Saturday, April 21, 2007

Afghanistan: 'Two feet and a lot of skin'

The Pakistan government has consistently denied that there are cross-border excursions of militants into Afghanistan from Pakistan's tribal areas but the detailed reports coming out of Afghanistan about the number of such attacks, and now of suicide bombers, are too numerous to doubt that they are taking place in large numbers. It is hard to conceive of this practice -- the production and deployment of suicide bombers by militant leaders comfortably ensconced in Pakistan -- without wondering what it in fact will do to the public sense of what this radical movement stands for. The incident below of a father hearing the usual platitudes from a mullah to whom he has committed his son for education and care suggests that the father had no idea of and no consent to the way his son was educated and deployed in what some are calling a holy war. What will be this father's judgment of these people? In the end, despite the horror and the brutality and the coercive measures being taken, these measures can only redound the shame of the radical movement itself.

By Philip Smucker
Asia Times Online

"Just in tiny Khost province alone ... there have been two dozen suicide bomb attacks in the past year."
"The figure spiked late in the year because of a 'peace deal' signed between Pakistan's government and tribal elders of North Waziristan..."
"As elsewhere in the Islamic world, al-Qaeda is a facilitator of terror, rarely the direct instigator. Bin Laden's experts corral anti-American sentiment within disparate, home-grown Islamic groups and launch young men over the mountains toward martyrdom. At least some of them are being pushed across the border with a blessing from Egyptian Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden's ... ideological lieutenant"
"More than 1,000 persons cross legally every day from Pakistan into Khost. Even if the Afghans knew who the bombers were, they would be hard pressed to "catch up to their Japanese motorcycles on our cheap Pakistani imitations", said Major Bismullah, who travels to and from work with his two heavily armed sons."
"None of the bombers entering Khost has been captured alive, a credit to their well-crafted detonation devices that allow them to blow themselves up by pressing a button - usually positioned on the arm or wrist."
"At a recent rally of tribal elders in the soccer stadium, the governor asked the US military to back off from security detail as away of showing that Afghans are taking the lead in fighting the phenomenon.Authorities in Pakistan, though, take the opposite tack."
"In Waziristan, al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders, mimicking similar martyrdom celebrations in the West Bank and parts of the Arab world,throw lavish parties for the families of the bombers, said Afghan intelligence officials."
"But such morbid celebrations for the departed do not necessarily soothe the hearts of relatives. A religious leader in Khost recounts the story of an Afghan father in Waziristan. He had just sent his son off to a madrassa and left to work in Saudi Arabia to support the family. When he returned, he asked the mullah at the madrassa how his son had done in school. The mullah said, "He has done so well that he has been sent to heaven." The father collapsed and began to pull out his hair."

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