Daily brief: gunmen attack NATO trucks in Pakistan

Threats from within Farooque Ahmed, the U.S. citizen arrested earlier this week on terrorism charges for an alleged plot to bomb several Metro stops in the DC area, sought to fight American forces in Afghanistan, and had trained himself in martial arts, the use of firearms, and knife and gun tactics, according to recently unsealed ...

MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images
MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images
MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images

Threats from within

Farooque Ahmed, the U.S. citizen arrested earlier this week on terrorism charges for an alleged plot to bomb several Metro stops in the DC area, sought to fight American forces in Afghanistan, and had trained himself in martial arts, the use of firearms, and knife and gun tactics, according to recently unsealed court documents (Post, AFP, Reuters). Ahmed emigrated to the U.S. from Pakistan in 1993, and he and his wife worked in northern Virginia's technology industry, mostly "keep[ing] to themselves" (CP). The tip that led the FBI to set up a sting is said to have come from the Muslim community (AP). Bonus read: our sister newsletter, the Legal War on Terror, a twice-weekly look at the ins and outs of Guantanamo and terrorism in the courts (FP).

Hit and run

Threats from within

Farooque Ahmed, the U.S. citizen arrested earlier this week on terrorism charges for an alleged plot to bomb several Metro stops in the DC area, sought to fight American forces in Afghanistan, and had trained himself in martial arts, the use of firearms, and knife and gun tactics, according to recently unsealed court documents (Post, AFP, Reuters). Ahmed emigrated to the U.S. from Pakistan in 1993, and he and his wife worked in northern Virginia’s technology industry, mostly "keep[ing] to themselves" (CP). The tip that led the FBI to set up a sting is said to have come from the Muslim community (AP). Bonus read: our sister newsletter, the Legal War on Terror, a twice-weekly look at the ins and outs of Guantanamo and terrorism in the courts (FP).

Hit and run

Unidentified gunmen carried out two separate attacks on NATO supply trucks in southwest Pakistan earlier today, killing one driver and wounding a 12 year old boy (Geo, AFP). The alleged militants escaped in both cases and there have been no claims of responsibility yet. And clashes between Pakistani security forces and militants in the northwest Pakistani tribal agencies of Mohmand and Orakzai continue (The News).

Flood watch: Three months after floods began to devastate Pakistan, affecting more than 20 million people, officials from the Red Cross and Oxfam are worried that donations are slowing down, and seven million are still without shelter as winter approaches (AFP, ET). The U.N.’s World Food Program may have to cut rations by half next month as donations have dwindled (BBC). Pakistan’s finance minister, Abdul Hafeez Saeed, said that flood-hit families will receive Rs. 100,000 each, and farmers will also be given subsidies in the form of lower interest rates on loans (ET). Officials estimate that it could take another six months for some areas to dry out.

Investigating internally

A Pentagon investigation has reportedly found that Michael Furlong, a senior Air Force civilian official, "deliberately misled" senior generals about the legal basis for a program of private contractors gathering intelligence in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which the inquiry called "unauthorized," and was said to be presented as a "more benign information operations campaign" (AP, NYT). Furlong said he was not interviewed during the investigation, calling it "a lot like kangaroo court justice," and denied the accusations.

Anand Gopal has today’s must-read describing the "paradoxical position of foreign forces" in Afghanistan, summarizing, "Meant to be building democratic institutions, they nevertheless pay millions to strongmen and private security companies that undermine those institutions. Why? It’s the way they protect their supply lines and their ability to fight against the Taliban" (McClatchy).

Maj. Gen. Nick Carter, the top military commander in southern Afghanistan, said yesterday that he sees "some encouraging signs, definitely momentum" in the coalition offensive in Kandahar, though estimated that genuine success will not be apparent until June 2011 (Reuters). U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn also assessed that the coalition has "checked [the Taliban’s] momentum" in Helmand and Kandahar (WSJ). Kandahar’s spy chief, Muhammed Naeem Momin, said that over the last six months, 27 of the province’s 47 "terrorist networks" have been dismantled and 133 suspects, including 28 Pakistani citizens, have been arrested, and earlier today NATO helicopter strikes killed more than 20 insurgents in Spin Boldak, a district of Kandahar (Pajhwok, AP, Pajhwok). Pakistan’s military continues to resist U.S. pressure to carry out an offensive in North Waziristan, which has reportedly put the success of the Kandahar operations in jeopardy because "fighters could simply retreat to Pakistani sanctuaries and wait until the [U.S.] drawdown [from Afghanistan] begins next summer" (Times).

Almost $56 million of high-quality heroin has been seized in a series of joint Afghan-U.S.-Russian raids in the eastern province of Nangarhar (ABC, CNN). In another set of raids on drug labs, U.S. and Russian special forces reportedly collaborated to destroy $250 million of heroin and morphine (AP). Afghanistan supplies around 90 percent of the world’s opium.

Streetlight serenader

Around 400 lampposts in the capital of the western Afghan province of Faryab were lit up for the first time in a special ceremony last night (Pajhwok). In addition to commercial and aesthetic benefits, the lights will help keep criminals and militants away, according to a provincial spokesman.

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