Friday, October 09, 2009

DTN News: Pakistan TODAY October 9, 2009 ~ Deadly Blast Hits Peshawar City In Pakistan

DTN News: Pakistan TODAY October 9, 2009 ~ Deadly Blast Hits Peshawar City In Pakistan *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - October 9, 2009: At least 49 people have been killed in a bombing in a crowded area of the north-western Pakistani city of Peshawar, officials say. More than 100 people have also been injured in the suspected suicide bombing, a regional minister said. People stand at the site of a suicide bombing in Peshawar, Pakistan, Friday, Oct. 9, 2009. A suicide bomber blew up his vehicle near a crowded market in northwestern Pakistan on Friday, killing 49 people and pushing the country closer to an offensive against militants in their main stronghold along the Afghan border. Officials said a vehicle laden with explosives had been detonated near the city's Khyber Bazaar. Friday's explosion was the latest in a series of recent bombings across north-western Pakistan.
It comes as the Pakistani army prepares an operation against the Taliban in the tribal region of South Waziristan. TV footage showed what appeared to be the charred frame of a bus destroyed by the explosion. Many of the victims of the blast were thought to be passengers and police said this included a number of children. The remains of other vehicles were strewn in the road. Officials said they thought a suicide bomber travelling in a car had carried out the attack. "He blew himself up as the car was next to a passenger bus passing through the market," senior police officer, Shafqat Malik, told the BBC. It is the deadliest attack in Pakistan since March when a suicide bomber destroyed a crowded mosque in Jamrud, killing at least 50 people. But doctors at the Lady Reading hospital, close to the blast site, warned that the toll could rise as many of the injured were in a critical condition.
Pakistani officials emphasised the government's resolve to tackle militancy on a wider scale. "One thing is clear, these hired assassins called Taliban are to be dealt with more severely," Interior Minister Rehman Malik told reporters. "I think the incident of today has accelerated this," he added. "We think we have no other option except to carry out an operation in South Waziristan because every matter, every incident, whatever is happening, all roads are leading to South Waziristan so I think we'll have to proceed." Vehicles torched A witness at a local hospital told the Associated Press news agency that he had seen the vehicle explode. "I saw a blood-soaked leg landing close to me," he said. "I understood for the first time in my life what a doomsday would look like." Witnesses also described how bystanders desperately tried to free survivors trapped in vehicles overturned by the force of the explosion. Hours earlier, police said gunmen in Peshawar had attacked vehicles being used to take supplies to Nato forces in Afghanistan, setting them on fire and destroying them.
Correspondents say there have been increasingly frequent militant attacks after a lull following the death in a missile strike of top Taliban commander, Baitullah Mehsud. The blast comes days after a deadly bombing at a UN office in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, and less than two weeks after a double suicide car bombing in Peshawar. The BBC's Aleem Maqbool reports from Islamabad that the Taliban has been threatening to carry out attacks unless operations against the militant group were stopped. He says that in recent days Taliban positions in the tribal areas have been bombed by the air force, amid speculation that the army's offensive is soon to be intensified. There was a period of relative quiet in August after Baitullah Mehsud was killed, but the rate of attacks claimed by the group has increased since then, our correspondent adds.
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DTN News: China TODAY October 9, 2009 ~ Scientists Discover New Mammal That Lived 123 Million Years Ago In China

DTN News: China TODAY October 9, 2009 ~ Scientists Discover New Mammal That Lived 123 Million Years Ago In China *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) BEIJING, China - October 9, 2009: An international team of paleontologists has discovered a new species of mammal that lived 123 million years ago in what is now the Liaoning Province in northeastern China. The newly discovered animal, Maotherium asiaticus, comes from famous fossil-rich beds of the Yixian Formation.
This new remarkably well-preserved fossil, offers an important insight into how the mammalian middle ear evolved.
The discoveries of such exquisite dinosaur-age mammals from China provide developmental biologists and paleontologists with evidence of how developmental mechanisms have impacted the morphological (body-structure) evolution of the earliest mammals and sheds light on how complex structures can arise in evolution because of changes in developmental pathways.
"What is most surprising, and thus scientifically interesting, is this animal's ear," said Dr. Zhe-Xi Luo, curator of vertebrate paleontology and associate director of science and research at Carnegie Museum of Natural History.
"Mammals have highly sensitive hearing, far better than the hearing capacity of all other vertebrates, and hearing is fundamental to the mammalian way of life. The mammalian ear evolution is important for understanding the origins of key mammalian adaptations," he said.
According to the Chinese and American scientists who studied this new mammal, the middle ear bones of Maotherium are partly similar to those of modern mammals.
But, Maotherium's middle ear has an unusual connection to the lower jaw that is unlike that of adult modern mammals. This middle ear connection, also known as the ossified Meckel's cartilage, resembles the embryonic condition of living mammals and the primitive middle ear of pre-mammalian ancestors.
Because Maotherium asiaticus is preserved three-dimensionally, paleontologists were able to reconstruct how the middle ear attached to the jaw. This can be a new evolutionary feature. Or, it can be interpreted as having a "secondarily reversal to the ancestral condition," meaning that the adaptation is the caused by changes in development.
The middle ear morphology in fossil mammal Maotherium of the Cretaceous (145-65 million years ago) is very similar to the mutant morphology in the middle ear of the mice with mutant genes. The scientific team studying the fossil suggests that the unusual middle ear structure, such as the ossified Meckel's cartilage, is actually the manifestation of developmental gene mutations in the deep times of Mesozoic mammal evolution.
By studying all features in this exquisitely preserved fossil, researchers believe Maotherium to be more closely related to marsupials and placentals than to monotremes-primitive egg-laying mammals of Australia and New Guinea such as the platypus.
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DTN News: Boeing Launches 2nd WorldView Earth-Imaging Satellite Aboard Delta II

DTN News: Boeing Launches 2nd WorldView Earth-Imaging Satellite Aboard Delta II
*Source: DTN News / Boeing
(NSI News Source Info) VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., - October 9, 2009: The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA], through its commercial launch business, today successfully launched the WorldView-2 satellite for DigitalGlobe aboard a Delta II rocket. A United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, on behalf of Boeing Launch Services, blasts off from Space Launch Complex-2 with the DigitalGlobe WorldView-2 spacecraft at 11:51 a.m. Pacific time today. The Delta II successfully deployed WorldView-2 into a sun-synchronous orbit where the spacecraft will perform its mission of collecting high-resolution commercial digital Earth imagery from space. Liftoff occurred at 11:51 a.m. Pacific time from Pad SLC-2W at Vandenberg Air Force Base. The Delta II released WorldView-2 approximately 62 minutes after liftoff, delivering it into a sun-synchronous orbit where the satellite will begin its mission of collecting and recording commercial, high-resolution Earth imagery. "We are pleased to provide another successful launch for DigitalGlobe," said Ken Heinly, director of Boeing Launch Products & Services and president of Boeing Launch Services. "Today's launch of WorldView-2 marks the 91st consecutive successful launch of the highly reliable and dependable Delta II launch vehicle." The first of the DigitalGlobe next-generation class of imaging satellites, WorldView-1, was launched by a Delta II in September 2007. United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin, provides the Delta II launch vehicle and mission services under a commercial contract administered by Boeing Launch Services. Boeing Launch Services is a customer-focused subsidiary that provides business development, sales, procurement and program management of Delta launch services for commercial customers. It is part of the Space Exploration division of Boeing Integrated Defense Systems and is based in Huntington Beach, Calif. A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is one of the world's largest space and defense businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world's largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is a $32 billion business with 70,000 employees worldwide.
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DTN News: Lockheed Martin Flies First 360-degree Infrared Sensor On Small Unmanned Aircraft System

DTN News: Lockheed Martin Flies First 360-degree Infrared Sensor On Small Unmanned Aircraft System
*Source: DTN News / Lockheed Martin (NSI News Source Info) EAGAN, MN, - October 9, 2009: Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] recently completed a successful test of a new infrared sensor turret aboard its Desert Hawk III Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), marking the first time a small UAS has flown with a 360-degree infrared sensor. Battle-proven, the hand-launched Desert Hawk III has provided the British Army with critical Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The small UAS (54-inch wingspan) is specifically designed to operate at high altitudes, in high winds and extreme temperatures. Successful flight tests of the Desert Hawk III’s new payload offering, held September 23- 24 at the Minnesota National Guard’s Camp Ripley unmanned vehicle proving grounds, validate the UAS's ability to greatly improve nighttime ISR for ground forces. By providing 360-degree infrared coverage, troops obtain greater target location accuracy and superior image stability. Combined with an upgraded 360-degree color Electro Optic (E/O) sensor, operators gained 10 times continuous zoom capability, significantly aiding in contact identification. “To assist the warfighter, we have miniaturized the infrared payload, so it fits into a turret weighing less than two pounds," said John Nikolai, director of electronic products & logistics at Lockheed Martin’s Tactical Systems business in Eagan, MN. "The E/O camera has been upgraded as well, for improved target identification. With the introduction of these sensor capabilities, users will experience vastly improved nighttime situational awareness.” Lockheed Martin’s Desert Hawk III features an open architecture environment and consists of a lightweight, hand-launched, ruggedized air vehicle with snap-on Plug and PlayloadsTM, a portable ground station and a remote video terminal. The snap-on payload capability allows a single operator to swap sensors on the air vehicle in less than one minute to meet immediate and rapidly changing mission requirements. Currently, the Desert Hawk III offers five modular capability payloads for mission flexibility. The payloads include a 360-degree turret with a mix of E/O and/or black and white low-light imagers, an infrared stabilized imager in a roll axis out to 90 degrees, a signals intelligence sensor, the new 360-degree infrared sensor and the upgraded 360-degree E/O imager with continuous zoom. Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 140,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The corporation reported 2008 sales of $42.7 billion.
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DTN News: Singapore TODAY October 9, 2009 ~ Supreme Court Dismisses FEER’s Appeal In Defamation Suit

DTN News: Singapore TODAY October 9, 2009 ~ Supreme Court Dismisses FEER’s Appeal In Defamation Suit *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) SINGAPORE - October 9, 2009: Singapore’s Supreme Court has thrown out an appeal by the Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER) in its defamation case involving Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew. TOKYO - OCTOBER 6: Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore shakes hands with the Prime Minister of Japan, Yukio Hatoyama at the premier's official residence October 6, 2009 in Tokyo, Japan. Lee Hsien Loong is on an Official Working Visit to Japan. The magazine had been found guilty of defaming the two leaders in an article published in the July—August 2006 issue, which quoted Mr Chee Soon Juan, secretary—general of the Singapore Democratic Party. FEER had appealed the verdict, but judges Chan Sek Keong, Andrew Phang Boon Leong and Judith Prakash on Wednesday dismissed the appeal with costs. The court agreed with the earlier judgement that the words used in FEER’s article, written by its Editor Hugo Restall, were indeed defamatory to both Prime Minister Lee and Minister Mentor Lee. The prime minister and minister mentor were represented by lawyers Davinder Singh and Wilson Wong from Drew & Napier. The next stage is to assess the damages to be awarded to both leaders.
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DTN News: Indonesia TODAY October 9, 2009 ~ Indonesian Tycoon Voted Golkar Party Chief

DTN News: Indonesia TODAY October 9, 2009 ~ Indonesian Tycoon Voted Golkar Party Chief
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) JAKARTA, Indonesia - October 9, 2009: Controversial tycoon Aburizal Bakrie was elected to lead Indonesia's Golkar party Thursday after the Suharto-era ruling party suffered its biggest electoral defeat. The billionaire businessman and outgoing welfare minister was elected chairman in the early hours of the morning after a tense party congress marred by scuffles and shouting matches between delegates, Golkar officials said. Bakrie, 62, won 296 votes compared to 240 for his closest rival, media tycoon Surya Paloh. The youngest son of Suharto, who died last year after using Golkar to rule the country for 32 years until his downfall in 1998, launched a surprise bid for the chairmanship but failed to win a single vote. "We've chosen someone whom we think is capable of regaining the people's trust in the Golkar Party and raising its image. Aburizal Bakrie is the answer," congress chairman Andi Mattalatta told AFP. Bakrie could not be reached for comment but he was quoted by the Detikcom news website as saying Golkar, founded in 1964, was the "vehicle of the Indonesian people to reach our shared ambitions". The session to elect a new leader started at midnight and finished at dawn, and was held in the Riau provincial capital of Pekanbaru. Bakrie replaces outgoing Vice President Jusuf Kalla as Golkar chief. Kalla came a distant third in presidential polls in July, which were won in a landslide by incumbent Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of the Democrat party. Mattalatta laughed at the performance of Suharto's son Hutomo Mandala Putra, popularly known as Tommy Suharto, saying the 47-year-old was "not in the minds of voters". Tommy was released from prison in 2006 after serving four years of a 15-year term for ordering the murder of a Supreme Court judge who had convicted him of corruption. The nationalist Golkar Party was founded by Suharto and has never been in opposition, but its fortunes have waned in recent years and it garnered only 14.45 percent of the vote in general elections in April. Bakrie's family controls a vast conglomerate including interests in palm oil, telecommunications, coal and gas. He has been accused in the past of using his political influence to bail out his family businesses from debt, although he denies any conflict of interest between his public duties and private investments. A Bakrie group gas drilling company has been blamed for triggering a massive mud volcano that has been devouring land and homes in East Java since May 2, 2006, causing an estimated 4.9 billion dollars in damage and killing 13 people. The company, Lapindo Brantas, has been accused of failing to fully compensate displaced residents of 12 villages that were wiped out by the disaster. It says an earthquake caused the mud to spew from one of its drilling wells, but independent scientists say the company was almost certainly to blame and warn that the volcano could continue to erupt for thousands of years.
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DTN News: French Military Has An Alternate Route To Afghanistan Via Kazakhstan

DTN News: French Military Has An Alternate Route To Afghanistan Via Kazakhstan *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) ASTANA, Kazakhstan - October 9, 2009: Kazakhstan agreed on last week to allow French military personnel and equipment to transit through the Central Asian state to Afghanistan. A soldier from the French Foreign Legion, a unit of the French army, patrols in Deh Sabz district of Kabul province October 3, 2009. About 800 legionnaires are stationed in Afghanistan as part of NATO efforts to contain the Taliban insurgency. Picture taken October 3, 2009. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy oversaw the signing of the transit agreement by their foreign ministers. Afghan school boys watch military vehicles from the French Foreign Legion, a unit of the French army, on patrol in Deh Sabz district of Kabul province October 3, 2009. About 800 legionnaires are stationed in Afghanistan as part of NATO efforts to contain the Taliban insurgency. Picture taken October 3, 2009. It was not immediately clear whether Kazakhstan, which has no direct border with Afghanistan, will be used as a transit point for French airlifts, or it will be part of a land route also involving Russia and other ex-Soviet states. Earlier this year, Kazakhstan allowed the United States to ship non-lethal supplies for its Afghan troops through its territory as Washington tried to diversify supply routes due to frequent attacks on convoys in Pakistan. The deal follows a similar agreement between the United States and Russia which has said it would also negotiate transit for US allies including France. The US-led coalition has boosted troop numbers in Afghanistan in an effort to suppress the Taliban insurgency which, according to some analysts, threatens to spill into Central Asia. France is also in talks with Kazakhstan's southern neighbour Kyrgyzstan to renew an agreement allowing French military to use the Kyrgyz Manas air base to support Afghan operations.

DTN News: Pakistani Taliban Struck Again On NATO's Supplies Fuel Tanker For Afghanistan Near Peshawar

DTN News: Pakistani Taliban Struck Again On NATO's Supplies Fuel Tanker For Afghanistan Near Peshawar
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - October 9, 2009: Militants in Pakistan torched a tanker carrying fuel for US and Nato troops in Afghanistan on Friday, highlighting the vulnerability of the American-led mission in the landlocked country as Washington debates sending more troops.
The tanker was attacked and torched at a gas station. There were no reports of injuries. — Photo The attack came at a time of strained ties between Pakistan's civilian-led government, its powerful army and the United States over a proposed American aid bill that military chiefs and opposition lawmakers says interferes in the country's internal affairs. The prospect of fresh political instability in Pakistan as it battles al-Qaeda and Taliban along the Afghan border will concern the United States, which sees Afghanistan and Pakistan as different theatres in the same war against militants. Pakistani Taliban have often targeted US-Nato supply convoys passing through northwest Pakistan for Afghanistan, though there have been less attacks reported recently. Most of the non-military supplies for foreign troops in Afghanistan are unloaded at Karachi sea port and are then trucked in via the northwest, a militant stronghold. Friday's pre-dawn attack took place close to the northwestern city of Peshawar, said Fazal Rabi, a police official. He said the tanker was attacked and torched at a gas station. There were no reports of injuries. Attacks on the supply line have prompted US military planners to open other routes into Afghanistan from the north. There are currently about 68,000 US troops in Afghanistan fighting a resurgent Taliban. The top US commander in Afghanistan Gen. Stanley McChrystal wants up to 40,000 more troops to take the fight to the militants, but not all US administration officials agree with escalating the eight-year-old war. The government of President Asif Ali Zardari has hailed the US aid package, which would provide $1.5 billion a year over the next five years, tripling non-military assistance to the country. It also authorises ‘such sums as may be necessary’ for counterterrorism assistance, but only if certain conditions are met. The legislation, which has been approved by the US Congress and awaits President Barack Obama's signature, makes US aid contingent on whether Pakistan's government maintains effective control over the military, including its budgets, the chain of command and top promotions. It also calls for yearly certifications that Pakistan is making a commitment to combating terrorist groups and cooperating in controlling proliferation of nuclear weapons. In an unusual public statement, the army raised ‘serious concern’ on Wednesday over the conditions, which they said impacted Pakistan's security interests. US-based global intelligence company Stratfor said in a report that ‘through the aid package, the Obama administration is trying to alter the nature of the Pakistani state, a very ambitious project to say the least.’ It said the military, which has ruled Pakistan for much of its 62 years, ‘had no intention of yielding without a struggle, which almost surely will result in increased instability.’ Farhatullah Babar, Zardari's chief spokesman, said previous US aid packages negotiated under Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who led a military government for eight years beginning in 1999, contained similar clauses and the army never complained. ‘Why this protest now?’ he asked. ‘There are proper forums like the defence committee of the Cabinet and the Ministry of Defence for communication of such views ... why this was bypassed, I don't know.’ He strongly defended the aid package, saying ‘there is nothing against the national interest in the bill.''

DTN News: Russia's Strategic Missile Forces To Hold Drills From Oct. 9-14, 2009

DTN News: Russia's Strategic Missile Forces To Hold Drills From Oct. 9-14, 2009
*Source: DTN News / RIA Novosti
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW, Russia - October 9, 2009: Russia's Strategic Missile Forces will conduct a series of exercises on October 9-17 in the Ivanovo Region, the forces' press service said on Thursday. At least six warplanes and helicopters will participate in the exercises, to be held near the town of Teikovo, located about 250 km east of Moscow. The statement did not specify the nature of the exercises, but said 36 pilots would participate. Teikovo is the base of 54th Strategic Missile Division, where the first two battalions were equipped with six road-mobile Topol-M (SS-27 Stalin) intercontinental ballistic missile systems. Topol-M missile, with a range of about 7,000 miles (11,000 km), is the mainstay of the ground-based component of Russia's nuclear triad. As of the start of 2009, the SMF operated 50 silo-based and six road-mobile Topol-M missile systems.

DTN News: Russia Has 5 Arms Deals With Libya According To Rosoboronexport

DTN News: Russia Has 5 Arms Deals With Libya According To Rosoboronexport *Source: DTN News / RIA Novosti (NSI News Source Info) TRIPOLI, Libya - October 9, 2009: Russia's state arms exporter Rosoboronexport said on Wednesday that Russia has five ongoing contracts with Libya in the sphere of military cooperation. "The contracts involve military equipment for the Ground Forces and the Navy, including the modernization of T-72 tanks, and the general supply of spare parts for the above-mentioned branches of the Armed Forces," said Alexander Mikheyev, deputy general director of Rosoboronexport. Mikheyev, who is heading the Russian delegation at the LAVEX-2009 air show in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, said Libya has already provided guarantees on payments under at least three contracts. "We are also participating in a Libyan tender on the delivery of aircraft and air defense systems," he said. According to the official, the Libyan military wants to have only the most advanced military equipment because neighboring countries, including Egypt, have recently bought new weaponry and strengthened their defense potentials. Rosoboronexport General Director Anatoly Isaykin earlier said that Russia had signed two arms deals with Libya in 2009 and was working on new contracts for the supply of Russian weaponry to the North African nation. The 4th Arab-African Aviation Exhibition and Conference - LAVEX-2009 - runs October 5-8.

DTN News: Pakistan ~ Biting The Hand That Feeds You

DTN News: Pakistan ~ Biting The Hand That Feeds You *Source: By Scott Stewart STRATFOR (NSI News Source Info) - October 9, 2009: The Islamabad office of the United Nations’ World Food Program (WFP) was struck by a suicide bomber just after noon local time Oct. 5. The bomber, who wore an improvised explosive device (IED) concealed under his clothing, was wearing the uniform of the Frontier Constabulary, a paramilitary force, and reportedly made his way past perimeter security and into the facility under the ruse of asking to use the restroom. Once inside the facility, he detonated his explosive device, killing five WFP employees — one Iraqi national and four locals — and injuring six others. The attack, claimed by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), would be the first successful TTP attack in Islamabad since June 6, and the first attack against Western interests in a Pakistani city since the June 9 attack against the Pearl Continental hotel in Peshawar using a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED). In his Oct. 6 call to The Associated Press and other media outlets to claim responsibility for the attack, TTP spokesman Azam Tariq said the group is planning additional attacks against similar targets. “The WFP is promoting the U.S. agenda,” Tariq said, and “such types of suicide attacks will continue in the future. We will target all people and offices working for American interests. We have sent more suicide bombers in various parts of the country and they have been given targets.” The WFP office in Islamabad is located in an upscale part of town but outside of the diplomatic enclave. While the roads leading into the area are blocked by police checkpoints, the sector is not nearly as heavily locked down as the diplomatic enclave, which made it easier for an attacker to approach the WFP office. The office does have an exterior security wall, but that wall provides very little standoff — in other words, there is not much distance between the building and the road. From an attacker’s perspective, the WFP is a far softer target than a facility such as the U.S. Embassy, which has a significant standoff. The only thing that provides protection from a large explosive device is distance, and due to the small amount of standoff at the WFP office, if that office had been attacked using a large VBIED like the one used in the September 2008 attack against the Marriott hotel in Islamabad, the attack would have been devastating. However, the attack against the WFP office was not conducted with a massive device but with a small one. It appears that the pressure the Pakistani government has placed upon the TTP (with U.S. assistance) has reduced the group’s ability to conduct high-profile attacks. Indeed, following the attack on the Pearl Continental hotel, there had been a noticeable lull in the TTP’s operations — even before the Aug. 5 death of TTP leader Baitullah Mehsud in a U.S. missile strike. The WFP bombing serves as a message that while the TTP is down, it is not yet out and more low-level attacks can be expected in the near term. Going Small Small-scale attacks like the one the TTP launched against the WFP office are relatively easy to conduct and require very few resources. This makes them far easier to sustain than large-scale VBIED attacks. The approximately 2,000 pounds of explosives used in the massive VBIED deployed against the Islamabad Marriott could be used to create scores of suicide IEDs like the one used against the WFP. There has been a trend in the last few years in which militant groups have shifted away from larger devices in favor of smaller ones. This trend is especially noticeable when the group is under intense pressure, like Tanzim Qaedat al-Jihad in Indonesia (and the TTP at the present time). Small-scale attacks require fewer resources, and smaller devices can be built and transported more clandestinely than huge VBIEDs. They can also be manufactured more quickly, which allows for a higher tempo of operations. However, these smaller devices must be used in a different type of attack and are often taken into the targeted site using a ruse, like a Frontier Constabulary uniform in Islamabad; posing as hotel guests and workers in Jakarta; or even hidden inside the bomber’s body, as we saw in Saudi Arabia on Aug. 28. In the wake of the WFP attack and the TTP’s warning that more attacks are coming, security measures at the offices of humanitarian aid, intergovernmental, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are certain to be inspected and tightened up (at least until complacency sets in) to protect against this type of ruse attack using a small suicide device. One of the other advantages of using these small devices is that they provide attackers a great deal of flexibility in employing them — a flexibility that is often used to bypass security measures. However, identifying gaps in security requires surveillance — often extended surveillance — and during that surveillance attackers are susceptible to being identified. Historically, aid organizations simply do not have the security budget to afford the types of physical security equipment and guard coverage afforded to embassies or even commercial establishments like large hotels, and this makes them relatively soft targets. But even if these offices are hardened by increased security and by proactive measures such as employing countersurveillance teams and the offices thus become more difficult to strike using small devices, the employees of these organizations will remain vulnerable as they do their work in the field. Aid Workers as Targets By its very nature, the work conducted by an aid group is very different from that conducted by a diplomatic mission. While diplomats like to travel to different parts of the country they are assigned to and meet with a variety of people, their primary mission is to be the representatives of their home government to the foreign government where they are assigned and accredited. This means that, while they may balk at strict security measures, they can still perform many of their functions in dangerous locations like Islamabad or Baghdad, even though their movement outside of the embassy is tightly restricted and requires considerable security. The same is simply not true for organizations like the WFP, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Doctors Without Borders or the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), among others. These organizations exist to bring shelter, food and medicine to refugees and displaced people, and such people are often found in conflict zones such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia. This means that aid employees are very vulnerable to being targeted when they are outside of their offices. Last October, STRATFOR discussed the growing trend of jihadists attacking aid workers and the tension the trend was creating among jihadist ideologues. Some ideologues, such as Isam Mohammed Taher al-Barqawi, more popularly known by the nom de guerre Abu-Muhammad Asem al-Maqdisi, have taken a clear stand against targeting “genuine” humanitarian organizations. In his writings, al-Maqdisi has specifically referred to the International Committee of the Red Cross, noting how it is a legitimate humanitarian organization with no hidden agenda and that its valuable services to the poor and dispossessed should be appreciated. However, many jihadist leaders do not differentiate between the political aspect of the United Nations and the separate organizations that operate under the aegis of the United Nations for humanitarian purposes, such as the WFP, UNHCR, UNDP and UNICEF. In addition to the Oct. 6 message from the TTP spokesman who noted that the WFP is an infidel organization that promotes the U.S. agenda, other jihadist leaders have also spoken out against the United Nations. In an April 2008 speech, al Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri said, “The United Nations is an enemy of Islam and Muslims: It is the one which codified and legitimized the setting up of the state of Israel and its taking over of the Muslims’ lands.” Clearly, over the past year this ideological battle inside jihadist circles has been decided in favor of those who advocate attacks against humanitarian workers, since such attacks are increasing — and the problem is not just confined to Pakistan. A recent report by the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office noted that attacks against aid workers in Afghanistan are twice as frequent as they were last year — and 2008 had seen significantly more fatalities than 2007 — so things are clearly getting worse there, and the Afghan Taliban are launching more frequent ambushes and roadside IED attacks against clearly marked white aid vehicles. In Pakistan, at least three UNHCR employees have been assassinated so far this year, and a UNHCR employee and UNICEF employee were among those killed in the June bombing of the Pearl Continental Hotel in Peshawar. The Pearl was essentially the headquarters for many of the aid organizations in Peshawar. Outside of Afghanistan and Pakistan, aid workers also have been attacked in Iraq, Somalia, Yemen and Sudan, among other places. For these aid workers, the perception by groups like the Afghan Taliban, the TTP and al Qaeda that they are a part of the U.S. agenda — and this translates into a war against Islam — means that they will be targeted for attacks. The increase in attacks has often led to the drawdown of Western aid employees in a given country, and this has forced these organizations to rely heavily on local, mainly Muslim, employees to conduct most of the relief work in the most dangerous places. However, the track record over the past few years has demonstrated that local employees are every bit as likely to be targeted as their Western colleagues. This is in part due to the fact that jihadists declare that all Muslims who work with infidels are apostates and therefore no better than infidels themselves. (This is called the doctrine of Takfir, or apostasy, and the fact that the jihadists claim to have the ability to declare another Muslim an apostate is very controversial within Islam, as is the killing of non-combatants such as humanitarian workers.) In Pakistan, local aid workers are dedicated to reaching the hungry, sick and dispossessed people they serve, and this makes them extremely vulnerable to attack because they operate in some very remote and dangerous places. They are far more likely to be working outside of the larger, more secure organizational offices and in smaller, more vulnerable clinics and food distribution points. Because of this, there is a high likelihood that if the organizational offices present too hard a target, these lower-level aid workers and smaller aid distribution points could be targeted in lower-level TTP attacks. This would be part of the TTP effort to derail what it perceives as the U.S. agenda to stabilize (or, in the TTP’s eyes, influence and control) Pakistan by providing aid to the people displaced by the fighting between the government of Pakistan and the TTP and its foreign allies. Such attacks will hurt the TTP as far as public opinion goes, as have its attacks in Islamabad, Peshawar and elsewhere. But in light of the losses it has taken on the battlefield in places like Swat and in light of the coming offensive in South Waziristan, the TTP’s priority is to prove that it is still a force to be reckoned with — and more important, negotiated with. So the attacks will continue, and we can anticipate that many of them will be against humanitarian workers.
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