September 2, 2008

From the Front: 09/02/2008

News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

In their own words:
A Battlefield Tourist: Joint US/Afghan Investigation Regarding Civilian Deaths Complete - The United States military, under a barrage of accusations regarding recent civilian casualties, has finished its investigation into claims that a joint US/Afghan attack in Herat Province August 22 killed more than 90 civilians, most of them children. According to a release from CJTF-101, the investigation found that 30-35 Taliban fighters were killed, including Mullah Sadiq, as were 5-7 civilians. Two other civilians were injured and five fighters captured. “The investigating officer took statements from more than 30 participants, both Afghan and U.S., in the operation. Additionally, the investigating officer reviewed reports made by ground and air personnel during the engagement; video taken during the engagement; topographic photo comparisons of the area before and after the event including analysis of burial sites; reports from local medical clinics and hospitals; intelligence reports; and physical data: (READ MORE)

Collabman's Thoughts: OPFOR... - Evening...Chris called yesterday morning and it was great to hear his voice and talk with him. His mother and I covered a lot of ground during our conversations and learned some details about a number of changes coming for is what Chris shared: Chris passed his board for promotion to Sergeant and is now in the promotable zone. Depending on how the points play out he could pin on as early as 1 October 2008. He was very excited about the promotion and increased responsibility - not to mention the extra $$$. He indicated he had prepared for the board and was ready with what they threw at him. I enjoyed hearing the details of the board as they brought back memories of my promotion boards while serving in the U.S. Marines. We are proud of Chris, just as we are very proud of Jake and Aaron, his two older brothers. All three are very special young men. We love all three of them more than words can express. (READ MORE)

Paul Fanning: New York National Guard troops aid Afghan villagers - Northeast of Kabul in the small village of Khata Kheyl children scrambled and screamed, not in terror, but in joy, as Afghan National Army soldiers threw out handfuls of candy and crayons. Members of Company C 2nd Squadron 101st Cavalry of the New York Army National Guard from Camp Blackhorse recently teamed with Afghan National Army soldiers from 4th Kandak, 2nd Brigade 201st Corp for a humanitarian assistance mission. The unit is serving as part of Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix’s Security Forces, which covers the teams that mentor and train the Afghan National Army. Members of Company C don’t often get to work directly with Afghan soldiers. “That was our second personal experience working with the ANA,” said 1st Sgt. Ron Patterson of Gloversville. (READ MORE)

Fobbits need ice cream too: It's hot - I wrote this after smoking a Monte Cristo Robusto (Cuban) It's August and I imagine it's hot in Iraq to all those that live in Iraq (where we actually usually live) but in Kuwait it's absolutely blazing. Our base is a collection of tents in western Kuwait so there's no water for awhile, unlike the capital of Pogueistan, Camp Arifijan located 20 minutes from the gulf with a pool. I've learned to shit really fast here during the day; it's a battle for survival. Can I take a dump before I pass out in the port-a-shitter? Yesterday was pretty close. I was sweating really bad and hyperventilating. I try to save my bowel movements for nighttime, but we are usually on the road then. The shitters in Iraq are in air conditioned trailers, yet another one of the reasons why I'd rather be in Iraq getting mortared then in my hooch in Kuwait. I saw that McCain picked Sarah Palin as his VP running mate and I have to say, bravo. (READ MORE)

Fearless 1st Marines’ blog: Twice the security, half the wait - FALLUJAH, Iraq – Transportation in the city of Fallujah has taken the high road, far beyond the days of Bedouin caravan runners who used camels to travel and transport goods across the desert. Besides the occasional farmer’s donkey carting vegetables, Iraqis use four wheels, vice four legs, as a preferred method of travel. Dump trucks, tankers, commuter traffic and other vehicles steadily flow into Fallujah’s entry control points, which have been put in place to safeguard people inside the city. Increasingly long car lines at the ECPs are a visual indication that commerce is on the rise, but so is the inconvenience of traffic congestion. To accommodate for this growth, Iraqi contractors and 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines are rebuilding the ECPs to cut the wait time for commuters, which in turn could boost the city’s incoming revenue. (READ MORE)

From the 'Stan: Homecoming, etc. - Please do not post the dates for the homecoming here or anywhere. I am fairly certain that no one knows any real dates at this time, but regardless, it is a safety issue to post the dates when our Marines and sailors are traveling. When the dates are known, the KVs and family network will pass that information. If you do not have a KV or are not in the parent network, please talk to someone who is so you can get the correct information. Also, keep in mind that not everyone will be returning at the same time (even people in the same company may be coming back on different days or at different times), and a lot of this can change at the last minute. I have covered many homecomings and deployments, and some of them I have actually showed up on base for, only to be told the guys have been delayed hours or even a full day. So please keep in mind that you should plan for having a day or two worth of cushion if you are traveling from out of state. (READ MORE)

Hillas’ Histories: Newspaper article that describes PRT's work - Can't link this article to the Bangor Daily News, so am reproducing the article below, because it does explain what a PRT does. “Diplomat hopeful, sees Iraqi progress - Wednesday, August 20, 2008 - Bangor Daily News The situation in Iraq has improved in the past several months, according to a career diplomat with ties to Maine. If that trend continues, it could signal the start of a reduction in the U.S. presence in that country, said Kenneth Hillas, the team leader of the Provincial Reconstruction Team serving in Babil province located between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers just south of Baghdad.” (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Leaving Iraq - There's a really good piece in Foreign Affairs called How to Leave a Stable Iraq. The authors, who recently returned from a visit to Iraq, argue that "With a degree of patience, the United States can build on a pattern of positive change in Iraq that offers it a chance to draw down troops soon without giving up hope for sustained stability." I really hope Barack Obama and Joe Biden read this article. "Most Americans have a mental image of Iraq that is defined by the chaos of 2006," the authors write. "But Iraq today is a very different place than it was two years ago." The writers explain that the three main culprits in the ethno-sectarian violence of 2006 have stood down and agreed to cease-fires or been crippled by military defeat. (READ MORE)

The Left Captain: Enemy Dogs - Apparently the FOB dogs qualify as "America's Enemies". There are the two usual suspects, my officially named "FOB Dog" and another, smaller, scruffier, short-legged white dog. Yesterday a new dog made an appearance. He looked like a combination of a wolfhound and a greyhound. He was light brown, rail-thin, with prominent ribs. He had a slight limp-- something was wrong with one his back legs. I noticed him as I walked out for my afternoon PT. I came close to getting my camera but was too lazy to walk back. He watched me closely and moved off to one side. At about the same time I arrived a senior NCO walked over and was scrutinizing the dog. The dog eyed both of us. The NCO fingered his 9mm and said "I gotta get close enough for a good shot." I said, "You're going to shoot him?" I had a sinking feeling in my gut and I had to walk away. I didn't want to see and hear the poor dog being shot. Another NCO with an M4 walked over and charged the weapon. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Senior al Qaeda operative killed in Somalia - Al Qaeda has reported one of its senior operatives in eastern Africa was killed during fighting in Somalia more than one year ago. Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a senior al Qaeda operative in eastern Africa, announced the death of Abu Talha al Sudani while discussing the May 1 airstrike that killed Aden Hashi Ayro, the leader of Shabab in Somalia. "And before him [Ayro], more than a year ago, our leader was martyred, the leader of the mujahideen in Somalia, Abu Talha al Sudani, while he was leading one of the battalions of the mujahideen,” according to a translation provided by Nick Grace. “And this is the first time that we make it public." Grace monitors al Qaeda and other jihadi forums. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: US detains 7 League of the Righteous operatives in Iraq - Coalition forces captured seven members of a little-known Shia terror group during raids in Baghdad and Muthanna over the past two days. The League of the Righteous (Asaib al Haq) is an Iranian-backed group that broke off from the Mahdi Army after Sadr declared a partial cease-fire and ordered most of the militia to transform into a civic organization. Two members of the League of the Righteous were captured today in Ar Rumaythah in Muthanna province. Coalition special operations forces received intelligence on the location of the two operatives. A Dragunov sniper rifle was found at the scene. Today's raid follows a successful operation against the League of the Righteous in the Adhamiyah district of Baghdad on Aug. 31. Coalition forces captured five suspected operatives, including a senior leader described by Multinational Forces-Iraq as a "logistician and financial manager" as well as a smuggler. (READ MORE)

Matel-in-Iraq: Profile in Courage - Choosing to do the surge was really a profile in courage for George Bush and General Petraeus. After the political passion, sound and fury calms down, I think that GW Bush will enjoy a revaluation, much like Harry Truman, and historians will say that in David Petraeus Bush finally found his general, much like Lincoln and Grant. We forget how dicey it was in 1864 and how close we came to a different result in that conflict and how many of the arguments made today are not new.* War is always hard and it is natural for people to look for faster ways out. Sometimes these short cuts end my being the long way around. This recent article from the NYT shows how dicey it was back in 2006. “Expert opinion” said that we had lost. Many people were calling for us to cut our losses and run out. Almost nobody believed the surge would accomplish the stated goals. The easy choice would have been to go along with that conventional wisdom. (READ MORE)

Rocinante's Burdens: Day 73. On Patrol with Roci - For those of you who have not been here, here is what it is like on a combat patrol in Iraq today. (Sorry. Video was too big. I will try again later) Notice the sense of fear on the faces of every Iraqi and how the other drivers keep a respectful distance so we don't kill them. (/sarc) This guy was hot, dirty and hungry. He seems to like napping under our trucks. This is a new patrol base for the Iraqi Army. They made it look really nice. Yes. Those ARE new shubberies in the yard. Your tax dollars did not buy them. (READ MORE)

Soldier's Mom: Last Call for Mail to Your Soldier - Evening everyone. I received an email this evening giving the last call for mail to our loved ones in Iraq. It looks like they strongly recommend you don't mail anything after September 3rd. It reads as follows:
"Please let the FRG know immediately that our last mail shipment will arrive here on September 18th. I believe many are tracking a mid-September cutoff already, but I think there is some confusion. All mail that is not in that 18 September push will be returned to sender. I obviously can't give you an exact "cutoff" date for mail to make that delivery, but from experience it takes about 10-14 days for mail to arrive here from Germany, a couple days longer from the States. Bottom line, any mail sent from Germany after about Wednesday runs the risk of not making it here in our last delivery.We will be able to send mail FROM Normandy until we redeploy. Many Soldiers have already started to ship footlockers and boxes back. Let me know if you have any questions. (READ MORE)

Two Brothers, Two Countries, One Army: We're not bullet proof.... - Hello to all of those that continue to keep showing their support for my brother and I. THANK YOU! We greatly appreciate it! First, please say a special prayer for the Soldiers over here. There are lives changing every day in ways you would never ways I don't know. But either way, lives are changing, Soldiers are going through things they shouldn't have to, seeing things we shouldn't have to, and we/they need your prayers. I wish I could say more but I'm at that line where I can't. Just please say a quiet prayer for those that are hurting both physically and mentally this 1st day of September. I'm going to get straight to this one because it's kinda late and I'm a little tired...and it's getting late. We're not bullet proof. You know....we Americans have this mindset that we're bullet proof. We can take anything that's trown at us. We can withstand any of life's challenges no mater physical or mental....We're Americans! (READ MORE)

Two Brothers, Two Countries, One Army: What do I miss? - Well, it is time to see what I can bore you to death with this week. Mom asked us what we have to eat, what we miss, and other things about in this part of the world. Well, I am not sure where to begin. I can really go on forever with the list of things I miss, have, and don't have. But first.....First of all you will see a list on left side down the side bar. There are few links to sites that a direct link to our page here. We are returning the courtesy to them by linking to their pages. I encourage you to please take at them as well as ours. It is getting to the time of the deployment where there are several people going on leave and that is leaving gaps in our schedule in my section guessed it, I am changing shifts again. One of the Specialists is leaving on Tuesday to head home on R&R to get that well deserved rest, we have a our new Yeoman (Navy personnel that are in administrative like I am) is in and the old one is out. (READ MORE)

Big Tobacco: Tefilat HaDerech - I did not smoke while writing this. You know how people say that when you talk to G-d it’s called praying, but when G-d talks to you, it’s called schizophrenia? What happens when it’s Moshe Dayan? “I was a staff officer once, you know,” he says with his one eye upon me. “It’s different, sir.” I say as I look up from the Power Point on my laptop. “How is it different?” he leans on the top bunk of my bed. “We have so much in common, you know. We are both Jews. We are both infantry. We are both responsible for the lives of people. We both like to fuck.” “I don’t know, sir. I didn’t do anything on my first deployment, and now I’m not doing anything on this one either. Say, how come you are speaking to me in English?” “It’s your fantasy, Tobacco. And besides, I’d rather lose my other eye than hear your pathetic bastardization of Hebrew. Try putting the noun before the adjective next time.” “Thanks, sir. You really know how to kick a man when he’s down.” (READ MORE)

Zen Traveler: Diesel Jeans, iPhones, and Radical Islam - I was involved in conversation with a friend of mine about Iraq's youth, specifically it's adolescent population. I've noticed that many kids are becoming becoming designer clothes-wearing, cell phone wielding, American culture clones. I attribute this to the obvious increased exposure to American and western pop culture via movies, the Internet, but mostly by the large western presence here. Iraqi adolescents are becoming culturally comfortable with the west, enthralled by what they see, and are moving away from radical, fundamental Islam, seeking a more reasonable middle way. This may be evidenced by the 15-year old female suicide bomber that recently "just said no". It was her pimping middle-aged husband, who was a radical jihadist, that insisted that she give her life for Allah, and her "oppressive" mother that forced her to follow her husband's wishes. (READ MORE)

Back and still writing:
LT Nixon: Change of the Guard in Anbar - Anbar is still the province where the most Americans have lost their lives in Iraq the past 5 years, and it was considered "lost" by intelligence officials two years ago. The mainly Sunni province, once rife with insurgents, saw a huge turnaround when the Anbar awakening began working with coalition forces to expel Al-Qaeda in late 2006. USA Today puts in perspective today's transfer of the province to the Iraqi Security Forces: “After the U.S. invasion in 2003, Anbar witnessed some of the fiercest battles between U.S. forces and insurgents. In 2006, Anbar had more attacks per day than any other province in Iraq. A Marine intelligence report at the time declared the province lost to al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda's violent tactics and strict enforcement of an extreme brand of Islam eventually triggered a grass-roots revolt among the patchwork of Sunni tribes who dominate Anbar. The backlash, which became known as the Awakening, spread throughout the country and played a critical role in putting down the insurgency.” (READ MORE)

Manrymission: Recovery from Recovery - The Army terms the time immediately following a field exercise or deployment: recovery. First you clean and turn in your gear, then you repair your vehicles, and finally you have time off to rest, relax, and recoup. Dale turned in most of his gear in Georgia and has received his footlockers that he mailed home to himself. The footlockers were full of uniforms, military gifts, coffee cups, coins, and sand. He recently set to work cleaning and fixing his motorcycle. He washed it, filled it with oil and gas, and charged the battery. He then spent the rest of the day pushing it backwards and attempting to start it by rolling it down the driveway. He got a good workout, but the motorcycle did not start. This starting on a hill trick worked in Australia. Of course, the hill we lived on in Australia had a 30 degree slope. That location motivated us to buy a house on a level street which is not beneficial for motorcycle starting. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:
A house returns to its rightful owner - In February 2007, Times staff writer Said Rifai wrote about what it was like to have his family's home "housejacked." At the time, Baghdad's neighborhoods were awash in sectarian bloodshed, and his west Baghdad district of Adel was in the hands of Sunni Muslim insurgents and gunmen. Since then, security has improved in most of the country, and Iraq's government is urging people to return to homes they fled to escape the war. But that's not as easy as it sounds. (READ MORE)

ISOF captured three suspected criminals in separate Baghdad operations - BALAD, Iraq – Iraqi Special Operations Forces captured three suspected criminals in separate operations in Baghdad Aug. 29-30. ISOF captured a suspected criminal said to be the leader of a cell operating out of Haydariyah Aug. 30. The suspect allegedly conducts attacks against Iraqi and Coalition forces in the region and is believed to be collecting and storing improvised explosive devices and other weapons for future criminal operations. (READ MORE)

IA, MND-B Soldiers seize munitions in Baghdad - BAGHDAD – Iraqi Army and Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers continue seizing weapons caches in Baghdad Sept. 1 and 2. Iraqi soldiers serving with the 2nd Battalion, 34th Brigade, 9th Iraq Army Division seized weapons in the Sadr City district of Baghdad at approximately 6:30 p.m. Sept 1. The munitions included a 160 mm high explosive mortar, a 82 mm high explosive mortar with fuse and a high explosive mortar with fuse. (READ MORE)

Coalition forces round up four Kata’ib Hezbollah suspects Tuesday (Baghdad) - BAGHDAD – Coalition forces captured four suspected members of the Shi’ite group Kata’ib Hezbollah Tuesday morning during an operation in the Adhamiyah district of Baghdad. Based on intelligence information, Coalition forces targeted an alleged Kata’ib Hezbollah financier. The wanted man is believed to be a key figure in the administration of the criminal group. (READ MORE)

Operations further reduce al-Qaeda influence - BAGHDAD – Coalition forces detained 16 suspected terrorists Monday and Tuesday during continued operations to destabilize al-Qaeda in Iraq and provide security for Iraqis in central and northern parts of the country. In Sharqat, about 90 km south of Mosul, Coalition forces detained two wanted men and three additional suspects Tuesday. One of the wanted men is assessed to be a cell leader and senior advisor in an area stretching from Kirkuk to the Tigris River Valley. The other wanted man allegedly has ties to AQI senior leaders. (READ MORE)

Music unites, entertains audience in Seddah - BAGHDAD – The 10th Mountain Division Band and the Seddah School District Band performed a joint concert during a ceremony celebrating the arts and education at the Seddah City Park in Seddah Aug. 23. After only one rehearsal together, the Soldiers and the Iraqi band comprised of six school-aged boys and two adult singers, a keyboardist and violinist, performed two songs, the Iraqi National Anthem and a nationalistic song of Iraq for a crowd of about 400 local civilians. Despite the difference in languages, the two groups found common ground in the music they shared. (READ MORE)

Suicide bombing kills 1, injures 7 - TARMIYAH, Iraq –Iraqi Security Forces and Multi-National Division– Baghdad Soldiers reacted to a suicide bomber attack on a Sons of Iraq leader killing one and injuring seven at 6:15 p.m. Sept. 1. A local Iraqi civilian believed to be approximately 12-15 years of age, wearing a personal borne improvised-explosive device, self-detonated the device at a sheik's residence in Tarmiyah. The attack reportedly killed one SoI member and wounded seven. (READ MORE)

Tunnel attack against Provincial Hall thwarted - MOSUL, Iraq – Two al-Qaeda in Iraq members were detained Sept. 1 in Mosul for planning a bomb attack against Provincial Hall. During a patrol that lead to a search of a bakery near Provincial Hall, Coalition force soldiers detained two AQI members who tested positive for explosives. CF soldiers were acting on a report regarding a planned bomb attack against Provincial Hall by way of a tunnel system. (READ MORE)

More than 190 troops earn U.S. citizenship in Iraq - BAGHDAD – One-hundred ninety-two servicemembers from 54 different countries became U.S. citizens Sept. 1 during a Multi-National Corps – Iraq United States Citizenship Ceremony at Al-Faw Palace on Camp Victory, Baghdad. Lt. Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, commanding general, MNC-I, presided over the ceremony and, along with Lori Pietropaoli, deputy district director, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, presented a certificate of naturalization to each new citizen. This ceremony was the 12th of its kind in Iraq. (READ MORE)

Transfer of Security Responsibility for Anbar Province - The United States and Multi-National Force-Iraq welcome the transfer of security in Anbar Province to Iraqi responsibility as a positive step on the path to Iraq's self-reliance. Anbar is the eleventh province to be transferred to Iraqi security responsibility. The first province transferred to Government of Iraqi security control was Muthanna in July 2006, followed by Dhi Qar, An Najaf, Maysan, Irbil, Sulaymaniyah, Dahuk, Karbala, and most recently Basrah in December 2007. (READ MORE)

Operation Monmouth Strengthens Iraqi Army, Coalition Ties - CAMP STRIKER — Iraqi Army and Coalition Soldiers conducted Operation Monmouth, a combined air assault in Habbash Village to search for weapon caches and suspected criminals, Aug. 27. “This was a good mission,” said 2nd Lt. Muhamed Shuker Humood, platoon leader in 2nd Company, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Brigade, 17th Iraqi Army Division. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Army, U.S. Soldiers Provide Aid - BAGHDAD — Soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, provided food packs, soccer balls, backpacks and pencil sets for residents of an Iraqi apartment complex Aug. 25. The aid drop was spearheaded by the Iraqi Army Civil Affairs Team, the 404th Civil Affairs Battalion and Soldiers from Multi-National Division-Baghdad to provide relief to a working class neighborhood around the Adhamiyah industrial zone. (READ MORE)

In Anbar, a catfight at the podium - There's nothing like a gathering in a simmering war zone to bring out the meow factor in some people, especially if the war zone happens to be as rife with distrust and resentment as Iraq's Anbar province. Monday's handover ceremony of Anbar's security responsibilities, from U.S. to Iraqi forces, was a milestone. It showed how far the province has come since its days as the deadliest region for American troops in Iraq and the heart of the country's Sunni Muslim insurgency. But the gaily colored, rainbow-striped tarp sheltering speakers from the searing desert sun couldn't hide the darkness of some of their words. (READ MORE)

Operations undermine IED network - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (September 1, 2008) -- Coalition forces detained seven militants in operations targeting Taliban IED networks Sunday and Monday in Khowst province. A militant leader and two of his subordinates were captured during an operation in the Mando Zayi District. The three are responsible for the construction, emplacement and facilitation of IED and vehicle-borne IED attacks in the region. (READ MORE)

Co. commander briefs General Petraeus on Afghan operations - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (August 30, 2008) — Eight company commanders recently met with the Multi-National Force – Iraq commanding general on Bagram Air Field and discussed operations in the Regional Command-East area of operations. Capt. Chris McLaud, Williamsport, Pa., native and Maneuver Company commander for Task Force Pacesetter, was one of the eight company commanders in RC-E who briefed Gen. David Petraeus, MNF-I commanding general, Aug. 13. (READ MORE)

TF Pacesetter Soldier awarded Purple Heart, CAB - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (August 30, 2008) — A Scout Platoon, Task Force Pacesetter Soldier was awarded a Purple Heart in a ceremony at Forward Operating Base Mehtar Lam, Afghanistan, Aug. 23. Spc. Christopher Sweder, a vehicle driver with the 3rd Battalion, 103rd Armored Regiment was also awarded a Combat Action Badge, Aug. 9, for a separate combat engagement, making his Purple Heart the second time the Soldier was honored for his role in combat operations here. (READ MORE)

Pathfinders conduct FRIES training with Afghan forces - FORWARD OPERATING BASE FENTY, Afghanistan (August 29, 2008) — Training to fight and win in combat, no matter the obstacle or challenge, is the goal of training and field exercises Soldiers participate in year-round, on installations across the world. Training to overcome obstacles is a concept Soldiers teach their counterparts in the Afghan National Army. (READ MORE)

More than 220 militants killed in ongoing operation - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (August 31, 2008) - Afghan National Security Forces and Coalition forces killed more than 220 militants during operations in Helmand province, Aug. 25-30. ANSF and Coalition forces were attacked repeatedly by militants with small-arms and heavy-weapons fire during multiple engagements. The soldiers responded with small-arms fire, heavy-weapons and close air support, eliminating the militant threats. (READ MORE)

Several militants killed in Kapisa province - BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (August 30, 2008) – Several militants were killed by Coalition forces during an operation to disrupt militant activities in Kapisa province, Friday. The force attempted to search a compound in Nijrab District targeting a Taliban commander smuggling weapons into Afghanistan, as well as conducting IED attacks against Coalition and ISAF forces. (READ MORE)

Afghanistan war claims Navy SEAL from Lexington - Petty Officer 1st Class Joshua Thomas Harris, 36, a Navy SEAL special warfare operator, drowned when he was swept away while crossing a turbulent river during combat operations Saturday, the Navy said. "My son, who perished in Afghanistan, believed more than anything in the world that he was fighting for our freedom," said his mother, Evelyn Harris, by telephone. (READ MORE)

PAKISTAN: Outlawed Taliban Have Free Run of Media - PESHAWAR, Sep 2 (IPS) - Taliban factions in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and tribal areas have been outlawed and their accounts frozen by the Pakistan government. But that has not in the least bit altered their presence in the media. Taliban representatives regularly call up the mainly Urdu-language media for free publicity. On the heels of the ban order on Aug. 25, Mohammad Omar, spokesman for the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), telephoned journalists to say the government’s decision could not harm their interests, but would strengthen them instead. (READ MORE)

Pak Taliban claim holding Chinese engineers - ISLAMABAD: Four days after their disappearance from the Dir area of the restive North West Frontier Province, the Pakistani Taliban on Tuesday claimed that they were holding two Chinese telecom engineers as prisoners but did not specify any demand for their release. Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan spokesman Muslim Khan told reporters on phone that their armed cadres were holding the two Chinese men, along with their guard and driver. (READ MORE)

Taleban suspects held in dog pen - he Australian Defence Force has confirmed that its troops held four suspected Taleban militants in an empty dog pen for 24 hours. The men were arrested in a raid by Australian special forces in Afghanistan in late April. (READ MORE)

Pakistan links Taliban to al-Qaeda, vows to get tough - ISLAMABAD — Pakistan's top security official declared yesterday that the country's Taliban militants are the "new face of al-Qaeda," in a move that linked the country's struggle against extremism directly to Washington's "war on terror." In the past, Pakistan has been heavily criticized for rejecting evidence that al-Qaeda was largely based in the country and denying that the tribal territory was used as a haven for Afghan insurgents. (READ MORE)

5 Afghan children accidentally killed in raids - KABUL, Afghanistan -- Foreign and Afghan forces accidentally killed five children in two separate operations Monday, further undermining President Hamid Karzai after he demanded a halt to attacks in civilian areas. Afghan officials have accused forces from the U.S. and other countries of killing dozens of civilians in recent weeks. The deaths have inflamed tensions across the country and weakened public support for both Karzai's government and a continued foreign troop presence in Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

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