Welcome! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Monday's Winds of War briefings are given by Peace Like a River and Security Watchtower.
- Visiting Damascus, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met with leaders of Palestinian terror groups, including Islamic Jihad and Hamas, and expressed support for their cause. Israeli Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz said Iran funds Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad to the tune of $ 100 million dollars a year. Of little surprise was Syria's pronouncement of support for Iran's nuclear activities.
- Speaking at the Herzliya Conference opening session on Saturday night, Israeli National Security Council head Giora Eiland told audience that Israel was more concerned about Lebanon than Syria, and worried al Qaeda would exploit the weak central government there for its benefit. Following Eiland, Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz spoke, and vowed that Israel would not accept a nuclear armed Iran.
- According to several anonymous diplomats, Iran may have received three shipments of advanced P-2 centrifuges in 1997, a charge contrary to what Tehran has reported to the IAEA. This past weekend, Iran was still insisting they wanted a compromise in the nuclear standoff, while it looks as though Russia wants the language of a draft resolution against Iran to be softened and China presents formidable opposition.
Other topics today include: Hezbollah interview; Assad accuses Israel of killing Arafat; Poll ahead of Palestinian election; Bombing in Tel Aviv; Islamic Jihad commander captured; Iranian foreign assets; Iranian human shields; Saudi reeducation efforts; WMD terror attack a "question of time"; Gonzales dossier; Eco terrorists; Threat on Alaskan pipeline; Hispanic group hails bin Laden; landmines in Columbia; More info on strike in Damadola; Peace talks urged in Sri Lanka; Counterterrorism in Bangladesh; explosions at Russian pipelines; increased violence in Afghanistan; Attacks in Nepal; Fears of coup in Philippines; Report documents abuses in Timor by Indonesian army; Japan calls for South Korea to mend ties; Bombing in southern Thailand; Indonesian national vision; al Qaeda related raids in Albania; Weapons smuggling between Algeria and Morocco; US Navy intercepts Somalian pirates; and more.
Iran & the Middle East
- The Secretary General of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, was interviewed by Ghassan Charbel of al-Hayat, and spoke about the crisis between Beirut and Damascus while calling for Arab intervention. Jordan's King Abdullah is calling on all parties to cooperate with the ongoing Mehlis investigation into the death of Rafik Hariri.
- Syrian President Bashar Assad accused Israel of killing Palestinian chairman Yassir Arafat, at a speech he gave to Arab lawyers in Damascus. Israel responded by calling it a "delusional accusation."
- According to Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Hamas recognizes the existence of Israel and is willing to engage in negotiations. Olivier Guitta challenged that view by pointing out that Hamas is still calling for "the end of the Zionist entity."
- Michael Totten looked at Syria's exiled ex-Vice-President Abdul Halim Khaddam and reminds us that "The Enemy of Your Enemy Is Sometimes Your Enemy".
- A poll taken on Friday among Palestinians shows a close race between Hamas and Fatah ahead of this Wednesday's parliamentary elections. In an overall poll conducted by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center, Fatah was preferred by 32.3 percent of respondents, while 30.2 favored Hamas. In Gaza it was virtually deadlocked, with Fatah scoring 36.7 percent while Hamas came in at 36.4 percent. Michael Kraft asks if Hamas is going to make Palestine the next designated terrorist state, and a victory for Hamas could present a dilemma and alter U.S. policy towards the Palestinians.
- The Jerusalem Brigade of Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv on Thursday that wounded 20 people. The bombers was identified as 22-year-old Sami Abdel Hafez Antar from the West Bank city of Nablus. Several members of Fatah praised the attack, while the Israeli Defense Minister accused Iran and Syria of being directly behind the attack.
- On Sunday morning in Silat a-Harta, IDF soldiers captured Hassan Jardaat, a senior Islamic Jihad commander that headed a northern Samaria terror cell responsible for a number of deadly attacks.
- On Saturday reports indicated that Iran had begun moving foreign assets to an undisclosed location. On Sunday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi denied that such transfers were taking place.
- Borrowing a page from their former nemesis Saddam Hussein, Iran is deploying children to act as human shields at Iranian nuclear facilities.
- Crossroads Arabia highlights Saudi reeducation efforts of extremists and the two "large scale projects" underway.
America Domestic Security & the America's
- The U.S. has no plans to raise the security threat level because of a new tape of Osama bin Laden saying al-Qaida is planning attacks, counterterrorism officials said today. The officials said they have seen no specific or credible intelligence to indicate an upcoming al-Qaida attack on the U.S.
- "I rate the probability of terror groups using (weapons of mass destruction) as very high," U.S. State Department counterterrorism coordinator Henry Crumpton was quoted as saying by the Daily Telegraph newspaper. "It is simply a question of time." Crumpton said a biological attack was potentially the most troubling scenario.
- The Bush administration presented its most detailed defense of warrantless eavesdropping Thursday, expanding on arguments made by the President, Vice President, and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. In a 42-page legal dossier sent to congressional leaders, Gonzales argues that Bush has the authority to order the warrantless wiretapping under the Constitution and the post-Sept. 11 congressional resolution granting him broad power to fight terrorism.
- The nation's top law enforcement officials warned today that al Qaeda may have plotters already inside the United States. "We have to assume that there are persons out there that want to attack us," said FBI director Robert Mueller.
- Eleven people were indicted in a series of arsons, claimed by the radical groups Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front, in five Western states, the Justice Department said Friday. The 65-count indictment said the suspects are responsible for 17 incidents in California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming, including sabotaging a high-tension power line, in a conspiracy that dates back to 1996.
- Jihad Watch links to an article in the Anchorage Daily News saying "a recent posting on a Web site purportedly affiliated with al-Qaida urges attacks against the trans-Alaska oil pipeline and Valdez tanker dock."
- An Arizona doctor with connections to what federal authorities allege is an Islamic terrorist organization may never be allowed to return to the United States, his attorney said Thursday. Nadeem Hassan and his wife, Amber, were detained at New York's Kennedy International Airport by U.S. Customs officials on Wednesday because their applications for a green card — which allows permanent residency — had been denied days earlier.
- A radical Hispanic group that claims the southwestern United States belongs to Mexico is hailing elusive al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden as the "Pancho Villa of Islam."
- Colombian rebels planted landmines that killed four peasants, including a child, earlier this month in a farming community near a coca eradication project, Vice President Francisco Santos said on Friday.
Russia & South/Central Asia
- An al-Qaida explosives and chemical weapons expert and a relative of the terror network's No. 2 leader were among four top operatives believed killed in a U.S. missile strike in Pakistan last week, Pakistani security officials said Thursday. ThreatsWatch provides additional information on those believed killed. The bodies have not been recovered, however.
- Ayman al-Zawahri, the apparent target of the Jan. 13 attack in Pakistan, met his deputy, Abu Farraj al-Libbi, in Damadola early last year, a security official said on condition of anonymity, adding that Libyan-born Al-Libbi told Pakistani interrogators of the meeting after his capture in May 2005.
- An article by Akram Gizabi at The Jamestown Foundation looks at the Banjaur agency, and why Al Qaeda might find sanctuary there. The Banjaur agency is the location of Damadola, the village that was the target of the Jan. 13 attack aimed at Zawahiri.
- Pakistani authorities arrested a suspected militant with links to al Qaida operatives who were targeted in a US attack last week, an official said. The man, who was not identified, was picked up in Damadola, the remote hamlet where US missiles struck on January 13, the government official said.
- Sri Lanka's political parties have urged the government to restart peace talks with Tamil Tiger rebels. In a rare show of unity, 15 parties, including the ruling and main opposition parties, met to back talks amid fears of a return to violence. On Thursday, three policemen and one civilian were killed in an explosion in the town of Batticaloa, with 25 others injured.
- An operation to find two suspected Islamic militants said to be hiding in Bangladesh's western Kushtia district has been called off, police say. The hunt ended because Abdur Rahman and Bangla Bhai from the banned Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) could not be found. Police say they have detained 10 people in the operation. There was some question as to how the JMB leaders escaped the search.
- An article by Andrew Holt at The Jamestown Foundation looks at the growing Islamic threat in Bangladesh. The article quantifies the threat and touches on the government's response.
- The latest issue of Chechnya Weekly from The Jamestown Foundation has eight items, including one on Abu Omar al-Saif, "the mufti of Arab fighters in Chechnya", who was killed last month.
- A group of unidentified attackers killed two people and wounded two more in a village in the North Caucasus Republic of Ingushetia Friday, the Ingush Interior Ministry said.
- Explosions hit pipelines running through southern Russia early Sunday, cutting the supply of natural gas to the Caucasus countries of Georgia and Armenia during a cold snap. An explosion also hit an electricity transmission tower west of North Ossetia. In recent years, explosions have damaged pipelines in Russia's turbulent North Caucasus region in blasts investigators have ruled sabotage. Criminal groups as well as militants with ties to Chechnya's separatist rebels have been suspected.
- A paper from the ICPVTR (available here in PDF) entitled Afghanistan and the Globalisation of Terrorist Tactics looks at recent developments in that country, including the increase in suicide bombings, and the "first-ever published video showing the beheading of an Afghan hostage in the hands of terrorist cell."
- An article by Joseph Button at the CDI looks at the question of whether "concern over the ‘resurging Taliban threat’ in Afghanistan is legitimate." The death toll of all war related deaths in Afghanistan in 2005 was the highest since 2001.
- In an article about the increase of Iraq-style violence in Afghanistan, author Peter Bergen said he was surprised that neither the Americans nor the Europeans in Afghanistan really know whether Afghans or foreign fighters are behind the attacks.
- Canadian troops and Afghan police averted a potentially deadly car bomb, working through the night to defuse a vehicle packed with enough explosives to cause what a military spokesman called "a catastrophe." The small car, filled with 120-millimetre mortar shells and dozens of smaller explosives, was found abandoned on a street in Kandahar by the Afghan National Police on Wednesday afternoon.
- Maoists waging a 10-year armed insurgency in Nepal bombed a television repeater tower late on Wednesday in Heated, about 80 kilometers south of Kathmandu, media reports said. According to reports not immediately confirmed officially the television tower was destroyed, preventing the reception of Nepal Television signals in many parts of south-central Nepal.
- Suspected Maoist rebels killed five police and seriously wounded three when they attacked two police checkposts in mid-western Nepal. "The rebels gunned down three policemen at Jamuniya checkpost along the Nepal-India border, and two at B.P. Chowk in Nepalgunj," said an official at Kathmandu police headquarters who asked to remain anonymous.
- Twenty-three people have been killed in a clash in Nepal, officials say. Six security forces and 17 Maoist rebels were found dead following an attack on an army patrol on Saturday night, the army said.
- In Bihar, India, the police were put on alert in view of a communique from the Union Home ministry based on intelligence reports that jihadi mercenaries crossing over from Pakistan into the country were likely to target vital installations in the state on the eve of or on Republic Day.
- Following specific intelligence inputs of a possible terror attack in the Capital on Republic Day, Delhi has been turned into a virtual fortress. There are specific inputs that point out that the threat of Pakistan based terrorist outfits targeting the Capital on Republic Day may indeed be real.
- In Bangalore, India, the City Police have arrested two more extremists belonging to the Lashkar-e-Taiba on charges of hatching a conspiracy and waging a war against the Government of India taking the total number of extremists arrested to four after the December 28 attack on the Indian Institute of Science here in which an IIT Professor was gunned down.
- In Bangalore, India, police have seized a cache of explosives from the two Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists, arrested on Friday night in connection with the Dec. 28 terror attack at the Indian Institute of Science.
Far East & Southeast Asia
- The Filipino government is warning of a potential coup in the next three months from communist rebels supported by disenfranchised members of the military. Four military officers recently escaped detention and are urging fellow soldiers to take action against a "bogus regime".
- East Timorese President Xanana Gusmao has presented UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan with a long-awaited report documenting atrocities committed in his country under Indonesia's 24-year occupation. The 2000-page report, compiled by the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR), established that at least 102,800 Timorese, roughly 10 per cent of the territory's current population, died as a result of the Indonesian occupation. In response the Indonesian chief of the army has denied claims made in the report.
- Japanese Ambassador to South Korea, Shotaro Oshima, said his country welcomes the economic rise of China but harbors concerns over their geopolitical intentions. Oshima called for Seoul and Tokyo to rebuild strained ties, in order to counter any potential security threat from China.
- Australian authorities arrested Dragan Vasiljkovic in Sydney, accused by a Croatian court of ordering the torture and murder of soldiers and civilians as a Serb paramilitary leader during the 1990s. Vasiljkovic, a Serb-Australian, has been living in Perth where he worked as a golf instructor.
- On Friday a 5 kg bomb exploded near a mobile phone antenna in the southern Thai province of Narathiwat, killing one man. The attacks follow a recent pattern of Islamic insurgents targeting the mobile telephone infrastructure.
- Indonesia has unveiled a new program titled "Wawasan Kebangsaan" (National Vision) aimed at promoting patriotism and religious tolerance at the 15,000 Islamic boarding schools across the nation.
- Authorities in Albania raided an apartment in Kukes that belonged to an Arab with suspected ties to al Qaeda. Abdul Latif Saleh is accused of receiving 496,000 Euros from Osama bin Laden to establish a terrorist group in Albania. Saleh was also business partners with Saudi national Yasin Qadi, who enjoys the designation of "global terrorist" from the U.S. State Department.
- The European Union has warned Serbia that their moves towards eventual EU membership could be jeopardized if they do not hand over war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic. According to the chief UN war crimes investigator, Mladic is in Serbia and being protected by the army.
- Following the leak of a letter written by British foreign minister Jack Straw, Prime Minister Blair is facing increased pressure to reveal more information on the CIA practices of transporting terror suspects through the UK.
- John Rosenthal looks at German hostage Susanne Osthoff, and recent reports indicating that she was in possession of ransom money paid by the German government for her release, at the time she was liberated.
- An opinion piece at Dar Al Hayat addresses the border region between Algeria and Morocco, and charges that weapons are being smuggled between the countries.
- African leaders meeting at the African Union summit this week must act to improve protection of civilians in Darfur and should not elect the Sudanese president as head of the African Union, Human Rights Watch said in two documents published today. Sudanese President Omar El Bashir is a candidate for the presidency of the pan-African organization which is due to rotate to an East African country in 2006.
- An article from TMCnet looks at the mission of the 1,500 US troops in the Combined Joint Task Force in the Horn of Africa.
- A commentary by Dustin Dehez at the National Ledger says "one of the reasons why Africa deserves international attention is actually the war on terror. For international terrorist networks Africa is a main target; it serves as a safe haven and provides an effective financial basis with its large networks of informal economies."
- The U.S. Navy boarded an apparent pirate ship in the Indian Ocean and detained 26 men for questioning, the Navy said Sunday. The 16 Indians and 10 Somali men were aboard a traditional dhow that was chased and seized Saturday by the U.S. guided missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill, said Lt. Leslie Hull-Ryde of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command in Bahrain.
- Morocco's government denied reports Saturday that the country had taken in al-Qaida suspects for secret interrogations by the CIA. A Moroccan weekly, Le Journal Hebdomadaire, reported Saturday that two private planes had landed at the Sale military base near the capital, Rabat, in late December and early January, carrying suspected al-Qaida members sent by the U.S. intelligence agency. "We categorically deny this information," Interior Minister Mustapha Sahel said.
- The Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera from Qatar is to set up a news bureau in Zimbabwe, state radio reported on Thursday. State radio quoted Al-Jazeera director of news Steve Clark saying the broadcaster planned to open at least eight offices in Africa alongside those already established in Egypt, Ivory Coast and Kenya.
The Global War
- Daniel Bynan says that killing terrorist leaders works, and offers some lessons from Israel's experiences. The 2 key lessons? Capture is more valuable if it's possible, and the policy needs to be clear and public.
- A United Nations committee is urging nations to add more names to the list of individuals and companies subjected to sanctions because of association with al Qaeda and the Taliban.
- The Belmont Club has an interesting read titled Suitcase Nukes, that looks at the nuclear nightmare scenario in the context of population and damage.
- Ever wondered how al Qaeda sends terror tapes to media outlets, primarily al Jazeera, without being caught?
- After being referenced in a audiotape last week by Osama bin Laden, William Blum's Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower leaped from a ranking of 209,000 to number 30 on Amazon. Blum reacted by saying "I was glad. I knew it would help the book's sales and I was not bothered by who it was coming from. If he shares with me a deep dislike for the certain aspects of US foreign policy, then I'm not going to spurn any endorsement of the book by him. I think it's good that he shares those views and I'm not turned off by that."
- US leaders are expected to call for more intensive efforts by Pakistan to flush out Osama bin laden and his number two from their sanctuary in meetings with Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz here this week. Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf, who is facing an increasing litany of tribulations at home, has sent Aziz, among his most trusted lieutenants, to meet with President George W. Bush and other leaders. Counterterrorism is expected to be on the agenda.
- The Counterterrorism Blog says an audio tape of Ayman al-Zawahri that appeared on a website on Friday is an "old tape". Evan Kohlmann links to excerpts from the tape. How effective is the al Qaeda propaganda machine?
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