Thursday, March 22, 2012

R.I.P. - Captain Rupert Bowers

It is with sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that Captain Rupert William Michael Bowers was killed in Afghanistan on 21 March 2012.

Captain Rupert William Michael Bowers. Picture via MOD

Captain Bowers, of 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters) (2 MERCIAN), was attached to 2nd Battalion The Rifles (2 RIFLES), operating as an advisor to the Afghan National Army.

Captain Bowers commanded a small team responsible for the training and development of the Afghan National Army based in Forward Operating Base Ouellette, in the Mirmandab region of Nahr-e Saraj district in Helmand province.

On 21 March 2012, Captain Bowers was leading a patrol to clear a position from the threat of insurgents when he was killed by the explosion from an improvised explosive device.

Continues at: – Captain Rupert Bowers killed in Afghanistan

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Mar.22., 2012. - ISAF Joint Command Evening Operational Update

KABUL, Afghanistan – In Nad ‘Ali district, Helmand province, a coalition security force discovered a drug cache during routine operations March 22.

The cache consisted of 1,300 pounds (590 kilograms) of opium. A small quantity of the opium was confiscated for examination and the remainder of the cache was destroyed.

In other International Security Assistance Force news throughout Afghanistan:


In Maiwand district, Kandahar province an Afghan-led and coalition supported security force arrested an insurgent leader yesterday. The leader directed a cell of insurgent fighters and was an improvised explosive device emplacer in the Durrai junction area. Several other suspected insurgents were detained and a cache of IED materials was discovered during the operation.

An Afghan-led and coalition supported security force killed an insurgent leader during a search operation in Deh Rawood district, Uruzgan province, March 21. The insurgent leader was an IED facilitator responsible for numerous attacks on Afghan and coalition forces in the area. During the operation the insurgent leader attempted to fire on the combined force. Sensing an immediate threat the force returned fire, killing him. Several suspected insurgents were detained as a result of the operation.

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U.S. drone strikes al-Qaida bases in southern Yemen, 30 killed

ADEN, Yemen, March 22 (Xinhua) -- A missile strike launched by a U.S drone targeted al-Qaida bases in Yemen's war-torn southern province of Abyan on Thursday, killing at least 30 fighters of the terrorist group, officials and witnesses told Xinhua.
A compound used by the al-Qaida group along with two positions in Zinjibar city, Abyan's provincial capital, were targeted by missiles fired from a U.S drone, at least 30 militants were killed and dozens of others injured, a local security official said on condition of anonymity.
Witnesses told Xinhua anonymously that a warplane also fired a missile at three vehicles of the al-Qaida group in downtown Zinjibar carrying foreign fighters, the sound of explosions and rocket fire could be clearly heard across Zinjibar city.
"There was a missile strike Thursday in Zinjibar, which targeted vehicles and bases of the al-Qaida group," the witnesses said, adding that "a lot of people were apparently killed and their vehicles were completely destroyed at the scene."
"According to our initial information two missiles believed to have been launched by a U.S drone on an al-Qaida site located in the center of Zinjibar city," a local military intelligence officer said anonymously, adding that "we have no confirmed reports about whether any foreigners were killed during the missile strike."
The al-Qaida spokesman was not immediately available for comment.
On Wednesday, suspected al-Qaida militants killed an officer of the Yemeni military intelligence agency after kidnapping him at Mukalla city, the capital of the southeastern Hadramout province, a security official told Xinhua.
Al-Qaida militants who took advantage of the conflicts in the country have seized several towns in Abyan and Shabwa provinces after fighting with government troops backed by U.S. drones.
In January 2009, al-Qaida affiliates in Saudi Arabia and Yemen officially merged and formed Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula ( AQAP).
The group, mainly entrenching in Yemen's southern provinces of Abyan and Shabwa, is on the terrorist list of the United States, which considers it as an increasing threat to its national security.
Al-Qaida has taken advantage of the worsening security situation in Yemen, which is one of the most impoverished countries in the world, to plot and mount attacks locally and internationally.

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Jund al Khilafah claims French shooting

Jund al Khilafah, or Soldiers of the Caliphate, an al Qaeda and Haqqani Network-linked terror group that is based along the Afghan-Pakistan border, claimed credit for one of the shootings attributed to Mohamed Merah, a French citizen and resident of Toulouse who was killed in a shootout by French police earlier today after a two-day-long standoff. The terror group released a statement today that was published on several jihadist web forums. A portion of the statement, translated by the SITE Intelligence Group, is below:
On Tuesday, 19 March, one of the knights of Islam, our brother Yusuf al-Firansi [the French], we ask Allah to accept him, went out in an operation that shook the foundations of Zio-Crusaderdom in the whole world and filled the hearts of the enemies of Allah with fear. While we claim our responsibility for these blessed operations, we say that the crimes that Israel is committing against our people in the pure land of Palestine, and in Gaza in particular, will not pass without punishment. The mujahideen everywhere are determined to retaliate for every drop of blood that was spilled unjustly and aggressively in Palestine, Afghanistan, and other Muslim countries.
The Jund al Khilafah statement said the French must reconsider its "hostile tendency towards Islam and its Shariah" - a reference to its deployment of forces in Afghanistan as well as the ban on the veil for women in public places in France. The Jund al Khilafah did not take credit for the other shootings carried out by Merah that killed three French soldiers.

Interestingly enough, SITE noted that the Shumukh al-Islam forum, which is linked to al Qaeda and is a primary means of distribution for al Qaeda and other jihadist materials, pulled statement from its website. "The communiqué offered no evidence to substantiate the claim of responsibility but was posted by the same user who posted prior messages from the group," the SITE Intelligence Group stated.

Merah is known to have spent time in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, and is said to have attended training camps in Waziristan, so it is possible that he interacted with Jund al Khilafah in the past. However there is no evidence available to confirm that this has happened, nor has there been any indication at this time that Merah went by the name Yusuf al Firansi.

Jund al Khilafah has claimed credit for three attacks in Kazakhstan last fall, and has also released two videos of attacks against ISAF forces in Khost province, Afghanistan last year. For more information on the Jund al Khilafah, see LWJ report, Kazakh jihadi leader seeks restoration of Islamic caliphate.

Last November, Rawil Kusaynuv, the emir of the Zahir Baibars Battalion, one of the units that comprises the Jund al Khilafah, said his battalion has "a group of mujahideen of different nationalities" but is primarily made up of Kazakh nationals.

"As for us in the Battalion, more than 90% of us are from Kazakhstan, and we have many military activities on the fighting lines in Afghanistan in collaboration with the rest of the battalions," he said. "We are also interested in the military, faith, intellectual, and political support for our brothers in order for them to rise to an acceptable level of ability to wage the fight."

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R.I.P. - Sgt. Jamie D. Jarboe

DOD Identifies Army Casualty

            The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

            Sgt. Jamie D. Jarboe, 27, of Frankfort, Ind., died March 21 in Topeka, Kan., from wounds suffered on April 10, 2011 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, when enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire.  He was assigned to the 4th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.
For more information the media may contact 1st Infantry Division public affairs office at 785-240-1796.

A funeral service will be held at 10 am Saturday, March 31st at Topeka's Capitol Plaza.
Visitation is the night before at Penwell-Gabel's Southwest Chapel, SW 37th and Wanamaker.
The "Sgt. Jamie Jarboe Memorial Fund" is set up at
Quest Credit Union,
610 SW 10th St.
Topeka, Kansas

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12 militants killed and detained in Afghan operations

According to a statement issued by the Afghan interior ministry, at least 3 armed militants were killed and injured and 10 others were detained across the country during the past 24 hours.

The source further added, the militants were killed, injured and detained following joint military operations conducted by Afghan police, Afghan army, Afghan intelligence and international coalition security forces.

The operations were conducted at eastern Nangarhar, southern Uruzagn, eastern Ghazni and western Herat provinces of Afghanistan, the officials added.

At least 2 armed militants were killed and another insurgent was injured while 10 others were detained during the military operations.

Afghan interior ministry also added, Afghan security forces some weapons, explosives and drugs during the operations.

In separate military operations at southern Kandahar and Helmand province Afghan security forces seized an improvised explosive device and barrel of explosives which militants wanted to use to carry out insurgency activities.

Anti-government armed militant groups yet to comment regarding the operations.

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6 PKK members killed in clashes with security forces in southeastern Turkey

Shows the location of the Şırnak province in T...
Shows the location of the Şırnak province in Turkey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
ANKARA, March 22 (Xinhua) -- Six members of the outlawed Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) were killed in clashes with security forces in Turkey's southeastern region, private Dogan news agency reported Thursday.

The clashes erupted Wednesday between PKK members and security forces on Mount Cudi in Silop town of Sirnak province, leaving six PKK members killed, said the report.

Six Turkish security personnel were also killed and 10 others wounded in the clashes, added the report.

The PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, took up arms in 1984 in a bid to create an ethnic homeland in southeastern Turkey. Since then, Turkey has been fighting the PKK and more than 40,000 people have been killed in conflicts involving the group.

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Al-Qaida confirms it has detained German engineer in Northern Africa

NOUAKCHOTT, March 22 (Xinhua) -- The North African wing of al- Qaida (AQMI) has confirmed that it's holding German engineer Edgar Fritz Raupach who was kidnapped in January near Kano state in Nigeria, a statement from this organization cited by the Nouakchott Information Agency as saying on Wednesday.

In the statement written in Arabic, AQMI asked the German authorities to immediately release and compensate "Oum Seif Allah Al Ansari" who was born Felis Lowitz, "for the inhumane treatment that he has been subjected to in German prisons."

"It's only after the release of Oum Seif Allah Al Ansari that Raupach will be set free and this should be done very first," AQMI said in its statement.

The AQMI statement was released at the same time when a video in which the German hostage appeared with his kidnappers was being broadcast.

Raupach who was abducted in January when he was working for a Nigerian construction company Dantata and Sawoe.

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Khyber Agency: Three bodies found – killed by tribal militia

LANDIKOTAL: Villagers found three bodies on Wednesday in an area in the Khyber tribal region where a tribal militia had publicly executed three men earlier this week after accusing them of being cohorts of a powerful militant commander.

The bodies, bearing gunshot wounds, were discovered in the Zakhakhel bazaar area of Landi Kotal subdivision. An official of the Khasadar force (tribal police) identified the dead as Khanay, Jumma Khan and Aryana.

The official blamed a local militia, Tauheed-e-Islam. “These men were shot dead for allegedly spying for the banned extremist group Lashkar-e-Islam (LeI) and planting improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in the area,” the official said on condition of anonymity. He added that the militia has claimed responsibility for the grisly murders. An official of the political administration confirmed the deaths but said the dead men ‘could not be identified’ and refused to say how they were killed.

On March 17, the Tauheed-e-Islam militia had publicly executed three suspected LeI members in the same area, though security forces and political authorities denied any such executions in the region.

Search operation
Security forces have rounded up eight suspected militants during a search operation in Kandaokhel area since Tuesday night. They also defused two bombs planted at the Landikotal helipad, according to official sources.

On March 18, 14 bodies, bearing torture marks, were discovered by villagers in the Bara subdivision of Khyber Agency.

Local residents blamed the paramilitary Frontier Corps, which is conducting operations in the area, for the killing – an allegation that the force denied.

4 killed in N Waziristan
At least four people were killed and eight injured in separate incidents of violence in North Waziristan agency.

“Clashes between the Hurmaz and Muski sub-tribes in Mir Ali sub-division left one person killed and five other injured,” said an official of the political administration.

Eyewitnesses told The Express Tribune that the sub-tribes exchanged heavy gunfire over a land dispute. Tribal elders inter­­vened late evening and proposed a jirga.

In another tribal feud, three people were killed and three others were injured when two families clashed over the ownership of the Datta Khel bus stand. The culprits involved in the killings managed to escape. Later, a routine patrol by security forces resulted in their vehicle being hit by a roadside bomb, in the Khathonry area, North Waziristan.

(With additional input by our correspondent in MiraMshah)
Published in The Express Tribune, March 22nd, 2012.
By Abuzar Afridi
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ISAF's new plan for Afghanistan

A change in plan
When the "surge" of US troops to Afghanistan was authorized in 2009, an operational plan was created also. Operations would concentrate first on suppressing the Taliban insurgency in South Afghanistan. In 2010 and 2011, the majority of US "surge" troops would be concentrated there. In 2012, after the insurgency was suppressed in South Afghanistan, some US forces would be shifted to East Afghanistan and counterinsurgency operations would then start there while the US forces remaining in South Afghanistan would ensure the Taliban did not return.

In June 2011, however, President Obama announced that the US "surge" troops would be withdrawn earlier than originally planned. Operations had suppressed the insurgency in South Afghanistan in 2010-2011. But the shift of US forces to East Afghanistan in 2012 would not occur. Instead, the troops would be withdrawn. Now, the original plan for operations in East Afghanistan was no longer possible. A new plan would be needed.

In his testimony to Congress yesterday, General Allen gave some insight into a new East Afghanistan plan. Operations would still be conducted there, but they would be on a smaller scale and they would entail taking higher risk for the rest of the country.

A smaller-scale operation in East Afghanistan (RC-East)
East Afghanistan (RC-East) can be divided into two regions. "Northern" RC-East includes the provinces of Kunar, Nuristan, Laghman, and Nangarhar. "Southern" RC-East includes the provinces of Khost, Paktika, Paktia, Logar, Wardak, and Ghazni.

Both the northern and southern regions of East Afghanistan have strong Taliban insurgent activity. Both also provide the Taliban with infiltration routes into Afghanistan from their safe havens in Pakistan. The original 2009 plan called for counterinsurgency operations to be conducted in both of these regions. However, the new plan calls for operations only in a portion of "Southern" RC-East, in the provinces of Wardak, Logar, Ghazni, and Paktia (Paktika and Khost are not included). The plan for operations in "Northern" RC-East has been canceled.

A higher risk for the rest of Afghanistan
With the early withdrawal of "surge" troops, fewer remaining US troops overall means that even the smaller operation in "Southern" RC-East will be possible only by taking greater risks in the rest of the country.

With operations canceled in "Northern" RC-East, no additional troops would be sent there. In fact, some US troops would be withdrawn from there and sent to "Southern" RC-East. With troop strength below even the current level, Northern RC-East will be at a higher risk from insurgent infiltration and operations. This region includes the important city of Jalalabad as well as the Khyber Pass, a main transportation route between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Kunar and Nuristan provinces are already considered havens for the Taliban and allied terror groups, with several districts already under enemy control.

In addition, General Allen testified that he is considering transferring some troops from South Afghanistan to participate in the "Southern" RC-East operation. Troops in South Afghanistan are currently charged with holding the gains made during counterinsurgency operations in 2010 and 2011. While the decision has not been made, it risks losing some of the gains made in South Afghanistan to insurgent re-infiltration.

A heavier role for the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF)
Why would General Allen accept this higher-risk plan? Partly, General Allen is relying on the Afghan National Security Forces to perform better than expected. In the areas where US Forces are being drawn down, he will be relying more heavily on the ANSF to prevent insurgent reinfiltration. In his testimony he said: "The growth of the [Afghan National Security Forces] has been dramatic," and noted that the Afghan army is moving to "full partnership with us within this comprehensive counterinsurgency campaign."

General Allen has taken a further measure to support the ANSF in this increasingly difficult mission. In February, the US Army announced that it would deploy an addition 1,800 army and civilian trainers and advisers to support the ANSF.

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