Pakistan

05/06/2011

Jim Dolan reports from Pakistan on the death of Osama bin Laden

Osama bin Laden played out his final years, not a warrior or a jihadist, not a soldier bravely facing the enemy or the infidel. Bin Laden was as far from the front as you are. No, his final days were as “The Pacer,” the CIA name given to the peculiar and pathetic old man who walked up and down inside the walls of his compound… afraid to go out, afraid to go near windows or cell phones, Howard Hughes with a stooped back and slightly longer beard. In his room, he fine tuned the details of attacks that took place only in his mind, pathetically plotting another moment in the terror key light. So sorry to disappoint.. Bin Laden was like a convict in the prison yard… nowhere to go and nothing to do but wait for the fullness of time and what promises to be the harsh judgment of history.

 

The final retreat in a lifetime of them was into a tiny room running in vain from the fate he’d earned ten thousand times over. One in the head, one in the chest and he never felt the floor. Did anyone see the sun come out?

 

At what point do you suppose, his followers realize just how bankrupt the philosophy of hate and murder is? After fifteen years of non-stop terror, what has it all gotten them? Not an acre of land nor a seat at the table. Governments hunt them but they’ve achieved nothing. They are, to be fair, good at killing innocent people. This is not a difficult task, but they have perfected it.

 

Now, contrast that with the remarkable success of this fruitful Arab Spring. Governments that stood firmly on the foundation of oppression, have toppled into the sea of history; others are teetering. They seized the moral high ground, a plateau bin Laden and his minions can’t arch their necks enough even to see. And they did something al Qaeda never did: they won.

 

A Special Forces soldier in Baghdad who was considering retirement was asked a few years ago what he would do after the military. “I’m not sure,” the soldier said. “There’s always someone needs killing.”

Osama bin Laden needed killing. And there are more out there.

 

The President has said he won’t release the pictures of Bin Laden’s corpse. It’s a good decision. They will convince no one in this age of photo shop, and who cares if people believe he’s dead? He is.

 

Still, it’s a shame Aymen al Zawahiri can’t get the chance to see what he’s getting himself into, what his future holds. Live by the Khalishnakov and die by the M-16.

 

Or, take a seat in Tahrir Square with a few thousand friends, depose a ruthless tyrant and change the course of history.  

 

-Jim Dolan

05/11/2010

Shahzad and his possible connection to the Taliban

I don't presume to know anything Attorney General Eric Holder doesn't, which is why his insistence that Times Square bomber Aisle Shahzad was a tool of the Taliban in Pakistan is so confusing. I'm not suggesting that Shahzad had no contact with the Taliban, or that he didn't aspire to join some anti-American terror group, but the evidence that he succeeded just isn't there.
 
With brutal and ruthless regularity, the TTP, or Pakistani Taliban proves they know well how to build bombs that kill people. They sometimes fail to detonate, so do bombs and missiles built by American defense contractors, but never is there a bomb that doesn't have the proper components to do plenty of damage.
Taliban bombs don't use propane or fertilizer or m-88's, all ingredients found in Shahzad's SUV. In fact, it would be hard to find any anarchist website that would suggest so rudimentary and ineffective a device.
The Attorney General suggests that Shahzad had "training" from the Taliban, perhaps months of it. But, there is nothing about this bomb that suggests there was any training behind it, no one who knows how to build a bomb would use these components the way Shahzad did.
 
So why point this out? Clearly, Shahzad intended to kill Americans, clearly he wanted to strike at the Crossroads of the World. Why does it matter if he was guided by the Taliban or simply inspired by them?
The terror groups operating here in Pakistan, and there are many, have varying agenda's. Some seek to trigger a war with India and eventually overtake it. Some seek to overtake Pakistan and install a fundamentalist, Islamist government. Some just want to help the Afghan people expel Americans. Some have ambitions of imposing Sharia, or Muslim law over the whole world. But all of them share this: A venomous hatred for The United States. Their ambitions overlap in this one area alone, and they are determined to strike America here and, if possible, on American soil. In this way, they are inspired by September 11th and al Qaeda. As a woman who studies terror groups operating here in Pakistan told me, they are planning as we speak.
 
If we look at this pedestrian, inept effort by Faisel Shahzad as all that these groups are capable of, than we are doomed to be victims of them. They are smarter than this, they are more capable than this, and when they decide to strike with all of their resources and sophistication, we need to be ready. It would be a shame if Faisel Shahzad's failure lead America into a false sense of security, if we believed that there will always be a vendor who sees the smoke, there will always be a cop who calls in the bomb squad. When the real terrorists decide to strike, the only smoke we will see will be from the explosion. The challenge is to make sure they don't get that far. And pinning our hopes on "see something-say something" slogan will not be sufficient.
 

05/08/2010

Pakistan and the crack epidemic

"We believe the U.S. Is responsible for all of our miseries," the tall, educated Pakistani man said in clear English. And to add emphasis, "We believe this." Maybe more than any White paper or State Dept analysis, this explains the inexorable problem in South Asia. False helplessness.
Extremists operating in Pakistan today, have the expressed goal of, variously, taking over India and turning it into a Muslim nation (remember, Pakistan was carved out of India to give Muslims a place free from Hindu persecution), taking over Afghanistan and re-installing the Taliban, overthrowing the Pakistani government to install a theocracy, and in the case of al Qaeda, to take over the world and force all people to become Muslim (can't fault them for setting modest goals.)
The people who have these goals are a minority, even a small minority. But because moderate Pakistani's are afraid to do anything, and because they consider it India's or Afghanistan, or America's problem, they do nothing. They are simply victims of collateral damage, refugees from a war not of their own design.
The military of the United States can't defeat extremists, but it can cause a bucket load of pain, pain that is felt far beyond the invisible border of the extremists. The pain is shared by moderates like the man who believes America causes his misery. Well,yeah. The pain is shared not just nation wide but throughout the region.
So who can defeat the extremists who wish to take over the world and install a false and harsh interpretation of Islam?
In the 1980's, crack was ravaging New York's neighborhoods and some across the country. Mayor Giuliani and police commissioner Bill Bratton are given credit for ending that surge, but the truth is more complex. Street by street, person by person, people began to see the carnage and horror crack was leaving in their families and neighborhoods. As people turned against crack, they started ratting out the dealers and users and, yes, Bratton was there with a complex and effective strategy to help the good people who wanted safe streets. It worked, and murder and robbery plunged as a result.
Only moderate Muslims, working together to reign in or defeat the extremists can really free the world of the terror of religious extremism. And time is running short. How many Mumbai's will India tolerate before they send troops across the border? And both nations have nuclear weapons prepped and waiting on a hair trigger. Will that be the U.S.'s fault too? 
Joe and I visited a remote, dusty village near the forbidden tribal areas  yesterday. We had no security, and felt we needed none. We were invited to sit and discuss America and Pakistan with a group of village men.  To a person they hated America, blamed us, cursed us, implored america to see the pain we were causing with our military. And then they made a magnificent feast of chicken and pastries and tea  for joe and me, two americans. We broke bread together with these men who hated America but whose religion and human goodness called on their basic civility.  We embraced and shook hands in a grand and beautiful display of how moderates behave.
Its like 2:30 in the morning here in Pakistan and my internet went out hours ago, so I can't look up who said "all it takes for evil to win is for good men to do nothing." And, yes, I should know it anyway, and maybe would if I hadn't been up for 68 hours straight. But his sentiment is crucial here, and not understanding his wisdom could literally cause armageddon some day.

Blame a distant nation, or clean up your own back yard. These are the choices. The stakes are high... And time is running short.

Jim Dolan

Click here to watch Jim's reports from Pakistan