I’m sure over the past year you may have accidentally stumbled across the word Stuxnet, it is technically a simple computer virus that has started infecting Microsoft Windows computers since July 2010, I too heard some reports of the virus, but as usual shrugged it aside as just another scare, little did I worry any any further until I heard Ralph Langner speak about it at TED 2011 Cracking Stuxnet, a 21st-century cyber weapon. Only recently after reading a blog post by Amit Agarwal who shared an animated documentary on the Stuxnet Virus prepared by ABC1 Australia on Jun 8th 2011, that made me realize the implications of this mere virus to have the devastation power of becoming a Cyber Weapon of Mass Destruction, im not talking sci-fi, this weapon is being used, carried around on hundreds, thousands and millions of USB’s with the potential force of causing a meltdown in any [or possibly a certain series] of nuclear power plant around the globe.
Lets start with a brief explanation – Stuxnet is a Windows worm virus spreading via USB drives once inside an organization, it self propagates by copying itself to network shares and other USB drives for further infection once it infects the system it hides itself with a rootkit and sees if the infected computer is connected to a Siemens Simatic (Step7) factory system and sends particular commands to modify PLC (Programmable Logic Controllers, i.e. the boxes that actually control the machinery) [centrifuges in nuclear power plants]
Thomson Reuters Foundation under its Trust Law for Women initiative conducted a global research polling over 200 gender experts across five continents to deduce the five most dangerous countries in the world for women. The study ranked the countries in the following order.
While the Highest-ranked countries for each risk factor the evaluated were
- Health: Afghanistan
- Economic / Discrimination : Afghanistan
- Cultural/tribal/religious : Pakistan
- Sexual violence : Congo
- Non-sexual violence : Afghanistan
- Trafficking : India
It seems the United States of America has a very short term selective memory in 2001 after 9/11 it arrested and picked up Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef from Islamabad who was then the Afghanistan Ambassador to Pakistan. He was detained in Pakistan initially in 2001 and then held until 2005 in the Guantanamo Bay detainment camp.
I am sure the serving Ambassador had full Diplomatic Immunity as accorded to his status under the Vienna Convention, whatsoever may his linkage be with the Talibans but he was beaten, tortured, handcuffed, and dragged naked in a US Helicopter before being airlifted to Guantanamo Bay, where were the laws that time, where was the diplomatic immunity and where was the Vienna Convention at that time. The US so staunchly claims for a consultant employed by the US Consulate in Lahore.
On his release Abdul Salam Zaeef wrote an autobiography titled My Life With The Taliban: An Excerpt, a few alamring sections I have copied below but you can read the entire hair raising ordeal on Cage Prisoners website
Last week while traveling to Islamabad for a personal visit I noticed this jet parked on the tarmac near the PAF sheds, little did I think again about the airplane until I read a blog post by Omar R Quraishi who also happened to notice this plane while he was jet-setting to Lahore for a day, upon his return he put his journalistic talents to use and Googled out some concerning facts.
Meridian Airways previously known as Air Charter Express is being used by British Ministry of Defense from RAF Lyneham base and may also be engaged in flying to Afghanistan as well. With extensive involvement of the US and British forces in Pakistan, it might be as simple as a routine trip to Pakistan shipping supplies to the American forces in Pakistan and Afghanistan. But Omar logically deduced some similarity with CIA covert rendition program to say
The plane looked very similar to other aircraft that have appeared in news stories every now and then on the whole so-called ‘rendition’ programme in which the CIA uses private aircraft to ferry prisoners to various countries where they are then interrogated so that US laws regarding prisoners and torture don’t have any bearing.
We know for a fact that the US has in the past smuggled out a number of Pakistani nationals out of Pakistan, so I too would be worried as to why this jet is being operated in Pakistan it being suspicious parked behind three PAF Jets at the Karachi Airport, Omar Quraishi rightfully questions
Who came on it? What was it being used for? And how many such planes use Karachi airport in a week? A month? We are taxpayers and our taxes go to pay for installations such as Karachi airport and for the salaries of the air traffic controllers who interact and guide these planes to land — surely we need to know –who is going to tell us this?
Guest Blog by Talkhaba
“The American court acquits Dr Aafia Siddiqui” The ticker blinks on TV screens is followed by the screen flashes “Breaking News; The US court releases Afia Siddiqui” “The justice has been made by the exemplary American judicial system.”
The News anchors inform us that Pakistani Ambassador to the US Mr. Hussain Haqqani will hold a press conference shortly. At the same time, the tickers read “Quid-e-Tehreek Altaf Hussain has praised Americans for making justice and freeing the daughter of Nation” The news anchors announce that MQM chief has made a phone call to Aafia’s mother which is to telecasted on TV channels live. The audience listens to Altaf Hussain. He is followed by messages from President of Pakistan, Mr. Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, Interior Minister, Mr Rehman Malik, chief of Pakistan Muslims league (N) Mr. Mian Nawaz Shareef, Secretary General Pakistan Muslim League (Q) Syed Mushahid Hussain. Besides, shorts statements of different national leaders are displayed at TV screens, all congratulating Aafia’s family and praising US judicial system.
A US court has found Dr. Aafia Siddiqui guilty of attempting to murder US agents while she was detained for questioning in Afghanistan in 2008. She is allegedly have picked up an army rifle and shot at the US agents, none of the Americans was injured but Aafia Siddiqui also known as Prisoner 650, was shot in the stomach.
She was arrested by Afghan police in July 2008 on suspicion of carrying chemicals and notes referring to “mass-casualty attacks” in New York. A jury in Manhattan found Siddiqui guilty of attempted murder, of armed assault, using and carrying a firearm. She faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
It must be remembered that in 2005 the then President of Pakistan, General Pervaiz Musharraf had bartered a deal with the Americans and may have actually handed over Aafia to the American CIA as she was deemed to have been declared a suspected terrorist, since then she has been missing until an outcry by Yvone Ridley who spotted a certain Prisoner 650 illegally being detained in Afghanistan, it is probably due to this media rukus that the Americans then had to create an elaborate story, which suddenly lead to this “assault on American soldiers and her getting a bullet in the stomach”
Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is on trial this last week in New York on charges of her attempting to kill an FBI officer in Afghanistan. It interesting to note that none of the assault charges are seemingly holding up against her, the M-4 rifle which she allegedly used to fire four shots at the officers has not produced a single finger print of her, while other items presented as evidence in are trial are also not standing up in court. What one must remember that Dr. Aafia Siddiqui was abducted from Karachi and held in some US custody from 2003 for allegedly supporting terrorism, only to re-emerge as a Prisoner 650 charged with assaulting FBI officers in 2008, her trial is not about her terrorism but instead an assault charge made against her in 2008.
Sounds like someone in Pakistan must answer the tough question as to why they felt the need to hand over her and many like her over to the US without a proper investigation and trial ensuring that they were actually guilty of the alleged crime or terrorist activity. Musharraf or for that matter should not have bartered with her life to pick up and let the Americans smuggle her out of Pakistan merely on the basis of a hunch?
A good summary of the progress of the trial can be heard in this short 10-minute interview of Tina Foster, Executive Director of International Justice Network who has been monitoring Dr. Aafia Siddiqi trial in New York on Letters to Washington telecasted on KPFA Washington Radio
Jeremy Scahill writes a must read detailed report on the operations of Blackwater in Pakistan. His extensive investigation naturally starts off from The White House which refused to comment or respond to his emails but a spokesperson from the US Department of Defense denied the presence of Blackwater in Pakistan to categorically say “We don’t have any contracts to do that work for us. We don’t contract that kind of work out, period”
By Azhar Aslam
Waziristan today has come to symbolize the paradigm in which Pakistan finds itself. An epicentre of ‘terrorism’, a symbol of ‘Talibanization’ and now a field for what has been euphemistically called ‘mother of all battles’. Pakistan and Waziristan were not always like this. How we have come to this pass is crucial to analyse, but even more urgent is to assess that are we prepared enough to win this battle?
Is this just a battle or a war? Is the battle confined to South Waziristan? What are the implications beyond Waziristan? What lies beyond the battle? What will happen after South Waziristan has been secured? What are our plans after the area has been secured and captured? How are we going to treat captured combatants? What will be things be like in two, five, ten and twenty years from now?
It is clear that there are no short term measures that can address a problem as complex and deeply embedded as this. The military win will be down to appropriate strategy, superior operational and tactical skills, appropriately trained troops, coordinated intelligence and finally high morale and right motivation. But this battle is about more than just winning in Waziristan. A lot more.
Matthew Hoh, A former Marine Corps captain stationed in the Zabul province in Afghanistan tendered his resignation to the US Ambassador Nancy Powel, becoming the first U.S. official known to resign in protest over the Afghan war, which he had come to believe simply fueled the insurgency.
“I have lost understanding of and confidence in the strategic purposes of the United States’ presence in Afghanistan,” he wrote Sept. 10 in a four-page letter to the department’s head of personnel. “I have doubts and reservations about our current strategy and planned future strategy, but my resignation is based not upon how we are pursuing this war, but why and to what end.”
David Rohde writes about the seven months he was held hostage by a group of extremist Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan and conveys this observation about what motivates them:
My captors harbored many delusions about Westerners. But I also saw how some of the consequences of Washington’s antiterrorism policies had galvanized the Taliban. Commanders fixated on the deaths of Afghan, Iraqi and Palestinian civilians in military airstrikes, as well as the American detention of Muslim prisoners who had been held for years without being charged. Apparently, when we drop bombs on Muslim countries — or when Israel attacks Palestinians — that fuels anti-American hatred and militarism among Muslims. The same outcomes occur when we imprison Muslims without charges in places like Guantanamo and Bagram.
One of the most astounding feats in propaganda is how we’ve managed to take people who live in a country which we invade, bomb and occupy — and who fight against us because we’re doing that — and call them “Terrorists,” thereby “justifying” continuing to bomb and occupy their country further (“We have to stay in order to fight the Terrorists: meaning the people who are fighting us because we stay”).
A casual glance at this picture above taken a few weeks back one would generally not have seen the anomaly but a careful look reveals the problem, a high level meeting in Washington between the respective Presidents of The United States of American, Afghanistan and Pakistan, seems ordinary enough. Generally such a meeting is attended by the official representatives of each country, Afghanistan being represented by President Hamid Karzai, the American delegation by President Obama and you can even see Vice-President Joe Biden, but the problem lies when you take a look at the Pakistani side of the delegation President Zardari, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Hussain Haqqani and Rehman Malik, but what-the-heck is Bilawal Bhutto Zardari doing sitting right next to Mr. Asif Zardari.
A young Pakistani born and bred in village Dhok Gangaal, Post Office Adiala, Tehsil & District Rawalpindi, Irfan Faisal son of Multan Khan who was born on 5 December 1978 holding a machine readable Pakistani passport number AC8911731 which was issued by Rawalpindi office on 12 September 2005 and is valid until 11 September 2010 holding a Pak identity card number 37405-6422173-1 was wrongfully deported to Afghanistan by UK Border Agency. He was deported on mistaken identity by UK Border Agency without making enquiries about his identity whilst at all times his record was available at British Embassy Islamabad.
31 years old Pakistani national came to UK lawfully as a visitor after obtaining a visa which was valid from 25/11/2005 to 25/05/2006. He overstayed his visa and made several claims wrongly or rightly and exhausted all avenues to stay in UK. He may have been an overstayer but not an Afghan national. Afghanistan Govt quietly accepted his deportation and entry to Afghanistan whilst British Embassy in Islamabad at all timers had his record, picture, finger prints and whereabouts.
They met, they talked, they dispersed. The three were Presidents Obama, Karzai and Zardari.
Mr. Obama said simply that “we meet today as three sovereign nations joined by a common goal: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat Al Qaeda and its extremist allies in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their ability to operate in either country in the future.” Link
The common goal outlined by Obama is not commonly shared by the three leaders and their constituents.
First: Al Qaeda is not an entity, a wholesome, unitary organisation, based on Pennsylvania Avenue or the Avenue of Americas that can be obliterated.
It is an idea without headquarters.
Ideas cannot be fought with guns, bombs and drones. Doing so will only force the Goliaths to select their weapons to find David. They can and should be fought with better ideas.