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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Who is behind murder of Khalid Shahanshah?

A Pakistani guard stands alert outside a local hospital where Khalid Shahenshah a bodyguard of slain former Prime Minister Benaz Pictures & Photos

Switch to thumbnailSwitch to thumbnailA Pakistani guard stands alert outside a local hospital where Khalid Shahenshah a bodyguard of slain former Prime Minister Benaz
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Asif’s chief security officer gunned down in Karachi

By Tahir Siddiqui

KARACHI, July 22: Khalid Shahanshah, the chief security officer of PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari, was assassinated on Tuesday afternoon outside his Clifton residence, police and witnesses said.

They said that gunmen on a white car sprayed him with a volley of bullets while he was stepping off his double-cabin vehicle in front of his house at Khyaban-i-Bukhari.

Darakhshan police said the 45-year-old PPP leader, who was stated to have been instrumental in the recent operation against gangsters in Lyari, reached his house along with a friend at about 2.45pm.

Mr Shahanshah parked his vehicle outside his bungalow as the gate of his porch was being repaired, while his friend, Manzar Abbas, went inside.

The victim’s friend, a businessman, told police that he went inside the house and Shahanshah was parking the vehicle. He said he stayed back when he heard the sound of gunfire.

A private security guard at the PPP leader’s house rushed out, only to find Mr Shahanshah lying in a pool of blood near the main entrance. He told Dawn that Mr Shahanshah managed to call the police from his mobile phone, although he was critically wounded.

The fatally wounded victim, father of two, was immediately taken to a nearby campus of the Ziauddin Medical University Hospital, but he died.

Hospital sources said the slain PPP leader had received at least five bullets, three of them in his upper torso, from a very close range.

Party leaders, including Rashid Rabbani and Waqar Mehdi, immediately reached the hospital.

Sindh Home Minister Dr Zulfiqar Mirza, who also rushed to the hospital, described the incident as another attempt to destabilise the government.

Police said that 18 empties of sub-machine gun and a dozen of .222 rifles were recovered from the scene.

SHO Inspector Khalid Mehboob said there was no eyewitness to the killing. “The private security guard could not see the faces of the occupants of the car that sped away after the swift operation,” he added.

The Darakhshan police chief said it was clearly a case of target killing. “But nothing could be said about the motive behind the incident at the moment,” he added.

The car used by the assailants was found abandoned in the evening in Defence Society.

Police sources said the attackers had fired from inside the car. They said that at least five shots had been fired from behind the windscreen of the car. Police also found empties in the car.

The sources said the car bore a fake provincial government registration number (GS-3909).

A case was registered against unknown assailants on the complaint of the victim’s younger brother, Haider Ali.

Shahanshah was once said to have links with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim. Other two associates of Dawood were Shoaib Khan and Ibrahim alias Bholu. The former died in mysterious circumstances in Karachi’s Central Jail and the latter was kidnapped and killed.

Shahanshah was also a close associate of the slain chief of PPP’s student wing, Najeeb Ahmed.

Shahanshah contested the 2002 election for a National Assembly seat from the Azizabad constituency on a PPP ticket. He went abroad for some time and returned with Benazir Bhutto on Oct 18 last year. He was also with Ms Bhutto when she was assassinated on Dec 27.

He was interviewed by the Scotland Yard team which visited Pakistan to investigate the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.


Khalid Shahinshah, key suspect in BB’s murder assassinated in Karachi
Posted by Teeth Maestro
July 23, 2008

Khalid Shahinshah signaling someone before BB assassinationA key witness of a Bhutto assassination has been shot dead in Karachi yesterday on Khy-e-Bhukahri.

DAWN: Khalid Shahanshah, the chief security officer of PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari, was assassinated on Tuesday afternoon outside his Clifton residence, police and witnesses said. They said that gunmen on a white car sprayed him with a volley of bullets while he was stepping off his double-cabin vehicle in front of his house at Khyaban-i-Bukhari.

If many may recall a video surfaced after Benazir Bhutto assassination in Islamabad which showed Khalid Shahinshah suspiciously signaling to some one in the crowd.

Khalid Shahinshah, who was hired by Bhutto on the recommendation of her security advisor Rahman Malik, has been on the run ever since footage emerged of the strange gestures he had made while standing on the dais next to Bhutto while she addressed an election rally.

Shahinshah was standing on Bhutto’s left during her speech and ran a finger across his throat which implied slitting the throat. Security officials have expressed concern at his “suspicious gestures” which could not be ignored.

It seems as this is a Deja Vu of Murtaza Bhutto’s assassination when two on the key witnesses, SHO Haq Nawaz mysteriously died of self-inflicted wounds and Inspector Zeeshan Kazmi killed a few months later. Whilst we can recall that One must also remember that all the key players involved in Murtaza Bhutto’s assassination have been highly compensated starting off with, Shoaib Suddle who was deputy inspector-general (DIG) of Karachi at the time of the killing; is now IG Sindh

Wajid Durrani, alleged to be the coordinator of the Murtaza Bhutto’s assassination, was the senior superintendent of police (SSP) District South, Karachi, at the time of the killing. Mr Durrani, was promoted to additional deputy inspector-general (ADIG). Rai Tahir, who stopped the car and allegedly gave the signal to fire, was the assistant superintendent of police (ASP) in Clifton in 1996. He was promoted to district police officer (DPO) and moved to the Punjab

Shahid Hayat was another ASP from the Saddar district. He was promoted to ADIG, then DPO Thatta, and is now prowling Jinnah airport as the Deputy Director of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and very recently Dogar court compensated him for his lost wages during the few months of inactivity while Agha Jamil the station house officer (SHO) of the Napier police station in Karachi and was later promoted to work under his old comrade at the traffic department as a deputy superintendent (DSP).

With all this as a historical perspective in the background one does try to find a common denominator and in both cases it seems to have Asif Ali Zardari intrinsically involved in both Bhutto assassinations and quite mysteriously both key murders ended up inconclusive and all witnesses escaped investigation Even the 27th Dec assassination of Benazir Bhutto is remains a mystery with only Zardari being the key beneficiary to her assassination.

Comment by Barrister Ali K.Chishti on July 23, 2008 @ 3:29 pm


I- I knew Khalid from London and if you knew him – he was a man of integrity and nothing more.
II- His acts on the stage were his normal as he was often called, a joker and Mr. Bean.
III- It’s not necessary the beneficiary of one incident which are chief/prime suspects but people who benefited indirectly – that could be N.S that could be a lot of other people. But lets not go into ‘ifs’ & ‘buts’

Kindly, honor the dead!!! Please…
Comment by Zafar Iqbal on July 23, 2008 @ 6:00 pm

I agree with Awab, we had seen a lot of mysterious things happening so far. And all these incidents mentioned by him are not just co-incidents. They are facts, and if I see at this as a murder investigator then I will point a finger first of all at the beneficiaries of that murder. So we should not ignore these things.
Comment by Imran on July 23, 2008 @ 6:10 pm

That does NOT look like a face of killer or conspirator, innocent always die in Pakistan, while guilty live like kings.
Comment by Imtiaz on July 23, 2008 @ 6:15 pm

The killing of any human being is really a very brutal act. We all condemn the killing of any Muslim, any Pakistani, and any Human Being.

May Allah give him place in the heavens.

Well as for as link to the Benazir killing is concerned there may be some chances as wrote by Awab but there could be chances the people who are actually involved in Benazir killing have also killed him to divert the investigations in Benazir case.

God Know Better
Comment by Aflatoon on July 23, 2008 @ 6:27 pm

Naaa, his gestures don’t mean any thing.

Looks like he went down to allow a cameraman to take a good snap of BB. He doesn’t have any signs of nervousness on his face.

PPP blamed it on MQM (implicitly).

Usually in parties like PPP and MQM, insiders are killed because :

1) Opposition to the leadership or
2) One group wanting to get closer to the leadership may kill another group who is already closer to the leadership.

Moral of the story: Its bloody Politics in Pakistan, only the Harami-est win.
Comment by Aflatoon on July 24, 2008 @ 12:20 am

Insider JOB

Read this at DAWN….

KARACHI, July 22:…..

Darakhshan police said the 45-year-old PPP leader, who was stated to have been instrumental in the recent operation against gangsters in Lyari, reached his house along with a friend at about 2.45pm.

Mr Shahanshah parked his vehicle outside his bungalow as the gate of his porch was being repaired, while his friend, Manzar Abbas, went inside.

Wow what kind of friendship was that? the host was outside parking his car and the guest was already in the house Looks like the guest knew whats going to happen to the host…..
Comment by Aflatoon on July 24, 2008 @ 12:21 am

Comment by dr razahaider on July 24, 2008 @ 2:19 am

@barrister chisti

This is very astonishing that a joker, well known, as per chisti version, Mr. Bean, was appointed a chief security officer.

It seems very easy to become barrister if you have few bucks’ .Just get admission in some school in Pakistan, stay there for few months, go to England for 9 month or so get the diploma from there and become a barrister after few dinners.

But I don’t think such qualification bought through in lieu of bucks can create essence as an advocate and quality as trait to perceive and interpret things which can easily be assessed after having your version of thoughts.

In books of investigative principle such acts after dreadful episodes can never escape definition and interpretation.

If every thing would have been ok such actions would have never gain attention in the eyes of scrutiny.

However if we critically evaluate the actions of the subject protocol officer and murder of BB, I would have no second thought but to tag the action and event a chain of command, explaining the mode and format of designed fatality.

Eyes witness what is been shown and mind logically interpret what is seen.

Ethically, deviation of thoughts only results when there are two episodes of different theme thereby, balancing each other, thus directing individual to indulge discussion with open horizon, dimensions and sphere hence, keeping all ifs and buts in legitimate vocabulary.

Since the action and related turmoil have linear and symbiotic resemblance in meaning and explanation and resulting outcome, in no way exemption can be permitted.

Similarly murder is itself explaining the connectivity thou there may be more factors to divert the thoughts in displacement.

A person known to be a comedian is never a victim of his normal activity.

@ All, why is it that after a sad episode of culmination as death we humanly express our opinion to close the chapter, as something unusual being happened therefore, no further discussion gains part of our lives that has caused such a turmoil to the country, such as that occur in the shape of the death of benazir Bhutto.

In my opinion it is this attitude that has never highlighted and solved the murder, mysteries and myth from liaqat Ali khan to Benazir Bhutto.
It is this attitude that people give away their will to participate in discussion thereby allowing criminals to enjoy the perks as there is no one to hinder the route that t has been created.

We got to perceive thing professionally, like lawyers and doctors who after loosing a patient or client starts preparing the new patient or case so to relief as been asked to do.
Comment by Teeth Maestro on July 24, 2008 @ 10:31 am

@Ali - I have no intention of disrespecting the departed, we mourn any such loss of life. But the overall punch of the message may well be directed at the lack of investigation in regards to the slaying of Benazir Bhutto. Ironically he was there making suspicious gestures (intentionally or not) but those were made barely moments before she was killed - I like many have reason to suspect, and question the so called investigation. Make these gestures anywhere in the world so close to a murder scene and you will most likely be deemed a prime suspect until proven innocent

Our system is inherently corrupt and unless we catch and point out the blatant errors these criminals will (and always have) walked way scott free - in my books this is the second deliberate assassination of a Bhutto leader and that too suspiciously under the watch of Zardari.

May his soul rest in peace - but the questions raised must stand in their own right they must
Comment by Shahzad on July 24, 2008 @ 6:29 pm

dr Raza Haider,

Why are you firing personal attacks on Barrister Chishti? Just because he has different views than you? I personally don’t know him, but I find your remakrs against him very offensive.

Shame on you. You don’t deserve the credentials of a DR. You can show-off as much as you want, but honestly Dr like you are the source of illness in the societies.

You can earn the credentials you want, but its not easy to wash-away the sick-upbringing.
Comment by dr razahaider on July 25, 2008 @ 12:19 am

Domain is a term used arbitrarily to express legitimate, restricted premises so to explain the visitor of its limited boundaries.

Intellect have similar sibling in the format of domain where intellect can enter on behalf of their expertise ,skill, and define knowledge in the form and format of their qualification, interpretation, evaluation, inference, predictions and notions.

Prefix and suffix awards and medal explain the legitimacy of concealed qualities that grants permissible visa to enter the domain of such intellects as similar school of thinking and thoughts.

However distraction, distortion and displacement from ethical, moral and professional attitude due to factors that could buy any thing, less ability and knowledge, deteriorated these preliminary and honorary awards.

Nevertheless, in spite of such deranged and distorted figure, discrimination is still the subject of study on ground of responses, reactions, and interpretations and assessment.

Subject lawyer proved his abilities in the contest of similar belongings through his way to percept and interpret.

Rejection, dejection, disown, criticism, and maltreatment although a universally accepted offensive terminologies but these factors of humiliation create reactionary offensive retaliation thus boosting and uplifting the profile of a person who is exposed or discriminated in this regard. Under such stressful preoccupied enmity, rift or rivalry desire to attack and compete again with the discriminator is created hence reverting again on the platform with more thrust and power.

Since this platform is an intellectual platform, he is expected to visit the forum again with new concept of interpretation, perception and examination thereby defending the title and award that has been granted or achieved.

In my opinion under the requisite justification ,I see no offence to be apologetic or be ashamed of my behavior as in fact I have tried to uplift his profile ,so that in future he may realize the fact that advocacy demands logical justification as circumstantial evidences on ground of available facts and figures.

Whereas to your inquisition to my credentials ,please allow me to minimize discussion by saying that the above discussion is also a unique art of disembarking individual who can not properly interpret because of their low intelligence quotient ,and I would definitely wont like your kind sole to be engaged within the domain.

My regards, to you and chisti, as well.

Whereas, it is for your info that I have few more credentials of being a surgeon and military officer, as well.
Comment by cleangoogle on July 25, 2008 @ 8:04 pm

stone all home no this usa head green
Comment by ZF on July 25, 2008 @ 8:04 pm

May be his gesture simply means poking fun at BB voice.. Seems like he is tyring to say “BB ka gala betha hua hai”..
Comment by Obi Wan Kenobi on July 26, 2008 @ 8:54 am

Dr. Sahib , may I ask you one question ? How much time do you spend in blogging? I guess you are a retired Army officer and not much to do. One piece of advice, no one really cares for so long comments.
Comment by Teeth Maestro on July 26, 2008 @ 10:06 am

@OBI - you know me better then that at least from our three years of interaction
Comment by Obi Wan Kenobi on July 26, 2008 @ 10:50 pm

Teetho, the comment was not directed to you :-), that was for Dr. Raza Haider who is continuously spamming pak blogosphere with his intellect… By the way you are not a dr., you are a dentist :-) haha. Just kidding. Any how I am still wondering if you could get us update on KU professor who was beaten up by rangers. I guess Prof. brother contacted you so you may have his email address. Any updates would be really appreciated or at least commit to us that you don’t have any updates and you really don’t care for an update as long as it stirred up the people at that time.
Comment by Asim on July 26, 2008 @ 11:29 pm

Dr Raza,

take your credentials to impress the police in Pakistan, they may give you a salute for your credentials.

But your writings and your words to belittle others earn you no respect. So if you think your credentials give you the right to launch personal attach on other because they differ from your view then you might as well take those credentials up your A$$.
Comment by dr razahaider on July 27, 2008 @ 12:15 am

I think it’s not me but my writing that has probably started poking.

Any ways dear all, dear we got to dig out what we want.

Why is it that we are always short of time?

It is because of this attitude that has distracted our thoughts and had infact squeezed our memory to short tempered dumps with usage within the premises of ,events as news, victims to orientate and reason, so to spend few days of hot discussion.

Infact nothing gain but habitual looser.

So why are the Muslims

so powerless!!!


Shahinshah’s ex-guard, six others killed in violence, mishaps
KARACHI: Seven people, including Khalid Shahinshah’s former security guard, were killed in different incidents of violence and mishaps in the metropolis on Wednesday.

A former security guard of Khalid Shahinshah, ex-chief security officer of Bilawal House, was killed in an incident of target killing in Azizabad police precincts.

Mohammad Imran, 35, son of Manzoor Ahmed, resident of Mohammadi Colony, Block 8, Azizabad was on his way to Almas Masjid for offering Asr prayers when four armed men on two motorcycles shot and injured him. He was rushed to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital (ASH) where doctors pronounced him dead. Later, the body was shifted to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) for an autopsy.

Police officials said that the victim was also a security guard of Khalid Shahinshah who was gunned down near his residence in Defence in 2008. After killing of Shahinshah, he became chief security officer of Sindh Local Government Minister Agha Siraj Durrani, police said.
SHO Haseeb Qureshi said that the murder was the part of target killing. No case was registered till the filing of this news.

In other incident, a caretaker of an imambargah was gunned down in Landhi Future Colony in Sharafi Goth police precincts. Mauj Ali, 50, son of Painda Ali, was standing near an imambargah when unidentified culprits riding a motorcycle shot him dead.

SP Nasir Aftab said that the deceased hailed from Chakwal and used to reside in the imambargah. “He might have been killed over sectarian basis,” he said.

Meanwhile, a pesh imam of a mosque was gunned down in Orangi Town within the limits of Iqbal Market police station. The victim was identified as 43-year-old Qamar Huda, son of Shamsul Haq, resident of Chishti Nagar, Orangi Town.

SHO Khurram Waris said the deceased belonged to Barelvi school of thought and was a pesh imam of Quba Masjid, located in Sector 11, Orangi Town. He said the pesh imam was on his way to visit Jamia Masjid Ghousia Noor in Sector 11 when armed men, riding on a motorcycle, shot him dead. The victim hailed from Punjab.

Separately, a former councilor was gunned down in Gulbahar within the limits of Rizvia police station. The victim, Riyaz Ahmed Alvi, 50, son of Anees Ahmed Alvi, resident of Liaquat Chowk No 1, Gulbahar was sitting near his home when two armed men opened indiscriminate fire on him, resultantly he received three bullet and died on the spot. The body was shifted to the ASH for medico-legal formalities.

SI Jamal said the victim was a former councilor and used to work as a contractor. He said the victim had no affiliation with any political or religious party. Police said personal enmity might be behind the incident. No case was registered till filing the report.

In yet another incident, a man was crushed to death by a vehicle near New Sabzi Mandi, Super Highway in the precincts of Sachal police station. Raees Khan, son of Mohammad Younus, was going home on his motorcycle when a speeding vehicle crushed him to death. The body was shifted to the ASH.

A man was electrocuted in Khuda Ki Basti in the remits of Surjani police station. The victim, Abid, 22, was fixing an electric cable when he received electric shocks and died on the spot. The body was shifted to the ASH.

A woman, 37-year-old Makoo, wife of Poja, was killed and four persons were injured when a truck overturned on the Super Highway in the limits of Gaddap City police station. The injured were driver Akram and three minor children Moti, Sufyan and Raja. The body and injured were shifted to the ASH. staff report


Agha Siraj Durrani’s guard: Imran was killed by men picking off members from his old gang
By Faraz Khan
Published: April 3, 2011
Mohammad Imran behind Agha Siraj Durrani in the light suit.
Investigators believe that the chief security officer of minister Agha Siraj Durrani was killed because some people have been slowly picking off members of a group he belonged to in the 1990s.

Thirty-three-year-old Mohammad Imran alias Jangi was gunned down near his Azizabad home on March 30 when he was going to offer Asr prayers. “He was the fourth victim of the same attackers,” said a source privy to the investigation. “Now, at least two more men remain.” Three of the old group members, Shehzad aka Bhaiya, Noman aka Nomi and Adnan were gunned down in similar cases in March. Investigators have withheld their names to protect the remaining two members of the old gang.

In the 1990s, Imran was part of a group that used to be involved in robberies. Investigators told The Express Tribune that he was booked under Section 13-D for the possession of illegal weapons and was involved in a police encounter. “He used to also be a part of the group of notorious criminals Amir Hakla and Rashid Fauji, who were killed in encounters,” sources said. Members of Imran’s old group went to jail but were released on bail. “Presently, Imran and his companions are not involved in any criminal activity.”

Over one dozen suspects have been taken in for questioning.

Imran’s friend Asif was close by when the murder happened. According to him, the attackers hung around outside Imran’s house for nearly two-and-a-half hours, playing cricket with the neighbourhood children. “They were polite and showed interest in the game,” the children said, while talking to The Express Tribune. “At least one hour passed by when we asked who they were and why they were here.” The men told the children that they were Imran’s friends and had given him a call and that he was coming to meet them.

The timing of the murder suggests that the attackers picked the day of the semi-final between India and Pakistan, which would mean that most people in the neighbourhood would be indoors.

Asif reached Imran’s house about ten minutes before the killing. He barely met him to invite him to watch the match together when Imran said that he had to go for Asr prayers. “I also saw the men ten minutes before the incident but I had no idea that they would kill Imran.” Asif and Imran split and Imran headed to the mosque when he was shot outside.

According to his friends, Imran knew that he would be targeted some day. They had tried to convince him to carry ammunition at least.
“Whoever doesn’t have a fear of God in their heart, is afraid of death,”
he used to say, said a friend.

Imran was a senior PPP activist who had been with the party since childhood and even his family has a political background. “My brother used to be with President Asif Ali Zardari, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and many others,” his brother Mohammad Khurram told The Express Tribune. “It was not only an attack on my brother but it was an attack on the PPP.”

Imran was a familiar figure in the area and had a good reputation.
“My brother always cared for everyone but nobody cared for him,” Khurram said. “A crowd gathered at the spot and he was taking his last breaths but nobody helped him.”

Station Investigation Officer Azam Rana, who recently took charge at Azizabad, was confident of swift arrests.

Imran’s family is sceptical. “We are not satisfied with the police’s performance,” a member said.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 03rd, 2011.


Agha Siraj Durrani’s chief security officer gunned downBy Faraz Khan
Published: March 31, 2011
Sources say murder could be linked to Khalid Shahenshah’s killing.
The chief security officer of the Sindh Minister for Local Government, Agha Siraj Durrani, was gunned down on Wednesday evening in Azizabad.

Thirty-three-year-old Mohammad Imran alias Jangi, son of Manzoor Ahmed Saleemi, was a resident of Block 8, Mohammadi Colony. According to witnesses, he was on his way to Almas Masjid for Asr prayers when he was shot dead. “Clad in shirts and trousers, four young men on two motorcycles opened indiscriminate fire at him and escaped,” witnesses explained. “Two of them wore helmets.”
“He was a brave man and that is why he was my chief security officer,” Durrani, a member of the Pakistan Peoples Party, told The Express Tribune while he was on his way to the hospital. “I condemn his killing and his killers would be arrested and punished soon.”

Only a few people were present at the crime scene because of the World Cup semi-final. “The firing was so intense that we could not see the assailants properly,” witnesses said.

Imran sustained multiple bullet injuries in the head and neck and was taken to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital where he was pronounced dead. His body was sent to Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre for a post mortem. According to the doctors at Abbasi Shaheed, he exsanguinated(bleeding) to death. He was shot three times.

Scores of PPP leaders and workers, including Agha Siraj Durrani and PPP Karachi division deputy information secretary Sohail Abdi, reached the hospital. The infuriated workers and supporters also shouted slogans against a rival political party whom they blamed for the incident. At least five PPP workers, including Imran, have been killed this month.

The Shahenshah link

“Imran was a senior activist,” the PPP’s Sohail Abdi told The Express Tribune. “He was also an aide of Khalid Shahenshah and was a security guard when Shahenshah was alive.” The well known Khalid Shahenshah, similarly shot dead in Clifton in 2008, was the chief security officer for Bilawal House. Shahenshah was also important as he was allegedly a prime witness in Benazir Bhutto’s assassination case. According to reports, Shahenshah was sitting in the back seat of Benazir’s car when she was hit in the gun and bomb attack. He was also interviewed by Scotland Yard.

It was after Shahensheh was killed that Imran started working as the chief security officer for Durrani. Like Imran, Shahenshah also used to live in Azizabad, before he moved to Defence. His killers were never arrested.

Sources said there might be a link between the two murders and this could also be of threat to Durrani.

On the other hand, the police said they were not in a position to comment about any link between Shahenshah and Imran’s killings. Karachi CCPO Saud Mirza said he did not think the two murders were connected. “Imran’s killing is totally different, but it is too early to say anything.” However, he said the police would also investigate from this angle.

Police found at least seven empty shells from the crime scene. “The assailants used 9mm pistols and they missed four times,” said DSP Saleem Akhtar Siddiqi. “It is confirmed that it was a target killing but nothing can be said about the motive.”

Imran’s family is also affiliated with the PPP. His funeral prayers are expected to be held on Thursday.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 31st, 2011.


PPP targeted: Joint investigation team to probe Amir Shah killing
Published: July 17, 2011

Federal Investigation Agency officials have also been directed to work with the investigation team. PHOTO: PPI
Federal Investigation Agency officials have also been directed to work with the investigation team. PHOTO: PPI Employees abandon Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad airports, local and international flights delayed. PHOTO: AFP/ FILE

ISLAMABAD: Karachi police arrested eight suspects from different areas of Karachi in connection with Shah’s murder, on Sunday.

Earlier Interior Minister Rehman Malik had ordered the formation of a joint investigation team to probe the murder of PPP affiliate and PIA employees union President, Amir Shah.

Shah, who also worked as former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s security guard in 2007, was killed in the Gulistan-e-Jauhar area of Karachi when unknown assailants opened fire on his car on Saturday evening.

A notification issued by the Interior Ministry on Sunday said a committee headed by DIG police Sindh will submit findings within three days. The notification additionally said that the deadline could be extended if needed.

The Federal Investigation Agency officials have also been directed to work with the investigation team.

Strike on, strike off

Employees of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) went on a strike on Sunday against the murder of president of Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) PIA employee union Amir Shah. The strike was later called off after a short protest that resulted in the delay of flights to Dubai, Manchester, London, Damam and Abu Dhabi.

In protest to the killing, PIA employees had abandoned their counters at the Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad airports which resulted in delays of local and international flights.

Peoples Unity Information Secretary Amir Dar said that the future course of action will be decided after Shah’s burial at 2pm on Sunday.

10 hours ago

PIA Employees are the main reason of downfall of PIA..who once lend their aircraft to Emirates Airline to start their company.

Now Emirates Airline goes almost every part of the world and every cosmopolitan city of the world and PIA is trying to survive.

PIA once took Dr. Henry Kissinger to China…now even a mere US Govt employee will not board on PIA.
I would like give an example: Once we headed towards PIA’s office in Abu Dhabi to book 2 tickets…. they had printed the name wrong which they refused to correct and said, no problem it will be alright, there were no Email facility to email the tickets to clients, no Fax to receive the passport copies of the clients.
If you guys want to know more of this great airline destroyed by Bureaucracy and the PIA Management… visit http://www.historyofpia.com/list_main.htm

Athar Hussain
8 hours ago

I am a professional in an industry which is heavily dependent to aviation. Right now the most extensive with biggest fleet and by capacity the most biggest airline is unfortunately PIA.

A minor disruption let alone this more than 12 hours no response situation is not only an unprofessional attitude but in my eyes its worst than that. They are directly responsible for financial loss to their organization a national corporation, and for all the trauma and tension faced by the pessangers.

They should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

These unions should be made directly responsible and they should be penalized financially as well.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A Shiite Militia in Baghdad Sees Its Power Wane


Reporting was contributed by Mohammed Hussein, Tareq Maher, Campbell Robertson, Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Alissa J. Rubin.

Published: July 27, 2008
BAGHDAD — The militia that was once the biggest defender of poor Shiites in Iraq, the Mahdi Army, has been profoundly weakened in a number of neighborhoods across Baghdad, in an important, if tentative, milestone for stability in Iraq.

Michael Kamber for The New York Times
Iraqi soldiers watched as residents of Sadr City in Baghdad prayed on a recent Friday in front of the offices of Moktada al-Sadr.

A Sadr City resident with cooking gas from a local distribution center. The center used to be controlled by the Mahdi Army, which charged more.
It is a remarkable change from years past, when the militia, led by the anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr, controlled a broad swath of Baghdad, including local governments and police forces. But its use of extortion and violence began alienating much of the Shiite population to the point that many quietly supported American military sweeps against the group.

Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki struck another blow this spring, when he led a military operation against it in Baghdad and in several southern cities.

The shift, if it holds, would solidify a transfer of power from Mr. Sadr, who had lorded his once broad political support over the government, to Mr. Maliki, who is increasingly seen as a true national leader.

It is part of a general decline in violence that is resonating in American as well as Iraqi politics: Senator John McCain argues that the advances in Iraq would have been impossible without the increase in American troops known as the surge, while Senator Barack Obama, who opposed the increase, says the security improvements should allow a faster withdrawal of combat troops.

The Mahdi Army’s decline also means that the Iraqi state, all but impotent in the early years of the war, has begun to act the part, taking over delivery of some services and control of some neighborhoods.

“The Iraqi government broke their branches and took down their tree,” said Abu Amjad, a civil servant who lives in the northern Baghdad district of Sadr City, once seen as an unbreachable stronghold for the group.

The change is showing up in the lives of ordinary people. The price of cooking gas is less than a fifth of what it was when the militia controlled local gas stations, and kerosene for heating has also become much less expensive. In interviews, 17 Iraqis, including municipal officials, gas station workers and residents, described a pattern in which the militia’s control over the local economy and public services had ebbed. Merchants say they no longer have to pay protection money to militiamen. In some cases, employees with allegiances to the militia have been fired or transferred. Despite the militia’s weakened state, none of the Iraqis interviewed agreed to have their full names published for fear of retribution.

In a further sign of weakness, Shiite tribes in several neighborhoods are asking for compensation from militia members’ families for past wrongs.

The changes are not irreversible. The security gains are in the hands of unseasoned Iraqi soldiers at checkpoints spread throughout Baghdad’s neighborhoods. And local government officials have barely begun to take hold of service distribution networks, potentially leaving a window for the militia to reassert itself.

The militia’s roots are still in the ground, Abu Amjad said, and “given any chance, they will grow again.”

A Criminal Enterprise

At the peak of the militia’s control last summer, it was involved at all levels of the local economy, taking money from gas stations, private minibus services, electric switching stations, food and clothing markets, ice factories, and even collecting rent from squatters in houses whose owners had been displaced. The four main gas stations in Sadr City were handing over a total of about $13,000 a day, according to a member of the local council.

“It’s almost like the old Mafia criminal days in the United States,” said Brig. Gen. Jeffrey W. Talley, an Army engineer rebuilding Sadr City’s main market.

Um Hussein, a mother of 10 in Sadr City, the largest Shiite district in the capital and one of the poorest, said her family’s fuel bill had dropped so far that she could afford to buy one of her daughters a pair of earrings with the savings. Others interviewed listed simpler purchases that had now become possible: tomatoes, laundry detergent, gasoline.

One young man said that even though his house was right across from a distribution center that sold cooking gas, he was not allowed to buy it there at state prices, but instead was forced to wait for a militia-affiliated distributor who sold it at higher prices.

“We had to get our share of the cooking gas from Mahdi Army people,” Um Hussein said. “Now, everything is available. We are free to buy what we want.”

Before, the Mahdi Army controlled the 12 trucks that made daily deliveries of cooking gas canisters for the district, because the leader of the Sadr City district council, who was affiliated with the militia, was the one who handled the trucks’ documents.

“We had no idea when they were coming or where they were going,” the council member said, referring to the trucks.

Those who questioned the militia’s authority were dealt with harshly. A gas station worker from Kadhimiya recalled a man in his 60s being beaten badly for refusing to pay the inflated gas price last year. The Sadr City council member described his relationship with the militia by touching his hand to his face.

“I was kissing them here, here and here,” he said pointing to his right cheek, his left cheek and then his forehead.

A spokesman for the movement in Sadr City, Sayeed Jaleel al-Sarkhy, defended the Mahdi Army, saying in an interview that it was not a formal militia and denying the charges that it had taken control of local services. He said the militia had been infiltrated by criminals who used the name of the Mahdi Army as a cover.

Iraqi soldiers in Shuala, a Baghdad neighborhood, took a break recently at a checkpoint that used to be controlled by the Mahdi Army.

“The Mahdi Army is an army of believers,” he said. “It was established to serve the people.”

An employee in the Sadr City local government who oversees trash collectors — daily laborers whose salaries he said were controlled by the militia — said that had long stopped being true.

“I am sick all over,” he said. “I am blind. I’ve got a headache. I’ve got a toothache. My back hurts. All of this is from the Mahdi Army.”

Signs of Weakness

A month after Mr. Maliki’s military operation, strange things started to happen in Shuala, a vast expanse of concrete and sand-colored houses in northern Baghdad that was one of the Mahdi Army’s main strongholds. Militia members suddenly stopped showing up to collect money from the main gas station, a worker there said.

A member of the Shuala district council said: “They used to come and order us to give them 100 gas canisters. Now it’s, ‘Can you please give me a gas canister?’ ”

Then, several weeks later, 11 workers, guards and even a director, all state employees with ties to the militia, were transferred to other areas. Employees’ pictures were posted so American and Iraqi soldiers could identify impostors.

The Iraqi Army now occupies the militia’s old headquarters in Shuala. Soldiers set up 18 checkpoints around the neighborhood, including at the gas station. When the militia opened a new office, soldiers put a checkpoint there, too, said an Iraqi major from the unit based there. Iraqi soldiers recently distributed warning notices to families squatting in houses whose rent had been collected by the Mahdi Army until May.

In Sadr City, the authorities closed the militia’s radio station. The leader of the district council was arrested by the American military. Cooking gas delivery documents must now be approved by three officials, not just one, the council member said.

Another sign of weakness is the growing number of financial settlements between powerful Shiites and Mahdi Army members’ families over loved ones who were killed by the militia. In Topchi, a Shiite neighborhood in western Baghdad, a handwritten list of militia members’ names was taped up in the market this month, with the warning for their families to leave town. Several of their houses were attacked.

Some militia members’ families went to the local council to ask for help. They found none. Mahdi militiamen killed four local council members over several weeks last fall.

“I told them this isn’t good, they must not be blamed,” the council member said. Even so, “if your brother has been killed, this is the time for revenge.”

Now neighborhoods are breathing more freely. A hairdresser in Ameen, a militia-controlled neighborhood in southeast Baghdad, said her clients no longer had to cover their faces when they left her house wearing makeup. Minibuses ferrying commuters in Sadr City are no longer required to play religious songs, said Abu Amjad, the civil servant, and now play songs about love, some even sung by women.

“They lost everything,” said the Sadr City government employee. “The Sadr movement has no power now. There is no militia control.”

Lingering Fears

The Mahdi Army might be weak, but it is not gone.

Majid, a Sadr City resident who works in a government ministry, said several Iraqi Army officers in his area had to move their families to other neighborhoods after Mr. Maliki’s military operation because the militia threatened them. Bombs are still wounding and killing American soldiers in the district. And early this month, one Iraqi officer’s teenage son was kidnapped and killed, his body hung in a public place as a warning, said Majid, who gave only his first name because he feared reprisals.

“People are still afraid of the Mahdi Army,” he said. “You still get punished if you talk bad about them.”

While most of the Iraqi soldiers at the new checkpoints seem loyal to the government, others have sympathies closer to the militia. A friend of Majid’s was obliged to pay a steep tribal settlement, after telling an army patrol about his neighbor, a militia member. The patrol had been infiltrated and leaked the tip to the neighbor.

“They are still trying to influence things,” General Talley said, though his overall assessment was that their control was receding.

The shift comes at a crucial moment: Iraqis will vote in provincial elections in December. The weakening of the Sadrists in national politics clears the stage for the group’s most bitter rival — a Shiite party led by another cleric, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim. One of the party’s members, Jalal al-Din al-Sagheer, a sheik and a member of Parliament, is arranging state aid for Sunni families willing to move back to Topchi.

The timing was not missed by the Sadr movement’s spokesman, who said the government had recently warned the group to vacate its office. He blames Mr. Hakim’s party for the attempts to marginalize his movement, whose members have also been targets of a political crackdown in southern Iraq.

“Some parties are occupying large buildings in Jadriya,” he said, referring indirectly to the headquarters of Mr. Hakim’s party. “That’s what makes us suspicious. Why only us?”

He added, “The main motive is to exclude the Sadr movement from politics.”

One indicator of whether the new gains will hold is whether local governments can truly fill the gap that the militia left and deliver services effectively and consistently.

General Talley said his unit had recently spent $34 million to help reconstruct a major market in Sadr City. But the district council has gotten bogged down in arguments over who has the right to disburse $100 million that Mr. Maliki promised Sadr City after the military operation. The district council was given 90 days to come up with projects. More than 30 days have passed and not one proposal has been submitted, council members said.

“To be honest with you, I find it very slow,” said Haidar al-Abadi, an adviser to Mr. Maliki who said that funds had been held back because militia-affiliated companies had gotten involved. “There’s a danger this slowness could backfire.”

The militia is painting its response on Sadr City walls: “We will be back, after this break.”

The Iraqi Army is painting over it.

Suicide bombers kill 50 in Iraq, wound nearly 250

28 Jul 2008 15:25:42 GMT
Source: Reuters
* Bombs kill 28, wound 92 in Baghdad

* Police say explosions caused by female suicide bombers

* Kirkuk blasts kill 22 as people protest over elections law

By Mohammed Abbas and Waleed Ibrahim

BAGHDAD, July 28 (Reuters) - Three female suicide bombers killed 28 people and wounded 92 when they blew themselves up among Shi'ites walking through the streets of Baghdad on a religious pilgrimage on Monday, Iraqi police said.

In the northern oil city of Kirkuk a suicide bomber killed 22 people and wounded 150 at a protest against a disputed local elections law, Iraqi health and security officials said. One security official said the bomber may also have been a woman.

The attacks mark one of the bloodiest days in Iraq in months and underscored the fragility of recent security gains in the country, where violence is at its lowest level since early 2004.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the Baghdad blasts but Sunni Islamist al Qaeda often targets Shi'ite pilgrims. It considers Shi'ism -- the majority Muslim denomination in Iraq -- heretical.

At least 1 million people are expected to take part in the pilgrimage in the Iraqi capital, which peaks on Tuesday and marks the death of one of Shi'ite Islam's 12 imams, one of the most important events in the Shi'ite religious calendar.

"These blasts that happened today will increase our determination to finalise this ceremony ... and defeat terrorism," pilgrim Taher Abd-Noor said.

Al Qaeda has increasingly used women to carry out suicide attacks because they can often evade the more stringent security checks applied to men. Women have carried out some 20 suicide attacks in Iraq this year, the U.S. military has said.

The apparently coordinated blasts in Baghdad shattered a period of relative calm in the city and took place despite heavy security for the annual pilgrimage to the Kadhamiya shrine.

U.S. commanders caution that despite better security, suicide bombers wearing vests packed with explosives will still periodically manage to slip into crowded places.

The U.S. military put the Baghdad death toll at 20, but did not specify if the suicide bombers were women. It said 16 people had been killed in Kirkuk.

Reuters television pictures showed police, firemen and other workers washing blood and clearing debris from the street at the scene of one of the blasts in Baghdad. A Reuters witness saw workers collecting pieces of flesh and body parts.

Police on Sunday also said gunmen killed seven pilgrims in southern Baghdad as they made their way to the shrine, but some officials on Monday said they were unaware of the incident.

Security forces have put female guards around Kadhamiya to search women, but all Monday's blasts happened in central Baghdad, an area many pilgrims pass through to reach the shrine.

Iraqi men are also reluctant to search women, prompting al Qaeda to increasingly use females who easily hide explosives under their flowing black robes.


In Kirkuk, Kurdish television footage showed thousands of people demonstrating against Iraq's provincial elections law when an explosion prompted a rush for cover. A Reuters witness said there was a stampede as police fired into the air.

A security official who declined to be named said witnesses saw a female suicide bomber carry out the attack and that the body parts of a woman had been found, distinct from other victims of the blast because it was completely dismembered.

Tensions have been high in oil-rich Kirkuk before provincial polls expected to be held late this year or early 2009.

Mosques called for people to give blood. Reuters television footage showed Kirkuk's main hospital packed with wounded, some lying on a floor slick with blood because of a lack of beds.

Demonstrators seeking refuge after the blast ran to a nearby office of Kirkuk's ethnic Turkmen minority, but were fired upon by the building's guards, who thought they were under attack, said Major-General Jamal Taher, Kirkuk's police chief.

The protesters then burned cars and set fire to the building, but the situation was brought under control, he added.

Kurds in the ethnically mixed city say it should belong to the largely autonomous Kurdistan region in northern Iraq, but Arabs and ethnic Turkmen want it to stay under central government authority.

Last week, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani rejected the provincial election law as unconstitutional after Kurdish lawmakers boycotted the parliament session that passed it. That has forced lawmakers to try to reach a compromise.

Kurdish and Arab politicians seized on the Kirkuk blast to highlight their political aims regarding the elections law.

The law would have postponed polls in Kirkuk and allocated equal seats to ethnic or sectarian groups, which Kurds reject.

A curfew had been imposed on Kirkuk until Tuesday morning.

Al Qaeda has exploited ethnic faultlines in Iraq's north, where it has sought to regroup after being forced from its former strongholds in Baghdad and Iraq's West. (Writing by Mohammed Abbas; Editing by Samia Nakhoul)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Gunmen kill 7 Shi'ite pilgrims in Baghdad

27 Jul 2008 15:28:35 GMT
Source: Reuters
* Gunmen kill 7 pilgrims in southern Baghdad

* Iraqi forces tighten security around holy shrine

* U.S. military to target al Qaeda in remote deserts

By Waleed Ibrahim and Tim Cocks

BAGHDAD, July 27 (Reuters) - Gunmen opened fire on Shi'ite pilgrims in southern Baghdad on Sunday, killing seven, as thousands made their way to a revered shrine in the Iraqi capital, police said.

Iraqi forces have tightened security around the Kadhamiya district in northwestern Baghdad, where the shrine is located, ahead of a major Shi'ite religious pilgrimage this week, an army spokesman said.

Police said the pilgrims who were killed were on foot. They had apparently come from cities in southern Iraq, which is predominantly Shi'ite.

Shi'ite pilgrims have often been the target of Sunni Islamist al Qaeda militants who consider Shi'ism -- the majority Muslim denomination in Iraq -- heretical.

But recent Shi'ite religious events have passed relatively peacefully as violence in Iraq has dropped to four-year lows.

The annual pilgrimage to the Kadhamiya area is expected to attract more pilgrims than usual because security has improved, said Major-General Qassim Moussawi, spokesman for Iraqi forces in Baghdad.

"We expect at least a million (people), definitely multiples of last year," Moussawi told a news conference before reports emerged of the shooting of the seven pilgrims.

Thousands of pilgrims have already entered Baghdad for the event, which peaks on Tuesday and marks the death of one of Shi'ite Islam's 12 imams.

The Kadhamiya pilgrimage was marred in 2005 by one of the worst losses of life in a single incident since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, when rumours of a bomb attack triggered a stampede among pilgrims crossing a bridge leading to the shrine.

Up to 1,000 people were killed.

The bridge has been closed since but is expected to reopen soon after this year's pilgrimage. Other bridges and roads leading to Kadhamiya have been closed for the event, and a vehicle curfew will be imposed, Moussawi said.

The Kadhamiya pilgrimage is one of several religious events in the Shi'ite calendar which have attracted millions since the fall of former president Saddam Hussein. The Sunni Arab leader curbed participation in such events.


Security forces deployed for the pilgrimage include a team of female guards to search women.

Women have carried out numerous suicide attacks in recent months, many in religiously mixed northeastern Diyala province, where al Qaeda militants are trying to stoke tensions.

Iraqi forces will begin an operation in early August to drive the Islamist group out of Diyala, said the commander of U.S. forces in northern Iraq, Major-General Mark Hertling.

The crackdown, which Iraqi officials announced earlier this month, follows other Iraqi-led offensives aimed at stamping government authority on areas once in the hands of Sunni Arab insurgents or Shi'ite militias.

Hertling told a news conference in Baghdad that U.S. forces would at the same time launch a new offensive to chase al Qaeda militants out of northern Iraq's remote deserts.

"Our message is: we have secured the key cities of the north, we have continued to see al Qaeda pushed into ... areas of the desert. We will ... relentlessly pursue them," he said.

He said Iraqi and U.S. operations in northern provinces had helped cut violence there by 75 percent to 650 attacks in June from 2,600 attacks in the same month last year.

Despite the better statistics, suicide bombings and shootings still haunt parts of northern Iraq, especially the city of Mosul.

In other violence, a bomb wounded a member of the Anbar provincial council and killed two of his bodyguards in the western city of Falluja on Sunday, police said.

Zeki al-Mohammedi escaped with minor wounds when the bomb exploded inside the garage of his home. (Additional reporting by Aseel Kami, writing by Mohammed Abbas and Tim Cocks, editing by Tim Pearce)

4,000 U.S. Deaths, and a Handful of Images

June 26, 2008 Marines who were killed in a suicide bomb attack during a city council meeting in Garma, Iraq, in Anbar Province. More Photos >

Published: July 26, 2008
BAGHDAD — The case of a freelance photographer in Iraq who was barred from covering the Marines after he posted photos on the Internet of several of them dead has underscored what some journalists say is a growing effort by the American military to control graphic images from the war.

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Picturing Casualties
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Chris Hondros/Getty Images
JAN. 18, 2005 An Iraqi girl after her parents were killed by American gunfire in Tal Afar. More Photos »
Zoriah Miller, the photographer who took images of marines killed in a June 26 suicide attack and posted them on his Web site, was subsequently forbidden to work in Marine Corps-controlled areas of the country. Maj. Gen. John Kelly, the Marine commander in Iraq, is now seeking to have Mr. Miller barred from all United States military facilities throughout the world. Mr. Miller has since left Iraq.

If the conflict in Vietnam was notable for open access given to journalists — too much, many critics said, as the war played out nightly in bloody newscasts — the Iraq war may mark an opposite extreme: after five years and more than 4,000 American combat deaths, searches and interviews turned up fewer than a half-dozen graphic photographs of dead American soldiers.

It is a complex issue, with competing claims often difficult to weigh in an age of instant communication around the globe via the Internet, in which such images can add to the immediate grief of families and the anger of comrades still in the field.

While the Bush administration faced criticism for overt political manipulation in not permitting photos of flag-draped coffins, the issue is more emotional on the battlefield: local military commanders worry about security in publishing images of the American dead as well as an affront to the dignity of fallen comrades. Most newspapers refuse to publish such pictures as a matter of policy.

But opponents of the war, civil liberties advocates and journalists argue that the public portrayal of the war is being sanitized and that Americans who choose to do so have the right to see — in whatever medium — the human cost of a war that polls consistently show is unpopular with Americans.

Journalists say it is now harder, or harder than in the earlier years, to accompany troops in Iraq on combat missions. Even memorial services for killed soldiers, once routinely open, are increasingly off limits. Detainees were widely photographed in the early years of the war, but the Department of Defense, citing prisoners’ rights, has recently stopped that practice as well.

And while publishing photos of American dead is not barred under the “embed” rules in which journalists travel with military units, the Miller case underscores what is apparently one reality of the Iraq war: that doing so, even under the rules, can result in expulsion from covering the war with the military.

“It is absolutely censorship,” Mr. Miller said. “I took pictures of something they didn’t like, and they removed me. Deciding what I can and cannot document, I don’t see a clearer definition of censorship.”

The Marine Corps denied it was trying to place limits on the news media and said Mr. Miller broke embed regulations. Security is the issue, officials said.

“Specifically, Mr. Miller provided our enemy with an after-action report on the effectiveness of their attack and on the response procedures of U.S. and Iraqi forces,” said Lt. Col. Chris Hughes, a Marine spokesman.

News organizations say that such restrictions are one factor in declining coverage of the war, along with the danger, the high cost to financially ailing media outlets and diminished interest among Americans in following the war. By a recent count, only half a dozen Western photographers were covering a war in which 150,000 American troops are engaged.

In Mr. Miller’s case, a senior military official in Baghdad said that while his photographs were still under review, a preliminary assessment showed he had not violated ground rules established by the multinational force command. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing, emphasized that Mr. Miller was still credentialed to work in Iraq, though several military officials acknowledged that no military unit would accept him.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Karvan_e_Rahian Noor

Iranian military convoy rocked by mystery explosion

By Con Coughlin - www.telegraph.co.uk

Iran's Revolutionary Guards have launched an urgent inquiry after a mysterious explosion wrecked a military convoy in Tehran, killing at least fifteen people and injuring scores more.

The explosion took place in the Tehran suburb of Khavarshahar as the military convoy left a munitions' warehouse controlled by the Revolutionary Guards. According to reports received by Western officials, the convoy was taking a consignment of military equipment to Hizbollah, the Shia Muslim militia Iran supports in southern Lebanon, when the explosion occurred.

Senior Revolutionary Guard commanders immediately imposed a news black-out following the explosion, even though it could be heard throughout the capital Tehran, and no details of the incident have so far appeared in the Iranian media.

But Western officials yesterday said they had received reports that the explosion took place in Tehran on July 19, and that the Revolutionary Guards had launched an investigation into the causes of the blast.

"This was a massive explosion that was heard throughout Tehran," one official told the Daily Telegraph. "Even though lots of people were killed the Revolutionary Guards are trying to conceal what really happened."

Iran is believed to have recently stepped up arms shipments to Hizbollah in preparation for any future armed confrontation with the West over its controversial nuclear enrichment program.

The Revolutionary Guards' investigation into last weekend's explosion is understood to be looking into the possibility that it was caused by sabotage. Iran has suffered a number of unexplained explosions in recent months, including an explosion at a mosque in Shiraz, which had been holding a military exhibition, and another incident at a missile site that killed dozens of Iranian technicians.

Last month Seymour Hersh, the respected American investigative journalist, reported that US President George W Bush had authorized up to $400 million (£200 million) to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran to destabilize the regime.

Thirteen bombs hit India's Ahmedabad, ten killed

AHMEDABAD, India (Reuters) - At least 13 small bombs exploded in the Indian city of Ahmedabad on Saturday, killing at least 10 people and wounding 90, a day after another set of blasts in the country's IT hub, officials said.

On Friday, eight bombs exploded in quick succession in the southern IT city of Bangalore, killing at least one person and wounding six others.

Saturday's blasts were in Ahmedabad's crowded old city dominated by its Muslim community. One was left in a metal tiffin box, used to carry food, another apparently left on a bicycle.

"This has been done by some terrorist group which wants to destabilize the country," the central government's junior home minister Shriprakash Jaiswal told the Sahara news channel.

One television channel showed a bus with its side blown up, shattered windows and the roof half-destroyed. Another showed a dead dog lying beside a blown-up bicycle.

"The bus had just started when the blast happened," P. K Pathak, a retired insurance official who was traveling in nearby bus, told Reuters.

"Many people standing on the exit door fell down. There was fire and smoke all over. We got down from our bus and rushed to help them."

Ahmedabad is the main city in the communally sensitive and relatively wealthy western state of Gujarat, scene of deadly riots in 2002 in which 2,500 people are thought to have died, most of them Muslims killed by rampaging Hindu mobs.

Both states targeted in the bomb attacks are ruled by the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party and are among the country's fastest-growing.

Suspicion is falling on Islamist militants intent on destabilizing India by fanning tensions between Hindus and Muslims, and police were deployed in Ahmedabad on Saturday to maintain calm.

India has suffered a wave of bombings in recent years, with targets ranging from mosques and Hindu temples to trains.

It is unusual for any group to claim responsibility, but India says it suspects militant groups from Pakistan and Bangladesh are behind many of the attacks.

"The government had received a threat e-mail and we are probing into it," local state government Home Minister Amit Shah told Reuters.


So far, police say they have few leads into Friday's Bangalore bombings.

On Saturday, another unexploded bomb was found near a shopping mall in Bangalore, but it was unclear whether the bomb was newly planted or meant to have exploded during Friday's attacks, police said.

India's home ministry said on Friday it suspected "a small militant group" was behind the Bangalore attacks, while some police officials said they suspected the blasts could be the work of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India.

Some IT companies in Bangalore, known as India's Silicon Valley, were increasing security after bombs went off there. Each bomb had a similar explosive force to one or two grenades.

The city is a prominent software development centre and is also home to a major outsourcing industry.

"We have increased security in our campus," said a spokeswoman for Infosys, a software company.

Also nicknamed the "world's back office," Bangalore has more than 1,500 top firms, including Infosys, Wipro and the offices of global firms such as Microsoft Corp and Intel Corp.

"If such incidents continue, investors will fly away from the city," said state opposition politician Mallikharjuna Kharge.

In May, eight bombs killed 63 people in a crowded shopping area in the western city of Jaipur.

(Writing by Simon Denyer; Editing by Alistair Scrutton)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Iraqi Parliament Passes Provincial Elections Law

By Reidar Visser (www.historiae.org)

22 July 2008

The law on the Iraqi provincial elections was passed by the Iraqi parliament on 22 July. The adopted text largely reflects earlier drafts that have been circulating for weeks and months, with certain important amendments and clarifications:

• The hybrid system of lists and individual candidacies (single-person lists) is maintained. The adoption of this system means that the focus to some extent shifts from parties to politicians: voters can vote for a party list, or a specific person on a party list, or an individual candidate on a single-person list. However, the counting rules with no transferability mechanisms for “redundant votes” (i.e. surplus votes that accrue when a single-person list has reached the necessary number of votes required to secure election) still create a certain bias towards the established parties, because only multi-person lists will accumulate “party scores” that can give them additional shares of the last remaining seats.

• The female quota remains purely aspirational and has been subjugated to the increased focus on individual candidacies: there is a requirement to the parties about nominating a certain proportion of women high on the lists, but this “enhanced visibility” notwithstanding many voters will vote for individuals on lists rather than the lists themselves. A murky paragraph authorising the electoral commission to take undefined steps to secure a 25 per cent female representation after the elections appears to have been removed.

• The ban on the use of religious symbols survives in a slightly more general version: the use of pictures or propaganda for persons who themselves are not candidates is disallowed. Hence any party that wishes an ayatollah to grace its elections poster needs to convince the cleric in question about the virtues of serving as a councillor in one of the Iraqi governorates. Also the ban on the use of places of worship for election campaigning purposes is upheld, alongside an unchanged and still highly hypocritical "ban" on the participation of parties who maintain militias.

• The explicit mention of the 1 October 2008 deadline has been removed, and options for dealing with delays have been expressly mentioned: the existing councils will in that case continue to serve. The requirement of conducting the elections in a single day remains.

• With this piece of legislation, the formal “Lebanonisation” of Iraq has reached an unprecedented magnitude. Elections for Kirkuk have been postponed, but a power-sharing formula for the interim period has been envisaged in which key positions will be distributed between Kurds, Turkmens, Arabs and Christians in accordance with a percentage formula of 32-32-32-4. Security forces from “the centre and the south” of Iraq will take charge of Kirkuk militarily in this period, while a committee of politicians will have until the end of the year to explore solutions to the conflict over the city. In a conundrum to Iraqi and Arab nationalists, it seems as if the insistence on the hated logic of quotas (muhasasa) in this case has been the most effective means of countering Kurdish nationalist ambitions.

• In a similar feast of ad hoc ethno-religious cake-sharing, the “final provisions” of the law allocate a certain number of “minority” seats in certain parts of Iraq, without specifying the procedures for their election. In Baghdad there will be three seats, presumably mostly for Christians; in Mosul 2 seats, specified for Yazidis and the Shabak respectively; in the Kurdish areas two seats in each governorate (likely to go to Christians), and in Basra one seat which will probably go to a Chaldean or a Sabaean.

In many ways, the current version of the law for the provincial elections serves to underline the growing confidence of a group of centralist Shiite politicians around Nuri al-Maliki. It challenges the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) with the ban on the use of religious places of worship in elections campaign, while at the same time does not give the Kurds everything they want regarding Kirkuk – Kurdish representatives ultimately abstained from the final vote, where some 127 out of 140 members of parliament reportedly supported the law. Interestingly, complaints about the voting procedure for the law itself prompted criticism from Kurds and UIA independent Khalid al-Atiyya alike, suggesting that the presidential veto may once more come into play in Iraqi politics in relation to this piece of legislation.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Three people found dead in a vehicle after a shooting in west-end Toronto

Module body

28 minutes ago

TORONTO - Bullets sprayed a Gold SUV early Sunday morning, killing three young male passengers inside, Toronto police said.

The vehicle was found in Toronto's west end, but police said it is likely the shooting took place in another area.

"At this point we aren't certain that the shooting took place where the vehicle was located so we're making efforts to locate a shooting scene elsewhere," said Toronto police Homicide Squad Det. Dean Burks as he spoke outside the cordoned-off street in the quiet, residential neighbourhood.

A 911 call was made around 3:40 a.m. telling police that three people were dead inside the vehicle, one passenger in the front seat and two in the back seat.

Police said the men died of gunshot wounds and all three were "suffering from trauma" and were pronounced dead at the scene.

Burks said the shooting happened from outside the car and a number of bullet holes pierced the vehicle.

There were no eyewitnesses and no one in the neighbourhood heard shots fired. Police have not been able to identify the young men.

"At this point we have no confirmed identification on any of the victims. The information we do have at this point that we're looking to confirm is none of them live in this area," said Burks.

The driver left the scene of the shooting and police were looking for this person.

"We have information that there was another person in the vehicle and we're making efforts to locate that individual," said Burks.

Police were interviewing people at 22 division Sunday and appealed to anyone who heard gunshots in the neighbourhood or noticed any suspicious activity to call authorities immediately

Causes and Consequences of Our Foreign Policy in the Middle East

Friday, July 18, 2008 at 1:23pm
Causes and Consequences of Our Foreign Policy in the Middle East: What It Means for Americans
by Karen Kwiatkowski

(This is rather long, but historically accurate and very interesting. I enjoyed it and thought you'd enjoy it as well.)

To paraphrase John F. Kennedy in Berlin, 1963, in times like these, when the American dream seems overwhelmed by what has become known as the American empire, perhaps we are all libertarians.

Let me start first with the consequences of our foreign policy in the Middle East, circa 2008.

We are nearly five years past the moment where George W. Bush declared "Mission Accomplished."

400,000 to 1.2 million Iraqis are dead by our decisions and actions. Over two million are internally displaced, and over two million Iraqis have fled the country.

5,000 Americans are dead (soldiers and contractors) as a result, 30–50,000 physically injured, and over 100,000 mentally disturbed, receiving or awaiting treatment.

Army and Marines are morally and physically bankrupt – and burdened by executive pressure for more forces in Afghanistan, Pakistan and trouble in Iran.

A trillion dollars has been spent, another trillion to be spent before we are finished – and if McCain has his way, we will never be finished, and we will bleed ourselves for the duration of the 21st century.

Beyond Iraq, we have Secretary of Defense Bob Gates alternately screaming in an empty room and crying in despair because NATO won’t pick up the slack of propping up our preferred government in Kabul.

The one republic with nuclear weapons and a means to deploy them is led by an unstable dictator, threatened by his own subordinates, at odds with his very powerful and well-funded intelligence arm, and disliked by the majority of his citizens. And in case you were wondering, I am talking about Perez Musharraf.

Jordan, once reliable and trustworthy, is feeling the heat of over two million unemployed and impoverished Iraqis swelling their refugee camps.

Syria – who helped us with torture and renditions after 9-11 – has been both accused and attacked by her neighbor, our other nuclear-armed friend in the region.

Lebanon suffered a silly war in the summer of 2006 – a war that was considered an embarrassing defeat for Israel, and a war that Washington, D.C. collaborated on and quietly cheered.

Our steadfast friends, the House of Saud, don’t understand us anymore.
We publicly threaten Iran for all kinds of reasons, even though Tehran is signatory to and compliant with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and even as we happily work with all kinds of Iranian-backed interests in southern Iraq.

Four key undersea communication cables get cut in a week, isolating and seriously degrading much of the banking and communication traffic for our friends in the region, including in Dubai, which just bailed out some of our banks and credit card companies. Instead of decrying bad cable construction, and offering to send our own teams to help repair these cables in the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf, our government has said nothing. The entire region thinks we did it, either to send a message, test a military strategy, or to funnel information into a channel our vast intelligence bureaucracy can monitor.

The price of oil, adjusted for inflation, is not yet at the level of the 1979 oil crisis. But it is within 10% of that. Given the drastic increase in global demand for oil today, relative to that in 1979, our foreign policy in the Middle East might be said to be harmful, but not disastrous. But you must consider two things – the amount of oil the United States imports from the Middle East is around 10–15% of all the oil we import – but interfering with the free market in this region costs the American taxpayer billions and billions every year in maintaining a large overseas military presence, military and economic aid to major and minor allies in the region, the costs of periodic off-the-book interventions, like Iraq, and the costs involved with protecting your countrymen from people who hate you enough to want to kill you and topple your tall buildings.
Such is the state of the Middle East, and such indeed are the consequences of our foreign policy.

It would be easy to blame the current situation in the Middle East on George W. Bush, or easier yet, Dick Cheney. But to do that would be to ignore our foreign policy over the past 80 years in that region.

It would also be easy to suggest that the situation in the Middle East is not the result of our intentions, but rather our poor judgment, our misunderstanding of Arab or Persian culture, our lack of sophistication, or even our own democratic system here at home where we shift diplomatic course with each shifting president, and elect Congresses that reflect the changing priorities of the American people, year by year.

It would be easy to say that most of these policies were pursued under the auspices of the Cold War, where we were forced to take sides around the world in order to stop a communist world revolution, to avoid world socialism.

It would be easy to say all of this. But none of that would be true.

In fact, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney came of age and were inspired by a foreign policy of force for both prestige and perceived profit. To be strong as a nation, for Dick Cheney as for Kermit Roosevelt, Jr. required aggression, manipulation of other governments, and subterfuge. How many of us here in the United States study the CIA coup in 1953 (or countercoup, as Kermit called it) that reinstated the Shah in Iran, and voided democracy in that country until populism and anti-Americanism boiled over in 1979? Operation Ajax, we called it.

Our foreign policy may seem disorganized, but in the Middle East it has been deliberate and in many ways, well thought out. It has not shifted dramatically from president to president. Jimmy Carter is often seen as a very different political person than a Dick Cheney, a George Bush, or even a Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton. Yet events in the late 1970s under Carter’s executive watch were both a maturation of the actions of previous Republican and Democratic presidents, and set the foundations for our present-day policies. Do we remember the Carter Doctrine, and the establishment of Central Command? This history was made in my lifetime, and for many of you, only a few years before you were born. Carter set a direction, followed by Reagan and Bush. Clinton left his mark with a pseudo-war that gave us brand new bases in Bosnia and Kosovo – not outposts of southern Europe, but rather forward bases for the Middle East and Caspian Sea theaters.

What seems to be lack of sophistication is nothing more than might making right. When one is a great country in the world, who needs manners?

We have followed in the Middle East, before, during and after the Cold War, a policy of remarkable consistency. To admit that we have behaved much like the colonial powers we once admired, and have perhaps subconsciously stepped into a role the British Empire had long recognized was impossible and unsuitable in the late 20th century, is hard to do.

Can we gracefully untangle ourselves from what has been a quite purposeful foreign policy, over many decades? Well, just as in the 12-step programs, admitting we have a problem is the first step. I want to now address the very needed fourth step in a typical 12-step process – to make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

I’ve mentioned Iraq as only one of our challenges in the region, only one example of our disastrous foreign policy. But this foreign policy is continuous, near uninterrupted in the Middle East, throughout much of the 20th century and into the entire 21st so far.

I think a quick analysis of what led Americans into Iraq may serve as a model for understanding how we have pursued such similar policies in the region over many decades, and it will explain something about ourselves, as well as our government. It will help us make that searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

How did we get into Iraq, just this latest time in 2003? I think we can safely talk about five key factors, five integral preconditions for this foreign policy disaster.

It took 935 lies repeated ad nauseum by the government, both political parties and mainstream media. I encourage you to read the Center for Public Integrity’s latest study entitled Iraq: The War Card, just out. It also took millions of Americans eager to believe those 935 lies.

It took an obscene war enthusiasm among the elites in Washington. By obscene, I mean "disgusting and morally offensive, especially showing total disregard for other people."

It took a long-term plan by the Pentagon and Congress to reposition and expand the overseas military presence and budgets to Central Command and European Command (contrary to all logic and expectations after the Cold War ended).

It took an unusually persistent warfare state mentality among the common people. This persistent warfare mentality is relatively new in American history – perhaps coinciding with the preeminence of the public education system at the primary levels.

It took a lot of money being made by government-connected industries as a result of, and printed on behalf of, state expansion and war. Incidentally, this includes money made in the energy markets via government induced limitations of oil supply as part and parcel of a battle for influence over oil and gas supplies. In the 1970s, OPEC could nearly close off the global spigot. Today, OPEC controls only 40% of oil production. Perhaps the actions of our current military cartel in the Middle East have more in common with the once powerful OPEC cartel than meets the eye.

What kind of foreign policy is this, and what has caused it? Well, let’s review these five preconditions as if we were conducting a searching and fearless moral inventory.

Sin number 1. We suffer an overabundance of state propaganda that takes the form of outright lies, oft repeated. I’d like to quote Aldous Huxley, from his Propaganda in a Democratic Society:
In their propaganda today's dictators rely for the most part on repetition, suppression and rationalization – the repetition of catchwords which they wish to be accepted as true, the suppression of facts which they wish to be ignored, the arousal and rationalization of passions which may be used in the interests of the Party or the State.

One need only to remember George W. Bush’s famous line, in Rochester, New York on May 24, 2005, and I quote: "See in my line of work, you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."

If I could match this particular problem with one of the seven deadly sins, this one is sloth – a simple lack of willingness to find the truth, and bear it up, by government, by media, and by the people.

Sin number 2 is obscene war enthusiasm among the elites and politicians. Where else do we find similar enthusiasm for war and expansion of influence? We find it in imperial models from the ancient past, and in fascist models from the more recent past. We find war enthusiasm occasionally in religious extremism, for example the Crusades or in modern Islamic or Christian fundamentalism. We find it among the insane, and the unaccountable. Its cure is a recovery of sanity, and active pursuit of humility.

If Sin #2 is lust, then Sin #3 could be considered pride. We seem to have a state passion for expanding military might around the world, and a popular misconception by many Americans that military might must be constantly expanded or else it means we are losing something. This militaristic lust, often couched in words like spreading Christianity to native Americans, spreading Protestantism to the already Catholic Filpinos, spreading democracy and freedom to countless others everywhere, describes our own American history of the past 120 years – we might say it is modern American tradition. We also saw this same zeal for militarily enforcing global values in the expansionist policies of the old Soviet Union. It is by its very nature, anti-republican, anti-democratic, and anti-liberty.

Sin number 4 could be considered wrath. We seem to have in the country a warfare state mentality among the citizenry – characterized by extreme and unreflective patriotism, xenophobia, national chauvinism, intolerance and conformity all cloaked as Americanism. This warfare state mentality has an unstated cohort – and that is the fostering of a widespread fear of dissent. The idea that dissent is patriotic – seen perhaps on a bumper sticker – is really not to be believed by most people in modern day America. To have a former president publicly state – as Theodore Roosevelt did in 1918, and I quote:

To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public is today unthinkable, unpopular, and if it does happen, ignored. That’s in part because we are often angry, and we believe that the "executive we" are never wrong.

Finally, there is a great deal of money made in the pursuit of war and statism, at least for some sectors of society. When we examine our historical approach to the Middle East, it is clear that gaining and forming subordinate trading partners, rather than free trade and competition, was Washington D.C.’s objective. The extensive intransigence and massivity of the military industrial complex in this country, the last remaining American manufacturing powerhouse, has been discussed elsewhere. But I want to say this. The idea of a corporate state, of all employment linked to the state, all prosperity linked to government policies, programs, and guidance – this is fascism, as Mussolini defined it: "Everything for the State. Nothing against the State. Nothing outside the State." You might call this sin greed, but it is specifically the greed of the state and a small segment of white-collar welfare recipients.

What does this mean for Americans? I certainly don’t have the solutions. I think there are a couple of simple things that everyone can do, and I offer them here for your consideration.

If we are lied to by the state, and state-sanctioned media, why not simply start to recognize it? It always amazed me a few years ago, when I realized from listening to my teenaged children, that those so-called reality shows on TV were really staged and manipulated. I thought this new concept was simple reality – but my children understood what it really was. Turns out every kid I know gets this, almost intuitively. To counter lies, whether government or our own personal lives, requires nothing more than practiced skepticism. Not just skepticism, but daily, incessant, constant skepticism of everything we hear from Washington DC, its enablers, its cohorts, its well-connected media, and the political party organizations that depend on the continuation of the status quo.

If the elites are enthusiastic about war, cut them off at the knees – and the pocketbook. War enthusiasm by anyone indicates a serious psychological problem. When we see this in among the elites and politicians – most of whom do not understand or even recognize war, and would be frightened if actually exposed to it – it means we should take action immediately. But the real reason for the war enthusiasm is that they see war as a means to an end – more political power, less scrutiny over their crimes and misdemeanors, more money, and hence more political power and aggrandizement. We simply need to remove the aggrandizing power (i.e. money) from government service and from the vast nest of vipers in Washington and elsewhere that advise and consult government.

If our foreign policy is really all about empire, and we know that empires trump republics, then we need to get over ourselves. As Chalmers Johnson – in his important trilogy of timely books (Blowback in 2000, The Sorrows of Empire in 2004, and Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic in 2007) – has observed, as have many others, the empire is already ending. Whether the American empire is understood as economic, financial, military or ideological and political – it is already – as we speak and live – in serious decline. We actually need do little to expedite this decline – it is ongoing. Further, our imperial period really began after the Civil War, in the late 1800s, and our entire national history since then has been one of growth and now, decline, of empire. We once exported ideas of Protestant Christianity, now we export vague remonstrations of democracy – but it was always about domination of trade and influence, as Marine Lt General Smedley Butler finally realized and complained about in his famous pamphlet entitled "War is a Racket." To deal with the pain of a declining empire, we simply need to look on the bright side (and help others to do this as well). We are returning to constitutionalism whether we like it or not. I only hope we don’t return the long way through a series of mad dictators and fascist nightmares - the way to avoid this future is to immediately abandon our empire with honor and for the right reasons.

If we as a people are in love with the trappings of the warfare state, this is both unhealthy, and un-American, and we need to end the relationship. False patriotism should be called out wherever it is to be found – education about the integral relationship between the warfare state and the welfare state ought to go far to convince modern conservatives that they cannot support war without also supporting state socialism by design, and state corporatism by necessity. Of course, this is the crisis we see in the GOP today, and to a lesser extent the Democratic Party. The Republican Party today, and all of the GOP-blessed candidates love war, and war businesses, and state corporatism, but claim to hate the welfare state. They are hypocrites. The democratic candidates claim to hate war, but love the welfare state, and find they cannot get the welfare state they crave without the militarism in society and the world they claim to hate. Real freedom frightens both main parties, and it frightens them badly. The remedy for this love of the warfare state at home, false patriotism, and the inevitability of socialism in such an environment is education. We must cultivate ourselves and our friends and those we can influence towards promoting individuality, entrepreneurialism, self-education, curiosity and brave persistent pursuit of knowledge This is where the youthfulness (in mind) is so powerful, and so necessary – and we should not only encourage young people to revel in their youthful optimism and passion; we should encourage every American to think like a young person.

Lastly, we must deal with, and end, the profitability of the warfare-welfare state. This one is actually not too difficult. Don’t work for the government if you can avoid it – be entrepreneurial, be useful, be valuable to your self, your neighbors, your community. Understand the free marketplace of goods and ideas, and be a producer, not just a consumer. Never support the state and always support your community. Live like the Stoics – known as the very best citizens of Athens, although they rarely voted – because voting was coercion of the few by the many – stoic because they lived their lives understanding that we could improve best that part of the world we understood best and never from afar.

A libertarian foreign policy is often misconstrued as isolationist, or self-centered, or both. I think however that libertarian ideas inform what could be called a stoic foreign policy, as well as a constitutional one – and Americans would do well to live stoic lives themselves. I think if you study American history, our best years were not when we were instructing the world on how they should behave, but when we were working hard on improving our own backyards.

Change for this country is not coming, or promised, or something we can hope for. It’s already here, for those who can see it – and for libertarians, those masters of decentralization and creativity, it is an exciting time to be an American. Perhaps, I can put that another way. For Americans, it is an exciting time to reconsider the sustaining ideas of liberty, in particular, freedom from political tirades, burdensome taxes, and tyranny from a distant capitol. And more and more of us are doing that every day.

George Bush once said in a state of the union address that Americans were addicted to oil. Bush was probably apologizing for another more serious problem that is part and parcel to our foreign policy in the Middle East. Our government is addicted to easy power, to fantasies of empire, and it fears real freedom, at home or abroad.

I’d like to close with a bit of ancient history that may give us some clues to healing our modern American foreign policy addictions.

I mentioned Operation Ajax earlier, and perhaps the CIA sensed a bittersweet irony in naming its 1953 coup in Iran after the great Greek, son of Telamon and fellow hero with Odysseus. At one point, after many apparent military successes, Ajax becomes extremely jealous of Odysseus, who has received a coveted coat of armor that Ajax felt was rightfully his. Ajax becomes enraged and falls under a spell from Athena, goddess of war. He goes to a flock of sheep and slaughters them, imagining they are those who have wronged him, including Odysseus and Agamemnon. When Ajax comes to his senses, covered in blood, and realizes what he has done, he decides that he prefers to kill himself rather than to live in shame.

Our foreign policy in the Middle East has traveled a long consistent trajectory, and it is suicidal, and it will lead us to a national suicide preceded by a total loss of honor and dignity. Instead of pride, greed and envy driving us to actions against the innocent that we will regret, let us, as George W. Bush once promised to do, pursue a humble foreign policy. To do that as nation, we must reject false national pride, greed and envy of countries who have resources that we may feel they don’t deserve and practice religions we may not respect, and be humble ourselves.

It won’t be easy. But as the consequences we have already seen in the Middle East make painfully and expensively clear, the right path for our constitutional republic is actually the one favored by the majority of Americans today. If we keep it up, perhaps it won’t be long before the hacks in Washington start to say, "There they go, we must hurry and catch them, for we are their leaders."