Saturday, April 27, 2013

Fighting Season, Woot!

The Taliban has finally bothered to announce the beginning of 2013's Fighting Season/Spring Offensive. About time guys, I was getting worried; and as I mentioned, many a staff officer at ISAF Joint Command were getting all stressed about it.

Fighting Season officially begins tomorrow (Sunday) on April 28th, which corresponds to Afghanistan's "Mujahideen Victory Day" which is also observed on Sunday.

In other amusing Afghanistan news, today at lunch one of my colleagues was discussing how he doesn't want Afghanistan to change its culture, "Afghanistan is fine for Afghans. We shouldn't be trying to change anything. That's like walking into someone's house and stating, 'you should really change the color of those walls.'"

I responded with, "so we're somebody's annoying mother in law?"

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

UPDATE 2: My Probably Wrong Boston Marathon Attack Analysis

I've waited over a day to comment on the attack in Boston because I didn't want to jump to any sudden conclusions seeing how I've been so blatantly wrong in the past when it comes to terrorist attacks.

Having said that, my analysis is the attack was most likely domestic terrorism. The analysts here at the IJC that I've discussed the attack with also agree. From my perspective there's nothing for Al Qaida or any other major terrorist group to gain from conducting this attack. Yes, it was high profile, but it wasn't exactly set up to cause a lot of casualties. Al Qaida uses vehicles for their mass casualty attacks and targeting a bunch of marathon runners doesn't strike me as a tactic they would use. The point of Al Qaida's attacks are to either draw the West into a war that bleeds money and resources or causes US allies to abandon the mission. The Boston attack was just too small to be Al Qaida.

Which to me means it was most likely 3 or 4 individuals who are either not affiliated or only loosely affiliated with an organization in the US. They knew what they were doing; multiple bombs, placed in bags near where large crowds would be, and detonated by timers (maybe). I'm going to make another assessment: these guys, or the guy who made the bombs, were likely combat vets from Iraq or Afghanistan.

There is a third option. The perpetrators are not officially linked to Al Qaida or any other international terrorist group, but conducted the attack in their name or were influenced by Al Qaida.

In the meantime, an envelope sent to a Senator from Mississippi tested positive for Ricin. Coincidence?

The Pakistani Taliban (or TTP as we refer to them) has denied responsibility. Probably because they are focused on Pakistan and not the US and who attacks marathon runners anyway?

UPDATE: The ricin guy has been arrested in Mississippi. Apparrently it's not related to Boston. That's some good news I suppose.

UPDATE 2: Ok, how correct or incorrect was I? I claimed domestic terrorists, 3-4 individuals, no affiliation/loose affiliation, combat vets. Turns out it was 2 guys (so far, it would not shock me to learn that others were involved); it was domestic in a sense that it wasn't international terrorism but the brothers were only resident aliens, not full fledged citizens...I'll claim I'm half right on that point; no affiliation to any group so far; not combat vets.

Not great, but I didn't have much to go on. I'll admit I didn't see the Chechnyan angle at all but then I doubt anyone did.

As a side note, the Canadian analyst we have here is thinking that Russia may have been involved with this attack in some way. His reasoning is that the US made a big stink about Russian human rights abuses in their two Chechnyan wars. If Chechnyans attacked the US, then Russia could make the claim that Chechnya is a larger problem than it actually is and Russia is justified in their heavy-handedness. Chew on that for a bit.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

UPDATE: Yah! Another Acronym!

Remember back in March when I stated my belief that the Al Nusrah Front in Syria was likely just Al Qaida in Iraq?

Yeeeeaah, about that. It looks like I was correct for a change. Even a broke clock is right twice a day.

Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the leader/emir of Al Qaida in Iraq just announced that he is merging AQI, aka the Islamic State of Iraq, and the Al Nusrah Front. The new organizational name is al-Dawla al-Islamiyya fi al-’Iraq wa-l-Sham. Say that 10 times fast. Roughly translated it means "Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant." ISIL? Works for me.

The good news about this merger? We can blow them up. Al Nusrah/ISIL now falls under the  Authorization to Use Military Force or AUMF that governs military action in the "War On Terror"©; the 2002 Congressional authorization for the Iraq war is also still in place which would allow for targeting Al Nusrah/ISIL; and to add icing to the cake, the State Department added Al Nusrah as a terrorist organization back in December.

Enjoy your hellfires gentlemen.

UPDATE: That didn't last long. Apparently Abu Muhammad al Julani, the leader of the Al Nusrah Front, has rejected this merger and is swearing allegiance directly to Ayman al Zawahiri, the emir of Al Qaida. Infighting amongst Al Qaida leaders? How awful.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Winter Is...Not Coming For Awhile

For those of you who are not aware, Afghanistan has two unofficial seasons: Fighting and Winter. During the Winter months attacks by insurgents decrease significantly as many insurgent leaders leave Afghanistan to go hang out in Pakistan, leaving a few lower level guys to conduct the occasional attack in order to keep ISAF and ANSF on their toes. The reason for this is that snow blocks most of the mountain passes in the region making personnel and equipment movement challenging for everyone, even those with modern equipment. Fighting season begins once the snow melts and the insurgent leaders begin to return.

This year Winter was fairly mild with Kabul only seeing a few snowfalls and the snow accumulating only a few inches. The temperature began to rise in early March leading to a shorter Winter than usual.

So what?

The so what is that I'm now amused by all the leaders and analysts up here at IJC wondering when the Fighting Season will begin. They are sifting through intelligence reports looking for that announcement from insurgent leaders stating they are all returning and Fighting Season has begun.


Based on what I've seen the past couple of weeks, a Taliban assault on a government facility in Farah Province, attempts to take over Warduj District in Badakhshan Province, and the recent suicide attack against US personnel in Zabul Province...just to name a few...are pretty clear indicators that Winter is over and the Fighting Season has begun.

But I guess IJC just needs that Taliban memo. Maybe they announced it on Twitter.