Selasa, 19 Juni 2012

....Task Force 373 – special forces hunting top Taliban????>>> ....Afghanistan war logs: Massive leak of secret files exposes truth of occupation • Hundreds of civilians killed by coalition troops...???>>...Prince Nayef's death makes a big difference in the Middle East>>....Video footage from Saudi's Shia-dominated eastern province also showed residents celebrating the demise of a man who played an important role in the kingdom's policy towards Shia-majority Bahrain.>>...Nayef was also no friend to the Muslim Brotherhood, whose rise complicated relations with Egypt and whom he regarded with great suspicion. Nayef once remarked: "Without any hesitation I say it, that our problems, all of them, came from the direction of the Muslim Brotherhood" and publicly received the movement's Egyptian arch-enemy, former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, only last November.>>....Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz said it would prevent the entry of Islamic militants and illegal immigrants. The 900-km (560 mile) fence is part of the larger electronic shield which the kingdom plans to build to secure its northern, western and southern borders. The $12bn project will use devices such as remote sensors and thermal cameras. A border fence separating us from Iraq has become essential to protect security...I expect work will begin on the border fence next year Prince Nayef Country profile: Saudi Arabia The Saudis want to control their vast desert borders and seal off Iraq, ensuring that the chaos there does not spill over into the kingdom. ..???.>>...A border fence separating us from Iraq has become essential to protect security...I expect work will begin on the border fence next year ...??>>


Prince Nayef's death makes a big difference in the Middle East

The late Saudi prince was a polarising figure but he was involved in many regional initiatives, particularly on counter-terrorism
The funeral of Crown Prince Nayef inside the Grand Mosque

The funeral of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Nayef inside the Grand Mosque in Mecca. Photograph: Fahad Shadeed/Reuters
In many ways the repercussions following the death of Crown Prince Nayef, heir to the Saudi throne, are far greater than those that followed the death of his predecessor Prince Sultan nine months ago. Prince Nayef, after all, was heavily involved in various "files" (as foreign political responsibilities are referred to in Arabic) over the past few decades including Bahrain, Iraq and Yemen. Since his passing, various Saudi media outlets have highlighted these issues – including the London-based Asharq al-Awsat, a popular newspaper owned by Nayef's nephews.
Nayef was a polarising figure not least because of the different ways in which his policies affected the lives of those outside the kingdom's borders. For instance, while Kuwait and Bahrain both declared a three-day period of mourning following Nayef's demise, there was a different reaction in some sections of their community. Pro-government Bahrainis criticised reported celebrations by a "minuscule minority" in Shia villages on news of the prince's death, while prominent Kuwaiti members of parliament demanded stringent action against social media users who insulted the late prince.
Video footage from Saudi's Shia-dominated eastern province also showed residents celebrating the demise of a man who played an important role in the kingdom's policy towards Shia-majority Bahrain.
Elsewhere in the Gulf, Nayef publicly objected to a proposed bridge between Qatar and the UAE in 2005, calling it "unacceptable" (on the grounds that it would pass over Saudi territorial waters) and adding to a long history of disagreements with the Emirates.
Nayef was also no friend to the Muslim Brotherhood, whose rise complicated relations with Egypt and whom he regarded with great suspicion. Nayef once remarked: "Without any hesitation I say it, that our problems, all of them, came from the direction of the Muslim Brotherhood" and publicly received the movement's Egyptian arch-enemy, former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, only last November.
It is therefore ironic that Nayef met senior Muslim Brotherhood leaders only weeks before his death, when a delegation headed by the former Egyptian speaker of parliament visited Saudi Arabia to apologise for insults directed at the Saudi leadership by Egyptian protesters in front of the Saudi embassy in Cairo. The Muslim Brotherhood may find it easier to deal with the new Crown Prince Salman who, although he is also said to be conservative, does not have a similar security background as Nayef.
Saudi Arabia's relationship with Iraq was another "file" handled by Nayef following the fall of Saddam Hussein and the rise of militant attacks in both Iraq and Saudi. However, Nayef maintained that it was in fact Iraqis who were infiltrating Saudi Arabia and not the other way around. As part of a $12bn plan to secure Saudi borders, Nayef launched in 2006 a seven-year project to build a 560-mile security fence between Saudi and Iraq, which he described as the main base for terrorism in the region.
Towards the southern borders of Saudi Arabia, Nayef's forces embarked on one of their biggest operations to secure the Saudi-Yemeni borders. Nayef expanded the war against terrorism across the Yemeni border to target al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. In 2009 the group attempted to assassinate Nayef's son Mohammed who serves as deputy interior minister and commander of counter-terrorism operations.
The following year around 180,000 Yemenis were caught trying to sneak into Saudi Arabia through the porous Jizan frontier, many of whom were bearing arms and ammunitions. As recently as last May, Saudi Arabia announced that it was instrumental in foiling a major terrorist attack emanating from Yemen.
Perhaps the most important and obscure non-Arab file that Nayef was involved in was that of Pakistan. The Times reported in February that Saudi Arabia would consider buying nuclear weapons if Iran acquired any and that the most likely source for Saudi would be Pakistan – although both have denied such an agreement exists. The solid Saudi relationship with Pakistan is heavily dependent on close co-ordination between the interior and intelligence authorities of both states in which Nayef played a significant role.
Nayef's involvement in security matters also extended beyond the borders of Saudi Arabia in his capacity as the honorary chairman of the Tunisia-based Council of Arab Interior Ministers which under oversight adopted the Arab Pre-emptive Security Plan of 1985 and the Arab Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism in 1998. In fact, the Arab Interior Ministers Council is regarded as one of the only "effective" pan-Arab organisations due to the security-centric nature of Arab regimes.
Much like Suleiman, Nayef was able to play a much more significant role than most other interior ministers in the region. Nayef's decisions over several decades affected those in not only Saudi Arabia but also a region far wider and more complex. Despite the swift appointment of a new crown prince and interior minister, the regional implications of Nayef's demise will take a long time to be understood and to resolve.
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Saudis plan Iraq security fence
By Heba Saleh
BBC News, Cairo
Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 November 2006, 22:48 GMT  


Saudi Arabia will press ahead with the construction of a security fence to seal off the border with Iraq, the interior minister has said.
Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz said it would prevent the entry of Islamic militants and illegal immigrants.
The 900-km (560 mile) fence is part of the larger electronic shield which the kingdom plans to build to secure its northern, western and southern borders.
The $12bn project will use devices such as remote sensors and thermal cameras.

A border fence separating us from Iraq has become essential to protect security...I expect work will begin on the border fence next year
Prince Nayef
The Saudis want to control their vast desert borders and seal off Iraq, ensuring that the chaos there does not spill over into the kingdom.
The Saudi interior minister said the war in Iraq was affecting all its neighbours and that a border fence had become essential for the security of the kingdom.
Describing Iraq as the main base for terrorism in the region, Prince Nayef said construction of the fence would start next year and take up to six years.
As the world's largest oil producer and the country targeted by al-Qaeda, Saudi Arabia is acutely aware of the threat posed by the war in Iraq.
The Saudi authorities fear there could be dire consequences for the stability of the kingdom if Iraq disintegrates.
They see the security fence as a means of stopping al-Qaeda fighters as well as drug dealers, weapon smugglers and potentially large numbers of Iraqi refugees. 

Afghanistan war logs: Task Force 373 – special forces hunting top Taliban

Previously hidden details of US-led unit sent to kill top insurgent targets are revealed for the first time

US soldiers pursue militants in Helmand province
US soldiers pursue militants in Helmand province. The shadowy Task Force 373 meanwhile focuses its efforts on more than 2,000 senior Taliban figures on a target list. Photograph: Adrees Latif/Reuters
The Nato coalition in Afghanistan has been using an undisclosed "black" unit of special forces, Task Force 373, to hunt down targets for death or detention without trial. Details of more than 2,000 senior figures from the Taliban and al-Qaida are held on a "kill or capture" list, known as Jpel, the joint prioritised effects list.
In many cases, the unit has set out to seize a target for internment, but in others it has simply killed them without attempting to capture. The logs reveal that TF 373 has also killed civilian men, women and children and even Afghan police officers who have strayed into its path.

The United Nations' special rapporteur for human rights, Professor Philip Alston, went to Afghanistan in May 2008 to investigate rumours of extrajudicial killings. He warned that international forces were neither transparent nor accountable and that Afghans who attempted to find out who had killed their loved ones "often come away empty-handed, frustrated and bitter".
Now, for the first time, the leaked war logs reveal details of deadly missions by TF 373 and other units hunting down Jpel targets that were previously hidden behind a screen of misinformation. They raise fundamental questions about the legality of the killings and of the long-term imprisonment without trial, and also pragmatically about the impact of a tactic which is inherently likely to kill, injure and alienate the innocent bystanders whose support the coalition craves.
On the night of Monday 11 June 2007, the leaked logs reveal, the taskforce set out with Afghan special forces to capture or kill a Taliban commander named Qarl Ur-Rahman in a valley near Jalalabad. As they approached the target in the darkness, somebody shone a torch on them. A firefight developed, and the taskforce called in an AC-130 gunship, which strafed the area with cannon fire: "The original mission was aborted and TF 373 broke contact and returned to base. Follow-up Report: 7 x ANP KIA, 4 x WIA." In plain language: they discovered that the people they had been shooting in the dark were Afghan police officers, seven of whom were now dead and four wounded.

The coalition put out a press release which referred to the firefight and the air support and then failed entirely to record that they had just killed or wounded 11 police officers. But, evidently fearing that the truth might leak, it added: "There was nothing during the firefight to indicate the opposing force was friendly. The individuals who fired on coalition forces were not in uniform." The involvement of TF 373 was not mentioned, and the story didn't get out.
However, the incident immediately rebounded into the fragile links which other elements of the coalition had been trying to build with local communities. An internal report shows that the next day Lieutenant Colonel Gordon Phillips, commander of the Provincial Reconstruction Team, took senior officers to meet the provincial governor, Gul Agha Sherzai, who accepted that this was "an unfortunate incident that occurred among friends". They agreed to pay compensation to the bereaved families, and Phillips "reiterated our support to prevent these types of events from occurring again".

Yet, later that week, on Sunday 17 June, as Sherzai hosted a "shura" council at which he attempted to reassure tribal leaders about the safety of coalition operations, TF 373 launched another mission, hundreds of miles south in Paktika province. The target was a notorious Libyan fighter, Abu Laith al-Libi. The unit was armed with a new weapon, known as Himars – High Mobility Artillery Rocket System – a pod of six missiles on the back of a small truck.

The plan was to launch five rockets at targets in the village of Nangar Khel where TF 373 believed Libi was hiding and then to send in ground troops. The result was that they failed to find Libi but killed six Taliban fighters and then, when they approached the rubble of a madrasa, they found "initial assessment of 7 x NC KIA" which translates as seven non-combatants killed in action. All of them were children. One of them was still alive in the rubble: "The Med TM immediately cleared debris from the mouth and performed CPR." After 20 minutes, the child died.

The coalition made a press statement which owned up to the death of the children and claimed that troops "had surveillance on the compound all day and saw no indications there were children inside the building". That claim is consistent with the leaked log. A press release also claimed that Taliban fighters, who undoubtedly were in the compound, had used the children as a shield.

The log refers to an unnamed "elder" who is said to have "stated that the children were held against their will" but, against that, there is no suggestion that there were any Taliban in the madrasa where the children died.
The rest of the press release was certainly misleading. It suggested that coalition forces had attacked the compound because of "nefarious activity" there, when the reality was that they had gone there to kill or capture Libi.

It made no mention at all of Libi, nor of the failure of the mission (although that was revealed later by NBC News in the United States). Crucially, it failed to record that TF 373 had fired five rockets, destroying the madrasa and other buildings and killing seven children, before anybody had fired on them – that this looked like a mission to kill and not to capture. Indeed, this was clearly deliberately suppressed.

The internal report was marked not only "secret" but also "Noforn", ie not to be shared with the foreign elements of the coalition. And the source of this anxiety is explicit: "The knowledge that TF 373 conducted a HIMARS strike must be protected." And it was. This crucial fact remained secret, as did TF 373's involvement.

Again, the lethal attack caused political problems. The provincial governor arranged compensation and held a shura with local leaders when, according to an internal US report, "he pressed the Talking Points given to him and added a few of his own that followed in line with our current story". Libi remained targeted for death and was killed in Pakistan seven months later by a missile from an unmanned CIA Predator.
In spite of this tension between political and military operations, TF 373 continued to engage in highly destructive attacks. Four months later, on 4 October, they confronted Taliban fighters in a village called Laswanday, only 6 miles from the village where they had killed the seven children. The Taliban appear to have retreated by the time TF 373 called in air support to drop 500lb bombs on the house from which the fighters had been firing.
The final outcome, listed tersely at the end of the leaked log: 12 US wounded, two teenage girls and a 10-year-old boy wounded, one girl killed, one woman killed, four civilian men killed, one donkey killed, one dog killed, several chickens killed, no enemy killed, no enemy wounded, no enemy detained.
The coalition put out a statement claiming falsely to have killed several militants and making no mention of any dead civilians; and later added that "several non-combatants were found dead and several others wounded" without giving any numbers or details.
This time, the political teams tried a far less conciliatory approach with local people. In spite of discovering that the dead civilians came from one family, one of whom had been found with his hands tied behind his back, suggesting that the Taliban were unwelcome intruders in their home, senior officials travelled to the stricken village where they "stressed that the fault of the deaths of the innocent lies on the villagers who did not resist the insurgents and their anti-government activities … [and] chastised a villager who condemned the compound shooting". Nevertheless, an internal report concluded that there was "little or no protest" over the incident.
The concealment of TF 373's role is a constant theme. There was global publicity in October 2009 when US helicopters were involved in two separate crashes in one day, but even then it was concealed that the four soldiers who died in one of the incidents were from TF 373.

The pursuit of these "high value targets" is evidently embedded deep in coalition tactics. The Jpel list assigns an individual serial number to each of those targeted for kill or capture and by October 2009 this had reached 2,058.

The process of choosing targets reaches high into the military command. According to their published US Field Manual on Counter Insurgency, No FM3-24, it is policy to choose targets "to engage as potential counter-insurgency supporters, targets to isolate from the population and targets to eliminate".
A joint targeting working group meets each week to consider Target Nomination Packets and has direct input from the Combined Forces Command and its divisional HQ, as well as from lawyers, operational command and intelligence units including the CIA.

Among those who are listed as being located and killed by TF 373 are Shah Agha, described as an intelligence officer for an IED cell, who was killed with four other men on 1 June 2009; Amir Jan Mutaki, described as a Taliban sub-commander who had organised ambushes on coalition forces, who was shot dead from the air in a TF 373 mission on 24 June 2009; and a target codenamed Ballentine, who was killed on 16 November 2009 during an attack in the village of Lewani, in which a local woman also died.

The logs include references to the tracing and killing of other targets on the Jpel list, which do not identify TF 373 as the unit responsible. It is possible that some of the other taskforce names and numbers which show up in this context are cover names for 373, or for British special forces, 500 of whom are based in southern Afghanistan and are reported to have been involved in kill/capture missions, including the shooting in July 2008 of Mullah Bismullah.
Some of these "non 373" operations involve the use of unmanned drones to fire missiles to kill the target: one codenamed Beethoven, on 20 October 2008; one named Janan on 6 November 2008; and an unnamed Jpel target who was hit with a hellfire missile near Khan Neshin on 21 August 2009 while travelling in a car with other passengers (the log records "no squirters [bodies moving about] recorded").

Other Jpel targets were traced and then bombed from the air. One, codenamed Newcastle, was located with four other men on 26 November 2007. The house they were in was then hit with 500lb bombs. "No identifiable features recovered," the log records.
Two other Jpel targets, identified only by serial numbers, were killed on 16 February 2009 when two F-15 bombers dropped four 500lb bombs on a Jpel target: "There are various and conflicting reports from multiple sources alleging civilian casualties … A large number of local nationals were on site during the investigation displaying a hostile attitude so the investigation team did not continue sorting through the site."

One of the leaked logs contains a summary of a conference call on 8 March 2008 when the then head of the Afghan National Directorate of Security, Amrullah Saleh, tells senior American officers that three named Taliban commanders in Kapisa province are "not reconcilable and must be taken out". The senior coalition officer "noted that there would be a meeting with the Kapisa NDS to determine how to approach this issue."
It is not clear whether "taken out" meant "killed" and the logs do not record any of their deaths. But one of them, Qari Baryal, who was ranked seventh in the Jpel list, had already been targeted for killing two months earlier.

On 12 January 2008, after tracking his movements for 24 hours, the coalition established that he was holding a large meeting with other men in a compound in Pashkari and sent planes which dropped six 500lb bombs and followed up with five strafing runs to shoot those fleeing the scene.
The report records that some 70 people ran to the compound and started digging into the rubble, on which there were "pools of blood", but subsequent reports suggest that Baryal survived and continued to plan rocket attacks and suicide bombings.

Numerous logs show Jpel targets being captured and transferred to a special prison, known as Btif, the Bagram Theatre Internment Facility. There is no indication of prisoners being charged or tried, and previous press reports have suggested that men have been detained there for years without any legal process in communal cages inside vast old air hangars. As each target is captured, he is assigned a serial number. By December 2009, this showed that a total of 4,288 prisoners, some aged as young as 16, had been held at Btif, with 757 still in custody.

Who are TF373?

The leaked war logs show that Task Force 373 uses at least three bases in Afghanistan, in Kabul, Kandahar and Khost. Although it works alongside special forces from Afghanistan and other coalition nations, it appears to be drawing its own troops from the 7th Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg, North Carolina and to travel on missions in Chinook and Cobra helicopters flown by 160th special operations aviation regiment, based at Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia.

Afghanistan war logs: Massive leak of secret files exposes truth of occupation

• Hundreds of civilians killed by coalition troops
• Covert unit hunts leaders for 'kill or capture'
• Steep rise in Taliban bomb attacks on Nato
• Read the Guardian's full war logs investigation

US soldier in Afghanistan
The war logs reveal civilian killings by coalition forces, secret efforts to eliminate Taliban and al-Qaida leaders, and discuss the involvement of Iran and Pakistan in supporting insurgents. Photograph: Max Whittaker/Corbis
A huge cache of secret US military files today provides a devastating portrait of the failing war in Afghanistan, revealing how coalition forces have killed hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents, Taliban attacks have soared and Nato commanders fear neighbouring Pakistan and Iran are fuelling the insurgency.
The disclosures come from more than 90,000 records of incidents and intelligence reports about the conflict obtained by the whistleblowers' website WikiLeaks in one of the biggest leaks in US military history. The files, which were made available to the Guardian, the New York Times and the German weekly Der Spiegel, give a blow-by-blow account of the fighting over the last six years, which has so far cost the lives of more than 320 British and more than 1,000 US troops.
Their publication comes amid mounting concern that Barack Obama's "surge" strategy is failing and as coalition troops hunt for two US naval personnel captured by the Taliban south of Kabul on Friday.
The war logs also detail:
• How a secret "black" unit of special forces hunts down Taliban leaders for "kill or capture" without trial.
• How the US covered up evidence that the Taliban have acquired deadly surface-to-air missiles.
• How the coalition is increasingly using deadly Reaper drones to hunt and kill Taliban targets by remote control from a base in Nevada.
• How the Taliban have caused growing carnage with a massive escalation of their roadside bombing campaign, which has killed more than 2,000 civilians to date.
In a statement, the White House said the chaotic picture painted by the logs was the result of "under-resourcing" under Obama's predecessor, saying: "It is important to note that the time period reflected in the documents is January 2004 to December 2009."
The White House also criticised the publication of the files by WikiLeaks: "We strongly condemn the disclosure of classified information by individuals and organisations, which puts the lives of the US and partner service members at risk and threatens our national security. WikiLeaks made no effort to contact the US government about these documents, which may contain information that endanger the lives of Americans, our partners, and local populations who co-operate with us."
The logs detail, in sometimes harrowing vignettes, the toll on civilians exacted by coalition forces: events termed "blue on white" in military jargon. The logs reveal 144 such incidents.

Some of these casualties come from the controversial air strikes that have led to Afghan government protests, but a large number of previously unknown incidents also appear to be the result of troops shooting unarmed drivers or motorcyclists out of a determination to protect themselves from suicide bombers.
At least 195 civilians are admitted to have been killed and 174 wounded in total, but this is likely to be an underestimate as many disputed incidents are omitted from the daily snapshots reported by troops on the ground and then collated, sometimes erratically, by military intelligence analysts.

Bloody errors at civilians' expense, as recorded in the logs, include the day French troops strafed a bus full of children in 2008, wounding eight. A US patrol similarly machine-gunned a bus, wounding or killing 15 of its passengers, and in 2007 Polish troops mortared a village, killing a wedding party including a pregnant woman, in an apparent revenge attack.

Questionable shootings of civilians by UK troops also figure. The US compilers detail an unusual cluster of four British shootings in Kabul in the space of barely a month, in October/November 2007, culminating in the death of the son of an Afghan general. Of one shooting, they wrote: "Investigation controlled by the British. We are not able to get [sic] complete story."

A second cluster of similar shootings, all involving Royal Marine commandos in Helmand province, took place in a six-month period at the end of 2008, according to the log entries. Asked by the Guardian about these allegations, the Ministry of Defence said: "We have been unable to corroborate these claims in the short time available and it would be inappropriate to speculate on specific cases without further verification of the alleged actions."

Rachel Reid, who investigates civilian casualty incidents in Afghanistan for Human Rights Watch, said: "These files bring to light what's been a consistent trend by US and Nato forces: the concealment of civilian casualties. Despite numerous tactical directives ordering transparent investigations when civilians are killed, there have been incidents I've investigated in recent months where this is still not happening.

Accountability is not just something you do when you are caught. It should be part of the way the US and Nato do business in Afghanistan every time they kill or harm civilians." The reports, many of which the Guardian is publishing in full online, present an unvarnished and often compelling account of the reality of modern war.

Most of the material, though classified "secret" at the time, is no longer militarily sensitive. A small amount of information has been withheld from publication because it might endanger local informants or give away genuine military secrets. WikiLeaks, whose founder, Julian Assange, obtained the material in circumstances he will not discuss, said it would redact harmful material before posting the bulk of the data on its "uncensorable" servers.

WikiLeaks published in April this year a previously suppressed classified video of US Apache helicopters killing two Reuters cameramen on the streets of Baghdad, which gained international attention. A 22-year-old intelligence analyst, Bradley Manning, was arrested in Iraq and charged with leaking the video, but not with leaking the latest material. The Pentagon's criminal investigations department continues to try to trace the leaks and recently unsuccessfully asked Assange, he says, to meet them outside the US to help them. Assange allowed the Guardian to examine the logs at our request. No fee was involved and WikiLeaks was not involved in the preparation of the Guardian's articles.

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