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Category: Afghanistan

Afghan Peace Negotiator Shot and Killed

Negotiations for peace and a cease fire between the Taliban and Afghan government took a major hit when a senior peace negotiator was assassinated.

is an ex-Taliban minister and the leading member of the High Peace Council, which has been trying to reach out to the Taliban to come up with a peace deal to put a halt to the violence. Rahmani was in the middle of talks with Taliban commanders, and his death is a setback for President Hamid Karzai and the Afghan government.

Rahmani’s death marks the second assassination of a High Peace Council member. Last September, Burhannudin Rabbani, the council’s chief of peace, was killed by a suicide bomber posing as a Taliban peace envoy.

According to police chief, Gen Ayub, Rahmani was shot in his car on his return from western Kabul. Police believes that this was a carefully planned attack. A gunman using a silencer fired a single shot that hit Rahmani in the heart, killing him instantly. His driver wasn’t even aware immediately that he had been shot.

Death threats have been made against Rahmani in the past, and it is unclear why he travelled without an armed escort. The Taliban are suspected of orchestrating the attack, though a spokesman for the terror organization denied involvement.

Rahmani was a critical figure in President Karzai’s attempts to persuade Taliban commanders to engage in peace talks. Being a former member of the militant group, Rahmani was able to provide valuable insight into the inner dealings of the Taliban leadership.

Afghan’s peace council has been successful in engaging in talks with Taliban field commanders but has been unable to convince senior members to put a halt to their campaign against the western backed Afghan government. It is unclear at this time what kind of impact Rahmani’s death will have on the peace talks.

Anniversary of Bin Laden’s death is marked by Attack from al-Qaeda

One year ago, an elite team of Navy Seals stormed a compound in Pakistan and shot to death the most wanted terrorist in the world. Now, a year after Osama Bin Laden’s demise, al-Qaeda is beginning to show signs of fracture.

Intelligence believes that the terror organization has been diminished and now just numbers in the few hundreds due to relentless air strikes by the U.S. and coalition forces. It is speculated that their infrastructure is now just engaging in small operations and no longer capable of large-scale attacks like the one that was carried out on 9/11.

This doesn’t mean, however, that al-Qaeda is no longer a threat. They are still capable of inflicting heavy damage; this was evident when they launched an assault on a housing compound for foreign workers in Afghanistan that claimed seven lives.

The attack started off with a car bomb that ripped the compound entrance. Militants disguised in burqas then tried to force their way into the Green Village complex through the damaged gateway. Their assault was repelled by Afghan forces, which engaged in a two hour gun battle with the insurgents.

When the smoked cleared, four civilians passing by in a car were killed. A Nepalese security guard and a student on his way to school were also among the casualties.

The attacks came just hours after President Obama made a secret visit to Kabul to deliver a message of hope and praise to the troops. A Taliban spokesman later claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying that the president was “not welcome.”

Though it appears that al-Qaeda’s foundation is in shambles, it is clearly no time to celebrate. For the same reason that a wounded animal is more dangerous, a wounded al-Qaeda will likely act out of desperation. There will likely be more attacks to come in the near future. Vigilance is more crucial than ever.

The Obama visit to the troops is also a matter of debate as its been seen a part of the November Election campaign and an asset used by the Obama campaign. The GOP is calling it a “Play on Politics” (CNN):

Gillespie, a former aide to former President George W. Bush and former chairman of the Republican National Committee, said utilizing the raid for political purposes is one of the reasons Obama has “become one of the most divisive presidents in American history.”
“He took something that was a unifying event for all Americans, and he’s managed to turn it into a divisive, partisan political attack,” Gillespie said in a separate interview on the same NBC program. “I think most Americans will see it as a sign of a desperate campaign.”

Pakistan Will Not Be Attending Afghani Conference

Pakistan has vowed not to attend an upcoming conference geared at starting a reconciliation in Afghanistan. The Afghani president has asked the country to reconsider, but the Pakistani cabinet has unanimously voted against the attendance. The conference is to be held in Bonn, Germany. Pakistan has refused to go because of the kill of two-dozen NATO troops last week.

The Afghani president has urged Pakistan to reconsider, citing that the killing is even more reason for the region to start a reconciliation. Pakistan has been a very valuable land supply for the United States armed forces bringing equipment into the country for their troops. Pakistan is known to have accused Afghanistan of harboring Al Quaeda forces while Afghanistan has accused Pakistan of aiding forces against their military.

The US Secretary Of State, French Foreign Minister, British Foreign Secretary and the Russian Foreign Minister are among 65 heads of international organizations that are expected to participate in the conference. Although Pakistan will not be attending the conference, they have stated their support peace in the region. They also support the importance of a Afghanistan establishing peace in their own country.

The Pakistani cabinet has closed all of their supply lines to the region and has requested that the United states vacate the air base of Shamsi. The country would like to maintain their relationship with the country, but they ask for mutual respect for Pakistani sovereignty. The Pakistani cabinet has also been reviewing their cooperation with the ISAF, NATO and the United States.

General James Mattis has ordered that Brig. Gen. Stephen Clarke lead the investigation into the NATO killings. More than a thousand people are expected to attend the conference in Bonn, Germany. German political officials are said to be meeting with Afgan officials Thursday and Friday before the conference starts.

An “Open” Invitation

An Open InvitationA joint video taped speech by No. 2 Al Qaeda leader Ayman Muhammad al-Zawahiri, and his American ‘spokesman’ Adam Gadahn, known in Al Qaeda circles as “Azaam the American” appeared over the weekend. The tape in which “Azzam” was speaking in English and al-Zawahiri in Arabic with English subtitles appeared to once again be reaching out to Westerners, especially Americans. Both Gadahn and al-Zawahiri were wearing white, which in Islamic religious circles symbolizes both purity and mourning, offered unbelievers an ‘opportunity’ to convert to Islam, before it is too late.

“We invite all Americans and non-believers to come to Islam; whatever their roles and status in (US President) Bush and (U.K. P.M.) Blair’s world order, Gadahn spoke in articulate American-accented English. Continuing, Gadahn said: “Decide today, because today could be your last day. All non-Muslims who have been living in ‘darkness’ should now come into the light”.

The ‘open invitation’ was part of a 48 minute speech in which both “Azaam” and Al-Zawahiri lambasted the policies of both Bush and Blair, particularly their military activities in Iraq and Afghanistan. Though their locations were unknown, it was unlikely that the two men were speaking from the same place. Al-Zawahiri, and Osama bin Laden are hiding somewhere in a remote mountainous section in northeastern Afghanistan; and Gadahn’s whereabouts are unknown. His family, who live in California, have not seen him since he gave up “heavy metalism” in 1995 and converted to Islam. Soon afterwards, he left for Pakistan, where he is still presumed to be living. The U.S. FBI has issued an international warrant for his arrest on the grounds that “Azzam” is inciting acts of terror against the USA. To put it more bluntly, his actions border more on sedition, and even treason.

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