pakistan's northwestern tribal Bajur district, claiming innocent students and teachers were killed in the attack. They chanted: "God is Great!""Death to Bush! Death to Musharraf!" and "Anyone who is a friend of America is a traitor!"

"We will continue our jihad (holy war)! We will take revenge for the blood of our martyrs!" a local Islamic cleric, Maulana Roohul Amin, yelled into a loudspeaker at the rally. "The forces of infidelity are trying to erase us from existence!"

Oh, yeah; they sound more innocent every day.

Here is a test for the alert reader. This next excerpt raises the old Sesame Street question: "one of these things is not like the others / one of these things just doesn't belong!" Can you pick it out?

In January, a U.S. Predator drone fired a missile targeting al-Qaida No. 2 Ayman-Al-Zawahri in Damadola, near Chingai. The strike missed al-Zawahri, but killed several other al-Qaida members and civilians and sparked massive anti-U.S. protests across Pakistan.

Fears were high that Monday's attack will fan unrest across Pakistan, which also witnessed violent protests this year after European newspapers published cartoons of Islam's Prophet Muhammad, and after the August killing of a ethnic-Baluch tribal chief in another Pakistani military raid.

Yes, one of these protests is different from the other two...

Besides Liaquat, another Zawahiri lieutenant, Faqir Mohammed, "left the madrassa 30 minutes before the strike," sayeth AP. I think this may indicate that we're closing in on Zawahiri. It's worth noting that in the case of both the capture of Saddam Hussein and the killing of Musab Zarqawi, we first systematically killed or captured all of their lieutenants, leaving the principals in the hands of less experienced, less competent, and less trusted associates.

He may still slither away; he's a slippery little devil. But at least we seem to be headed in the right direction.

Let's hope that is what is happening here; and let's hope that Musharraf continues until we actually grab the bad doctor. And who knows? Wither Zawahiri goes, there goes also Osama bin Laden... or so says the conventional wisdom.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 31, 2006, at the time of 6:59 AM

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The following hissed in response by: MTF

Destroying every Madrassa sounds like a battle plan to me. Put the boys flying the Predators out in Pasadena on extra shifts.

Did you happen to see the entirely one-sided outrage from the AP, in their reports of the attack? GOP candidates could gain some votes in the last week just by running against CNN, Reuters and the AP. Brandeis was right (even if the roles are presently reversed between the press and politicians): sunlight shining on these rats might just help disinfect our press!

The above hissed in response by: MTF [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 31, 2006 8:10 AM

The following hissed in response by: yetanotherjohn

This reminds me of the Rather broadcast that soured me on CBS in the 80's. The lead story was on a American who died in Nicaragua when his helicopter was shot down during an attack on a school. I supported the contra effort, but this gives me pause. If we are supporting people attacking schools, then we very well me be on the wrong side.

So in those pre-internet days, I went to the trouble of trying to understand exactly what happened. It took me several days, but what I found was that what CBS said was true and a lie at the same time.

An American did die in Nicaragua when his helicopter was shot down during an attack on a school. The American volunteer (no indication he was with the CIA or any other government group) was on a medical evacuation helicopter that was shot down. The helicopter was shot down several miles from the school when it went in to pick up some contras who were wounded in the attack. So while the original story implied the helicopter was part of the attack on the school, it is a broad definition of "during" to make the implication. The school turned out to be an officer training school. The term 'school' was accurate but failed to give the full context.

I suspect a WWII era journalist would have at least mentioned that the helicopter was on a medical evacuation mission, not an attack mission and that the school was part of the Sandinista's military machine. But the modern liberal reporter sees no reason to cloud the viewers mind with facts that don't fit the agenda of the left.

The above hissed in response by: yetanotherjohn [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 31, 2006 8:53 AM

The following hissed in response by: Bill Faith

Excellent post. I excerpted and linked.

The above hissed in response by: Bill Faith [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 31, 2006 5:38 PM

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