Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

October 8, 2010

Pakistan puzzle: Where’s Ludwig Fichte?

Filed under: Radicalization,Risk Assessment,Strategy,Terrorist Threats & Attacks — by Philip J. Palin on October 8, 2010

Did you you see the video of the skydiver solving a Rubik’s Cube while free-falling?  (Here’s a link.)  His name is Ludwig Fichte.  It reminded me of what we are trying to do in AfPak.  The biggest difference is Fichte had a parachute.  We don’t.  Not really.

Consider just a few of the headlines related mostly to Pakistan over the last several days:

Sunday/Monday

Osama bin-Laden criticizes Western response to flooding in Pakistan.

Travelers warned of terrorist plans to attack targets in Britain, France, and Germany.  Western intelligence sources suggest terror teams trained in Pakistan have already deployed to Europe.

Drone strike kills German terrorists-in-training in North Waziristan.   Several media reports suggest connections to same Hamburg cell involved in planning 9/11 attacks.

Taliban attacks NATO supply caravan “held hostage” by Pakistani military.  On September 30 the Pakistani military restricted most border crossings into Afghanistan in apparent retaliation for the death of two Pakistani soldiers in a cross-border operation by NATO forces based in Afghanistan.

Germany downplays terror threat to Europe.

590,000 flood victims remain homeless in Southwest Pakistan. It has been eleven weeks since the first floods struck Pakistan… In Sindh province, in the south, flooding is still happening. Since mid-August floods there have to varying degrees affected almost a third of the province’s 30.4 million residents, and around 1.6 million people are still displaced.  (Source UNHCR)

Tuesday

Pakistan political stability threatened by slow flood aid.

Pakistan floods reduce Afghan food supply.  Some basic food prices have doubled in Afghanistan.

NATO apologizes but Pakistan military continues to block Khyber Pass and other supply routes.

Faisal Shahzad sentenced to life in prison.  The wanna-be Times Square bomber was (poorly) trained in Pakistan

Wednesday

Briton tagged to lead terrorist cell confirmed killed.  Abdul Jabbar, who claimed to be forming the Islamic Army of Great Britain, was killed by a September drone attack, according to several media reports.  Pakistani intelligence officials have strongly denied the story.

According to the Wall Street Journal,  the  White House  is telling Congress that, “The Pakistan military continued to avoid military engagements that would put it in direct conflict with Afghan Taliban or al Qaeda forcesin North Waziristan…”  U.S. officials say they are increasingly frustrated by Pakistan’s decision not to send large numbers of ground forces into North Waziristan. “This is as much a political choice as it is a reflection of an under-resourced military prioritizing its targets,” the unclassified, 27-page report finds.”

Thursday

Britons training in Pakistan for terror attacks.  Intelligence sources suggest at least twenty holding UK passports are currently in North Waziristan.

Fifty tankers torched.  At least 150 NATO oil tankers have been detained at just one border crossing.  Up to 6500 transports of all kinds are estimated to be waiting to be let through to land-locked Afghanistan. NATO claims the supply slowdown has not impacted ISAF operations.

US apologizes for incursion that resulted in transport restrictions from Pakistan to Afghanistan.  Despite  expressions of regret by the US ambassador and Charman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff  no change has occurred at the border.

Two drone attacks kill eleven.

According to Bloomberg, the White House update to Congress on operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan concludes, “The flooding (in Pakistan) has led to a “military status quo” that “could ultimately result in militant gains if extremist groups remain undisturbed in their safe havens.”

At least eight people were killed when two suicide bombers exploded at a major Sufi shrine Abdullah Shah Ghazi in the port city of Karachi late Thursday, according to DAWN.

A US terror alert issued this week about al-Qaida plots to attack targets in western Europe was politically motivated and not based on credible new information, senior Pakistani diplomats and European intelligence officials have told the Guardian. The non-specific US warning, which despite its vagueness led Britain, France and other countries to raise their overseas terror alert levels, was an attempt to justify a recent escalation in US drone and helicopter attacks inside Pakistan that have “set the country on fire”, said Wajid Shamsul Hasan, the high commissioner to Britain. (More from the Guardian)

This list is obviously just the tip of a proverbial iceberg.  I am posting on Thursday night.  No doubt overnight and Friday will bring plenty more.  Like an iceberg what really worries is what cannot be seen.

With less than 30 days until the — historic? — mid-term elections, would most Americans or even most candidates list our relationship with Pakistan as a top issue?  I don’t think anyone needs to carefully consider survey results to answer with a confident no. 

It’s tough for a democracy to solve a complicated problem to which the vast majority of the demos is not giving some serious attention.  Republics were supposed to do better at this, but we live in a populist age where the old republican virtues have atrophied.  I don’t have an easy solution for our demonstrated tendency to neglect clear priorities until its (almost?) too late.  I’m just say’in (as Glenn Beck might say). 

The YouTube of Fichte solving the Rubik’s Cube uses as its soundtrack the song “Falling” by the New England rock band Staind.  The lyrics offer some good counsel regarding our Pakistan puzzle:

you in your shell
are you waiting for someone
to rescue you
from yourself
don’t be disappointed
when no one comes

don’t blame me you didn’t get it
don’t blame me you didn’t get it
don’t blame me you didn’t get it
i already told you
that falling is easy
it’s getting back up
that becomes the problem
becomes the problem
if you don’t believe you can find a way out you become the problem
become the problem

you all alone
are you waiting for someone
to make you whole
can’t you see
aren’t you tired of
this dysfunctional routine

don’t blame me you didn’t get it
don’t blame me you didn’t get it
don’t blame me you didn’t get it
i already told you
that falling is easy
it’s getting back up
that becomes the problem
becomes the problem
if you don’t believe you can find a way out you become the problem
become the problem

i already told you
that falling is easy
it’s getting back up
that becomes the problem
becomes the problem
if you don’t believe you can find a way out you become the problem
become the problem

falling is easy
it’s getting back up
that becomes the problem
becomes the problem
But if you believe you can find a way out then you solve the problem you’ve solved your problem

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15 Comments »

Comment by FUZZBOX BLUE VOODOO DOCTOR

October 8, 2010 @ 4:10 am

Be Pragmatism
Pin the tail on the donkey was soooo Generation X.
Play pin the tail on the bin laden with the kids for Halloween and make your own fun of the devil.

Tell ’em you heard it on the X.

Comment by FUZZBOX BLUE VOODOO DOCTOR

October 8, 2010 @ 5:21 am

Impromptu Party
“The Times could of saved themselves about 50 Grand a year if they just sent an office boy over to the White House to pick up press releases.”

“He’s the right man for the wrong time.” At what point does defending the system corrupt the system? If you ignore the whole thing it’s a cop-out and you can’t out-cop the booked and lawd Rangers. Beer review time or peer review time, depending on who’s reviewing what. It’s better to be in the pub while the storm outside rages. Turn up the V’s on the airways and close the hatches. Work a puzzle and we’re working it through. You got home okay? That’s what I thought! We hear you.

Comment by FUZZBOX BLUE VOODOO DOCTOR

October 8, 2010 @ 5:40 am

Courting today. More bad mortgages and marriages. We don’t mortgage or marry. We do merry old morals and manner here at M&M Investigation and invest in what has the highest yield. Looking into a beauty salon venture to replace empty car dealership. Give the bankrupts and car salesmen a haircut. Need a chick that likes wearing paint and powder. Pakistan is lost cause, so pak it in Stan. Ford Boss 302 looks fast and fun for road tripping. Key West, the ultimate dead-end trip.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

October 8, 2010 @ 6:18 am

Dear Fuzzy:

As you have perhaps noticed, I am excising some of your comments. I have done more excising this morning than all the excising and comment editing I have ever done before. I regret the task.

I am strongly predisposed to poetry and your expressions occasionally prompt in me a bit of poetic insight. I welcome your continued contributions.

When I perceive — to the extent I am able to perceive — that your comments reflect the topic being discussed or are an artful way of shifting the topic, I will not excise. But if I perceive you are not really trying to attend to others or if your number of comments are discouraging others from commenting, I will excise.

I am uncomfortable with my ethical position here. I have a strong intuition of hypocricy. But as I have otherwise demonstrated, when I perceive a conflict between what is pragmatically best and ethically best — for good or evil — I often choose the tangible good of the present moment rather than the theoretical good of ethical restraint. As I read recently, “If you are going to shoot, then shoot, don’t talk.”

Comment by FUZZBOX BLUE VOODOO DOCTOR

October 8, 2010 @ 6:26 am

Progress is poison as well as food. Safety is the most foolish of all foolish human hopes. It’s about to get a lot more dangerous Washington and danger is progress as well as wisdom, so the journalist are busier than ever and the press rolls on and one mistake leads to the next. He’s a cult of personality and it’s just business as usual. They all kind of look the same jabber jawing for change. Winters are cold and losers are hot. Cool heads prevail, so let’s meet up in Vail. I’ll bring the poison and you bring the food.

Comment by FUZZBOX BLUE VOODOO DOCTOR

October 8, 2010 @ 6:34 am

10-4 PJP. Fair, foul or file this is your gig and you need to maintain control. Facts are better than dreams, so avoid nightmares. Pick your poison if you will.

Thanks,
Doc

Comment by FUZZBOX BLUE VOODOO DOCTOR

October 8, 2010 @ 6:45 am

My shop runs on bronze and hard copy, so to speak, so excise all you need. Don’t tax your own time too much. You can’t collect from yourself. Thanks for the heads up. Regret heads down.

Comment by FUZZBOX BLUE VOODOO DOCTOR

October 8, 2010 @ 7:17 am

Patient is new read out device for the computer. Doc is readin newspaper here. The kids are ridin school bus outside and Washington is bickering about change. Bostonians have music on the brain and Talking Heads are doing homework on the range. Over easy baby, over easy. Thanks for bring home the bacon. Want toast?

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 8, 2010 @ 7:49 am

Phil! A very interesting collection of articles. The most significant may have been missed however. Formal Declaration of War by the Muslim Brotherhood against the WEST and US specifically. This group which stems from the genius of Quaud [sid] hung by Egypt in the 50’s seems poised and organized to take revolutionary steps against the corrupt Arabic governments. Islam always had an undercurrent of “cleansing” of the soul as do some other desert religions that grew out of the stillness and void of the desert. So the transfer of power in Egypt in particular will be interesting to watch.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

October 8, 2010 @ 8:06 am

Bill: Today I am trying to focus our attention on issues particular to Pakistan. It is my understanding that the Muslim Brotherhood is mostly an Egyptian/Near-eastern and much less a South Asian network. Still, the Muslim Brotherhood has been closely related to AQ, especially through Zawahiri. Further, as you suggest the intellectual influence of the Muslim Brotherhood on Islamic extremism generally has been significant. I missed an explicit Declaration of War. But I wonder if this is the way some are characterizing an especially tough sermon by Muhammad Badi’. There is a translation at http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/4650.htm

If this is not it, can you point us elsewhere?

Comment by FUZZBOX BLUE VOODOO DOCTOR

October 8, 2010 @ 4:52 pm

“Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.” Keep it hard headed and soft hearted for the sake of the children and wear a bicycle helmet kids.

Comment by FUZZBOX BLUE VOODOO DOCTOR

October 8, 2010 @ 5:20 pm

2 hard heads are better than 1 I guess.

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 8, 2010 @ 7:35 pm

Will try to track down but my memory is several references in MSM!

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 9, 2010 @ 1:58 am

Have sent several blog references to the “Declaration” to Phil but oddly so far have not found it in the MSM that I typically read.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

October 9, 2010 @ 6:16 am

Bill, Thanks for the links. The so-called Declaration of War is based on the sermon to which I linked in my first response above. Below I provide the URL of what I found to be the most cogent argument for this being a de-facto Declaration of War.

A couple of excerpts from the translation of excerpts provided by MEMRI:

… the improvement and change that the [Muslim] nation seeks can only be attained through jihad and sacrifice and by raising a jihadi generation that pursues death just as the enemies pursue life…

The Muslim nation has the means [to bring about] improvement and change… It knows the way, the methods, and the road signs, and it has a practical role model in Allah’s Messenger, [the Prophet Muhammad]… who clarified how to implement the values of the [Koran] and the Sunna at every time and in every place. In addition, we have the histories of the ancient prophets, and of the rise and fall of [previous] nations…

The sermon is specifically focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But it is not a stretch to hear broader implications. I do not hear anything fundamentally new or different in the sermon. But… I am not fluent in Arabic and the Muslim Brotherhood is not a particular expertise of mine, so I may be missing critical nuance.

Here’s the link to someone who hears much more than I do:

http://rubinreports.blogspot.com/2010/10/muslim-brotherhood-declares-war-on.html

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