Archive | January 24th, 2013

Representing IsraHell At The Oscars


“I represent myself. I don’t want Israel to appropriate the film.”

–Guy David, Israeli co-director of Oscar-nominated film, ‘5 Broken Cameras.’

  • Settlers clash with Nablus villages, 2 wounded by gunfire – Dozens of residents of Yitzhar settlement clashed with Palestinians who were playing in the snow in the nearby Urif village, south of Nablus. Meanwhile in nearby Qusra village, settlers from the Esh Kodesh outpost fired on Palestinians, and Samer Masameer 26, was shot in the leg. (Maan)
  • Israeli wall traps rain, sewage in Palestinian town – Heavy winter downpours have turned some Palestinian lands in the occupied West Bank into a morass of filth and flooding as an Israeli barrier blocks the waters from draining away. (Maan)
  • Peres blasts Netanyahu: Terror attacks will resume – In interview with New York Times, president says ‘silence that Israel has been enjoying over the last few years will not continue’ if diplomatic stalemate persists. Adds: Most of the world will support the Palestinians. (Ynet)
  • Number of IDF recruits to hit 20-year low in 2013 – Gradual decline in number of recruits linked to lower birth rate, drop in number of olim; some 26% exempt from military service; IDF plans major haredi draft. (Yedioth, p. 8/Ynet)
  • Fatah gunmen form new organization – Palestinians in Balata refugee camp announce establishment of ‘army of free fighters’ in response to PA’s weapons confiscation drive. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades marched in Balata refugee camp near Nablus for the first time since the PA banned the carrying of weapons, and Brigades disbanded. (Ynet and Haaretz+)
  • Four Palestinians killed in West Bank flooding – Storm leaves several Israeli communities looking like war zones. (Haaretz+)
  • Egypt: Palestinian rivals agree to enact unity deal – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal meet in Cairo, agree to implement unity deal, official says. (Agencies, Ynet).

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Crusading Wars on Muslims Will Never End


Posted by Dr Mahboob A Khawaja

By Mahboob A. Khawaja, PhD

“The Romans were slipping into violence by a process of self-justification, and once a nation or an individual has started down this particular slope, it is impossible to apply breaks the Roman people were too unimaginative and short sighted to realize that, once murder has been justified on grounds of expediency, it can become a habit, then a disease.”  (Colin Wilson.  A Criminal History of Mankind).

The 21st century unilateral crusades are killing the humanity as if the 12th century European crusades against Islam were unending.  The hurriedly enforced allied adventure in West Africa – Mali- tells clearly that the US led bogus “War on Terror” is endless and unprovoked aggression is part of the planned Western crusade against Islam and Muslims across the globe.  The UNO and its Security Council are just spectators, debating clubs like the failed League of Nations operated by the most influential Western States and now China- Russia are mere entities for face saving. Recall now more than year-old oppressive odyssey of the Syrian people, diplomacy at its most cruel form and shape wanting consultation and agreement of Russia to stop the on-going daily bloodsheds – a gruesome shame for the oil-enriched and financially affluent Arab leaders. All Arab leaders are waiting and seeing to count the dead bodies.

Truth digging will spell out that in global affairs if thousands or million innocent lives are demised and slaughtered in search of diplomacy, proponents of monstrous thinking will continue to insist that diplomacy should be given a chance. The perpetuated insanity is wide spread that you wonder how rationality has been suppressed and the UN diplomacy and importance of its role and responsibilities in international peace and security have become meaningless interpretations. France needed no prior consent of the UN Council to send its armies immediately to West Africa for war engagements. British support is readily available to be complemented by the US war machines to be placed anywhere if it can strengthen the crusade against Muslims. Leon Panetta in his last days was quick to point out that the US government is ready to act against al – Qaeda anywhere any time and the War on Terrorism will continue. It raised the eye brows of many informed scholars and political observers across the international arena as it had nothing to do with War on Terrorism.

From the beginning the premise of the War on Terror was a bogus one. These belligerent statements and actions surely fuel the Western passion for continuous wars any time and anywhere as long as it could be defined under aegis of War on Terror. A week earlier General McRystal, the former ousted US Commander in Afghanistan made it known in a CNN interview that the presence of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan is less than 100 people and has lost its strength and relevance for the War on Terror. If American politicians are not irrational and war addicted what else is the reasoning for their utter madness and animosity against Islam and Muslims?

Glen Greenwald (“The ‘War on Terror’ – by Design – Can Never End.”the Guardian: 1/4/2013),  points out that the US warmongering has no end to its policy objectives:

“There’s no question that this “war” will continue indefinitely. There is no question that US actions are the cause of that, the gasoline that fuels the fire.” Greenwald recalls that:

in December 2012, the outgoing Pentagon General Counsel Jeh Johnson addressed the Oxford Union and said that the War on Terror must, at some point, come to an end: “Now that efforts by the US military against al-Qaida are in their 12th year, we must also ask ourselves: How will this conflict end? . . . . ‘War’ must be regarded as a finite, extraordinary and unnatural state of affairs. We must not accept the current conflict, and all that it entails, as the ‘new normal.’ Peace must be regarded as the norm toward which the human race continually strives . . . …..There will come a tipping point at which so many of the leaders and operatives of al-Qaida and its affiliates have been killed or captured, and the group is no longer able to attempt or launch a strategic attack against the United States, that al-Qaida will be effectively destroyed.”After analyzing some of the current belligerent trends and inhuman tragedies of the US actions in Afghanistan and Pakistan and massive killings by the illegal drone attacks, she (Jeh Johnson) asks the human conscience – the most important and unanswered question:

“When does this thing we are in now end? And if it does not have an end — and I’m not speaking as a lawyer here, I am just speaking as a citizen who feels morally accountable for my country’s actions — if it does not have an end, then morally speaking it does not seem like it is a war. And then, our country is killing people and locking them up outside the traditional judicial system in a way I think we maybe cannot be forgiven for.”

John Pilger (Film – The War You Don’t See), a reputable Western journalist describes how “We journalists… have to be brave enough to defy those who seek our collusion in selling their latest bloody adventure in someone else’s country… That means always challenging the official story, however patriotic that story may appear, however seductive and insidious it is. For propaganda relies on us in the media to aim its deceptions not at a far away country but at you at home… In this age of endless imperial war, the lives of countless men, women and children depend on the truth or their blood is on us… Those, whose job it is to keep the record straight ought to be the voice of people, not power.”

Glenn Greenwald (“The ‘War on Terror’ – by Design – Can Never End.”),shares a foresight in time and place to wonder:

Does that sound to you like a government anticipating the end of the War on Terror any time soon? Or does it sound like one working feverishly to make their terrorism-justified powers of detention, surveillance, killing and secrecy permanent?

President Obama in his first presidential election campaign had promised to “stop the war” and bring home troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. He appeared enthusiastically interested to implement his vision “YES WE CAN” that he outlined the phenomenon of Change to shift the American warmongering unto peaceful actions during the first phase of his presidency. He gained Nobel Peace Prize just for talking. Not so, he consciously rescinded all his major undertakings including the closure of Guantanmo Bay infamous terror prison and peacemaking and co-existence with the Muslim world. He disregarded clear commitments to establish the independent State of Palestine by 2011. Glen Greenwald reflects on the irony of Obama’s broken pledges:

The policies adopted by the Obama administration just over the last couple of years leave no doubt that they are accelerating, not winding down, the war apparatus that has been relentlessly strengthened over the last decade. In the name of the War on Terror, the current president has diluted decades-old Miranda warnings; codified a new scheme of indefinite detention on US soil; plotted to relocate Guantanamo to Illinois; increasedsecrecyrepression and release-restrictions at the camp; minted a new theory of presidential assassination powers even for US citizens; renewed the Bush/Cheney warrantless eavesdropping framework for another five years, as well as the Patriot Act, without a single reform; and just signed into law all new restrictions on the release of indefinitely held detainees.

Over the decades of unchallenging aggressive adventures in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and now in Syria, West and North Africa and soon in Saudi Arab according to Robert Fisk (“Could Saudi Arabia be Next?

Bad News For Palestine in 2013. 1/2/2012, The Independent), America has earned the distinction of being a leader in intrinsic and endless corrupted wars to dismantle, humiliate, kill and destroy the Arab people and maintain the surge for more bloodsheds anytime – anywhere – outlines Glen Greenwald:  There’s a good reason US officials are assuming the “War on Terror” will persist indefinitely. There is zero reason for US officials to want an end to the war on terror, and numerous and significant reasons why they would want it to continue.

To Noam Chomsky (“The Gravest Threat to World Peace” January 04, 2013, Information Clearing House), the greatest threat to global peace is not the unfounded nuclear capability of Iran or the Iran it self but the US and Israel.

There is a sadistic war psyche and THINKING vengeful culture that persists in the US led policies and practices in South West Asia. Aggressive actions do attract decisive people’s response but the reactionary victims are all always classified as “Islamists” and “terrorists” and sometimes “collateral damage” as if human factor is irrational and unwanted in these deliberate propaganda stunts. According to Mathew Rosenberg (The New York Times), American official are perplexed with the on-going strange phenomenon that Afghan soldiers dare to fire at the American troops. In a real sense, the Master never imagined that his hired agents and official will have the nerve to attack American boots. Rosenberg elaborates his observations:

“Such insider attacks, by Afghan security forces on their Western allies, became ‘the signature violence of 2012′, in the words of one former American official. The surge in attacks has provided the clearest sign yet that Afghan resentment of foreigners is becoming unmanageable, and American officials have expressed worries about its disruptive effects on the training mission that is the core of the American withdrawal plan for 2014. . . …..But behind it all, many senior coalition and Afghan officials are now concluding that after nearly 12 years of war, the view of foreigners held by many Afghans has come to mirror that of the Taliban. Hope has turned into hatred, and some will find a reason to act on those feelings.”

Paul Craig Roberts (“The Institutionalization of Tyranny.” 1/19/2013: OpenEdNews), clarifies how the Bush-Obama regimes have lied and deceived the American society  to institutionalized tyranny and broke all legal and moral values to kill innocent people in other parts of globe. Paul Roberts explains that “conservatives accept the monstrous police state that has been erected, because they think it makes them safe from “Muslim terrorism”, they haven’t the wits to see that they are now open to terrorism by the government…… For Washington, victory means stamping out moral conscience and protecting a corrupt government from public exposure of its war crimes.”

Glenn Greenwald(The ‘War on Terror’ – by Design – Can Never End) attempts to synthesize the end game:

There’s no question that this “war” will continue indefinitely. There is no question that US actions are the cause of that, the gasoline that fuels the fire. The only question – and it’s becoming less of a question for me all the time – is whether this endless war is the intended result of US actions or just an unwanted miscalculation.

Why would anyone in the US government or its owners have any interest in putting an end to this sham bonanza of power and profit called “the war on terror”? Johnson is right that there must be an end to this war imminently, and Maddow is right that the failure to do so will render all the due-process-free and lawless killing and imprisoning and invading and bombing morally indefensible and historically unforgivable. But the notion that the US government is even entertaining putting an end to any of this is a pipe dream, and the belief that they even want to is fantasy. They’re preparing for more endless war; their actions are fueling that war; and they continue to reap untold benefits from its continuation.

Islam is ONE and its manifestation seeks unity in peace and global harmony, not violence, disharmony or warmongering against the West or anybody else. Divided, scattered like seeds are Muslims and leaderless Arab people and their long due awakening to the prevalent realities of the emerging New World manipulated by the US war industries. There are lessons that other authoritarian Arab leaders should learn from the fate of Saddam, Qhadafi, Ben Ali and Bashar al-Assad. ‘Never make predictions in the Middle East’, cautions veteran journalist Robert Fisk. After more than year long unstoppable cold blooded massacres of the innocents people and massive disruptions, refugees and continued destruction of social and economic infrastructures in Syria, Robert Fisk warns if the Western back War on Terror continues, could Saudi Arabia be the next point On the epic scale of history of US led belligerency and occupation?

Colin Wilson (A Criminal History of Mankind) captions the perpetuated animosity and degenerating viciousness of the US led War on Terror and illustrates how it is a replica of the failed Roman Empire: 

“The Romans were slipping into violence by a process of self-justification, and once a nation or an individual has started down this particular slope, it is impossible to apply breaks the Roman people were too unimaginative and short sighted to realize that, once murder has been justified on grounds of expediency, it can become a habit, then a disease.”

Would the Muslim in general and the oil-enriched Arab rulers in particular, ever THINK  intelligently to stop the American incursions into their hearts and minds and to challenge the US continued unprovoked belligerency against Islam and the unjustifiable bogus War on Terror against the Muslim people worldwide?

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Afghanistan: 22 Seals Murdered to Keep Them Quiet!


Posted by gordon 

Osama Killing gets more shrouds

Some Possibly Killed in Abbottabad Helicopter Crash Months Before

By Gordon Duff, Senior Editor

Today 31 NATO troops, 22 of them Navy Seals from the Osama bin Laden operation died in what is reported as a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. 

The chances of this story being true is almost nil.  The chances of this being a staged coverup is over 80%.  We believe these people were murdered to silence them.  This is why.

We have solid information on two areas:

  1. Osama bin Laden died in 2001 as an active CIA employee and his body was recovered in Afghanistan and taken to “the sand box.”  We were told it was frozen.  We have so much verification from this, CIA, ISI, US military and top officials.  I have a direct confirmation from Bin Laden’s CIA handler who I grilled mercilessly on this.
  2. The Abbottabad operation involved numerous American deaths, witnessed, bodies all over, a helicopter crash.  These bodies were recovered by land vehicle from Islamabad and there was NO “successful” bin Laden operation of any kind.  There was and has been a CIA safe house in Abbotabad where terror suspects were stored for years.

This gave the US several areas of severe vulnerability.  Generally, Navy Seals are the best people in the world at keeping their mouths shut, these are real team players, as the term “Seal Team” belies.

We at VT were informed that the bin Laden operation was staged at this time, a theatrical farce, to cover the exit of Secretary Gates, the move by former CIA Director Leon Panetta into the DOD as Secretary of Defense and to stem any heroic claims by new CIA Director Petraeus of killing the long dead Osama bin Laden, the long frozen CIA operative.

Petraeus is a possible presidential contender and had to be denied this “gift from heaven,” a fast track to the oval office for sure.

Again, I remind you, I went over specific meetings on bin Laden with his handlers, getting every last detail.  I have watched what has gone on, the continuing need to vilify a long dead top CIA operative to provide residual cover for the Bush administration….

The reason?  Bush and his cronies are all facing charges of war crimes, not just in minor jurisdictions but heading for the ICC, putting them on the dock with Gaddafi ( a far less harmful character).

As for the timing of this incident?  This we will work on.  What we can easily surmise is that some of the dead have been dead since their bodies were taken away from the helicopter crash site in Abbotabad.

Who would order such a thing?  We are going to have to wait but we are going to find out.  However, we expected this, the timing is exactly as predicted.


When the phony Abbotbad operation came out, I immediately understood what happened.  I also saw much potential good from it other than the tragedy of the dead Americans from the crash.  I wrote of this and see their deaths as more heroic than many recognize.

They died to erase for all time remnants of the Bush era fairly tale of badguy and evildoer Osama bin Laden.  Enough good men had died chasing a ghost who lived only in phony video and audio tapes by “Bin Laden Studios” in Tel Aviv and in the continual “boogeyman” rhetoric of professional fearmongers.

Not long afterward, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, another able public servant announced the near defeat of Al Qaeda, another Bush fairly tale.

Al Qaeda has never existed, there are no magic worldwide terror conspiracies other than those run by governments.  There are several of those and I have written extensively on these.  Google will help you with this if you are curious.

When VT saw why the government staged this, we saw we could accomplish two things:

  1. We could simply report the truth for those willing to believe it, something we believe is the right thing to do.
  2. We could also support the United States in a very real way, knowing Pakistan would weather this crisis, timed, in some ways, as a face saving move in response to the embarrassing Raymond Davis affair.  I believed if the truth came out, clear enough for insiders, intel and miliary for sure, to understand that we knew and other insiders knew, there would be no reason to “clean house” afterward, to stage a coverup and get rid of any involved.

I had felt that we had provided cover for the Seal Team, we hadn’t trashed them, we acknowledged the dead at Abbotabad where no one else bothered, this is our job as fellow members of America’s military forces (current and former).

More importantly, we got out word, I certainly did enough radio and TV on this, enough that, for anyone who care, the “truth was out there.”

This is all we could do but I hoped it would stem a need for covering tracks.  After all, anyone leaking real information on the operation would only seem like they had gotten it from me and I put it out there in such a manner that I allowed room to be “debunked.”

I do this to protect myself but I really was thinking of them.  These are great guys, Seals are among the best people on earth.  The Seal and Special Forces communities are, of the military groups in the US, some of the finest people I know.

They also help cover my “behind,” which I appreciate.

This is just too obvious, too brazen.  I can’t imagine it started at the White House or even cabinet level but maybe I am deluding myself.  Bin Laden was all about the election.

After the bond collapse and credit disaster yesterday, anything threatening President Obama’s reelection is seen, by some, as a threat to America’s financial survival.  This debt crisis is a bigger threat to the US than a Japanese invasion in 1942 would have been.

You may not see it that way and you certainly cant get out your hunting rifle to fix it. (Don’t be a sap, kill a Jap!)

Someone had gotten to someone.  My best guess and this is a guess…an expose’ by the mainstream media, perhaps Murdoch, another guess, conjecture I admit, regarding the farce at Abbottabad, information possibly gotten through spying, bribery and blackmail, threatened to take down Obama.

With Murdoch’s good friend and “monkeyboy,” Netanyahu ‘on the ropes,” with crowds marching in Israel’s streets demanding his ouster, we have more timing to factor in.

The bin Laden killing, the third rate drama of capturing an unarmed frozen dead guy and throwing him into the ocean had probably become an albatross around certain high ranking necks.

Norway was no accident, it was a warning too.  It has been containerized, just as the Murdoch espionage issue is now “poor Rupert and the pie thrower.”

These Americans are casualties in a game, one like 9/11, sacrificial pawns, like Britain’s 7/7, all lies, all theatre, all evil.

This is not for public consumption.  There are those who know exactly who I am talking to.

There are many of us here who still keep our mouths shut about so many things.  There are too many who don’t even care, most of us at VT do.  Yes, I am aware I can be jailed, I am aware my passport can be pulled, I already see the damned surveillance.


We aren’t anti-American.  I am simply sick of seeing solutions that go one direction, stealing everything that isn’t nailed down.  I am also sick of the fact that Washington can’t visit the “head’ without Israel’s permission.

This…today, this is too much. It is unforgivable.  We are not going to allow this to stand.

We have a long standing history of “cleaning house” after operations of this kind.  Usually its dead senators in plane crashes, heart attacks, car wrecks, like the Minot Barksdale or 9/11 incidents.  I could name a dozen more.  Does the name Wheeler meaning anything to you?  Anyone remember Pat Tillman?

But this many?

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The Children In Connecticut; Not In Iraq


No shame, No regret that’s USA

To The Americans Who Are Questioning The Death Of The Children In Connecticut

“Madeline Albright; the Jewish former Secretary of State said that killing of half a million children in Iraq was justified. May we ask her, how?” Raja Mujtaba

By Nesreen MelekI
was truly touched by the tears your president shed during his speech because of the killing the twenty beautiful children and the six remarkable adults as he called them. He reminded me of the tears I shed watching my country ruined by the shock and awe bombing during the last war on Iraq almost ten years ago.You gathered to mourn the death of those kids but when the war was launched, my sister who lived in the states that time and I cried alone as our family members were still in Iraq and we didn’t know what happened to them. The American missiles didn’t differentiate between children and adults during the war, all Iraqis were exposed to death all days long.


No one offered us condolences for the loss of our country, our dreams and our hopes for good days to come. We were alone with our grief; the whole world watched the continuous bombing in silence. Some people protested but their voices weren’t heard. The leaders of the Middle East watched their brothers and sisters killed, your military bases were on their lands yet they did nothing to stop you from the war.

Your President called the kids who were killed at the school by names. Our children who were killed by the American bombs had no names. I remember a picture of bodies of small kids covered with blood and piled on the back of a truck, those kids were killed during the bombing of a small city in Iraq. No apologies where given to their parents or to the Iraqis for taking the lives of these kids… there were no teddy bears and no candles..

Do you know Abeer? Abeer is the Iraqi kid who was fifteen when she was raped in front of her family members by the American soldiers. The soldiers burnt the house to hide their atrocities. How many of the American people know the story of Abeer? .

The depleted uranium your troops used in Fallujah caused higher rates of cancer, leukemia and infant mortality? Young women in Fallujah in Iraq are terrified of having children because of the increasing number of babies being born deformed, with no heads, two heads, and a single eye in the foreheads or missing limbs. Do you know that young children in Fallujah are now experiencing cancers and leukemia?

We had endless shooting across my country by the American troops during the war and even after Iraq surrendered, many of your soldiers kept shooting at the civilians they thought were a threat. My relative’s wife was shot by your soldier in a checkpoint when her husband didn’t hear the soldier asking him to stop. The cause of the violence in Iraq wasn’t complex as you concluded for your country. The cause was the brutality of the American troops.

Yet, in Iraq we don’t hear someone walks in a shopping center or in a school and start shooting people. But we heard that innocent people were killed by your troops, I wonder why?

As your president said in Connecticut a few days ago: “Let the little children come to me” Jesus said, “and do not hinder them, for to such belongs to kingdom of heaven”

For the Iraqi children who are alive after experiencing the war, they will watch the news and will feel for your children. Those who died and no one acknowledged their death they will belong to kingdom of heaven like the American children who lost their lives during the shooting and they will be one. Children are children and they deserve to be given the opportunity to live whether they are Iraqis or American.

One man took the life of the twenty beautiful children and the six remarkable adults, but your government took the life of thousands of beautiful children and remarkable adults in Iraq during the ugly war on Iraq.

Why does the death of the twenty children affect you so much when the death of the thousands (more than 1.5 million slaughtered) of the Iraqi children was ignored?

Your loss is big but our loss is greater..

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Seals: Killers of Osama Dying or Being Killed?


Posted by Raja Mujtaba

US Navy Seal Commander, Who Killed Osama Bin Laden, Commits ‘Apparent Suicide’ In Afghanistan

– UNBELIEVABLE: ‘More Than 20 Navy SEALS From The Unit That Killed Osama Bin Laden’ Die In Helicopter Crash

– US Navy Commander who killed Bin Laden, commits suicide (The Siasat Daily, Dec 25, 2012):

Hyderabad – SEAL Team 4 Commanding Officer Job W. Price commit suicide. He was best known for finding and then killing Osama bin Laden.

Cmdr. Job W. Price, 42, died Saturday, Dec. 22, of a non-combat-related injury while supporting stability operations in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan.

Suicide of the Officer of this grade raises many questions among the media, as the team was best known for killing Osama Bin Laden that assaulted his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan on May 1, 2011.

Military officials are looking into the death of Cmdr. Job W. Price as a possible suicide, but that his death remains under investigation.

Price, 42, of Pottstown, Pa., was in charge of coordinating all Team 4 missions.

Price was in Afghanistan supporting stability operations in Uruzgan Province. He was assigned to an East Coast-based Naval Special Warfare unit based in Virginia Beach, Va.

SEAL Team 4 is among eight SEAL team deployments. SEAL Team 6 is best known among them for finding and then killing Osama bin Laden.

 US Navy Seal’s ‘apparent suicide’ in Afghanistan under investigation (Guardian, Dec 25, 2012):

US military officials are investigating the apparent suicide of a Navy Seal commander in Afghanistan.

Navy Seal Commander Job W Price, 42, of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, died on Saturday from a non-combat-related injury while supporting stability operations in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan.

A US military official said the death “appears to be the result of suicide”. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the death is still being investigated.

“The Naval Special Warfare family is deeply saddened by the loss of our teammate,” said Captain Robert Smith, commander of Naval Special Warfare Group Two, which manages all Virginia-based Navy Seal teams.

“We extend our condolences, thoughts and prayers to the family, friends, and NSW community during this time of grieving.”

Smith added: “As we mourn the loss and honour the memory of our fallen teammate, those he served with will continue to carry out the mission.”.

A US military official confirmed Price was from Virginia Beach, Virginia-based Seal Team 4, which is part of the mission to train Afghan local police to fend off the Taliban in remote parts of Afghanistan.

Price is survived by a wife and a daughter.


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Pakistan: Hazara genocide case


Posted by S M Hali 

Victory of public sentiment 

The Hazaras sat for almost five days with their dead in front of them

By S. M. Hali

Pakistan is passing through various trials and tribulations. The war on terror has taken a heavy toll of human lives and the entire country has suffered. One community that has been deliberately targeted is the Hazaras, a Persian-speaking people, who mainly inhabit central Afghanistan, western Pakistan and part of Iran. They are overwhelmingly Shiite Muslims, and comprise the third largest ethnic group of Afghanistan, while more than 500,000 Hazaras reside in Pakistan, mostly in Quetta, the capital of the strife-torn Balochistan province.

The origins of the Hazaras point towards Inner Asian descent – Mongolian and Turkic, which is evident from their physical attributes. Literacy level among the Hazara community in Pakistan is relatively high; they are an extremely hard working race, which has integrated well into the social dynamics of the local society. By dint of hard work, Hazaras have managed to reach enviable positions.

General Muhammad Musa, who served as the Commander-in-Chief of Pakistan Army, followed by a tenure of Governor West Pakistan and later Governor of the province of Balochistan; Qazi Mohammad Esa, a prominent leader of Pakistan Movement and close friend of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, his son Qazi Faez Esa  the first ever Hazara to serve as Chief Justice of Balochistan High Court ; Air Marshal Sharbat Ali Changezi, a veteran PAF fighter pilot of the 1965 and 1971 Pak-India wars; Saira Batool, a Hazara woman was one of the first female pilots in Pakistan Air Force and numerous others who served meritoriously in all three services of the Armed Forces of Pakistan, earning glory for themselves and  Pakistan are but some of the notable Hazaras.

Unfortunately, this peace-loving but minority community has been targeted for its faith and in the last five years, over one thousand Hazaras have been mercilessly slain in cold blood. Their sad plight has been swept under the carpet, perhaps because most of the country is in the grip of terrorist attacks. However, earlier this month, the devastating killing of over one hundred Hazaras in Quetta as a result of multiple bomb blasts, ultimately forced the community to seek justice. The bloodbath of the innocent Hazaras stirred the entire nation and was widely reported in international media but unfortunately the provincial as well as the federal government remained unmoved and oblivious to the carnage.

The provincial Government remained totally indifferent as none of the ministers or prliamentarians visited the scene of tragic incident or paid condolence to the grieved   families. Balochistan’s Chief Minister was away on a private visit abroad and did not bother even to make a call to the administration or the grieved families. Shortly after the incident, the people of Hazara community launched an unprecedented, peaceful and non violent protest in the city. The protesters observed hunger strike, in an orderly manner, with eighty-six dead bodies awaiting burial, braving the extreme inclement bad weather.  The protesting mourners included the heirs of the deceased comprising women, men and children besides large representation of non Hazaras as well. Their demands were the removal of the Provincial Government, apprehending the terrorists and handing over the control of the city to Army as the provincial Government had totally failed to maintain peace, law and order. They refused to bury the corpses until their justified demands were met.

The protest continued under open sky in chilling rainy weather of Quetta in sub zero temperature for four days. The dead bodies kept waiting burial and tears of the protestors continued moving the entire world.  The unique protest stimulated the sentiments of entire Pakistani society irrespective of sect, cast or ethnicity.  The unique silent protest caught attention around the world and became headlines of national and international media.  Resultantly, peaceful protests were launched throughout the country as well as in some international capitals in support of the Hazara Community.

Interestingly these protests mostly in the shape of day and night sittings were carried out by non Shia segments of society. The protests were amply supported by all political parties and opinion makers of Pakistan. It was an impressive exhibition of national cohesion and resolve to combat the menace of terrorism. Ultimately, as a result of these peaceful and non violent protests, Federal Government came into action and the demands were accepted after the visit of Prime Minister of Pakistan.

The sad incident came to a justified conclusion and left a message that power of truth and public sentiments will always win over the forces of injustice and evil with perseverance and commitment. It also showed the determination and preservation of the bereaved and sad families which won them the honour and respect and moved the entire state machinery. Meeting of demands of the protestors was the victory of society and power of public sentiments. The entire episode has glaringly proved that if entire nation stands together, justice can be sought even without violent agitation. The role of society, media and the political leadership is the testimony of the fact that Pakistanis are a great nation and can stand together by tackling sectarian, provincial and ethnic divisions against national tragedies.

Every peace loving citizen of Pakistan not only denounced the dastardly act of targeting the Shia community in particular and innocent Pakistanis in general. The sad epilogue to the whole incident, which brought out the best in Pakistani society, also exposed the dual-faced nature of the politicians. No sooner was the demand of the protesting Hazaras met and the provincial government of Balochistan was removed, placing the strife-torn province under Governor’s Rule, the same politicians, especially the Baloch provincial parliamentarians and their supporters in the center, who had callously and heartlessly remained oblivious of the Hazara’s predicament, now got together to protest against the sacking of their Chief Minister. The voice of the people had spoken and taken cognizance of by the Prime Minister, albeit belatedly but the fresh development only goes to depict that public sentiment may ultimately be victorious, but politicians will continue to vie for their self interest only.

Posted in Pakistan & KashmirComments Off on Pakistan: Hazara genocide case

TUQ Long March: Some Thoughts and Afterthoughts


Posted by Raja Mujtaba

By Raja G Mujtaba

Lahore rally of 23rd December 2012 was the curtain raiser and Islamabad D-Square on 17th Jan 2013, curtains were drawn. In between these dates, lots of hypes were created, with the passage of time anxiety started to build all eyes and ears got focused on 14th Jan Long March.

Around 23rd Dec when I was traveling in different towns and cities the bannering that I saw was massive; it appeared that the rally would be held in that town or city. The rally at Lahore turned out to be the biggest in history with a perfect management and marketing skills. TUQ (Tahir Ul Qadri) displayed exceptional management skills that are no concern for any other political party in Pakistan. Here he gave the call for 4 million march on Islamabad for 14th of Jan. it was obvious that this number could never be achieved but was only a slogan to build the crowd.

His timing to launch a movement was perfect but it also invited external threats. New elections are about to be called, the present political actors in the assemblies have all failed to deliver; there is complete chaos in the country, people are being killed like flies, target killings have become a routine. The killers and the killed both do not know why it is happening.

National institutions like NAB, PIA, Railways, and Steel Mill etc. all have been paralyzed. Energy crises are at its worst in history but the people in power have shown no concern of any sort. Orders of SC of Pakistan are being flouted, SC ordered arrest of Raja Parvez Ashraf on 15th Jan for his corruption in Rental Power deals. Neither he has resigned nor has been arrested. All has become a mockery. Now the death of Kamran Faisal, the NAB investigating officer on Rental Power has made it all more suspicious. Last night it was the wedding of Parvez Ashraf’s son, the Prime Minister was missing from his son’s wedding, why?

Today if war breaks out, clouds of which are looming large then there would be no means to transport the troops and war material. Yet Ghulam Ahmed Bilour does not feel ashamed for what he has done to the railways; the cabinet does not

Long March 1

question him, Raja Parvez Ashraf, the corrupt Prime Minister has no concern, Asif Ali Zardari is the manipulator.  The complete government machinery is in rot, all geared up for corruption and killings.

Now even the IMF and World Bank have refused to loan any more money. Government will have no money even to pay salaries. The loans in the last five years have been doubled, where has all that money gone, who is to question and whom. Internal and external threats are being intensified, in doing so the entire political structure is equally responsible.

Nawaz Sharif is purely a commercial man, he knows how to make and multiply wealth, and his politics is focused on that. For the last five years, he has acted a friendly opposition to ensure his government in the Punjab. The strength that he had could have been a formidable force to ensure that the ruling coalition remains on course. He showed no such concerns and was quite content waiting his turn to move into Islamabad after coming elections. Ever since he entered the arena, politics have become more commercial, now it’s an industry.

MQM has not accepted the state of Pakistan, Altaf Hussain misses no chance in attacking and demonizing Mr. Jinnah. He is on record to have addressed a gathering in Nehru University in Delhi where he said that creation of Pakistan is a regret.

ANP of Ghaffar Khan, known as Sarhadi Gandhi never wanted Pakistan; he willed that his grave be in Jalalabad where now he lies buried. When he refused his burial in Pakistan then that leaves no doubts about his love and loyalty for Pakistan.

Zulfiqar Bhutto is again a very controversial personality, majority of people in Pakistan hold him in deep contempt of break of Pakistan. His followers who are illiterate persons in majority, who vote but do not think, are the backbone of PPP. This is what BB once stated that let media print or say whatever they want to her party voters do not read newspapers. The feudal of Sindh and Southern Punjab have banked and exploited this vote bank.

Having said that what options do the masses have, where middle class is completely crushed and helpless? They would look for any messiah, their minds have been made senseless, they cannot think and differentiate good from bad, who is evil and who is sincere. People are ready to jump or cling to any straw that may provide hope.

The masses or the low middle class and working class along with university students and women in large numbers participated in long march that later converted to ‘Dharna’ (Sit in). This dharna lasted for five days, drop scene coming on 17th Jan at about 10 PM when the declaration was read out to the people over live TV coverage.

Before leaving on long march, TUQ made some declarations to motivate the participants and send some strong messages all around.

  • President will have to go.
  • Prime Minister will have to go.
  • Assemblies will be dissolved.
  • Electoral reforms will be introduced.
  • Corrupt and defaulters would all be arrested.

The government facilitated the marchers into Islamabad; there was no effort of significance to block the marchers enroute. Therefore people are forming different opinions. Some say it was a staged drama but then the questions were who is behind TUQ and his march and some took it that a messiah has arrived to alleviate the people from their sufferings and miseries. But the fact is that turnout was massive; participants were full of spirit and enthusiasm. They were all as fresh on the last day as they were on the first day.All TV channels ran marathon transmissions.

How come Dr. Qadri was giving prophetic deadlines? These prophecies are now beginning to ring some bells in the ears. As hindsight it seems maybe it was all planed that way.  Its orchestration and coordination with perfect choreography like any Hollywood thriller that keeps a captivating hold over the audience was impressive. It was a tremendous performance by TUQ for which he deserves full credit. MQM’s all-out support and that of PML-Q is also quite meaningful.

What I have maintained throughout that I agree with the message but have no love for TUQ. I had a very strong fear that he would sell out this long march for his personal gains that he did. We will have to wait and see what happens on 27thJan at Lahore in the second round of parleys. However to ensure what I am going to say does not get biased I asked a few people about their take on this ‘Long March’ that I have quoted below would give some food for thought to the readers.

I asked Kashmala Tariq, MNA about her take on the long march, this is what she said,“TUQ got recognition, and a nobody became a somebody in politics.”

When I called Sheikh Rasheed, a former federal minister, a vocal supporter of TUQ and asked him about the implementation of the declaration, his plain reply was that nothing would be implemented. The only positive thing according to him has been that the public has gone back and dispersed without any mishap.

In all this dark story, there are some very positive messages that one can deduce. Masses irrespective of age, gender, sectarian or ethnic background all came out to express their solidarity with the cause for which a call was given. The people braved the rough and harsh weather of Islamabad for five days. In doing so, there were countless mothers who had brought their infants with them. They were so determined that they were willing to sacrifice their children. Many had come after selling their belongings and assets so as to participate in this Long March.

Having contacted Ijaz-ul-Haq, another former federal minister, he said that if nothing else, the issues have been highlighted that people neither would nor keep demanding and the politicians would not be able to deny this any longer. An awareness has been created, that will not die now.

Another friend of mine, a scholar who is based in Canada, had the following to say; “Tahir ul Qadri does not have clean background. Here in Canada, he lived and acted to support the policies and practices of the Kafirs and Mushriks. I view him as a self- centered and moral-intellectually corrupt person. The sit-in was a diversion from the real vital issues facing the nation in its quest for planned change and reformation of the institutionalized corruption.

Surely, we need new political system and a new beginning for Pakistan.”  He further stated that “He was a fugitive in hiding in Canada under the protection of intelligence agencies. In UK, he was patronized by Brit intelligence- a readily available puppet with mouth and mind to deliver bogus fatwas, enhance personal image as if he was a scholar and invincible political actor. His return to Pakistan is surely sponsored by the foreign masters to create more social-political disruptions and to ensure that Pakistani should not survive out of the internal-external chaotic challenges. I am surprised how people were hired and organized to march on to Islamabad.”

The Quetta protest by the Hazaras, peace loving die hard Pakistanis for almost 5 days for massive killings of their people by terrorists followed by TUQ Long March and the conditions in Karachi prompted Indian Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh to take a hostile and aggressive posture. Violations across Line of Control picked up so did the Indian Media and politicians. None of our political leadership made any statement on that account which is deplorable. Thanks to Pakistan Army and other defence forces that got readied to face the threat. TUQ’s timings could be a coincidence or a planned move needs to be studied and understood. If this march had got bloody with a few killings, India would not have waited to attack.

Rahman Malik did make attempt to create such a scene and panic, why he must be questioned. Out of his declared agenda, nothing has been achieved, all he got was a promissory note ‘Islamabad Long March Declaration’ of which he may print millions of copies and distribute to the people. All said and done public has not achieved any immediate benefit from all this ordeal and hardship that they went through. If TUQ had ensured the arrest of Raja Parvez Ashraf Imran Khan’s absence from the rally when he declared that agenda is common is not understood. Most people feel that he should have joined the protest. By his joining, he would have ensured the continuity and TUQ could not have hijacked the nation. Now the only visible result is that TUQ has become a political player, for how long that the time would tell. The positive side of this ‘Long March’ has been:

  • It has ensured that now the elections would be held on or before 6th of March 2013 that was being evaded by Zardari to ensure his next term.
  • That people have got galvanized as a nation.
  • It was a display of unity faith and discipline seldom witnessed before in the world.
  • It sent a strong message to our enemies that nation cannot be messed around with.
  • The issues raised would never die; new assemblies will have to take cognizance of it.
  • Future elections would be more focused on issues rather than ‘baradri clans.’

Of the Islamabad declaration, even if 50% is achieved, if not more at least 50% of the present members would be eliminated from assemblies. In the long run, it would also help to break the family grips over our political structure.

Opinion Poll Conducted by Opinion Maker, result is as under.

Tahir ul Qadri’s ‘Long March’ is sponsored.

Yes ……….60%


Not Sure….13%

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Kashmir Is Burning!


Posted by S M Hali

Kashmir issue & India’s flawed Pakistan policy

By S. M. Hali

 Dr Subhash Kapila, writing for South Asia Analysis Group (SAAG), in his latest Op-Ed ‘India’s Pakistan Policy: A Saga of Flawed Approaches – Analysis’, quotes from reputed Indian columnist M.J. Akbar’s Op-Ed: ‘Out of turn’, published in the “Times of India”, December 23, 2012 that “Delhi’s Pakistan policy has all the emotional intensity of a battered wife with a karmic commitment to marriage. Justice must surrender to appeasement in the pursuit of some higher purpose.”

Dr. Kapila comments that “Foreign policy analysts like us have constantly highlighted this flaw but it was not taken note of because the Indian policy establishment treated them as voices in the wilderness. But when a reputed policy analyst and eminent media personality like Mr. M J Akbar arrives at similar conclusions then it is time for officialdom to take a serious note. India’s national security cannot be made a pawn for personal predilections of the apex level.”

It’s a pity that Mr. Kapila who is in the habit of Pakistan bashing, now takes up a different approach and using M. J. Akbar’s shoulders, attacks Pakistan by blaming that India has been trying to appease Pakistan. He discredits the marathon effort of the Track-II diplomacy as well as the ex-servicemen from both sides of the divide, who have been running from pillar to post to find an amicable solution to the various issues that have plagued both the nations for decades and have been turned into festering sores due to Indian obduracy.

Dr. Kapila’s cynicism is evident: “To give shape to their Pakistan-appeasement policies, the India policy establishment crafted Track II dialogues from the Neemrana Dialogues to the endless and fruitless such dialogues thereafter. Then came the ploy of Special Envoys which were nothing more than a sinecure for retired diplomats who equally were inadequate in reading Pakistani establishment’s mind-sets. The latest and potentially dangerous Indian policy establishment’s crafted design has been to use groups of retired senior Armed Forces dignitaries including a retired Indian Air Force Chief to confabulate in Lahore and come out with recommendations that implied that Sir Creek and Siachen eventually are ‘doable and deliverable’ issues. Can these be gifted away to Pakistan just to make progress in the Peace Dialogue?”

The truth is that India has always found excuses and ways and means to back out of dialogue for seeking solutions to the contentious issues.  The bilateral relations between two neighboring countries that were stalled in the wake of Mumbai carnage-2008 seemed to thaw when Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar extended an invitation to 8 members of the executive council of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), to visit Pakistan from 15 to 22 December 2012. The initiative had been taken to begin a consultative process between the political leadership of Pakistan and pro-movement leaders of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), which will certainly set appropriate grounds leading to the peaceful resolution of Kashmir issue. Kashmir experts believe that such visits by the Hurriyat leader’s suit both India and Pakistan, while APHC acts as “facilitator” in deciding things which are in line with aspirations and interests of Kashmiris.

Indian media hawks and hardliners, who wanted to derail the peace initiative, adopted an over-cautious attitude towards the visit of the Hurriyat leaders. Eight members of the executive council of the APHC visited Pakistan last week on and despite the hurdles put in the way of the visit and negative connotation conspired by Indian hawks and media, the visit is being deemed as a success. The APHC Chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, after his visit, categorically declared that the Kashmir dispute is the main impediment in the cordial relations between Pakistan and India and the two countries cannot progress in economic fields without settling it. He opined that it should ultimately lead to a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue, the bone of contention between the two countries.

Mirwaiz maintained that the Pakistani leadership and people were aware of the sufferings of Kashmiris and had always extended moral, political and diplomatic support to the struggle of the Kashmiri people. The APHC leader urged New Delhi to accept the ground realities and realize the fact that a nation could not be subjugated for too long.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said on record that India wants to resolve all issues, including Jammu and Kashmir issue with Pakistan through dialogue. New Delhi and Islamabad announced on February 10 that they would resume full peace talks which were suspended by Mumbai episode. Experts say that large majority of Indian populace want peace to prevail so that the pace of economic prosperity continues. Unfortunately, Indian media hawks continue to create hurdles to curb first formal conversation between the two sides in nearly four years. Since 2004, the peace process between India and Pakistan provided an ideal forum to tackle core issues and improved the decades old mistrust through confidence-building measures (CBMs). The recent overtures from both the sides clearly indicate that both the neighboring countries want prosperity in the region and for that agree that the resolution of Kashmir is a priority for Pakistan and India. The dialogue process will not only narrow down the differences on Sir Creek, the comprehensive resolution on demilitarization of Siachen glacier will also be worked out amicably.  From a Kashmiri perspective, the leaders of both India and Pakistan should be encouraged to continue with the good-will initiatives they have started some time ago. This will enable both the countries to find converging interests.

It should be abundantly clear that Pakistan is desirous of peace but the Kashmir issue is central to all the misunderstandings and misgivings. Pakistan, as always, will continue diplomatic/political support of its Kashmiri brethren. The invitation to the APHC leaders was also meant to develop an understanding on their point of view but vested interests tried to drive a wedge between the APHC leaders and Pakistan. It is a matter of satisfaction that their heinous designs did not succeed. If only the hawkish Indian media can be urged to soften its stance.

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The dronefather


Posted by Raja Mujtaba

Abe Karem created the robotic plane that transformed the way modern warfare is waged—and continues to pioneer other airborne innovations.

“I WAS not the guy who put missiles on the Predator,” says Abe Karem, the aerospace engineer behind America’s most successful and most feared military drone. “I just wanted UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) to perform to the same standards of safety, reliability and performance as manned aircraft.”

When Mr Karem arrived in America from Israel in 1977, the Pentagon had almost given up on robotic planes. At the time its most promising UAV, the Aquila, needed 30 people to launch it, flew for just minutes at a time and crashed on average every 20 flight hours. “It was insanity itself,” says Mr Karem. “It was obvious to me they were going to crash because they had 30 people doing something that could be done better by three.”

Mr Karem founded a company, Leading Systems, in the garage of his Los Angeles home and began work on a drone that would ultimately transform the way America wages war. It was built in an intentionally low-tech manner, using plywood, home-made fibreglass and a two-stroke engine of the kind normally found in go-karts. “I wanted to prove that performance is largely a result of inspired design and highly optimised and integrated subsystems, not the application of the most advanced technology,” he says.

Critically the drone, code-named Albatross, was developed by a handful of engineers, and operated by a team of just three. “Doing things with the absolute smallest team increases the chance that you’re not going to screw up,” says Mr Karem. “Nothing replaces highly talented people—white-hot passionate thinkers in love with doing challenging things.” After a flight test during which Albatross remained aloft for 56 hours, DARPA, the research arm of America’s armed forces, funded Mr Karem to scale it up into a more capable drone called Amber. It, in turn, evolved into the modern Predator.

It was almost inevitable that Mr Karem would become an aerospace engineer. He built model aircraft at school, inspired by a teacher who had flown in a British Lancaster bomber during the second world war. Mr Karem went on to study aeronautics at Technion, Israel’s prestigious Institute of Technology, and then joined the Israeli Air Force. Within 13 years of graduating, Mr Karem had completed and deployed 16 projects, mostly conversions of jet fighters to add new weapons or capabilities. “In Israel at that time, we averaged six months from an idea to completion of flight testing,” he says. “Military programmes in the United States now typically take over 20 years to achieve first operation.”

Mr Karem also built his first drone. During the Yom Kippur war of 1973, Israeli fighter-bombers attacking Egypt and Syria were being stopped by Russian-made air defences.Israel needed a fast decoy drone to activate the defensive radar systems, so they could then be hit using anti-radiation missiles. Mr Karem’s team designed, built and flew such a drone in just one month.

Home-grown drones

Amber, the drone he built for DARPA, was intended for a very different role. In the event of a war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact countries, Amber drones would be used to carry out surveillance and electronic warfare over the battlefields of Europe. A special ultra-high altitude version of Amber was even planned to restore temporary communications over America after a nuclear war.

Despite its ambitious aims, Amber, like Albatross, was largely home-made by Mr Karem’s small team. It was powered by a four-stroke petrol engine developed secretly in the garage of Hans Hermann, a Formula 1 racing legend of the 1950s. Its cutting-edge electronics and remote-control ground station were assembled in the living room of another employee.“When I started, people asked why I was making a UAV with four times the computational power of the F-16, the first fly-by-wire jet fighter,” says Mr Karem. The reason was that, as any computer buyer knows, a more powerful machine takes longer to become obsolete. “Almost all of our subsystems from 1985-89 are still flying in some Predators today,” says Mr Karem, “including its 27-year-old computer and, with minor changes, the ground station.”

By 1986 Amber drones were flying for more than a day without landing, reaching altitudes of nearly 30,000 feet and operating safely even in bad weather. And unlike Aquila, the Amber rarely crashed, suffering just one accident in 650 hours of tests. To ensure his engineers focused on flight safety, Mr Karem refused to allow parachute-recovery systems in any of his UAVs. “Crashing when you can’t afford to is the best way to learn,” he says.

Amber’s accelerated design process, lean staffing and high reliability also meant that the entire cost of each experimental drone, $350,000, was less than the cost of running an Aquila UAV for a single hour. Understandably, both the US Army and Navy were interested in funding Amber to production, with the aim of buying as many as 200 aircraft a year.

But Amber fell victim to political infighting. In 1987 Congress combined all UAV research into a single programme. Its aims reflected the limited capabilities of the Pioneer drone, the successor to the Aquila: short range, short endurance and low-altitude missions. Amber was cancelled, something Mr Karem blames on established aerospace players. “Amber was confiscated and locked up to protect the incumbents,” he says.

Game of drones

Shortly afterwards, financial pressure forced Mr Karem to sell Leading Systems to Hughes Aircraft, who in turn sold it to another defence contractor, General Atomics. Resigned to the fact that America did not want Amber, Mr Karem made a cut-down, runway-launched version of it for export, called the Gnat 750. General Atomics had just sold six Gnat 750s to Turkey in 1993 when escalating conflict in the former Yugoslavia meant that America suddenly needed a high-endurance drone for covert reconnaissance. The director of the CIA at that time was Jim Woolsey. “He asked his UAV programme officer to do the job, and they said it would cost $100m and take five years,” says Mr Karem. “He asked us, and we said it would be $5m and take three months. The rest is history.

As promised, the Gnat 750 was flying over Bosnia within months, relaying live video feeds to the Pentagon via a manned aircraft and a satellite ground station. By July 1994 General Atomics had incorporated satellite links into the Gnat itself, giving the drone a gently rounded nose that belied its pugnacious new name: Predator. America now had a platform that could loiter over a target area for days, provide infra-red and optical surveillance in all weathers—and, with the addition of Hellfire anti-tank missiles in 2001, launch a devastating attack without warning.

Today the Department of Defence has over 6,000 UAVs, including hundreds based on the Predator. Predators have been used by America in every conflict since the Balkans, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Libya, and have collectively logged millions of flight hours. America’s armed forces plan to spend $37 billion on UAVs in the next decade, increasing their number to more than 8,000.

By the time the Predator went into production, however, Mr Karem had left General Atomics. While emphasising the work done by others to develop the Predator and its successor, the Reaper, he takes credit for America’s rapid adoption of drones. “The UAVs that happened without my input, like Aquila, were a disaster,” he says. “If the best aircraft available when the need for UAVs emerged had been Pioneer, what we have today would not have happened.” And although Mr Karem was not involved in the decision to arm the Predator, he has no objection to the use of drones as weapons platforms. “At least people are now working on how to kill the minimum number of people on the other side,” he says. “The missiles on the Predator are way too capable. Weapons for UAVs are going to get smaller and smaller to avoid collateral damage.”

Mr Karem’s next venture was Frontier Systems, another aerospace company, where he began to develop the A160, a robotic helicopter drone that used new, variable-speed blades. “I always look for a gap between what we can do and what is being done,” he says. “When it came to rotary UAVs, I saw a vacuum I could fill.”

Most helicopter rotors operate at a constant rotational speed, which avoids the danger of disintegration at particular resonant frequencies. The A160 instead had a rotor that could change its speed depending on the drone’s altitude, payload and velocity. This allowed it to be much more fuel-efficient and far quieter than existing helicopters. “It was a very high-risk, high pay-off programme,” admits Mr Karem. “One DARPA adviser believed that the rotor would disintegrate on its first ground run.” In the event the A160’s rotor blades, constructed from stiff, lightweight composite materials, worked well. Once again DARPA funded a prototype and Mr Karem again sold his company, this time to Boeing, in 2004.

“You need inventors who are dreaming and tinkering to make new things happen.”

Boeing’s version of the drone, developed without any further involvement from Mr Karem, can navigate and manoeuvre autonomously and holds a world record for rotorcraft endurance. It seems unlikely to enter service, however, after a number of embarrassing crashes. Particularly awkward were recent accidents that destroyed not one but two of DARPA’s next-generation eyes in the sky: a foliage-penetrating radar called Forester, and a system called Argus that snaps massive 1,800 megapixel images using hundreds of mobile-phone cameras.

Mr Karem makes no effort to hide his low opinion of the world’s largest aircraft manufacturers, and implies that the problem is managerial, not technological. “Incumbents have a problem creating anything that would compete with what they’re already doing,” he says. “You need inventors who are dreaming and tinkering to make new things happen.”

Now that drones are being built by hobbyists and spreading into non-military use, Mr Karem has moved on again. His latest aerospace start-up, Karem Aircraft, aims to bring the A160’s variable-speed rotor technology to fixed-wing passenger planes. AeroTrain is an aircraft capable of vertical take-off and landing. It is intended to compete with the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320, the workhorse narrow-bodied aircraft that dominate commercial aviation. Its twin turboprop rotors lift it off the ground like a helicopter before tilting forward for fuel-efficient horizontal flight. Its ability to operate from tiny airports makes the AeroTrain a cost-effective alternative to existing aircraft, Mr Karem insists, particularly for developing nations that lack road and rail infrastructure.

“Boeing and Airbus would not want to see AeroTrain happen,” he says. “But smaller guys like Embraer and Bombardier may be motivated to do something that is not only very different, but has patents that could keep the incumbents out for 30 years.” With his drones, Mr Karem has already revolutionised aviation once. As unlikely as AeroTrain sounds today, it would be foolish to discount the possibility that this ever-dreaming, ever-tinkering engineer might do so again.

Courtesy: The Economist

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Another Zionist Move Against Pakistan?


Zionist group to honor anti-Islam activists at Hotel Shangri-La


Hotel Shangri-La in Santa Monica

When the Muslim part-owner of a Santa Monica boutique hotel was found guilty last year of discriminating against a group of Jewish patrons, the hotel announced it would host a party for a Jewish group as part of its efforts to repair its reputation. Now, the Zionist group whose party is scheduled to take place at the hotel on Feb. 24 plans to use the occasion to present awards to two of the United States’ most outspoken anti-Islam activists — Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer.

Orit Arfa, former executive director of the Western Region of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), is organizing the party as a benefit for her new organization, Creative Zionist Coalition (CZC).

In August, a jury found the Hotel Shangri-La and its part-owner, Tehmina Adaya, guilty of discriminating in 2010 against 18 plaintiffs — most of them young Jews — when she disrupted a party organized by the local youth division of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces. In response to the verdict, Arfa and ZOA National Vice Chair Steve Goldberg announced plans to hold a protest outside the Shangri-La, but cancelled the protest when Adaya, who is of Pakistani descent, agreed to host a party at the hotel for leaders of the Jewish and pro-Israel community.

Earlier this month, lawyers for Adaya and the Shangri-La filed a motion requesting a retrial of the case, but the party planning appears to be proceeding unabated.

According to an email sent by Arfa on Jan. 18, the Feb. 24 event at the Shangri-La will be a costume party and “a celebration of Jewish heroism in the face of Jew-hatred,” taking place on the evening after Purim. At the event, Geller will receive the “Queen Esther Award for Jewish Heroism,” and Spencer will be honored as “Righteous Gentile.” Both are expected to attend, Arfa said.

A third award, named for Haman, the villain of the Purim story, was also announced in the Jan. 18 email; it will be presented in absentia to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, “for Jew-hating villainy.”

Geller is the prolific blogger who led opposition to the construction of an Islamic center in Lower Manhattan, which she dubbed “the Ground Zero Mosque.” She also made headlines in 2012 when one of her organizations, the American Freedom Defense Initiative, posted pro-Israel ads in the New York City subway system referring to enemies of the Jewish state as Jihadist “savages.”

Geller is a divisive figure in the Jewish community, as well. In June 2012, the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles barred Geller from delivering a speech about “Islamic Jew-Hatred” at a ZOA-sponsored event that had been scheduled to take place at its Wilshire Boulevard headquarters.

Arfa organized a protest outside the Federation building on the morning that Geller was prevented from speaking there. Subsequently, in November, Arfa was fired from her position at ZOA after internally questioning ZOA’s leadership’s decision to, in her words, “conceal” its loss of tax-exempt status earlier that year. The ZOA’s Western Region’s office, which had ben located in Federation headquarters, is currently in the process of relocating to San Francisco.

The ZOA, which has filed all the papers necessary for reinstatement of its tax-exempt status, had planned to co-sponsor the Shangri-La event with CZC, but it pulled its co-sponsorship a few weeks ago. Nevertheless, Goldberg said, plans for the party are moving ahead, and he said he does not expect any resistance from the hotel.

“They didn’t say, ‘We have to approve who’s going to come,’” Goldberg said. “The hotel’s actually been very cooperative.”

“What are they going to do?” he added, “say ‘This is too pro-Jewish?’ They’re going to throw another Jewish group out?”

Ellen Adelman, chief development officer at the Shangri-La said in an emailed statement that the hotel “is committed to enhancing understanding and cooperation between people of all backgrounds and cultures, and to embrace differences.

“Our hope is that we can come together and celebrate the theme of their party – Purim – a holiday designed to bring people together,” Adelman wrote.

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