Daily brief: Suspected British fighters arrested in Afghanistan

Against Queen and Country? British forces in Afghanistan arrested two British nationals Thursday on suspicion of fighting with the Taliban and plotting against the United Kingdom, though news reports disagree on whether they were captured in Helmand province or the western Afghan  city of Herat, where Afghan forces took control of security Thursday (Times, BBC, ...

Lefteris Pitarakis-Pool/Getty Images
Lefteris Pitarakis-Pool/Getty Images
Lefteris Pitarakis-Pool/Getty Images

Against Queen and Country?

British forces in Afghanistan arrested two British nationals Thursday on suspicion of fighting with the Taliban and plotting against the United Kingdom, though news reports disagree on whether they were captured in Helmand province or the western Afghan  city of Herat, where Afghan forces took control of security Thursday (Times, BBC, Tel, Reuters, AP, AFP). The arrests come just a day after British and American troopswithdrew from Helmand's capital Lashkar Gah, though the pullback was limited, and provincial governor Gulab Mangal warned of the security risk if Taliban infiltration from Pakistan is not stopped (Reuters, Post, Tel). And the Guardian reports on the surprising progress of some units of the Afghan National Army (ANA) (Guardian).

A reportreleased Wednesday by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has found that the United States still has few controls over the nearly $70 billion in aid money disbursed in Afghanistan since 2002, increasing the possibility that money could be diverted or wind up supporting insurgents (WSJ, CNN, FT, AFP). And Reuters notes the continuing threat the narcotics trade poses to Afghan stability, especially in the country's south (Reuters).

Against Queen and Country?

British forces in Afghanistan arrested two British nationals Thursday on suspicion of fighting with the Taliban and plotting against the United Kingdom, though news reports disagree on whether they were captured in Helmand province or the western Afghan  city of Herat, where Afghan forces took control of security Thursday (Times, BBC, Tel, Reuters, AP, AFP). The arrests come just a day after British and American troopswithdrew from Helmand’s capital Lashkar Gah, though the pullback was limited, and provincial governor Gulab Mangal warned of the security risk if Taliban infiltration from Pakistan is not stopped (Reuters, Post, Tel). And the Guardian reports on the surprising progress of some units of the Afghan National Army (ANA) (Guardian).

A reportreleased Wednesday by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has found that the United States still has few controls over the nearly $70 billion in aid money disbursed in Afghanistan since 2002, increasing the possibility that money could be diverted or wind up supporting insurgents (WSJ, CNN, FT, AFP). And Reuters notes the continuing threat the narcotics trade poses to Afghan stability, especially in the country’s south (Reuters).

Ina speech in Paris Wednesday, former top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan and incoming CIA director David Petraeus warned of "fragile and reversible" gains in Afghanistan, and described the importance of rebuilding America’s relationship with Pakistan (NYT, AFP, Tel).And U.S. Army Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, a soldier accused of allegedly leadinga group of men on missions to deliberately kill Afghan civilians, will have a pretrial hearing in Washington State Thursday (CNN).

Following the money

Americanpoliticians from both major parties, including Representatives Joe Pitts (R-PA), Dan Burton (R-IN), and Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH), are facing questions about donations received from two American citizens indicted Tuesday on charges of working as agents of Pakistan’s intelligence service to influence American positions on the disputed region of Kashmir (NYT, Dawn, Post).Separatist leaders in Indian-controlled Kashmir have denounced the arrest of Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai and indictment of Zaheer Ahmed, blaming the action on India (AFP, ET).

TheRepublican-controlled House Committee on Foreign Affairs will vote Thursday on a bill that would restrict aid to Pakistan and several otherMuslim countries, though the measure is unlikely to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate (Post, AP, AFP, Politico).And a federal court in Chicago Wednesday released 26 previously-sealed documents from the case of Tahawwur Hussain Rana, who was convicted last month of supporting the group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) but acquitted of charges that he directly supported the 2008 Mumbai attacks (AP).

Theprovincial government in Sindh has extended for another three months additional powers given to the country’s paramilitary Rangers in Karachito help quell violence in the city (ET).Jailed activists of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) are reportedly to be moved to Karachi as a sign of reconciliation between the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the MQM, which secured two parliamentary seats in Pakistan-administered Kashmir in voting in Karachi Wednesday (Dawn, Dawn).And Pakistan’s Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) has approved a subsidies package for food staples ahead of the Muslim holiday of Ramadan (Dawn).

TheTribune reports that a suspected U.S. drone strike has killed four people in the Mir Ali area of North Waziristan, while up to four men working for the Pakistani government’s oil company were killed in a remote-controlled explosion in the province of Baluchistan (ET, Dawn, AP, BBC, AFP). In Quetta, an unidentified gunman shot and killed a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) activist Wednesday (Dawn). And an explosion Thursday in the Khyber agency destroyed a NATO fuel tanker (Dawn).

Party pooper

Afghanofficials in Kabul on Wednesday destroyed thousands of bottles of alcohol as well as expired medication recovered from customs searches and guesthouses (Pajhwok).According to Pajhwok, the cache included, "17,430 cans of beer, 4,283 bottles of wine, 55 jerry cans of alcohol, 16 bags wine grapes, and sixtons of expired and illegal medicine."

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