Friday, March 15, 2013

Afghan Spy Agency Says Huge Truck Bomb Defused In Kabul

Weapons and ammunition seized from captured suspected Taliban are presented to the media at the National Directorate of Security (NDS) headquarters in Kabul on March 15.
Afghanistan's intelligence agency says security forces in Kabul have defused a massive truck bomb with nearly eight tons of explosives.

Shafiqullah Tahiri, a spokesman for the National Directorate of Security (NDS), told a news conference on March 15 that the attack could have caused massive destruction in the capital.

"According to the investigations by the National Directorate of Security experts, this truck bomb could have destroyed an area around 1.5 kilometers [in radius],” he said. “Now imagine what kind of catastrophe that would have been if [the bomb] had exploded."

Tahiri added that the attack was planned by the Al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani network and the Pakistani-based Taliban leadership. He offered no concrete evidence of the plot.

"This massive terrorist attack was planned and plotted by the Haqqani insurgent network and the [Taliban’s] Quetta Shura outside the borders of Afghanistan,” he said. “And it was fortunately prevented by National Directorate of Security officers."

Tahiri said security forces discovered the explosives during a night raid earlier this week. The explosives were hidden in cement bags in a truck in eastern Kabul.

According to Tahiri, security forces killed five suspected plotters and arrested two others. He said the militants had been planning to target a military facility in the capital.

News of the plot comes almost a week after a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the Defense Ministry in Kabul. That attack killed nine people while U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was visiting a NATO facility nearby.

It also comes amid serious strains in U.S.-Afghan relations as NATO-led combat troops prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

This week, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Joseph Dunford, warned about the increased risk of attacks by militants and rogue Afghan soldiers because of a series of inflammatory anti-American remarks by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

On March 10, Karzai accused the United States of colluding with the Taliban to keep the country unstable and give foreign forces an excuse to stay beyond 2014.

A statement from Karzai's office on March 14 said the president wanted to "correct" rather than damage U.S.-Afghan relations.

from RFE/RL
March 15, 2013

Enhanced by Zemanta

Benghazi suspect fled to Pakistan, recently detained in Libya


A suspect in the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi has been detained in Libya, according to multiple press outlets. CNN reports that, according to one source, Faraj al Chalabi (or al Shibli) "was detained within the past two days and had recently returned from a trip to Pakistan." Reuters reports that al Chalabi "fled to Pakistan after the attacks and only recently returned to Libya."

Both CNN and Reuters note that the precise role al Chalabi is suspected of playing in the Benghazi attack is "unclear."

Al Chalabi was first fingered as a suspected terrorist in 1998. At the time, Muammar Qaddafi's regime said that he was involved in the murder of two Germans, an intelligence official named Silvan Becker and his wife. The German couple had been killed under mysterious circumstances in 1994.

The Libyan regime's intelligence led to an Interpol arrest warrant in March 1998. In addition to al Chalabi, two other Libyans and Osama bin Laden were named as the alleged perpetrators of the attack. The Libyans were accused of being members of the al Qaeda-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG).

In June 2004, the Libyan government reiterated its allegations against al Chalabi, his fellow Libyans, and bin Laden in a filing with the United Nations Security Council. "It is worth noting that the elements that carried out that act and Osama bin Laden's arrangements are still wanted and that their organizational connection to the Al Qaeda organization has been confirmed," Qaddafi's regime claimed. Al Chalabi was specifically listed as one of the suspected terrorists tied to al Qaeda.

According to some accounts, the Libyan regime's claims were not taken all that seriously at first. Perhaps this was because of Qaddafi's own prolific role in sponsoring terrorism and his ruthless suppression of the opposition.

CNN notes that "some analysts have cast doubt on the [Qaddafi] regime's assertion that Libyan Islamist Fighting Group members carried out the attack on the German couple."

In late 2001, however, the German press linked al Qaeda to the murder of Becker and his wife. According to those accounts, the FBI itself discovered the link after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Citing a report by Focus, a German weekly news magazine, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported in October 2001 that the FBI "had come across the bin Laden links to the murder of the two the course of its probe into the September 11 assault on the United States." AFP continued: "The magazine said that one of the chief suspects in the case belonged to a bin Laden terrorist cell and was involved in the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which US authorities have linked to bin Laden's al Qaeda movement."

The FBI reportedly gave the details of al Qaeda's involvement to German authorities.
In November 2001, the German newspaper Die Welt followed up with its own brief account of al Qaeda's ties to the attack. The account was headlined, "Bin Laden allegedly implicated in murder of German agent." Germany's criminal investigators had no further information at the time, Die Welt reported, but this "may be related to the fact that this mystery has an intelligence services context."

Die Welt also cited the FBI as the source of information on one of the suspects, who was purportedly tied to the 1998 embassy bombings.

The FBI is leading the investigation into the Benghazi attack. If the German accounts from 2001 are accurate, then the Bureau may already have a dossier on al Chalabi.

In his 2002 book, Inside Al Qaeda, Rohan Gunaratna reported that Becker's death hampered Germany's efforts to track bin Laden's operatives.

"According to the German secret service," Gunaratna wrote, "Becker was their Arabist and his untimely death gravely affected Germany's ability to effectively monitor the growing Al Qaeda infrastructure in Germany."

Read more:

Enhanced by Zemanta

Mar. 15., 2013. - ISAF Joint Command Operational Update

KABUL, Afghanistan - An Afghan and coalition security force arrested a Taliban facilitator and detained one other insurgent during an operation in Kandahar district, Kandahar province, March 14.

The facilitator is accused of acquiring and distributing lethal aid to fighters in Kandahar and Uruzgan provinces. In the past, he has also provided grenades, ammunition, home-made explosive material and improvised explosive devices for use in attacks against Afghan and coalition forces.

In other International Security Assistance Force news throughout


During an operation in Nahr-e Saraj district, Helmand province, March 14, an Afghan and coalition security force killed an insurgent.
The security force positively identified the militant conducting insurgent activity and engaged, killing the fighter.


An Afghan and coalition security force detained a number of insurgents during an operation in search of a senior Haqqani leader in Manduzai district, Khost province, March 14. The Haqqani leader has been fighting against Afghan and coalition forces for nearly five years. He has more than 200 insurgents under his command, and has directed them to attack Afghan and coalition forces in multiple provinces throughout Afghanistan, including Khost, Paktiya and Paktika. The Haqqani leader also has experience working in terrorist training camps and guiding and equipping extremist fighters in order to conduct operations against the Afghan people and government.

An Afghan and coalition force killed a number of insurgents during two security operations in Andar district, Ghazni province, March 14. The security force positively identified the militants engaged in insurgent activity and engaged the insurgents, killing them.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Mar. 15., 2013. - RC-East operational update

BAGRAM, Afghanistan - Afghan and coalition forces found and safely cleared two improvised explosive devices and killed one insurgent during operations in eastern Afghanistan throughout the past 24 hours, March 14.

Ghazni province

Afghan and coalition forces found and safely cleared an IED during operations in the Gelan district.

Khowst province

Afghan and coalition forces found and safely cleared an IED during operations in the Gurbuz district.

Paktika province

Afghan National Security Forces killed one insurgent during operations in the Terwo district.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Pentagon: Iranian Warplane Moves Against US Drone in Gulf

MQ-1 Predator on display at 2006 Edwards AFB o...
MQ-1 Predator  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Pentagon says an Iranian warplane approached an unarmed U.S. military surveillance drone earlier this week over international waters in the Persian Gulf.
A U.S. spokesman said the U.S. drone - under escort by two U.S. military aircraft - was conducting routine classified surveillance on Tuesday when the Iranian plane closed to within 25 kilometers.  The spokesman said all U.S. aircraft remained over international waters at all times and added that the Iranian aircraft later departed after a verbal warning.

Last November, Iran confirmed a similar Pentagon report that two Iranian warplanes fired on and missed an unarmed U.S. drone in the Gulf.  Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi was quoted at the time in official Iranian media as saying the action was ordered against an anonymous plane that had entered Iranian airspace. 

Pentagon officials said the U.S. Predator drone was over international waters on November 1 conducting routine surveillance when the attack occurred.

The incident is the second such encounter made public in the past four months, and comes ahead of a visit to Israel by U.S. President Barack Obama that is expected to focus largely on Iran's suspected nuclear ambitions and Israeli vows to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons.

Israel has repeatedly threatened to take military action if Iran appears on the verge of developing a nuclear bomb.  The Obama administration has urged restraint and encouraged Israel to allow the pressure of international diplomacy and economic sanctions to force an end to Iran's secretive nuclear program.

Ahead of his trip, President Obama told Israeli television that it would currently take more than a year for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon.

VOA News
March 14, 2013

Enhanced by Zemanta

R.I.P. - Chief Petty Officer Christian Michael Pike

DOD Identifies Navy Casualty

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

            Chief Petty Officer Christian Michael Pike, 31, of Peoria, Ariz., died March 13 in Landstuhl, Germany, as a result of combat-related injuries sustained on March 10 while conducting stability operations in Maiwand District, Afghanistan.  Pike was assigned to a West Coast-based Naval Special Warfare unit.

            For further information related to this release, please contact Naval Special Warfare Command Public Affairs Office at 619-522-2816 or 619-522-2825.


PHOENIX – Flags at all state governmentbuildings are flying at half staff in honor of a member of the Navy from Peoria who died in Afghanistan earlier this week.

Chief Petty Officer Christian Michael Pike, 31, died March 13 of injuries suffered March 10 while conducting stability operations in Maiwand District, west of Kandahar, the U.S. Defense Department announced March 14. After being injured, Mr. Pike was taken to a U.S. Army hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, where he was pronounced dead from his injuries.

Mr. Pike was assigned to a West Coast-based Naval Special Warfare unit, said Lt. Cmdr. David McKinney, a spokesman for Naval Special Warfare Command.

Gov. Jan Brewer ordered flags at government buildings lowered immediately in the hours after the Defense Department’s announcement.

“My heart breaks for the family and friends of Chief Petty Officer Christian Michael Pike,” the governor stated in a prepared release.

“I ask that all Arizonans join me in thoughtful prayer for CPO Pike, his loved ones and his fellow Navy brothers and sisters,” the statement continued. “Please keep all of Arizona’s servicemen and women in your hearts and thoughts. Their serve and sacrifice must never be taken for granted.”

Funeral arrangements were not immediately announced.

Mr. Pike joined the Navy Aug. 16, 2001, and following training was assigned to the NTTC Corry Station, then the USS Cleveland, according to a biography supplied by the Naval Special Warfare unit in California. In 2007, he moved to a Navy Information Operations Command facility in Georgia before reporting to the Special Warfare unit July 25, 2011. It could not immediately be learned how long Mr. Pike had been in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Most of the 68,000 U.S. forces now in Afghanistan are scheduled to be withdrawn by the end of 2014, according to the latest timetable provided by President Barack Obama to end involvement in what is America’s longest war.
Enhanced by Zemanta

R.I.P. - Spc. David T. Proctor

DOD Identifies Army Casualty

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

            Spc. David T. Proctor, 26, of Greensboro, N.C., died March 13, at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Md., from injuries sustained during a non-combat incident on March 3, in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armor Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

            For more information media may contact Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield Public Affairs Office at 912-210-9375 or after-hours at 912-767-8666.

By Ryan Smith
March 14, 2013

Spc. David T. Proctor, who died Wednesday at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, was one of several 3rd ID casualties this week.

A 3rd Infantry Division soldier died Wednesday from wounds sustained early in March, according to a Fort Stewart press release. The death is the latest of several 3rd ID casualties this week.

Spc. David T. Proctor, 26, died Wednesday at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., from wounds suffered during a non-combat incident March 3 in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan.

Proctor, an infantryman, was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armor Brigade Combat Team, 3rd ID. He joined the Army in August of 2011 and arrived at his unit in November of that year, according to the release. This was his first deployment.

Proctor's death was one of several this week for 3rd ID. On Monday, Staff Sgt. Rex L. Schad, 26, died from injuries suffered when he was attacked by small-arms fire. Schad was also a member of Fort Stewart's 1st Armor Brigade Combat Team.

Also killed Monday were five soldiers assigned to Hunter Army Airfield, according to Fort Stewart spokesman Kevin Larson. The soldiers died in a helicopter crash outside Kandahar. The Department of Defense has not yet released their names.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Search this blog