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A moving tale of love and conflict in Afghanistan

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“Life is a journey and every man must bear the burden of conflict between his own free will and the vicissitudes of destiny. The heart endures the trials and tribulations that accompany us through life and stores the sorrows and joys that make us who we are.”

Asif, a young boy lives in Afghanistan with his two siblings and parents from a highly respected family. As a teenager Asif falls in love with Latifa, a girl he is not able to marry because of cultural beliefs and traditions.  

When his father, who is a inspirational leader and opposed to Communism, is arrested by the Russians and found murdered, the family flee to a refugee camp in Pakistan where unspeakable tragedy befalls the family.

After stuggling to survive and support his family Asif return, years later, to a very
different Afghanistan that is now ruled by the dictatorial Taliban.  

Again faced with appalling hardship Asif strives to escape. This is a journey between two destinies, of love, sorrow and prosperity and the value of life.  

Born in Afghanistan, author Hatef Mokhtar grew up in a refugee camp in Pakistan and is now working as the Editor in Chief of The Oslo Times in Oslo, Norway.  
He says, “The pain of separation from my homeland, the cries and sorrow of my people inspired me to write this book.”  

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The Red Wrath
By Hatef Mokhtar

Available on

THE RED WRATH: A JOURNEY BETWEEN TWO DESTINIES (ISBN: 978-1-61897-459-4) is now available for $24.50 and can be ordered through the publisher’s website:

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Putin’s protégé

Ramzan Kadyrov, the man who sees himself as a freedom fighter with bizarre views came to power in 2005, a year after his father’s assassination. He did the unexpected and went to Kreml to meet Vladimir Putin resulting in a “friendship with benefits”.

Everywhere you turn; his ginger bearded smiling pictures on billboards stares down on the streets of Chechnya while he lives in a fortress like mansion in the village of Tsenteroi with his family and pets; a lion and a rare tiger. It is also claimed that this is the place where he tortures enemies of the state.

As a Sufi Muslim, Kadyrov supports polygamy and strict Islamic dress code for women. He also quoted; “I have the right to criticize my wife. She doesn’t [have the right to criticize me]. With us [in Chechen society], a wife is a housewife. A woman should know her place. A woman should give her love to us [men]… She would be [man’s] property. And the man is the owner. Here, if a woman does not behave properly, her husband, father, and brother are responsible. According to our tradition, if a woman fools around, her family members kill her… That’s how it happens, a brother kills his sister or a husband kills his wife… As a president, I cannot allow for them to kill. So, let women not wear shorts…”

Kadyrov has also stated that he wants to implement Islamic Sharia law in the Republic at the same time as he abides Russian law. This is not a surprise as he has the support of former Russian President Vladimir Putin and was also awarded the Hero of Russia medal, the highest honorary of Russia.

As President of Chechnya, Kadyrov has brought some peace and stability and launched several renovations to the capital Grozny that used to be a war torn city. He completed the reconstruction of two large Grozny avenues, repaired local roads; build new mosques, sport centers and hospitals but there is a darker side to this charismatic man. Kadyrov has been the center of attention of many international human rights organizations for corruption and severe human rights violations. It is most likely the meetings and support of Putin that gives Kadyrov the encouragement to threaten and physically eliminate his enemies.

On the meeting with journalist Andrew Osborn, Osborn wrote; “A squat, powerfully built man, he swaggers rather than walks, with his powerful boxer’s shoulders almost bursting out of his pinstriped suit. His press attache… keeps an eye on his charge as if he were guarding a stick of dynamite primed to explode if faced with one hostile question.”

When the journalist brought up the subject of Anna Politkovskaya during the interview, Kadyrov answered; “Why would I have killed her?” he asked. “She used to write bad things about my father, and if I had wanted to, I could have done something bad to her at that time. Why now?”

Still many strongly believes that Ramzan Kadyrov, with the permission of Kreml, arranged the elimination of Politkovskaya as she was one of the strongest critics of Kadyrov calling for his removal and that he should be put for trial for his crimes. “He is an extremely cruel man,” Politkovskaya told Ekho Moskvy radio in an interview broadcast shortly before her death. “I have met several people who told me that Ramzan Kadyrov personally tortured them in his home in the village of Tsentoroi.

Another report was written by the now late Natalia Estimerova in August 2008. She wrote; “Political observer’s claim Kadyrov is ruling over Chechnya independently of Russia. Is it really so? Tens of thousands of Chechens pining away in Russian prisons would not agree.

Neither would the hundreds of thousands of war victims, or the relatives of the killed and missing. And the outflow of Chechen refugees to European countries is not subsiding. On the contrary: more and more people are trying to leave. A dictatorship is being cemented in a small European territory.” The 50 year old human rights investigator Estimerova was later discovered shot dead after being abducted from her home in Grozny in July 2009.

Birthday boy
Recently, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov held a multimillion dollar 35th birthday party flying in international musicians and Hollywood actors for a concert. He consequently denied that the Kremlin bankrolled festivity was in honour for him but rather to mark the 193rd anniversary of the founding of Grozny. ”There will be no ceremonies around my birthday. ”I categorically forbid any events to be devoted to it wherever they are,” he said.
Jean-Claude Van Damme, Hilary Swank and the British violinist Vanessa-Mae was charging was flewn in and Vanessa Mae alone charged $500,000 to perform in the concert. When asked where the unemployment-ravaged region got all its money for the celebration, Kadyrov answered. ”Allah gives it to us,” followed by: ”I don’t know, it comes from somewhere.”

The appearance of western celebrities was a huge blow in the face for human rights activists who accuse Kadyrov of torture and murder. The birthday boy spent the day opening a riverside complex including three skyscrapers as well as a hotel and conference centre. Covered by tight security, a 600-bed hospital was also opened together with a bridge and a restored avenue officially named after Mr Kadyrov’s late father, Akhmad.
Kadyrov who has become a warlord, who once fought against the Russians but then switched sides just like his father, has become more and more like his idol Vladimir Putin, sensitive to criticism and has developed a Soviet-style reign that would make Stalin proud.

Kadyrov also regularly invites Russian pop artists and gives them exclusive presents and no one has the courage to ask where the money comes from. No one dares to object to anything Kadyrov says or does, just as no one dared to object to Stalin’s words. To implement peace in the Republic has a price, and the price people have to pay is to disappear only for some days and return beaten, terrified and silent.

“I’ve already killed who I should have killed. And I will kill all of those standing behind them, as long as I myself am not killed or jailed. I will be killing as long as I live.” Ramzan Kadyrov.

Who was Osama bin Laden, the controversial figure of our century

With the fall of Hitler, the world took a CY of relief believing that now no one would rise against the humanity, but God has created this world for both the devil & the humans. The evil spirit too lives here & is present in every corner of the world. When one evil dies the other with new philosophy took his place in a more dramatic & distinguished manner. After the holocaust of world war II no one had thought at that time that the new definition of terrorism will take birth in the troubled lands of the world earlier the Jews were running away from the threat of Christian fundamentalists & now in the whole new nuclear era they will be facing the new form of orthodoxies from the Arab world with their multifaceted leader named Osama Bin Laden who though started his life as an innocent being but inspired from the self negative mind he gave birth to the neo think tanks which are lethal & loyal whose dimensions are based on the falsification of the facts which not only spread like a wild fire through the minds & hearts of  illiterates & poverty driven hinterlands but also changed the dimensions of the war doctrines. The journey of this versatile personality from missionary scholar to a most dreaded terrorist mind of the world was full of strategic difficulties just like the one faced in the political corners of the world.

His drive from preaching to terrorizing the world is as simple as the man himself but with the hidden cruelty in mind. It is said in every religion of the world that if your mind & hearts are cruel & you portray yourself as a great leader for masses then the fate of your hidden truth will be revealed some day & the spirit will find no shelter of peace in the world.

The rumor of Osama being a CIA agent who worked to collapsed Soviet regime circulating the human circles is as false as the rumor itself. But the coincidence is that the creation and popularity rose at the same time when two though never worked together have helped and nourished the Afghan militias and war lords to fight against the Soviet invasion. But after the Soviets ouster from Pashtun heartland, the game now changed into the one of the biggest great war gambles of the 21st Century which if tasted success may had changed the map of the world. The start of this century was welcomed by the bang of the biggest terrorist attacks which have shaped the political economics for the generations to come. The great game of hide & seek started between western powers and the terrorists organizations which as the face has Osama bin Laden on their side as the leader saw many twists & turns just the great caves of Tora Bora where rumors are believed like a valid source of information for planning an escape. But with the intelligence advance their security research the money pondered on the ever hungry pockets of terror fund which have given boost to their activities across the globe. The effect of their terror driven is such that even people from well qualified background started to join & the armed forces were begging for their vacancies to be filled in many countries due to the fear of relocation to the war zone where the souls of all energies will fight for their survivals making the aim of which donkey wins the battle and call the ruler of the world.

The news of Osama Bin Laden’s death spread like wildfire as the United States Special operations forces tracked him down in a compound in Abbottabad Pakistan and killed him on May 2, 2011 by gunshot to his head and chest. Many was shocked to read the news that the world’s most wanted man who topped the terrorists lists around the world was killed by US forces. I personally didn’t believe it at first but after reading several newspaper it was clear to me that Osama had been defeated.

How is it possible that this man who was in hiding for over ten years was living in Pakistan just 0.8 miles (1.3 km) southwest of the Pakistan Military Academy? What happened after so many years that the hiding went wrong? It all started with the identification of the courier and CIA using surveillance photos and intelligence reports to determine the identities of the inhabitants in the compound. There was no internet or landline telephone service to the house and its residents buried and burned their trash unlike the other neighbors who would set their garbage out for collection. In the mean time, the CIA had already established a safe house in Abbottabad where a team observed the compound over several months using informants and other techniques to gather information.

After the death of Osama, the residents of Abbottabad are left confused and suspicious about the killing taking place before dawn. The President of USA, Barack Obama decided to not release the photos of the slain Al-Qaida leader claiming that “it would pose a security risk and it is inconsistent with American values.”

The American government had their right on their side to hunt Osama Bin Laden and capture him dead or alive after being attacked by Al-Qaida who killed thousands of innocent people. So I’m asking; “What is the American values when it comes to killing a person? Is it to wrap him in a sheet and toss him into the deep sea? Many Islamic scholars questioned Obama’s decision to bury Osama at the sea saying that maritime burial isn’t allowed in Islamic practice. To this Obama responded; “Frankly, we took more care on this than, obviously, bin Laden took when he killed 3,000 people. He didn’t have much regard for how they were treated and desecrated. But that, again, is something that makes us different. And I think we handled it appropriately.” I see sea burial as disrespectful as long as the deceased himself don’t wish for it, and to throw someone overboard like that is against every human right values and believes. He should have been buried in his homeland or given back to his family or followers as Osama can’t do much after his death. What Al-Qaida will do is another story.

So who was this man that would pose a huge security risk even after his death and that United States had to bury him in the sea?

The beginning


Osama was born in 1957 as the 17th son among 50 brothers and sisters. His father was from Yemen and mother of Syrian origin. His father Mohammed Awad bin Laden started his life as a very poor laborer (porter in Jeddah port) and ended up as owner of the biggest construction company in the kingdom. During the reign of King Saud, bin Laden the father became very close to the royal family when he took the risk of building King Saud’s palaces much cheaper than the cheapest bid. He impressed King Saud with his performance but he also built good relations with other members of the royal family, especially Faisal. Indeed, he was appointed for a period as the minister of public works.

The father was fairly devoted Moslem, very humble and generous. He was so proud of the bag he used when he was a porter that he kept it as a trophy in the main reception room in his palace.

The father had very dominating personality and had a tough discipline and observed all the children with strict religious and social code. He dealt with his children as big men and demanded them to show confidence at young age.

Early life, education and marriage

Osama had his primary, secondary and university education in Jeddah and got a degree in economics and business administration in 1981 from King Abdul-Aziz University in Jeddah. At University, Osama’s main interest was religion where he interpreted the Qur’an and did charitable work.
In 1974, 17 year old Osama married Najwa Ghanem but she divorced him in 2001 before the attacks. The second wife Khadijah Sharif also divorced him in the 1990’s. The third and fourth wives Khairiah Sabar and Siham Sabar’s fate is unknown, the fifth unknown wife with whom his marriage was immediately annulled, and last the 57 year old Osama married a younger wife, the 27 year old wife Amal al-Sadah who was in the compound with him at the time of his death.

In addition to the general Islamic commitment he started forming an Islamic responsibility at early age. His father used to host hundreds of pilgrims during Hajj season from all over the world. Some of those were senior Islamic scholars or leaders of Muslim movements. This habit went on even after his father’s death through his elder brothers. He used to make good contacts and relations through those gatherings.

At secondary school and university he adopted the main trend of many educated Muslims at that time, Muslim Brotherhood. Interestingly, the 1980 raid in the Grand Mosque in Mecca was not appealing to him, neither the theology nor that group. He had two distinguished teachers in Islamic studies, which was a compulsory subject in the university. First was Abdullah Azzam who became later as one of the big names in Afghanistan and the second was Mohammed Quttub, a famous Islamic writer and philosopher.

Born with a silver spoon but chose a simple life

Bin Laden was brought up with good manners. He was extremely humble and very generous person who insisted to join his comrades in every act. He would cook and serve for them frequently and chose to live a simple life in a small flat in Jeddah or in a shed in Afghanistan and insisted on his family to eat and dress simple as well.

He was known to be strictly truthful and never lie. Despite being a shy person, Osama had a dominating and charismatic personality. He spoke very little and seemed to be serious most of the time. He would appear with a soft smile but almost ever laugh out loud. Osama had courage in him that even if a car bomb exploded near by him, he would not show a flicker as he was exposed to more than 40-45 incidents of heavy bombardment.

Osama was an educated man and spent a great deal of time reading. What most people don’t know is that he also used to write poetry.

Afghanistan


His first travel to Afghanistan was the first 2 weeks of the Soviet invasion. He travelled to Pakistan and was taken by his hosts Jamaat Islami from Karachi to Peshawar to see the refugees and meet some leaders. He went back to the kingdom and started lobbying with his brothers, relatives and friends at the school to support the mujahedeen and succeeded in collecting huge amount of money and material as donations to jihad. He made another trip to take this material with few Pakistanis and Afghanis who were working in bin Laden Company for more than 10 years. Again, he did not stay more than a month. The trip was to Pakistan and the border only and was not to Afghanistan. He went on collecting money and going in short trips once or twice a year until 1982.

In 1982, he decided to travel inside to Afghanistan and brought with him plenty of the construction machinery and put them at the disposal of the mujahedeen and started to join battles as well.

In 1984 he had one further step in strengthening his presence in Afghanistan by establishing the guesthouse in Peshawar (Baitul’ansar). That house was supposed to be the first station of Arab mujahedeen when they come to Afghanistan before going to the front or start training. At that period Osama did not have his own command or training camps and used to send the newcomers to one of the Afghan factions.

The guesthouse establishment was coinciding with the formation of Jihad Service Bureau by Abdullah Azzam in Peshawar. The Bureau was very active in terms of media, publications and charity work. The Bureau publications were important in attracting more Saudis and Arabs to Afghanistan.

In 1986, Osama decided to have his own camps inside Afghanistan and within two years he built more than six camps. Some were mobilized more than once. He decided to have his own front and to run his own battles with his own command. Among the Arab fighters he had, there were senior Arab ex-military men from Syria and Egypt with good military experience. During the period 1984-1989 he was staying more in Afghanistan than Saudi Arabia and would spend a total of eight months a year or more in Afghanistan.

Al-Qa’edah

In 1988 he noticed that he was backward in his documentation and was not able to give answers to some families asking about their loved ones gone missing in Afghanistan. He decided to make the matter much more organized and arranged for proper documentation. He made a tracking record of the visitors, be they mujahedeen or charity or simple visitors. Their movement between the guesthouse and the camps had to be recorded as well as their first arrival and final departure. The whole complex was then termed Al-Qa’edah which is an Arabic word meaning “The Base.”

Return to the Kingdom

Late 1989 after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, he went to the kingdom in an ordinary trip. There he was banned from travel and was trapped in the kingdom. The Soviet withdrawal might have been a factor but the main reason for the travel ban was his intentions to start a new “front” of jihad in South Yemen. In addition, he embarrassed the regime by lectures and speeches warning of impending invasion by Saddam. At that time the regime was at very good terms with Saddam. He was instructed officially to keep low profile and not to give public talks. Despite the travel ban he was not hostile to regime at this stage. Indeed he presented a written advice in the form of a detailed, personal, private and confidential letter to the king few weeks before the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

The Iraqi invasion

He reacted swiftly to Iraqi invasion and saw it fulfilling his prophecy. He immediately forwarded another letter to the king suggesting in detail how to protect the country from potentially advancing Iraqi forces. In addition to many military tactics suggested, he volunteered to bring all the Arab mujahedeen to defend the kingdom. That letter was presented in the first few days of the incident, and the regime response was of consideration! While he was expecting some call to mobilize his men and equipment he heard the news which transferred his life completely. The Americans are coming. He always describes that moment as shocking moment. He felt depressed and thought that maneuvers had to change. Instead of writing to the king or approaching other members of the royal family, he started lobbying through religious scholars and Muslim activists. He succeeded in extracting a fatwah from one of the senior scholars that training and readiness is a religious duty. He immediately circulated that fatwah and convinced people to have their training in Afghanistan. It was estimated that 4000 went to Afghanistan in response to the fatwah. The regime was not happy with his activities so they limited his movement to Jeddah only. To intimidate him, the regime raided his farm in the suburb of Jeddah by the National Guard. He was not there during the raid and was very angry when told. He wrote a letter of protest to Prince Abdullah. Abdullah apologized and claimed he is not aware and promised to punish who ever were responsible.

Leaving the Kingdom

In the end, Osama was fed up with the house arrest situation and had a hard time staying in a country with American forces around. One of his brothers was very close to King Fahad and also close to Prince Ahmed, deputy minister of interior. He convinced his brother that he needed to leave the country to sort out some business matters in Pakistan and come back. There was a difficult obstacle, the stubborn Prince Nayef, minister of interior. His brother waited until Nayef went in a trip outside the kingdom and extracted lifting the ban from Prince Ahmed. When he arrived in Pakistan around April 1991 he sent a letter to his brother telling him that he is not coming back and apologized for letting him down with the royal family.

Back in Afghanistan

After his arrival to Pakistan he went straight to Afghanistan because he knew the Pakistani intelligence would hand him back to the Saudis. There, he attended the collapse of the communist regime and the consequent dispute between the Afghan parties. He spent great effort to arbitrate between them but with no success and ordered his followers to avoid any involvement in the conflict and told them it was a sin to side with any faction. During his stay the Saudis tried more than once to kidnap or kill him in collaboration with the Pakistani intelligence but his friends in the Saudi and Pakistani establishments would always leak the plan and make him ready for it. After his failure in sorting the Afghani dispute, he decided to leave Afghanistan. The only alternative country he had was Sudan. He left Afghanistan disguised in private jet only few months after his arrival. That was late 1991.

Sudan

His choice of Sudan had nothing to do with jihad or “terrorism.” He was attracted to Sudan because of what was at that time an Islamic banner raised by the new regime in Sudan. He wanted to have good refuge as well as help the government in its construction projects. There was no intention from his side or from the Sudanese regime to have any military activity in Sudan. Indeed the Sudanese government refused even sending some of his followers to the front in the south. He was treated in Sudan as a special guest who wanted to help Sudan when everybody was turning away. In Sudan he mobilized a lot of construction equipment and enrolled himself in busy construction projects. He spent good effort in convincing Saudi businessmen to invest in Sudan and had reasonable success. Many of his brothers and Jeddah merchants had and still have investment in real estate, farming and agricultural industry. In Sudan he had again escaped an assassination attempt which turned out later to be the plan of Saudi intelligence.

On his arrival to Sudan and early 1994, he had become classified as enemy of the Saudi regime and his assets were frozen between 1992 and 1994. He continued his verbal assault on King Fahd of Saudi Arabia and in response on March 5th, 1994 they withdrew his citizenship. After a long time of silence, Osama said that he didn’t need the Saudi citizenship to identify himself. He then formed together with activists and scholars from the kingdom a group called “Advice and Reform Committee” (ARC). The ARC was, according to its communiqués and published agenda, a purely political group. The ARC published around 17 communiqués which might have contained harsh criticism of the Saudi regime and plenty of religious rhetoric but never contained reference for violence or incitement of violence.

Sudan was exposed to huge international pressure for hosting bin Laden and his followers, and bin Laden felt that he is becoming an embarrassment to the Sudanese. Early in 1996 he started making contacts with his old friends in Afghanistan to prepare for his reception. He fled Sudan in a very well planned trip with many of his followers to go straight to Jalalabad in Eastern Afghanistan.

Somalia and Yemen

During his stay in Sudan anti-American incidents happened in Somalia and South Yemen. Neither of the two incidents was performed by his group in the proper sense of chain of command. Both were performed by people who had training in Afghanistan and had enough anti-American drive. He might have given some sanctioning to the operations.

Third visit to Afghanistan

The situation in Afghanistan was very unstable between many factions but since Osama had good relationship with all of them, they all protected him. The area he stayed in was under the control of Yunis Khalis, an influential warlord who later joined Taliban.

June 1996, after his arrival in Afghanistan was the Khobar bombing. Nobody claimed responsibility, but sources from inside the Saudi ministry of interior confirmed involvement of Arab Afghans, with possible link to bin Laden. The Saudi government wanted to frame Shi’a, at the beginning but Americans were very suspicious of the Saudi story. Bin Laden himself never claimed responsibility but gave many hints that he might have been involved. The Saudi government has acknowledged recently that bin Laden’s men were behind the bombing.

After few months of his arrival he issued his first anti-American message, a Declaration of War. That declaration was limited to expelling American forces outside the Arabian Peninsula. Interest in him by the Saudis never stopped and they tried very hard to convince Yunis Khalis to hand him over, and he flatly refused despite the luxurious offers. The Saudis never gave up on trying to get Laden. Early 1997 they bought some mercenaries in the Pakistani Afghani border. The operation was arranged with the Pakistani intelligence. The information leaked to bin Laden and he decided to move immediately to Qandahar, the stronghold of Taliban. The operation was then cancelled.

When bin Laden left Jalalabad, he ordered many of his followers to join Taliban in their war against Dostum and to protect Kabul but Taliban troops were betrayed by a trap in the north and Kabul front was exposed to Shah Masood and many of the Taliban fighters were killed.

Another kidnap attempt

In late 1997 a big operation was planned by the Americans. The primary plan was for American Special Forces to attack bin Laden’s residence in Qandahar and kidnap him in a commando style operation. The plan was mocked in Pakistani desert and proved dangerous. While the Americans were reconsidering the decision, the news leaked to bin Laden, again through the Pakistani military, and he made it public. The Americans had no choice but to cancel.

Making links with the Ulema

Bin Laden noticed that the driving force in Taliban were Ulema (religious scholars). He made very good links with them for the subject of American forces in the Arabian Peninsula. He was able to extract a fatwah signed by some 40 scholars in Afghanistan sanctioning the use of all means to expel the American forces from the Peninsula. The issue of that fatwah was an asset to him inside Taliban domain.

His second presence in Afghanistan attracted many mujahedeen to move there again and among those were Ayman El-Zawahery of Egyptian Jihad and Rift’ee Taha of Jama’a Islamia. Bin Laden decided to go pan-Islamic instead of Saudi or Arabic and attracted Kashmiris, Pakistanis, Indians, and Muslims from the Soviet Republics. He thought at that stage that he could make an international alliance against America and in February 1998 he declared the formation of the International Front. The declaration contained two elements, formation of the front and a fatwah sanctioning killing Americans and Jews. Apart from two Arabic newspapers, the declaration had minimal coverage by the press.

Attack in Khost camp

The camp was an almost deserted camp where only few Arabs stayed, with a neighbouring camp of Kashmiris. Bin Laden himself was hundreds of miles away, and the rest of Arab Afghans were in the northern front celebrating their recent victories. Since the American attack bin Laden was put in heavy protection and advised to stay hiding. His followers made another credit when they protected Kabul front again and pushed Masood forces back.

September 11 attacks

“Allah knows it did not cross our minds to attack the towers but after the situation became unbearable and we witnessed the injustice and tyranny of the American-Israeli alliance against our people in Palestine and Lebanon, I thought about it. And the events that affected me directly were that of 1982 and the events that followed – when America allowed the Israelis to invade Lebanon, helped by the U.S. Sixth Fleet. As I watched the destroyed towers in Lebanon, it occurred to me punish the unjust the same way (and) to destroy towers in America so it could taste some of what we are tasting and to stop killing our children and women.”

Osama bin Laden, 2004

19 Al-Qaida members hijacked four commercial passenger airplanes crashing two of them into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, the third was crashed into Pentagon in Arlington and the fourth plane crashed into a field near Shanksville in Pennsylvania after some of the passengers attempt to take over control. Nearly 3000 people died in this attack including the hijackers.

Faith and ideology

Osama believed that implementing the Sharia law would form a better Muslim world and that pan-Arabism, socialism, communism and western democracy had to be opposed. He was very much impressed by the ideology of Sayyid Qutb (Egyptian scholar), Hassan al-Banna and Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (who founded the religious movement wahabism). Osama said that United States committed injustice against Muslim countries and spoke about the need to eliminate the State of Israel and the necessity of the US forces withdrawing from the Middle East. His strategy against the enemy was to lure them into a long war in the Muslim countries where jihadist fighters would never surrender leading to the economic collapse of the enemy nation. The Soviet Union collapsed after years of fighting in Afghanistan and many authors have stated that the United States was on the edge of suffering the same fate

Relation with Al-Saud

Bin Laden never had any official or personal relations with the Saudi regime or the royal family. All his contacts would happen through his brothers. The brothers would approach two members of the royal family who were fairly sympathetic to Osama. They were Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz, deputy minister of interior and Abdul Rahman bin Abdul Aziz, deputy minister of defense. He might have met them in few occasions but those meetings would have been purely social or accidental in one of his brother’s houses. Specifically he had no relation with Turki al-Faisal head of Saudi intelligence. He used to be very suspicious of his role in Afghanistan and once had open confrontation with him in 1991 and accused him of being the reason of the fight between Afghan factions. He was wary of the Saudi government very early in the eighties, but he thought it was wiser to keep silent and benefit from their de facto support to jihad in that period.

Relations with America

Some people have suggested and claimed that Osama was working for the CIA and other American departments, but this has been rejected by the American officials. Since the late 70’s Osama had a strong anti-America feeling and committed himself and his family to avoid buying American goods unless it was necessary. Bin Laden would bring money from individuals donating straight to him. The weapons he had were either captured from the Soviets or bought from other factions.

Relations with Pakistan

Osama had much respect by many Pakistanis including people in the army, intelligence and the religious establishment such as many fundamental Islamic groups. They were so close that they would always leak any plan against him by the Pakistani-Saudi-American alliance. Osama had also a close friendship with the former director of ISI (Pakistani Intelligence), Hamid Gul.

Relations with Taliban

Taliban are not simply another Afghan faction supported by Pakistan, they are sincere to their beliefs and a religiously committed group unspoiled by political tactics. They would never bargain with what they see as matters of principle and Bin Laden for them is a saint. He is a symbol of sacrifice for the sake of jihad as they see him as very rich Arab from the Holy Land who gave up his wealth and luxury to fight for the sake of his brother Muslims in Afghanistan.

Bin Laden became an intimate part of Taliban structure when he taught them how to deal with state affairs in a proper manner, for example, they were about to be fooled by some oil and gas companies and sell the pipeline project for cheap and Osama advised them to learn from the Iraq-Turkey and Iraq-Syria agreements. They wanted to privatize some factories and were about to sell them to Pakistani businessmen for cheap prices but he taught them how to conduct proper bidding procedure and guarantee good prices.

Relation with Iran

Iran knows that bin Laden is a committed Sunni and he regards Iran as Shi’a state. The trust between the two is minimal but both have avoided criticizing each other publicly.

Finance

Osama thought it was necessary to guarantee the Islamic nature of the finance activity. For example, he would never invest in non-Islamic country; never use banks unless it was absolutely necessary, didn’t believe in stock market because he thought the investor cannot escape interest since the money has to be in a bank and produce some interest. He also believed that the Jews control banks and stock market.

He had 3 setbacks which would have made him bankrupt. The first was the freezing of his assets by the Saudi government. Nobody knows the exact amount but it was probably in the range of 200-300 million dollars. The second setback was the loss he had in Sudan. The Sudanese government was too weak financially to pay him for the construction projects and he ended up hardly with 10% of the payment. He lost in Sudan not less than 150 million dollars.

Osama’s brothers agreed to keep many assets of the father and distribute the profits only. Most of the brothers and sisters are observing Muslims and very careful to not to “spoil” their income with money which is not theirs as they believe it is their duty to let the owner of any riyal to have it. The only way they guarantee that is by letting bin Laden’s share reach him. Some of the brothers and sisters believed it was their religious duty to support this distinguished brother from their own money. While many are very careful not to irritate the royal family, many more do not care and insist on letting the money reach Osama. Another big source of income to bin Laden was the donations. During the early jihad time when it was blessed by the Saudi regime, he made excellent relations with many wealthy Saudis and Arabs who would donate huge amounts of money to him.

Pakistan’s alleged role of hiding Laden

Critics have accused Pakistan’s military and security establishment of protecting bin Laden. This case worsens the U.S. ties with Pakistan and future support. Pakistan’s president Asif Ali Zardari has strongly denied that his country’s security forces may have sheltered Osama bin Laden and Pakistan’s United States envoy, ambassador Husain Haqqani, promised a “full inquiry” into how Pakistani intelligence services failed to find bin Laden in a fortified compound, just a few hours’ drive from Islamabad, stating that “obviously bin Laden did have a support system.”

Timeline

1957 Born Osama bin Mohammad bin Awad bin Laden in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

1970 Father dies in a helicopter accident.

1974 Marries distant relative, Najwa Ghanem.

1976 Studies economics and management at King Abdul-Aziz University in Jeddah.

1979 Soviet Union invades Afghanistan.

1984 Bin Laden is involved in Peshawar supporting Arab volunteers to fight Soviets. Moves between Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Sudan.

1988 Al-Qaida – “the Base” – established in Afghanistan as centre for radical Muslims opposing the US, Israel and its allies.

1989 Soviet Union withdraws from Afghanistan. Bin Laden returns to Saudi Arabia to work for the family company and uses his network to raise funds for veterans of the Afghan war.

1991 Bin Laden is expelled from Saudi Arabia due to his anti government activities.

1992 Claims responsibility for attacking US soldiers in Yemen.

1993 Claims responsibilities for fire fight in Somalia that killed 18 US military personnel.

1994 Expelled from Sudan. Saudi Arabia revokes his citizenship and his family disowns him.

1995 Saudi Arabia claims Bin Laden links to Riyadh car bombing: six killed including five Americans, 60 injured.

1996 Bin Laden leaves Sudan for Afghanistan. Issues fatwa against all US military personnel, faxed to supporters across the world. Taliban gives him sanctuary in Afghanistan.

1998 A truck bomb explosions at US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania kills 224 people including 12 Americans. Bin Laden is added to FBI’s “10 most wanted fugitives” list.

2000 Al-Qaida claims responsibility for strike on US destroyer Cole at Yemeni port of Aden. Seventeen soldiers killed.

2001 11 September Hijacked planes destroy the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Centre and target the Pentagon, killing nearly 3,000. President George Bush says Bin Laden is wanted “dead or alive.”

December, US-backed anti-Taliban forces capture Bin Laden’s base in the Tora Bora mountains in Afghanistan, but find no trace of the fugitive terrorist.

2002 September Al-Jazeera broadcasts a poor-quality tape, claimed to be the voice of Bin Laden, praising the 9/11 hijackers for changing “the course of history.”

November Al-Qaida claims responsibility for three suicide car bombs at the Mombasa Paradise resort hotel, killing 15 and wounding 80.

2003 An audio tape believed to be the voice of bin Laden calls for attack on the US if Iraq is invaded.

2004 October, A 18-minute video is sent to al-Jazeera in which Bin Laden accepts responsibility for the first time for the 9/11 attacks, and condemns Bush days before US presidential election. Says his inspiration for 9/11 was seeing Israeli aircraft bomb tower blocks in Lebanon in 1982.

2007 September, Rumour that Bin Laden is dead is confounded by first new video in three years, warning the US it is vulnerable.

2008 May Bin Laden urge Muslims to break the Israeli blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza.

2009 After being elected, President Obama authorizes killing or capture of bin Laden as “top priority” of war on Al Qaeda.

2010 January, Audio tape message from Bin Laden, claiming responsibility for the failed Christmas day attempted bombing of US-bound plane. US president Barack Obama claims al-Qaida weakened by US actions.

March, Bin Laden claims in a taped message that al-Qaida will kill any American prisoners if the US executes alleged September 11 planner Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

2011 January, Bin Laden says in a taped message that French hostages held in Niger will not be freed unless France pulls troops out of all Muslim lands.

1 May, Barack Obama announces that Bin Laden has been killed in Pakistan.
Sources used for facts;

www.cnn.com

www.boston.com

www.infoplease.com

Wikipedia

www.pbs.org – frontline

Russian journalists fear for their life

Journalists and media workers all over the world have been targeted every day all over the world for their work to cover important happenings and to report it to the public. They have been experiencing torture, beating and murder and most of the crimes go unpunished.

A joint report says that since 1993, more than 300 journalists have been killed in Russia with only 52 of the murders with confirmed motive.

Novaya Gazeta

Novaya Gazeta was founded in April 1993 of former journalist from Komsomolskaja Pravda. It is published 4 times a week in 14 Russian cities. This is one of the few Russian newspapers that are critical towards Kremlin and has been known for its journalism about the Chechen conflict. In June 2006, the former President in the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbatsjov and the representative Aleksandr Lebedev bought 49% of the newspapers stocks. The rest of 51% is owed by the editorial collective. Gorbatsjov has supported the newspaper from it was founded and it has been said that he used some of the money he got from the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 to establish it. Unfortunately in the last 10 years, 5 journalists working for Novaya Gazeta been killed.

The first thing Vladimir Putin did when he became President in 2000 was to go to war against Chechnya and also against the freedom of speech. Even if everybody has internet, the freedom of speech is almost none existing. According to journalist Elena Milashina in Novaya Gazeta says that the freedom to travel abroad, that there is still open borders is the last thing left of the freedom of speech, a last sign of democracy according to her.

Elena Kostyuchenko works also at Novaya Gazeta with criminality as specialty. “The worst part is not the threats, but the phone calls from Kremlin telling us what to do and what not to do and to think about our murdered colleagues. We ask ourselves; who is next? We try not to think about it and continue our work.” The sensor is the most important media law as they always call and warn journalists of what they can write about and not to write. Many journalists have no choice to follow this rule and get paid.

Anna Politkovskaja


The journalist in Novaya Gazeta, Anna Politkovskaja gave a truthful picture of Russia through her 15 years of the bloody wars in Chechnya and North Caucasus. October 7th 2006, she was executed with several gunshots outside her apartment in Moscow.

Anna Politkovskaja was known for her opposition to the Chechen conflict and for her criticism of then Russian President Vladimir Putin. She wrote several books about the Russian and Chechen wars including the book Putin’s Russia. Her murder occurred on Vladimir Putin’s birthday and was describes as a contract killing.

The Russian government is playing double standard when it comes to journalism. They want the journalists to be the puppy of the government and write exactly what the government wants them to write. Others who want to give a true picture of the situation pay with their lives.

Dark future for paper

The paper version of the newspaper is currently under pressure as they publish 200,000 newspapers in 14 cities 4 times a week. The future looks dark for the paper version but bright at the internet. The newspaper has most readers between 30 and 50 years that are educated. Now, the new major in Moscow has imposed that the small avis kiosks are going to be removed and banned. This will hit the Novaya Gazeta hard as the avis kiosk is the most important income source. They don’t have many ads because the companies fear to publish their companies’ names as the Kremlin also calls them with warnings. Instead, the government has offered the Newspaper to sell through new newspaper in wending machines. These newspaper wending machines have space for a total of 1200 examples in a city with 16 million residents.

Calories & Malnuitrition – Hand in Hand World Hunger

Numbers show that in 2010, there were around 1 billion people starving in the world making it 14% of the world’s population. Despite this it is produced enough food for everybody to eat as the world’s agriculture is producing 17% more calories each person today than they did 30 years ago even if the world’s population has increased with 60%. This is enough to feed every single person with 2500 calories daily. Unfortunately, many people don’t have the income to buy food or access to cultivated soil. Other factors that play in is natural disasters, wars and poverty.

 

Much of these calories end up in the landfills in the western countries. USA as an example, supplies its population with almost 4000 calories each day, more than what an average person needs daily. Their focus on light/diet products instead of healthy food has contributed to more morbid obesity in the world rather than food shortages and malnutrition.

 

Half of what we eat is enough for us, the other half makes the doctors salary.

Children of Somalia

Somalia, one of the harshest places on earth has given huge challenges to its people in terms of simple survival. The legacy of a nomadic life way of life and a civil conflict that has shattered social structures and provided poverty giving Somali children of surviving to adulthood are among the lowest of children in the world. The odds of the child’s mother dying during pregnancy or in childbirth are also extremely high.

 

Diarrheas disease-related hydration, respiratory infections and malaria are the main killers of infants and young children. Cholera is endemic in Somalia, with the threat of outbreaks recurring annually during the season from December to May. The major underlying causes of diarrhea are the lack of access to safe water, and poor food and domestic hygiene. Malnutrition is a chronic problem in all areas, and becomes acute when areas are struck by drought or flood, or where localized conflicts flare up. These and other birth-related problems are a further cause of many infant deaths, while measles and its complications result in widespread illness. The reason for this is poor nutrition and transmission is rapid where living conditions is crowded, resulting in a high death rate.

Somalia is among countries with the highest incidence of tuberculosis in the world. Overcrowded conditions in camps where many displaced people are living, general lack of treatment facilitates, poor quality drugs and malnutrition keeps tuberculosis as one of the country’s main killer disease. Lack of access to safe water is a striking feature in almost all parts of Somalia. Probably less than 1 in every 3 households uses an improved drinking water source. A result of erratic rainfall patterns which are responsible for both droughts and floods, and destruction of water supply installations during civil war.

Only 37% of the population of Somalia has access to adequate sanitation. Poor hygiene and environmental sanitation are major causes of diseases such as cholera among children and women. The impact of poor environmental sanitation is felt in the cities, towns, large villages and other places where people are living in close proximity to each other with waste disposal adjacent to dwellings. Lack of garbage collection facilities is another factor affecting the urban environment and polluting water sources.

Primary school years Somalia is a country where schooling is available to very few children. A child of primary school age has only about a 1 in 5 chance of attending school. As a result of the collapse of the centrally government in 1991 and the ensuing long years of conflict, schools where destroyed and abandoned. Only now is rehabilitation of the damaged building beginning to take place. Most schools are financed from fees or other forms support from parents and communities, with some input from external agencies. For a girl child in Somalia, the prospects of attending school are even poorer. Result of previous school surveys reflects the same pattern. The high dropout rates of girls in most areas are due to a combination of traditional attitudes.

Adolescence Among the youth many have known nothing but conflict and hardship for most of their lives. Many children and youth have suffered displacement and have observed, experienced and sometimes participated in violence. A majority have never experienced normal, stabile social relationships and systems of governance. Lack of optimism about the possibilities the future holds for them is common among this group. There are growing categories of vulnerable children who are in need of special care and protection including:

  1. Those that have been displaced within the country, such as people driven from their homes by conflict, drought, floods or other factors.
  2. Children from minority groups, the very poor or orphans.
  3. Children living on the streets, militia children and children on conflict with the law.

Girls are specially disadvantaged in most of these categories. Gender discrimination is deeply rooted in the traditional sociocultural structures of Somali society and is a formidable barrier to women’s participation in decision-making and access to resources.

UNICEF officials are concerned that the current situation in Somalia will have lasting consequences for Somali society. Children continue to bear the brunt of the conflict, and many lack access to even the most basic services. Fighting has killed and injured numerous children. Many are recruited into armed conflict. In additional to the traumas of conflict, children in Somalia faces a myriad of other challenges, from education to health sanitation concern. Safe water is also scarce. Only 29% of the population has access to safe water, and this is being aggravated by droughts. Nutrition continues to be a critical concern, with 1 in 5 children acutely malnourished, and 1 in 20 severely malnourished on the risk of death without proper treatment.

July 22, 2010; According to USAID, flooding and limited access to sanitation facilities and safe drinking water has continued to increase the spread of waterborne diseases in the country. According to health officials, there has also been increased incidence of acute watery diarrhea (AWD) from reports made in Banadir Hospital in Mogadishu about 100 AWD cases from Banadir hospital, including 90 cases in children under five years of age and three related deaths, representing a 24% increase compared to the number of cases reported during the the previous month. Between January and May, health officials reported more than 25,000 AWD cases and 51 deaths countrywide, including approximately 18,000 cases in children under five years of age and 48 related deaths.

2011; The humanitarian community has improved access to sanitation facilities for more than 200,000 conflict-affected individuals and conducted hygiene promotion activities for more than 1 million people in 2010 but it is not enough for the war-stricken country as the ongoing political instability has prevented most of the aid agencies from delivering much of the food and clean water. Almost 6 million people have been hit hard by the drought in the country and 1 in 6 children have become malnourished says UN reports. Juba has the greatest proportion of acutely malnourished children – at 30% probably the highest rate anywhere in the world. This is due mainly to a lack of clean water, leading to diarrhoea, and reduced access to milk, as families move their livestock ever further away in search of pasture. Across southern Somalia, one in four children is acutely malnourished. The shattered political system does also complicate the matter as the terrorist group Al-Shabaab has banned more than 20 international relief agencies even when most of the aid offices are in the capital, they do see it as a big challenge to deliver to those in controlled districts.

Pharaoh of Modern Egypt-Hosni Mubarak

Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak محمد حسني سيد مبارك‎,

Introduction

Born May 4, 1928 is the fourth and former President of the Arab Republic of Egypt.

He was appointed Vice President in 1975, and assumed the Presidency on October 14, 1981, following the assassination of President Anwar El Sadat. He is the longest-serving Egyptian ruler since Muhammad. Before he entered politics Mubarak was a career officer in the Egyptian Air Force, serving as its commander from 1972 to 1975. Beginning on January 25, 2011, a popular uprising called for his resignation as president of Egypt. On February 1, 2011, Mubarak announced that he will not seek another term in the upcoming presidential election.

On February 5, 2011 Egyptian state media reported that senior members of the ruling National Democratic Party, including President Hosni Mubarak, had resigned from leadership roles within the party. It was later clarified that Mubarak would stay on as president however.

Military Ref

In November 1967 Mubarak became the Air Force Academy’s commander and two years later he became Chief of Staff for the Egyptian Air Force. As chief of staff of the Egyptian Air Force in 1971, he bluffed his Soviet air force advisers into a humiliating defeat. It was during the 1969-71 War of Attrition that followed Egypt‘s total defeat in the 1967 Six Day War. About 18,000 Soviet military advisers were in Egypt, courtesy of Gamal Abdel Nasser. His military career reached its pinnacle in 1972 when he became Commander of the Air Force and Egyptian Deputy Minister of Defence and the following year he was promoted to air chief marshal in recognition of service during the October War of 1973. Estimates of the wealth of Mubarak and his family range from US$40 billion to $70 billion as per military contracts while Mubarak was an Air Force officer.

Assassination attempts

According to the BBC, Mubarak has survived six assassination attempts. In June 1995 there was an alleged assassination attempt involving noxious gases and Egyptian Islamic Jihad while he was in Ethiopia for a conference of the Organization of African Unity. He was also reportedly injured by a knife-wielding assailant in Port Said in September 1999.

Stance on the invasion of Iraq in 2003

President Mubarak spoke out against the 2003 war on Iraq, arguing that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be resolved first. He also claimed that the war would cause “100 Bin Laden s’. However, President Mubarak does not support an immediate US pull out from Iraq as he believes it will lead to probable chaos.

Awards

Mubarak was awarded the Jawaharlal Nehru Award in 1995. Mubarak was honored for his “unique role in providing stability and progress to his country, in upholding the Arab cause, in promoting peace and understanding in the region.

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