Daily brief: 3 Qaeda suspects arrested in Norway, Germany
Weekend must-see: Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington’s Afghanistan documentary "Restrepo," which the NYT called "an impressive, even heroic feat of journalism" that "has the spare, lyrical force of an elegy" opens in DC tomorrow at the E St. Cinema. Global reach Three men allegedly involved in an al-Qaeda linked plot were arrested earlier today in ...
Weekend must-see: Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington's Afghanistan documentary "Restrepo," which the NYT called "an impressive, even heroic feat of journalism" that "has the spare, lyrical force of an elegy" opens in DC tomorrow at the E St. Cinema.
Weekend must-see: Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington’s Afghanistan documentary "Restrepo," which the NYT called "an impressive, even heroic feat of journalism" that "has the spare, lyrical force of an elegy" opens in DC tomorrow at the E St. Cinema.
Three men allegedly involved in an al-Qaeda linked plot were arrested earlier today in Germany and Norway "on suspicion of preparing terror activities" in what Norwegian and U.S. officials said was a plan linked to last year’s failed attempt to bomb New York City subways (WSJ, AP, NYT, CNN, Reuters, AFP, BBC). Authorities believe the men — a 39 year old Norwegian of Uighur origin, and a 37 year old Iraqi and a 31 year old citizen of Uzbekistan, both of whom had residency permits for Norway — were planning an attack with portable but powerful peroxide bombs, though it wasn’t clear whether they had selected a target. Officials claimed the Norway plot was organized by Saleh al-Somali, the Qaeda chief of external operations who was killed in a drone strike last year and was also linked to the failed subway attack and a failed plan to blow up a shopping center in Manchester, England (WSJ, AP, NYT).
More details about the subway plot were revealed yesterday when authorities charged five men, including U.S. citizen and Saudi native Adnan Shukrijumah, with involvement in Najibullah Zazi’s failed terrorist attempt, alleging that Shukirjumah was one of the masterminds who recruited Zazi and his co-conspirators to conduct suicide bombings in New York City (DoJ release, Reuters, NYT, AFP, WSJ, CNN). The superseding indictment claims the Zazi plot was directed by "senior al-Qaeda leadership in Pakistan," and adds to charges against Zazi’s co-conspirators, one of whom allegedly tried to crash his car on the Whitestone Expressway in Queens in a last ditch suicide attack attempt, after calling 911 to "announce his intentions" (DoJ). British authorities arrested one suspect in northeast England yesterday, one of several who had previously been arrested for suspected terrorist activity there, and the U.S. reportedly plans to seek his extradition (NYT, WSJ). The British and U.S. plots are reportedly linked by a man named "Ahmad," whose identity is unknown and who is not in custody (WSJ). The indictment is available here (pdf).
The Pakistani Army claimed yesterday that 70 percent of the reconstructive work in South Waziristan has been completed, following a major military offensive there last fall (ET). Fifteen militants were reportedly killed yesterday in ongoing fighting in Orakzai, where a three month military offensive has left more than 1,400 militants dead (Geo). And the Journal reports that mainstream Islamic organizations like Sunni Tehreek have protested in Lahore against last week’s attack on the Sufi shrine of Data Gunj Bakhsh, "moving forcibly to take over mosques from hardline Muslim groups" (WSJ).
Indian authorities have restricted all public movement in Indian Kashmir and appealed to parents to keep their teenage sons indoors after the deaths of at least 15 people in separate incidents over the last few weeks (AFP, ToI, AP). Tens of thousands of Indian soldiers are reportedly patrolling the streets of Indian Kashmir’s main cities to enforce a curfew and quell protests (LAT, NYT). Troops did not intervene in pro-independence protests in Srinagar last night.
Money makes the world go around
Carlotta Gall has today’s must-read reporting that a number of Afghan construction companies are claiming that the U.S. contractors who employ them have failed to pay for services and leave the country owing hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of dollars in outstanding debt (NYT). A military official commented, "Without being too dramatic, American contractors are contributing to fueling the insurgency."
According to a corruption watchdog that polled 6,500 Afghans in 32 provinces, corruption in Afghanistan doubled between 2006 and 2009, with one in seven Afghans regularly paying bribes (Reuters, AFP). The report is available here (IWA).
After yesterday’s news that British troops will be withdrawing from Sangin, the deputy commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez denied that U.S. Marines are ‘bailing out’ the British, and warned that casualties are likely to go up as anti-Taliban operations intensify (Times, McClatchy). Gen. David Petraeus, the new head of NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, will not reportedly change the rules of engagement for soldiers who have complained that the warfighting rules are too restrictive, but will clarify "actions soldiers may take" (Stars and Stripes). The U.S. is also planning to deliver $3 billion of equipment to counter Taliban roadside bombs, "at least doubling" the current anti-IED capacity (AFP).
A senior Afghan police intelligence officer in Kabul was assassinated last night along with one of his bodyguards, and two NATO troops were killed in incidents in the south and east of Afghanistan (AP). Pajhwok reports that ulema council members in the northern province of Badakshan have issued a resolution asking women not to go outside their homes without a male escort because of safety concerns, after two women were shot in the street several weeks ago (Pajhwok). And VOA’s Gary Thomas assesses some of the possible outcomes in Afghanistan (VOA).
Hipsters in Kabul
The indie rock band Kabul Dreams is part of a modest but growing indigenous rock scene in the Afghan capital, playing songs like "I wanna run away" and "Crack in the radio" to crowds of around 100 (AP). The group’s next album will feature songs about love and daily life, prompting bass player Siddique Ahmed to comment, "The fact that our songs don’t have any political message is in itself political."
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