This Week in War. A Friday round-up of what happened and what’s been written in the world of war and military/security affairs this week. It’s a mix of news reports, policy briefs, blog posts and longform journalism.
- Prominent Palestinian writer Salameh Kaileh spent three weeks in detention in various Syrian prisons over suspicion that he was handing out leaflets calling for Assad’s downfall. Kaileh described the prisons as a “human slaughterhouses” and “hell on earth.”
- UN Sec’y General Ban Ki-Moon told Christiane Amanpour that there is “no Plan B” for Syria at this moment.
- The violence in Syria spilled further over the border into Lebanon, igniting clashes throughout the week.
- Rival Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah have agreed to a deal that will lead to elections and a unity government in the West Bank and Gaza.
- A huge suicide bombing in Sana’a, Yemen, on Monday, killed more than 100 and was claimed by militants connected with Al Qaeda.
- The Lockerbie bomber died in Libya on Sunday.
- Pakistani Dr. Shakil Afridi, who assisted the CIA in ascertaining bin Laden’s whereabouts, has been sentenced in Pakistan to 33 years for treason.
- It’s been another very bloody week in Karachi.
- On Tuesday, the Senate appropriations subcommittee on foreign aid voted to cut aid to Pakistan by 58% and threatened further cuts if Pakistan doesn’t reopen supply lines.
- At the Chicago summit, NATO leaders decided on a permanent timetable in which Afghan forces will take over combat command in mid-2013 and NATO combat forces will leave by 2014.
- US Ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan Crocker, will be leaving his post this summer.
- Five kidnapped aid workers are apparently being held for ransom in Shahr-e Bozorg, Afghanistan. Negotiations are ongoing.
- The State Dept. spent $1800 per student per day in 2010 for its Anti-Terrorism Training program in North Africa, the Middle East and South and Central Asia. The total money spent on programs like this since 9/11 is $1.4b. The State Dept’s Inspector General released a report on these programs for public consumption this week.
- Talks over the Iranian nuclear program resumed in Baghdad this week, hitting a snag on negotiations over sanctions.
- The military junta in Guinea-Bissau has handed over power to a civilian government.
- Dioncounda Traoré, the interim president of Mali, was beset by protesters on Monday, who stormed the presidential palace and beat him unconscious.
- A yearlong probe identified 1800 cases of fake parts in US military equipment. A suspected million such fake parts are out there, and 70% of these parts can be traced back to China.
- CNAS released a policy report outlining suggestions for reforming the structure and operation of the military.
- A 2011 Army memo obtained by Danger Room shows that the Army has had extensive concerns about the long-term health risks associated with the combat burn pit operated at Bagram Airfield. Service-members have been coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan with puzzling health problems, most likely associated with exposure to these burn pits. A recent animal study also came to light showing that burn pits not only adversely affects lungs in the short term, but has serious long-term impacts on the immune system.
- Two female Army reservists have filed suit in district court to remove the restriction on combat service in the military based “solely on sex,” saying the restriction violates their 5th amendment right to due process.
- A new GAO report says that wounded service-members are now waiting an average of a year for their official disability evaluation. This is a big increase, and the wait time has been on the up for the last three years.
- Congressional investigators want an explanation within 10 days from the Defense Logistics Agency as to why the military was double-billed and excessively charged to the tune of $750m for food supplies.
- One of the owners of a firm involved in propaganda operations for the Pentagon has publicly admitted to creating a series of websites in a misinformation campaign attacking two USA Today journalists who had reported on the contracting company.
- The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the ACLU’s challenge to the 2008 FISA Amendments, the warrantless wiretapping legislation which grants the NSA the power to tap the international phone calls and emails made by US citizens. Just this Tuesday, a Senate panel voted to extend these provisions, which the White House hopes to extend beyond its year-end expiration date.Photo: Logar province, eastern Afghanistan. During a helicopter transport, US Army medic with the C Company 3/82 Dustoff medevac attends to an Afghan National Army soldier wounded by gunshot. Danish Siddiqui/Reuters.
ProPublica’s Sebastian Rotella, who has spent more than a year investigating suspected links between Pakistan’s intelligence service and terrorist groups, answers the question: What is Laskhar-i-Taiba?
"Lashkar was founded in the 1980s and fought against Soviet incursions into Afghanistan, an effort supported by the U.S and Pakistan. Pakistan’s military used the group as a strategic ally in its fight with India over Kashmir, working so closely with Lashkar that the military often assigned officers to work with the militant group. The Pakistani government officially outlawed Lashkar after a 2001 attack on India’s parliament. But David Coleman Headley testified that in the years leading up to the Mumbai attacks the ISI retained a close alliance with Lashkar and its officers helped screen and train recruits from overseas at Lashkar training camps.
Lashkar is enmeshed with other terror groups in the region. Its founder, Hafiz Saeed, was a mentor to Osama bin Laden and helped him found a group that was a precursor to al Qaeda. Al Qaeda, for its part, works with the Pakistani Taliban. The Barcelona subway bombing plot of 2008 was believed to have been a joint venture by the Taliban and al Qaeda. The Mumbai investigation showed that a number of Lashkar fighters, including former Pakistani military officers, have defected to the Taliban and al Qaeda in recent years.”
(U) Warning: This joint DHS/FBI document is UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY (U//FOUO). It is subject to release restrictions as detailed in the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (6 U.S.C. 482) and the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552). It is to be controlled, stored, handled, transmitted, distributed, and disposed of in accordance with DHS and FBI policy
Saif al-Adel, an Egyptian former special forces officer, is named as acting leader of al-Qaida, according to Pakistani reports
Daily Chart: attacks attributed to al-Qaeda. Our comprehensive briefing explains what the death of Osama bin Laden means for al-Qaeda, Pakistan, Afghanistan - and the West.
Caryle Murphy of GlobalPost reveals after eight years of fighting Al Qaeda, Saudi Arabia has detained almost 12,000 people, but only half have ever been charged with a crime.