Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Afghan-Pakistan News Update: Taliban Attacks US Base Near Kabul; Disbelief Plagues Obama Terror Story

Taliban attack US base near Kabul

Wed May 4, 2011 6:13PM

The Taliban say they have attacked a heavily-fortified US base near the Afghan capital of Kabul as foreign forces are experiencing their deadliest days in the country.

A Taliban spokesman says the group has fired five rockets at Bagram airbase in Parwan province.

The militants claim a number of foreign soldiers have been killed in the rocket attack and that the US airbase has been severely damaged.

NATO has confirmed the attack but rejected the Taliban's claim on fatalities.

The death toll of the US-led forces in 2010 stood at 711, making the deadliest year for foreign forces in Afghanistan since the Afghanistan invasion began in 2001.

The rising number of foreign casualties has stoked opposition to the Afghan war in NATO member states as well as in other countries that have contributed troops to the mission.

NATO has admitted that the power of militants in Afghanistan is on the rise despite the presence of nearly 150,000 US-led forces in the war-hit country.

'Bin Laden scenario prelude to new war'

Wed May 4, 2011 8:42PM

Former officials with Pakistan's military and intelligence service say the US wrongfully claims it has killed bin Laden in Pakistan to invade the country for harboring the terror leader.

United States President Barack Obama announced late Sunday that the al-Qaeda leader had been killed in a US military attack on a residence in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad north of the capital, Islamabad.

US reports claim that bin Laden had been living in a house near a Pakistani military base since 2005.

Speaking to the international Urdu daily Ausaf, the former officials said the terror mastermind had been killed elsewhere, questioning the reason for which the media had not broadcast the whereabouts and the manner of his death.

Citing the interviewees, who included General Mirza Aslam Beig, a former chief of Army staff, the newspaper said, “It is a fact that Osama bin Laden has been killed, but he has not been killed in Pakistan and this is evident in interviews with the locals and eyewitnesses.”

They cited remarks by Haidar Ali -- one Abbottabad local, who owns a house near the alleged bin Laden residence and had closely witnessed the US operation.

They quoted Ali as saying, “If Osama bin Laden was in the house, us and neighbors would surely be notified of his presence. The house belongs to a Pakistani of Pashtun decent and has been built in 2005 and was resided by a number of his family members.”

The interviewees also asked whether it was possible that the operation has not even claimed the life of one American trooper given the al-Qaeda militants' “special skills and commando training.”

They added that it was not possible that bin Laden had been living close to a military base as well as Pakistan's garrison city of Rawalpindi for five years without the country's military and intelligence apparatus being informed.

“Bin Laden has been killed somewhere else, but since the US intends to extend the Afghan war into Pakistan and accuse Pakistan and obtain a permit for its military's entry into the country, it has devised the scenario (about his death).”

Pakistan's former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto said in a 2007 interview following a failed assassination attempt on her, that bin Laden has been “murdered” years ago.

US not to publish dead bin Laden photos

Wed May 4, 2011 9:48PM

The US administration says it will not release photos of Osama bin Laden's corpse, deepening suspicions over Washington's claim of killing the notorious terrorist.

In a prerecorded interview with CBS on Wednesday, US President Barack Obama said he has decided not to publish the disturbing images purportedly of al-Qaeda chief's dead body, because of concerns that they might become "a propaganda tool", AFP reported.

"I think that given the graphic nature of these photos, it would create some national security risk," Obama stated.

"There is no doubt that bin Laden is dead. Certainly there is... no doubt among al-Qaeda members that he is dead. And so we don't think that a photograph in and of itself is going to make any difference." White House spokesman Jay Carney quoted Obama as saying, as he read an excerpt of the president's interview to the reporters.

"We don't trot this stuff out as trophies," said Obama, adding that it is essential to prevent photographic evidence from "floating around as incitement or propaganda tool.”

On late Sunday, Obama shocked the world with the news that the alleged architecture of the 9/11 attacks was shot in the head by US forces, who reportedly swooped down on bin Laden's compound in a helicopter-borne operation in Abbottabad, Pakistan, killing the terrorist after a decade-long manhunt.

Obama's decision not to offer any photographic evidence of the killing has thrown doubt on the reported US operation, with many analysts saying that that bin Laden is either still alive or had been dead several years ago.

Faced with the quandary of proving bin Laden's death, the White House was locked in intense talks and consultations with Obama's national security team about whether to release the photos.

Describing the images as "graphic photographs of someone who was shot in the face", the White House spokesman stated on Wednesday that "It is not in our national security interests to allow those images, as has been in the past been the case, to become icons to rally opinion against the United States."

Earlier in the day, the US administration strongly defended the killing of bin Laden as an act of national self-defense in response to allegations that the US commandos' nightly attack on his Pakistani hideout was illegal.

US Attorney General, Eric Holder, told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the killing of bin Laden was lawful and consistent with US values.

US-led attack kills Afghan woman

Wed May 4, 2011 6:18PM

A NATO raid in Afghanistan has killed an Afghan woman and injured eleven others amid growing public discontent over such attacks.

Afghan officials say the overnight raid targeted civilians in Paktia Province and most of the injured were women and children.

The raid reportedly took place as NATO forces conducted a search operation to find militants holed up in the area.

The attack comes one day after a NATO airstrike killed 10 Afghan security personnel that were escorting a supply convoy for foreign troops in Ghazni Province.

Hundreds of Afghan civilians have lost their lives in US-led airstrikes and ground operations in various parts of Afghanistan over the past few months.

The frequent attacks have resulted in growing anti-American sentiments.

Meanwhile, militants have warned of a fresh wave of attacks against foreign troops, Afghan security forces and government officials. They say the operations will focus on military centers, places of gathering, airbases, and military convoys.

They have also warned that Afghan government buildings will be targeted and have called on Afghan civilians to stay away from such centers.

Violence across Afghanistan hit record levels in 2010, making it the year with the most number of civilian and military casualties since the start of the US-led war in 2001.

'Osama killing will cost Obama'

Wed May 4, 2011 5:42PM

The killing of Osama bin Laden in a US operation and the failure to follow lawful procedures will cost US President Barack Obama “something down the pipe,” a former CIA analyst says.

“The ill part is acting as judge, jury and executioner and insisting on not following any due process of law, which could cost Obama something down the pipe," former CIA Analyst Ray McGovern said in a Monday interview with Press TV's US Desk.

The former intelligence analyst says that the American operation conducted in Pakistan without the consent of Pakistani authorities, will cost Obama dearly.

On Sunday, US President Barack Obama announced that the al-Qaeda leader had been killed in a US military attack on a compound near Islamabad.

Some analysts believe the operation was a joint, prearranged show by the US and Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) and that bin Laden was not in the reported compound, as he had already been killed.

Former Pakistani Premier Benazir Bhutto said in a 2007 interview, following a failed assassination attempt on her life, that bin Laden had been "murdered" years ago.

Moreover, a number of former US military personnel and commanders have also stated that bin Laden was killed in a major bombing during the early stages of the US-led invasion of Afghanistan.

'No trust in Osama death account'

Wed May 4, 2011 7:49AM

The Pakistani people say they do not believe US reports that Osama bin Laden had lived in a compound near a Pakistani military base in Abbottabad since 2005.

The million-dollar compound is located in the city of Abbottabad about 100 kilometers (62 miles) north of the capital Islamabad.

The huge mansion has now been taken over by Pakistan's security forces and the media is not allowed to go inside.

The alleged presence of bin Laden just few hundred meters away from the training center of the military elite has also raised questions about the role of Pakistan's intelligence apparatus, a Press TV correspondent in Abbottabad reported.

The US authorities say Pakistan was unaware of the operation that killed the al-Qaeda leader in his compound in northeastern Pakistan.

Amid a growing controversy about how much Pakistani authorities knew about bin Laden, there are questions that how two US military helicopters landed near Islamabad without the knowledge of Pakistan's Inter- Services Intelligence (ISI) and the military.

US lawmakers and senior officials have urged Pakistan to prove it did not know about bin Laden's hideout.

Reports say it is really hard for the Pakistani people to believe that the entire operation was a surprise for the Pakistani authorities.

Some analysts say there is a possibility that the al-Qaeda militants were living in the compound under the surveillance of ISI when the US military carried out the operation.

They say the operation was a show prearranged between the US and ISI and that bin Laden was not in the house as he had already been killed.

Benazir Bhutto, in a 2007 interview following a failed assassination attempt on her, said bin Laden had been “murdered” years ago.

In response to a question whether any of the assassins had links with the government, Bhutto said, "Yes but one of them is a very key figure in security, he is a former military officer … and had dealings with Omar Sheikh, the man who murdered Osama bin Laden."

US President Barack Obama announced late on Sunday that the al-Qaeda leader had been killed in a military attack on a compound in Abbottabad.

Meanwhile, contradictory stories are emerging from the White House about the military operation. One of the contradictions includes comments that bin Laden was unarmed but put up resistance.

Many believe American Special Forces could have arrested the al-Qaeda leader without having to kill him and a question raised is why bin Laden's body was buried at sea so soon after his death.

A US official says bin Laden's body has been buried at sea, alleging that his hasty burial was in accordance with Islamic law, which requires burial within 24 hours of death.

This is while burial at sea is not an Islamic practice and Islam does not determine a timeframe for burial.

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