Daily brief: American general fired over criticism of Karzai

We were deeply saddened to learn last week of the sudden and untimely death of Dr. Christopher Boucek, an expert on al-Qaeda and on the Arabian Peninsula, and a frequent collaborator with the New America Foundation. Modest, generous of intellect and spirit, and devoted to nuanced research and non-polemical analysis, Chris’s scholarship and kindness will ...

BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images
BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images
BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images

We were deeply saddened to learn last week of the sudden and untimely death of Dr. Christopher Boucek, an expert on al-Qaeda and on the Arabian Peninsula, and a frequent collaborator with the New America Foundation. Modest, generous of intellect and spirit, and devoted to nuanced research and non-polemical analysis, Chris's scholarship and kindness will be sorely missed.

-- The Editors of the AfPak Channel 

Unceremonious exit

We were deeply saddened to learn last week of the sudden and untimely death of Dr. Christopher Boucek, an expert on al-Qaeda and on the Arabian Peninsula, and a frequent collaborator with the New America Foundation. Modest, generous of intellect and spirit, and devoted to nuanced research and non-polemical analysis, Chris’s scholarship and kindness will be sorely missed.

— The Editors of the AfPak Channel 

Unceremonious exit

The commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Gen. John R. Allen, announced Saturday that he had removed Maj. Gen. Peter Fuller, the deputy head of programs at NATO’s training mission in Afghanistan, for "inappropriate" comments Fuller made about Afghan President Hamid Karzai to Politico last week (NYT, AP, LAT, WSJ, BBC, FT, Tel, AFP). Responding to a statement Karzai had made about supporting Pakistan in the event of an American attack on the country, Fuller said, "Why don’t you just poke me in the eye with a needle! You’ve got to be kidding me…I’m sorry, we just gave you $11.6 billion and now you’re telling me, ‘I don’t really care?’" He also called Karzai "erratic" and inarticulate.

Two suicide bombers attacked worshipers leaving a mosque following Eid al-Adha prayers in the northern province of Baghlan Sunday, killing eight, including three local anti-Taliban militia members and civilians (NYT, BBC, Post, AJE, Tel, AFP, LAT). The first attacker detonated his vest, while the mosque-goers jumped on and immobilized the second attacker. The bombing, which Afghan officials blamed on the Taliban, comes just days after Taliban leader Mullah Omar issued a statement in honor of the Eid holiday urging his fighters not to kill civilians, and promising punishment if civilians were killed (AJE, Tel, AP, AFP, Guardian, ET, DT). And a roadside bomb Monday killed the police chief of Helmand province’s Garmsir district, Mohammad Saifullah, as well as his driver (AP).     

The L.A. Times this weekend had a must-read on the accidental killing of two American Marines in a drone strike in Afghanistan this past April during a firefight with the Taliban (LAT). The Post looks at the American handover to Afghan control last week of a large base in Paktika province near the border with Pakistan, Waza Khwah (Post). And the Telegraph reports that half of the Marines in Helmand province, and perhaps more, will be withdrawn by next year, leaving British forces to once again take overall security responsibility for the province (Tel).  

Justice, deferred?

A Pakistani anti-terrorism court filed charges against five suspected militants and two former senior police officers Saturday in the 2007 assassination in Rawalpindi of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto (NYT, AP, BBC, Reuters, CNN, AFP, Dawn, FT). The suspected militants are believed to be members of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), while the police officers include Saud Aziz, the head of the Rawalpindi police at the time of the attack, who is accused of failing to take appropriate security precautions and impeding the investigation into the killing by hosing down the crime scene just two hours after Bhutto was killed. And the Tribune reports Monday that Pakistani intelligence has broken up a TTP plot to attack the army General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi as well as other important political and military targets (ET).  

At least five Pakistani soldiers were killed Saturday in an attack on their convoy south of Miranshah in North Waziristan, while attacks in Bajaur and South Waziristan killed an anti-Taliban tribal elder and three others (AFP, DT, ET, The News, Dawn). A suicide bomber killed former Pakistani government official and Awami National Party (ANP) member Hanif Jadoon and his bodyguard as they were leaving Eid al-Adha prayers in the Swabi district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province Monday (CNN, BBC, ET, AP). And a young journalist and sub-editor of a local nationalist newspaper, Javed Naseer Rind, was found tortured and shot 300 kilometers south of Quetta in Balochistan this weekend (ET).   

The Pakistani government this weekend issued its list of banned terrorist organizations before the Eid holiday, but left off the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) front group Jamaat-ud-Dawa, who call themselves a charity group but are classified as a terrorist organization by the United Nations (ET). And up to 32 people were reportedly arrested in the run-up to the Eid holiday in Karachi, where Dawn reports that street crime is becoming more prevalent (ET, Dawn).   

Five stories round out the news this weekend: According to the AP, Pakistani is planning to train 8,000 additional personnel to guard the country’s nuclear weapons (AP). Turkmenistan will reportedly soon sign a contract to supply natural gas to Pakistan and India, as the L.A. Times reports on the thaw in relations between the two countries (ET, LAT). Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani is in Russia to seek full membership for Pakistan in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) (Dawn). Pakistan’s government will meet with officials from the International Monetary Fund this week to discuss the country’s economic situation (Dawn). And opposition politician Imran Khan is reportedly close to garnering the support of a number of figures from other political parties, who are said to be considering switching to Khan’s Pakistani Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party (Dawn, ET, Guardian).    

YouTube protests  

In Pakistan, where it is often considered dangerous to criticize militant groups and religious parties, one band has become a YouTube sensation for doing just that (NYT). The group, known as the Beygairat Brigade, or "Brigade Without Honor" has gotten over 350,000 page views for their satirical song "Aalu Anday," or "Potatoes and Eggs."

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