Analyst: Al-Qaeda Videotapes Digitally Doctored

IntelCenter and As-Sahab logos added at same time, indicating Pentagon linked “middleman” is directly releasing Al-Qaeda videos

Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet
Thursday, August 2, 2007

An expert computer analyst has presented evidence that so-called “Al-Qaeda” tapes are routinely digitally doctored and has also unwittingly exposed an astounding detail that clearly indicates a Pentagon affiliated organization in the U.S. is directly responsible for releasing the videos.

“Neal Krawetz, a researcher and computer security consultant, gave an interesting presentation today at the BlackHat security conference in Las Vegas about analyzing digital photographs and video images for alterations and enhancements,” reports Wired News.

“Using a program he wrote (and provided on the conference CD-ROM) Krawetz could print out the quantization tables in a JPEG file (that indicate how the image was compressed) and determine the last tool that created the image — that is, the make and model of the camera if the image is original or the version of Photoshop that was used to alter and re-save the image. “

Krawetz’s most telling discovery comes in the form of a detail contained in a 2006 Ayman al-Zawahiri tape. From his analysis he concludes that the As-Sahab logo (the alleged media arm of Al-Qaeda) and the IntelCenter logo (a U.S. based private intelligence organization that “monitors terrorist activity”) were both added to the video at the same time.

This clearly indicates IntelCenter itself is directly creating or at least doctoring the Al-Qaeda tapes before their release. After all, why would Al-Qaeda terrorists be interested in branding their videos with the logo of a U.S. based organization that is run by individuals with close ties to the military-industrial complex?

In our previous groundbreaking investigation, we exposed IntelCenter, the middleman between “Al-Qaeda’s media arm” and the press, and the organization that routinely obtains the tapes, as little more than a Pentagon front group staffed by individuals with close connections to Donald Rumsfeld and the U.S. war machine.

IntelCenter were also behind the release of the recent “new” Bin Laden tape, which in actual fact was old footage filmed in 2001 and had been released, including by IntelCenter itself, on no less than two previous occasions spanning back five years.

IntelCenter is run by Ben Venzke, former director of intelligence at a company called IDEFENSE, which is a Verisign company. IDEFENSE is a web security company that monitors intelligence from middle east conflicts and focuses on cyber threats among other things.

It is also heavily populated with long serving ex-military intelligence officials.

The Director of Threat intelligence, Jim Melnick, served 16 years in the US army and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and worked in psychological operations. From the IDEFENSE website:

Prior to joining iDefense, Mr. Melnick served with distinction for more than 16 years in the U.S. Army and the Defense Intelligence Agency. During this period, Mr. Melnick served in a variety of roles, including psychological operations, international warning issues with emphasis on foreign affairs and information operations and Russian affairs. He also served in active political/military intelligence roles with an emphasis on foreign affairs. Mr. Melnick is currently a U.S. Army Reserve Colonel with Military Intelligence, assigned to the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Mr. Melnick has been published in numerous military and foreign affairs journals, and has received numerous military and DIA awards. Mr. Melnick has a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College, a Master of Arts in Russian studies from Harvard University, and a Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Political Science from Westminster College.

So here we have a company that by its own admission has ties to a senior military psy-op intelligence officer who has worked directly for Donald Rumsfeld. As Intelcenter and Ben Venzke are directly connected to IDEFENSE, this puts Rumsfeld just three steps away from the Al Qaeda propaganda videos.

The business of releasing Al-Qaeda tapes is also very profitable for IntelCenter, they charge well over $4,000 dollars a year for packages aimed at “Intelligence, Military and Federal agencies”.

Add to this the fact that IntelCenter are digitally doctoring the videos and then adding the logo of a purported terrorist group before their release and the ramifications become clear – elements within the U.S. are patently editing if not directly creating “Al-Qaeda” tapes for their own purposes.

Al-Qaeda, or more accurately IntelCenter, always seem to make a point of releasing the videos at the most politically expedient times for the benefit of the Bush administration.

Whether it’s to justify a war, win an election or divert from a scandal, Bin Laden, Al-Zawahiri or their stooges can always be relied upon to come up with the goods and save Bush’s bacon.

As soon as the 6 month wait and see period for the “surge” was up and right when Bush’s last remaining Republican cheerleaders deserted him on Iraq, Bin Laden popped up to remind us all of the necessity of “staying the course” and winning the war on terror by feeding more troops into the meatgrinder.

Both Kerry and Bush attributed the President’s 2004 re-election to Osama Bin Laden’s appearance in a video tape just days before the vote. Veteran newsman Walter Cronkite mused that the whole farce was a Karl Rove orchestrated set-up.

On the eve of the Iraq war during Colin Powell’s infamous presentation to the UN, an audio tape in which bin Laden claimed he was allied with Saddam Hussein surfaced, a gift-wrapped present for the Neo-Cons who had consistently been proven wrong in their assertion that there was a connection between Iraq and 9/11.

Ayman Al-Zawahiri appeared right on cue at the exact same time two years running, days before the State of the Union, to slam Bush as a “butcher” and a “failure.” His timing is impeccable! Right when Bush needs to reinforce the fear of the shadowy enemy each January to mute his critics before the big speech, al-Zawahiri pops up with the goods.

Krawetz’s analysis (view in PDF) further concludes that different objects and green screen backgrounds have been artificially added to certain videos, including that of probable Mossad double agent Adam Pearlman, in order to “lend authority and reverence to the video”.

The smoking gun remains the fact that the two logos, the As-Sahab “terrorist” media arm and the IntelCenter organization, were added at exactly the same time, meaning either that IntelCenter, with its close ties to the U.S. government and psychological operation, has terrorists on the payroll or that IntelCenter itself is doctoring and directly releasing Al-Qaeda propaganda tapes.

Both conclusions are equally disturbing and demand an immediate FBI investigation of IntelCenter and its owners.

What an irresistible headline!

Source: A Bush in sheep’s clothing (www.voltairenet.org)
4 June 2009

A reaction by Ali Abunimah, co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, to Barak Obama’s June 4 speech in Cairo addressing the Muslim world: “Obama’s speech shows little real change. In most regards his analysis maintains flawed American policies.”

Once you strip away the mujamalat – the courtesies exchanged between guest and host – the substance of President Obama’s speech in Cairo indicates there is likely to be little real change in US policy. It is not necessary to divine Obama’s intentions – he may be utterly sincere and I believe he is. It is his analysis and prescriptions that in most regards maintain flawed American policies intact.

Though he pledged to “speak the truth as best I can”, there was much the president left out. He spoke of tension between “America and Islam” – the former a concrete specific place, the latter a vague construct subsuming peoples, practices, histories and countries more varied than similar.

Labelling America’s “other” as a nebulous and all-encompassing “Islam” (even while professing rapprochement and respect) is a way to avoid acknowledging what does in fact unite and mobilise people across many Muslim-majority countries: overwhelming popular opposition to increasingly intrusive and violent American military, political and economic interventions in many of those countries. This opposition – and the resistance it generates – has now become for supporters of those interventions, synonymous with “Islam”.

(more…)

Source: The Sunday Times

Tony Allen-Mills, New York
May 24, 2009

The arrest of petty crooks over a plan to target Jews has put the use of sting operations under fire

ON the steps of New York city hall on Friday, Michael Bloomberg, the mayor, praised the police officers and federal agents who helped disrupt an apparent terrorist plot to blow up a synagogue and shoot down military aircraft.

The mayor was flanked by more than 100 homeland security and counter-terrorist specialists, all of whom had a hand in an elaborate sting that netted four alleged Muslim extremists. Their plan, according to FBI agents, was to detonate a “fireball that would make the country gasp”.

The operation was acclaimed by New York officials for its success in averting what David Paterson, the state governor, described as “a heinous crime”.

Yet not every New Yorker was impressed by the latest in a long line of purported anti-terrorist triumphs that have supposedly averted tragedy in New York, Chicago, Toronto and several other North American cities since September 11, 2001.

“This whole operation was a foolish waste of time and money,” claimed Terence Kindlon, a defence lawyer who represented the last terror suspect to be tried in New York state. “It is almost as if the FBI cooked up the plot and found four idiots to install as defendants.”

(more…)

“If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for
people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.”
— Noam Chomsky

Here’s an article by Henry Makow, thought-provoking as always.

NATO Spooked by Afghan Laws Upholding Patriarchy

by Henry Makow Ph.D.
April 3, 2009

“women’s rights” has been a fig leaf for imperialism

Apart from drugs, oil and the need for perpetual war, Afghanistan is about bringing the blessings of Western feminism to women there. We are giving them the benefit of promiscuous sex, STD’s, abortion, unemployment, lesbianism, divorce and single motherhood.

However this bonanza is threatened by Hamid Karzai’s new laws which enshrine the Patriarchy. Accordingly, a woman cannot refuse sex for more than four days. Headlines in the West (where sex is mostly confined to random short-term encounters) are screaming “legalized rape!”

The laws also stipulate that women cannot seek work, education or even leave the house without their husband’s permission. The law grants custody of children to fathers and grandfathers.

Since the Afghan war is little understood, “women’s rights” has been a fig leaf for imperialism. So, Westerners are expressing consternation that Hamid Karzai is actually “worse than the Taliban.”

The gnashing of teeth is particularly acute in Canada which has invested $3 billion and more than 120 lives in the Afghan “mission.” (Another $750,000 is being spent in Canada to brainwash the locals i.e. “projects designed to engage young Muslims and non-Muslims in discussions about discrimination, violence and human rights.”)

(more…)

U.S. Perpetuates Mass Killings In Iraq
By Peter Phillips
18 July 2008

Project Censored

The United States is directly responsible for over one million Iraqi deaths since the invasion five and half years ago. In a January 2008 report, a British polling group Opinion Research Business (ORB) reports that, “survey work confirms our earlier estimate that over 1,000,000 Iraqi citizens have died as a result of the conflict which started in 2003…. We now estimate that the death toll between March 2003 and August 2007 is likely to have been of the order of 1,033,000. If one takes into account the margin of error associated with survey data of this nature then the estimated range is between 946,000 and 1,120,000”.

The ORB report comes on the heels of two earlier studies conducted by Johns Hopkins University published in the Lancet medical journal that confirmed the continuing numbers of mass deaths in Iraq. A study done by Dr. Les Roberts from January 1, 2002 to March 18 2003 put the civilian deaths at that time at over 100,000. A second study published in the Lancet in October 2006 documented over 650,000 civilian deaths in Iraq since the start of the US invasion. The 2006 study confirms that US aerial bombing in civilian neighborhoods caused over a third of these deaths and that over half the deaths are directly attributable to US forces.

The now estimated 1.2 million dead, as of July 2008, includes children, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, cab drivers, clerics, schoolteachers, factory workers, policemen, poets, healthcare workers, day care providers, construction workers, babysitters, musicians, bakers, restaurant workers and many more. All manner of ordinary people in Iraq have died because the United States decided to invade their country. These are deaths in excess of the normal civilian death rate under the prior government.

The magnitude of these deaths is undeniable. The continuing occupation by US forces guarantees a mass death rate in excess of 10,000 people per month with half that number dying at the hands of US forces— a carnage so severe and so concentrated at to equate it with the most heinous mass killings in world history. This act has not gone unnoticed.

Recently, Dennis Kucinich introduced a single impeachment article against George W. Bush for lying to Congress and the American people about the reasons for invading Iraq. On July 15 The House forwarded the resolution to the Judiciary Committee with a 238 to 180 vote. That Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction and Iraq’s threat to the US is now beyond doubt. Former US federal prosecutor Elizabeth De La Vega documents the lies most thoroughly in her book U.S. Vs Bush, and numerous other researchers have verified Bush’s untrue statements.

The American people are faced with a serious moral dilemma. Murder and war crimes have been conducted in our name. We have allowed the war/occupation to continue in Iraq and offered ourselves little choice within the top two presidential candidates for immediate cessation of the mass killings. McCain would undoubtedly accept the deaths of another million Iraqi civilians in order to save face for America, and Obama’s 18-month timetable for withdrawal would likely result in another 250,000 civilian deaths or more.

We owe our children and ourselves a future without the shame of mass murder on our collective conscience. The only resolution of this dilemma is the immediate withdrawal of all US troops in Iraq and the prosecution and imprisonment of those responsible. Anything less creates a permanent original sin on the soul of the nation for that we will forever suffer.

Peter Phillips is a Professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University and director of Project Censored a media research group. He is the co-editor with Dennnis Loo of the book Impeach the President: The Case Against Bush and Cheney.

The logic of suicide terrorism
It’s the occupation, not the fundamentalism

By Scott McConnell and Robert Pape
American Conservative Magazine, 18 July 2005

Source: From Occupied Palestine

Last month, Scott McConnell caught up with Associate Professor Robert Pape of the University of Chicago, whose book on suicide terrorism, Dying to Win, is beginning to receive wide notice. Pape has found that the most common American perceptions about who the terrorists are and what motivates them are off by a wide margin. In his office is the world’s largest database of information about suicide terrorists, rows and rows of manila folders containing articles and biographical snippets in dozens of languages compiled by Pape and teams of graduate students, a trove of data that has been sorted and analyzed and which underscores the great need for reappraising the Bush administration’s current strategy. Below are excerpts from a conversation with the man who knows more about suicide terrorists than any other American.

The American Conservative: Your new book, Dying to Win, has a subtitle: The Logic of Suicide Terrorism. Can you just tell us generally on what the book is based, what kind of research went into it, and what your findings were?

Robert Pape: Over the past two years, I have collected the first complete database of every suicide-terrorist attack around the world from 1980 to early 2004. This research is conducted not only in English but also in native-language sources—Arabic, Hebrew, Russian, and Tamil, and others—so that we can gather information not only from newspapers but also from products from the terrorist community. The terrorists are often quite proud of what they do in their local communities, and they produce albums and all kinds of other information that can be very helpful to understand suicide-terrorist attacks.

This wealth of information creates a new picture about what is motivating suicide terrorism. Islamic fundamentalism is not as closely associated with suicide terrorism as many people think. The world leader in suicide terrorism is a group that you may not be familiar with: the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka.

This is a Marxist group, a completely secular group that draws from the Hindu families of the Tamil regions of the country. They invented the famous suicide vest for their suicide assassination of Rajiv Ghandi in May 1991. The Palestinians got the idea of the suicide vest from the Tamil Tigers.

TAC: So if Islamic fundamentalism is not necessarily a key variable behind these groups, what is?

RP: The central fact is that overwhelmingly suicide-terrorist attacks are not driven by religion as much as they are by a clear strategic objective: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland. From Lebanon to Sri Lanka to Chechnya to Kashmir to the West Bank, every major suicide-terrorist campaign—over 95 percent of all the incidents—has had as its central objective to compel a democratic state to withdraw.

TAC: That would seem to run contrary to a view that one heard during the American election campaign, put forth by people who favor Bush’s policy. That is, we need to fight the terrorists over there, so we don’t have to fight them here.

RP: Since suicide terrorism is mainly a response to foreign occupation and not Islamic fundamentalism, the use of heavy military force to transform Muslim societies over there, if you would, is only likely to increase the number of suicide terrorists coming at us.

Since 1990, the United States has stationed tens of thousands of ground troops on the Arabian Peninsula, and that is the main mobilization appeal of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. People who make the argument that it is a good thing to have them attacking us over there are missing that suicide terrorism is not a supply-limited phenomenon where there are just a few hundred around the world willing to do it because they are religious fanatics. It is a demand-driven phenomenon. That is, it is driven by the presence of foreign forces on the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland. The operation in Iraq has stimulated suicide terrorism and has given suicide terrorism a new lease on life.

TAC: If we were to back up a little bit before the invasion of Iraq to what happened before 9/11, what was the nature of the agitprop that Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda were putting out to attract people?

RP: Osama bin Laden’s speeches and sermons run 40 and 50 pages long. They begin by calling tremendous attention to the presence of tens of thousands of American combat forces on the Arabian Peninsula.

In 1996, he went on to say that there was a grand plan by the United States—that the Americans were going to use combat forces to conquer Iraq, break it into three pieces, give a piece of it to Israel so that Israel could enlarge its country, and then do the same thing to Saudi Arabia. As you can see, we are fulfilling his prediction, which is of tremendous help in his mobilization appeals.

TAC: The fact that we had troops stationed on the Arabian Peninsula was not a very live issue in American debate at all. How many Saudis and other people in the Gulf were conscious of it?

RP: We would like to think that if we could keep a low profile with our troops that it would be okay to station them in foreign countries. The truth is, we did keep a fairly low profile. We did try to keep them away from Saudi society in general, but the key issue with American troops is their actual combat power. Tens of thousands of American combat troops, married with air power, is a tremendously powerful tool.

Now, of course, today we have 150,000 troops on the Arabian Peninsula, and we are more in control of the Arabian Peninsula than ever before.

TAC: If you were to break down causal factors, how much weight would you put on a cultural rejection of the West and how much weight on the presence of American troops on Muslim territory?

RP: The evidence shows that the presence of American troops is clearly the pivotal factor driving suicide terrorism.

If Islamic fundamentalism were the pivotal factor, then we should see some of the largest Islamic fundamentalist countries in the world, like Iran, which has 70 million people—three times the population of Iraq and three times the population of Saudi Arabia—with some of the most active groups in suicide terrorism against the United States. However, there has never been an al-Qaeda suicide terrorist from Iran, and we have no evidence that there are any suicide terrorists in Iraq from Iran.

Sudan is a country of 21 million people. Its government is extremely Islamic fundamentalist. The ideology of Sudan was so congenial to Osama bin Laden that he spent three years in Sudan in the 1990s. Yet there has never been an al-Qaeda suicide terrorist from Sudan.

I have the first complete set of data on every al-Qaeda suicide terrorist from 1995 to early 2004, and they are not from some of the largest Islamic fundamentalist countries in the world. Two thirds are from the countries where the United States has stationed heavy combat troops since 1990.

Another point in this regard is Iraq itself. Before our invasion, Iraq never had a suicide-terrorist attack in its history. Never. Since our invasion, suicide terrorism has been escalating rapidly with 20 attacks in 2003, 48 in 2004, and over 50 in just the first five months of 2005. Every year that the United States has stationed 150,000 combat troops in Iraq, suicide terrorism has doubled.

TAC: So your assessment is that there are more suicide terrorists or potential suicide terrorists today than there were in March 2003?

RP: I have collected demographic data from around the world on the 462 suicide terrorists since 1980 who completed the mission, actually killed themselves. This information tells us that most are walk-in volunteers. Very few are criminals. Few are actually longtime members of a terrorist group. For most suicide terrorists, their first experience with violence is their very own suicide-terrorist attack.

There is no evidence there were any suicide-terrorist organizations lying in wait in Iraq before our invasion. What is happening is that the suicide terrorists have been produced by the invasion.

TAC: Do we know who is committing suicide terrorism in Iraq? Are they primarily Iraqis or walk-ins from other countries in the region?

RP: Our best information at the moment is that the Iraqi suicide terrorists are coming from two groups—Iraqi Sunnis and Saudis—the two populations most vulnerable to transformation by the presence of large American combat troops on the Arabian Peninsula. This is perfectly consistent with the strategic logic of suicide terrorism.

TAC: Does al-Qaeda have the capacity to launch attacks on the United States, or are they too tied down in Iraq? Or have they made a strategic decision not to attack the United States, and if so, why?

RP: Al-Qaeda appears to have made a deliberate decision not to attack the United States in the short term. We know this not only from the pattern of their attacks but because we have an actual al-Qaeda planning document found by Norwegian intelligence. The document says that al-Qaeda should not try to attack the continent of the United States in the short term but instead should focus its energies on hitting America’s allies in order to try to split the coalition.

What the document then goes on to do is analyze whether they should hit Britain, Poland, or Spain. It concludes that they should hit Spain just before the March 2004 elections because, and I am quoting almost verbatim: Spain could not withstand two, maximum three, blows before withdrawing from the coalition, and then others would fall like dominoes.

That is exactly what happened. Six months after the document was produced, al-Qaeda attacked Spain in Madrid. That caused Spain to withdraw from the coalition. Others have followed. So al-Qaeda certainly has demonstrated the capacity to attack and in fact they have done over 15 suicide-terrorist attacks since 2002, more than all the years before 9/11 combined. Al-Qaeda is not weaker now. Al-Qaeda is stronger.

TAC: What would constitute a victory in the War on Terror or at least an improvement in the American situation?

RP: For us, victory means not sacrificing any of our vital interests while also not having Americans vulnerable to suicide-terrorist attacks. In the case of the Persian Gulf, that means we should pursue a strategy that secures our interest in oil but does not encourage the rise of a new generation of suicide terrorists.

In the 1970s and the 1980s, the United States secured its interest in oil without stationing a single combat soldier on the Arabian Peninsula. Instead, we formed an alliance with Iraq and Saudi Arabia, which we can now do again. We relied on numerous aircraft carriers off the coast of the Arabian Peninsula, and naval air power now is more effective not less. We also built numerous military bases so that we could move large numbers of ground forces to the region quickly if a crisis emerged.

That strategy, called “offshore balancing,” worked splendidly against Saddam Hussein in 1990 and is again our best strategy to secure our interest in oil while preventing the rise of more suicide terrorists.

TAC: Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders also talked about the “Crusaders-Zionist alliance,” and I wonder if that, even if we weren’t in Iraq, would not foster suicide terrorism. Even if the policy had helped bring about a Palestinian state, I don’t think that would appease the more hardcore opponents of Israel.

RP: I not only study the patterns of where suicide terrorism has occurred but also where it hasn’t occurred. Not every foreign occupation has produced suicide terrorism. Why do some and not others? Here is where religion matters, but not quite in the way most people think. In virtually every instance where an occupation has produced a suicide-terrorist campaign, there has been a religious difference between the occupier and the occupied community. That is true not only in places such as Lebanon and in Iraq today but also in Sri Lanka, where it is the Sinhala Buddhists who are having a dispute with the Hindu Tamils.

When there is a religious difference between the occupier and the occupied, that enables terrorist leaders to demonize the occupier in especially vicious ways. Now, that still requires the occupier to be there. Absent the presence of foreign troops, Osama bin Laden could make his arguments but there wouldn’t be much reality behind them. The reason that it is so difficult for us to dispute those arguments is because we really do have tens of thousands of combat soldiers sitting on the Arabian Peninsula.

TAC: Has the next generation of anti-American suicide terrorists already been created? Is it too late to wind this down, even assuming your analysis is correct and we could de-occupy Iraq?

RP: Many people worry that once a large number of suicide terrorists have acted that it is impossible to wind it down. The history of the last 20 years, however, shows the opposite. Once the occupying forces withdraw from the homeland territory of the terrorists, they often stop—and often on a dime.

In Lebanon, for instance, there were 41 suicide-terrorist attacks from 1982 to 1986, and after the U.S. withdrew its forces, France withdrew its forces, and then Israel withdrew to just that six-mile buffer zone of Lebanon, they virtually ceased. They didn’t completely stop, but there was no campaign of suicide terrorism. Once Israel withdrew from the vast bulk of Lebanese territory, the suicide terrorists did not follow Israel to Tel Aviv.

This is also the pattern of the second Intifada with the Palestinians. As Israel is at least promising to withdraw from Palestinian-controlled territory (in addition to some other factors), there has been a decline of that ferocious suicide-terrorist campaign. This is just more evidence that withdrawal of military forces really does diminish the ability of the terrorist leaders to recruit more suicide terrorists.

That doesn’t mean that the existing suicide terrorists will not want to keep going. I am not saying that Osama bin Laden would turn over a new leaf and suddenly vote for George Bush. There will be a tiny number of people who are still committed to the cause, but the real issue is not whether Osama bin Laden exists. It is whether anybody listens to him. That is what needs to come to an end for Americans to be safe from suicide terrorism.

TAC: There have been many kinds of non-Islamic suicide terrorists, but have there been Christian suicide terrorists?

RP: Not from Christian groups per se, but in Lebanon in the 1980s, of those suicide attackers, only eight were Islamic fundamentalists. Twenty-seven were Communists and Socialists. Three were Christians.

TAC: Has the IRA used suicide terrorism?

RP: The IRA did not. There were IRA members willing to commit suicide—the famous hunger strike was in 1981. What is missing in the IRA case is not the willingness to commit suicide, to kill themselves, but the lack of a suicide-terrorist attack where they try to kill others.

If you look at the pattern of violence in the IRA, almost all of the killing is front-loaded to the 1970s and then trails off rather dramatically as you get through the mid-1980s through the 1990s. There is a good reason for that, which is that the British government, starting in the mid-1980s, began to make numerous concessions to the IRA on the basis of its ordinary violence. In fact, there were secret negotiations in the 1980s, which then led to public negotiations, which then led to the Good Friday Accords. If you look at the pattern of the IRA, this is a case where they actually got virtually everything that they wanted through ordinary violence.

The purpose of a suicide-terrorist attack is not to die. It is the kill, to inflict the maximum number of casualties on the target society in order to compel that target society to put pressure on its government to change policy. If the government is already changing policy, then the whole point of suicide terrorism, at least the way it has been used for the last 25 years, doesn’t come up.

TAC: Are you aware of any different strategic decision made by al-Qaeda to change from attacking American troops or ships stationed at or near the Gulf to attacking American civilians in the United States?

RP: I wish I could say yes because that would then make the people reading this a lot more comfortable.

The fact is not only in the case of al-Qaeda, but in suicide-terrorist campaigns in general, we don’t see much evidence that suicide-terrorist groups adhere to a norm of attacking military targets in some circumstances and civilians in others.

In fact, we often see that suicide-terrorist groups routinely attack both civilian and military targets, and often the military targets are off-duty policemen who are unsuspecting. They are not really prepared for battle.

The reasons for the target selection of suicide terrorists appear to be much more based on operational rather than normative criteria. They appear to be looking for the targets where they can maximize the number of casualties.

In the case of the West Bank, for instance, there is a pattern where Hamas and Islamic Jihad use ordinary guerrilla attacks, not suicide attacks, mainly to attack settlers. They use suicide attacks to penetrate into Israel proper. Over 75 percent of all the suicide attacks in the second Intifada were against Israel proper and only 25 percent on the West Bank itself.

TAC: What do you think the chances are of a weapon of mass destruction being used in an American city?

RP: I think it depends not exclusively, but heavily, on how long our combat forces remain in the Persian Gulf. The central motive for anti-American terrorism, suicide terrorism, and catastrophic terrorism is response to foreign occupation, the presence of our troops. The longer our forces stay on the ground in the Arabian Peninsula, the greater the risk of the next 9/11, whether that is a suicide attack, a nuclear attack, or a biological attack.

Ramzy Baroud of the Palestine Chronicle explains why the US conquest of Afghanistan is doomed to fail. (Insha’Allah).

A New Afghanistan Nightmare

by Ramzy Baroud

Global Research, February 21, 2009

When US envoy to Afghanistan , Richard Holbrooke met with Afghanistan ’s ‘democratically’ installed President Hamid Karzai in Kabul on February 14, he may have just learned of the historic significance of the following day. February 15 commemorates the end of the bloody Russian campaign against Afghanistan (August 1978-February 1989).

But it is unlikely that Holbrooke will absorb the magnitude of that historic lesson. Both he and the new US President Barack Obama are convinced that the missing component for winning the war in Afghanistan is a greater commitment, as in doubling the troops, increasing military spending, and, by way of winning hearts and minds, investing more in developing the country. That combination, the US administration believes, will eventually sway Afghans from supporting the Taliban, tribal militias, Pashtun nationalists and other groups. The latter is waging a guerilla struggle in various parts of the country, mostly in the south, to oust Karzai’s government and foreign occupation forces. While Kabul was considered an “oasis of calm” – by Jonathan Steele’s account – during the Soviet rule, it’s nowhere close to that depiction under the rule of the US and its NATO allies, who had plenty of time, eight long years, to assert their control, but failed.

In fact, just as Holbrooke sat within Karzai’s heavily guarded presidential palace, roadside bombs were detonating across the country, in Khost, in Kandahar and elsewhere. Several police officers were killed, the latest addition to the hundreds of soldiers and officers who die each year as they desperately defend the few symbols of the central government’s authority. Aside from its shaky control over Kabul , and a few provincial capitals, the central government struggles to maintain the little relevance it still holds.

This deems most of the country a battleground between Afghani militias, seen by a growing number of Afghans as a legitimate resistance force against an illegitimate occupation; that being US and NATO forces.

Unlike the unpopular war in Iraq, Afghanistan was widely viewed in the US as a moral war, based on the logic that since al-Qaeda was responsible for the September 11 terrorist attacks, and since the group is hosted by an equally militant Taliban government, both groups must pay. So far, the people of Afghanistan have paid many times over the price expected. Thousands were killed, and an entire generation was scarred by a new civil war, and yet a new foreign military occupation.

While mainstream news consumers are inundated with official commentary and occasional news reports on the challenges awaiting the US in Afghanistan, to secure democracy, freedom and ‘national interests,’ media reports continue to reduce the battle over Afghanistan as one that is concerned with fighting local corruption, instilling human rights and ensuring gender equality.

Little is said of the pertinent reasons behind the war, as such seemingly tedious rhetoric of great games to control the Eurasian landmass – which dates back to the 19th century’s rivalry between British and Russian empires – is more suited for academic discussions that are by no means newsworthy.

But it is perhaps relevant to note that desperate attempts at controlling Afghanistan have failed miserably in the past. If Holbrooke wishes to dig deeper into history, he should learn that the British Empire , which controlled India at the time, was also defeated in Afghanistan in 1842, and again in 1878. Soviet leaders looked for a quick victory as they occupied Kabul in December 1979, only to find themselves engaged in a most bloody war that cost them 15,000 deaths (it goes without saying that the hundreds of thousands of Afghani deaths often go unreported) and an unmitigated defeat.

But, then again, Holbrooke must’ve known of the details of the latter period, for after all, it was his country that armed and financially sustained the mujahideen forces in Afghanistan fearing that the Soviets’ ultimate objective, during the Cold War was challenging US dominance in the region, and eventually the Middle East . Considering the strategically disastrous toppling of the Shah of Iran to the US , the world-leading superpower could take no chances.

But since then, Afghanistan has grown in significance from a politically strategic landmass, due to its proximity to warm-waters and regional powers, to an energy strategic landmass, inevitable to the exploitation of Caspian oil.

“I cannot think of a time when we have had a region emerge as suddenly to become as strategically significant as the Caspian,” said former vice-president Dick Cheney in a speech to oil moguls in 1998. In the same year, John Maresca, vice president of international relations of Unocal Corporation commented before a House committee in February 2008 on ways to transfer Caspian basin oil (estimated between 110 to 243bn barrels of crude, worth up to $4 trillion): “(One) option is to build a pipeline south from Central Asia to the Indian Ocean. One obvious route south would cross Iran , but this is foreclosed for American companies because of US sanctions legislation. The only other possible route is across Afghanistan .”

Military success in Afghanistan is simply not possible, for numerous logistical, historical and practical reasons. But failure will also come at a price, at least for those who will directly benefit from subduing the rebellious nation.

Former president Bush and his entourage of allies failed to turn Afghanistan into a US-styled democracy, easily exploitable for strategic and economic use. By pressing a military solution in Afghanistan, Obama is not only summoning another failed US imperial experiment – as that in Iraq – but insists on adding his country’s name to those of Britain and Russia, who had better chances of success, but were squarely defeated

“It’s like fighting sand. No force in the world can get the better of the Afghans,” Oleg Kubanov, a former Russian officer in Afghanistan told Reuters. “It’s their holy land; it doesn’t matter to them if you’re Russian, American. We’re all soldiers to them.”

It would be timely if Holbrooke takes a few hours from his hectic schedule in the region to brush up on Afghanistan ’s history, for he surely needs it.