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The official website of Paul Franklin: a father, veteran, activist, motivational speaker, and proud Canadian.

Monday, January 16, 2012

What would President Newt have done?

U.S. debated sending commandos into Iran to recover drone

 Dec 7, 2011 – 9:09 PM ET Last Updated: Dec 9, 2011 10:16 AM ET
REUTERS/Sepah News.ir/ Handout
REUTERS/Sepah News.ir/ Handout
A member of Iran's revolutionary guard pointing at the U.S. RQ-170 unmanned spy plane at an unknown location in Iran.
The U.S. considered sending in covert missions to Iran to recover a drone that crashed in the country, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The RQ-170 Sentinel, a high-altitude stealth drone known as the Beast of Kandahar, went down in Iran while on a surveillance mission. Iran said it shot the drone down, but the U.S. maintains it crashed due to a malfunction.

According to the Journal, U.S. officials considered sending in a commando team to recover the drone, sending in a team to blow it up or destroying the wreckage with an air strike.
Officials decided not to carry out the missions fearing it would be considered an act of war. It was hoped the drone had crashed in a remote part of Iran and therefore the remains would not be recovered.
A U.S. official said Wednesday that Iran would probably not be able to make use of the highly sophisticated technology found in the drone.
“U.S. capabilities are remarkably advanced, and it’s unclear that the Iranians have the expertise” to exploit the advanced know-how in the aircraft, the official said.
Meanwhile, U.S. President Barack Obama was accused Wednesday of coddling Iran by Republican White House hopefuls.
Mr. Obama “has immeasurably set back the prospect of peace in the Middle East,” former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney told Republican Jewish activists holding a forum in Washington.
“Ultimately, regime change is what’s going to be necessary” in Iran, Mr. Romney said, who called for “covert and overt” efforts to support the opposition to leaders in Tehran.
Mr. Romney won cheers when he declared that Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad “should be indicted for the crime of incitement to genocide” over anti-Israel remarks.
He accused Mr. Obama of having called on Israel to “adopt indefensible borders,” having “insulted” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and being “timid and weak in the face of the existential threat that Israel faces from Iran.”
Mr. Obama said in May that Middle East peace will ultimately require Israel to exist alongside a Palestinian state, based on shared territorial lines from before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war but modified with “mutually agreed” land swaps.
Former senator Rick Santorum, a long shot for the party’s nomination, noted Wednesday was the 70th anniversary of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor and likened Mr. Obama to politicians who appeased Germany’s Adolf Hitler.
“For every thug and hooligan, for every radical Islamist, [Obama] has had nothing but appeasement,” said Mr. Santorum. “We saw that in the run up to World War II.”
Former U.S. envoy to China Jon Huntsman said “it is time for the world to understand that we stand with Israel.”
Agence France-Presse, with files from news services

Pakistan Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud reportedly killed in U.S. drone attack

 Jan 15, 2012
REUTERS/Reuters TV/Files

By Jibran Ahmad
PESHAWAR, Pakistan – The leader of the Pakistani Taliban, the militant movement that poses the gravest security threat to the country, is believed to have been killed by a U.S. drone strike, four Pakistan intelligence officials told Reuters on Sunday.
The officials said they intercepted wireless radio chatter between Taliban fighters detailing how Hakimullah Mehsud was killed while travelling in a convoy to a meeting in the North Waziristan tribal region near the Afghan border.
A senior military official told Reuters there was no official confirmation that the Pakistani state’s deadliest enemy had been killed. The Pakistani Taliban issued a denial.
If Hakimullah did die, it could ease pressure on security forces, who have struggled to weaken the group, which is close to al Qaeda and has been blamed for many of the suicide bombings across one of the world’s most unstable countries.
But it may not ease violence in the long-term in Pakistan, which is seen as critical for U.S. efforts to fight global militancy, most crucially in neighbouring Afghanistan.
The death of Hakimullah’s predecessor Baitullah Mehsud in a drone strike in 2009 raised false hopes that the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) could be broken.
“Six to seven TTP members were talking to each other through wireless radio in the conversations we heard, talking about Hakimullah Mehsud being hit by a drone when he was heading to a meeting at a spot near Miranshah,” said one of the intelligence officials.
“They referred to him by his codename.”
Officials refused to disclose Mehsud’s codename.
“Based on our intercepts, Mehsud was heading to a meeting in Nawa Adda,” said another intelligence official. Nawa Adda is a village in the Dattakhel area of North Waziristan.
The Pakistani Taliban said Hakimullah was still alive, but their denial was far less assertive than one issued in 2010 after media reports said he had been killed in a drone strike.
“There is no truth in reports about his death. However, he is a human being and can die any time. He is a holy warrior and we will wish him martyrdom,” said TTP spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan.
“We will continue jihad if Hakimullah is alive or dead. There are so many lions in this jungle and one lion will replace another one to continue this noble mission.”
The TTP launched an insurgency in 2007 after the military began a major crackdown on militants.
Fighters were particularly incensed when Pakistani security forces stormed the Red Mosque complex run by hardline clerics in the capital Islamabad. The government said 102 people were killed in fighting in the incident.
The TTP delivered on threats to carry out revenge attacks in Pakistan after U.S. special forces killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in a secret raid in a Pakistani town in May last year.
More recently, some senior Taliban commanders said the umbrella group had started exploratory peace talks with the government. But it is not clear if all factions were on board.
Hakimullah was not only in danger of being killed by the drone campaign that President Barack Obama has escalated, or by Pakistani military operations. He and his powerful deputy Wali-ur-Rehman were at each other’s throats and hostilities were close to open warfare, Taliban sources say.
Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afganistan have been trying to sort out differences between Pakistani Taliban commanders so they can aid their fight against U.S.-led NATO forces across the border in Afghanistan.
Any division within the TTP could hinder the Afghan Taliban and al Qaeda’s struggle in Afghanistan against the United States and its allies, making it tougher to recruit young fighters and disrupting safe havens in Pakistan which Washington says are used by the Afghan militants.
Hakimullah, who has a sharp face framed by shaggy hair and a disarming grin, is considered to be one of the most ruthless Taliban commanders. He is also ambitious. Under his leadership, the Taliban have vowed to expand their violent campaign overseas to hit Western targets.
A suicide bombing at a U.S. base in Afghanistan’s Khost province in 2009 killed seven Central Intelligence Agency employees. In video footage released after the attack, the bomber was shown sitting with Hakimullah Mehsud.
Shortly afterwards the United States added the TTP to its list of foreign terrorist organisations and set rewards of up to $5 million for information leading to Hakimullah Mehsud or Wali-ur-Rehman.
A Pakistani-born American who tried to set off a car bomb in New York’s Times Square in 2010 told a U.S. court he received bomb-making training and funding from the Pakistani Taliban.

The Hindu Kush and the foothills of Kandahar 6 years ago

 A mountain historical perspective.  The Hindu Kush the foothills of the Himalayas....

The above picture comes from a magazine on the Mercedes Gwagen and talks about the PRT and the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan in 2005/ 2006.

The picture is a bit unique as it was 6 years ago to the day January 13, 2006 that the picture was taken atop a mountain outside of Kandahar city.  The very route that Alexander the Great took to enter the small town that would soon be known as Kandahar (Archosia it means Alexandria in an old Pashtun dialect) can be seen on the left of the picture...
Silver coin of Alexander the Great

I am standing behind the Canadian flag with a big grin on my face.... my comrades from B Company (Mountain), 3rd Battalion,  Princess Patricas Canadian Light Infantry are beside me.  The very vehicle (Jenna) that I would be attacked in on January 15, 2006 is in the small picture upper left.... it saved my life and the lives of Corporal Jeff Bailey, and Private William Salikin.

The mountain we climbed was difficult as the climb involved us carrying about 50 lbs of gear and weapons and the mountain itself was sharp and steep.

Flak Jacket, Kevlar Helmet, C8 rifles, 300 rounds of ammunition, grenades, medical bag, tactical vest, food and water.... others carried rescue equipment (ropes, etc), some carried radios, cameras, batteries and even light machine guns..

This is a cool Russian Map from during the Soviet times in Afghanistan and you can see how the city has grown..

An old Russian (1985) map (we didn't have up to date maps at the time) so we would sometimes use these old  maps.
The mountain climbed does not have a name on this  1940's map but can be found North of Kandahar City located at 5315 feet just north of the road that crosses a pass marked as Kotal- i - Morcha just south of the 910000 latitude line on the map.  Also interesting on this map is the feature marked as Old Kandahar which is a very steep hill just to the west of the city... that feature is the original castle (or fortification) that the Greek's built while here with Alexander the Great in 334 BCE.  Where many Canadians have been in combat with the Taliban is in a place called Panjawi and the old fort can be seen on this map just west of the city and south of the high features on the edge of the map on the left.
This map shows the battle of Kandahar from 1892... the mountain we climbed is just past the top right corner of this map... (the road is the one that you see behind us in the photograph running from the old city to the top)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Canada continues to support Southern Sudan

Canada's role in the Republic of South Sudan

Army News
As the people of South Sudan usher in a new era of independence, the CF are helping the nation transition to a safer, more secure future.

The independent Republic of South Sudan came into being July 9, 2011, after the people of South Sudan—98.3 percent of them—voted to separate from their northern neighbour. The UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) was established the same day to support peace consolidation and support the new government in providing security and justice while preventing, mitigating and resolving conflict.
Maj Jacques Dubé and his fellow UNMOs from Team Site Wau pose with village leaders and the village's largest cow, which has just been sacrificed to celebrate the successful conclusion of voting in the South Sudan referendum.
Maj Jacques Dubé and his fellow UNMOs from Team Site Wau pose with village leaders and the village's largest cow, which has just been sacrificed to celebrate the successful conclusion of voting in the South Sudan referendum.

In support of the new nation and the new UN mission, the CF formed Task Force Sudan, comprising 14 CF personnel who work with UNMISS. This Canadian contribution to UNMISS, under Operation SOPRANO, provides the UN with key staff officers at their force headquarters as well as military liaison officers spread throughout the Republic of South Sudan.

“Operation SOPRANO carries on the CF’s history of supporting peace and security in the region,” says Captain(N) Steve Virgin, Assistant Chief of Staff – International at Canadian Expeditionary Force Command HQ. “The Sudans are a priority mission. Our 14 CF personnel play an important role in the UN’s effort to consolidate peace and security in the Republic of South Sudan.”
The CF's Maj Ed Smith (left) and Lt(N) Peter Dibben, both UNMOs in Sudan, present the local Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army commander with a vehicle's worth of text books to help SPLA troops learn to read.
The CF's Maj Ed Smith (left) and Lt(N) Peter Dibben, both UNMOs in Sudan, present the local Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army commander with a vehicle's worth of text books to help SPLA troops learn to read.
With the exception of a brief period of peace from 1972 to 1983, the former Sudan was plagued with conflict after gaining its independence in 1956. Before South Sudan gained its independence in 2011, the former Sudan was Africa’s largest nation – ethnically diverse and richly endowed with natural resources, including oil. As a result of the almost continuous conflict, about 5.2 million people are displaced throughout the former Sudan. This includes 2.7 million in Darfur, 250,000 in the southern region of the former Sudan, and some 430,000 Sudanese refugees who fled to neighbouring states.

The free and fair referendum created the world's newest country Southern Sudan

It is within this context that the CF operated during 2011 on Op SAFARI. Under the mandate of the former UN Mission in Sudan and alongside allied nations, members of the Canadian contingent worked to observe and report on security matters that concerned Sudanese civilians, military personnel and government authorities. The CF played a pivotal role in the 2011 Independence Referendum, a six-year process originating from the former Sudan’s 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

“When the average Canadian thinks about elections in Africa, the mental picture is one of dispute, corruption, violence and even coups d’état,” says Lieutenant(N) Peter Dibben about his experience while serving in Sudan. “The long-awaited referendum on independence in South Sudan was widely expected to be more of the same, but the actual event was pleasantly peaceful.”
The referendum in Sudan had an extremely high voter turn-out – 100 percent in some areas.
“Our responsibilities were monitoring and verification; assessing the general security situation with respect to tribal, political and militia violence; and showing the UN presence,” says Capt Matthew Maxwell, who worked as a UN Military Observer. “These tasks were particularly important during the referendum period because the security situation had to be calm and peaceful so people would feel safe enough to go out and vote.”

Since 2006, the Canadian government contributed more than $885 million toward humanitarian assistance, development and peace-building in the former Sudan, including the ongoing Op SATURN in Darfur. With the mandate of UNMISS expected to be renewed in future years, Canada will remain a leader in the effort to find a lasting and peaceful solution to the conflicts in Sudan and South Sudan. Contributing to international peace and security is one of the core missions outlined in the Canada First Defence Strategy, and our ongoing effort in this region is yet another example of the Defence Team working toward this goal.

Iran nuclear scientist's death followed Israeli warning of 'unnatural' events

Israel implicated in a motorcycle attack in broad daylight with a magnetic bomb.   

US denies involvement in Iran scientist death (Source: Reuters)He is the fourth nuclear scientist to have been killed in three years, the second using a "sticky" bomb.  It looks like 2012 will be the year of un-natural deaths for Iranians involved in the nuclear program.
Killing of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan and Israeli military chief's words combine to revive speculation about covert war.
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 11 January 2012 

'This terrorist act was carried out by agents of the Zionist regime,' said the Iranian vice-president after the killing of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan. Photograph: KeystoneUSA-Zuma/Rex Features

The assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan came less than 24 hours after Israel's military chief warned that the Tehran regime could face "unnatural" events during the critical year ahead, fuelling speculation that the hand of the fabled Israeli intelligence service the Mossad was behind the latest attack.
Benny Gantz, the Israeli Defence Forces chief of staff, told a parliamentary committee: "For Iran, 2012 is a critical year in combining the continuation of its nuclearisation, internal changes in the Iranian leadership, continuing and growing pressure from the international community and things which take place in an unnatural manner."

These "unnatural" events are said to amount to a covert war aimed at hampering the development of Iran's nuclear capacity that has seen a series of mysterious assassinations and explosions in Iran over the past two years.

After the latest explosion, caused by magnetic bombs attached to the side of Roshan's car by an assailant on a motorcycle, the Iranian regime was quick to blame Israel. "This terrorist act was carried out by agents of the Zionist regime, with the aim of stopping our scientists," the vice-president, Mohammad Reza Rahimi, told state television.

Le Figaro, the French daily, swiftly weighed in with a report claiming that Israeli intelligence had recruited Iranian dissidents from Iraqi Kurdistan to gather information on Iran's nuclear programme and target its experts.

The Israeli government made no comment about the killing or suggestions that its agents were involved. "It's not our policy to comment on this sort of speculation," said a government official.
But normally talkative analysts and former officials were also saying little. "We've all read the same spy novels," one said laconically.

Ilan Mizrahi, former head of the national security council and an ex-deputy chief of the Mossad, said: "I'm not talking about the Mossad, or something that somebody somewhere thinks it has done. The Mossad is supposed to be behind everything from the tsunami to sharks in the Red Sea."
But suggestions of Israeli involvement are unlikely to go away. Two years ago on Thursday, an Iranian nuclear scientist was killed by a bomb outside his house in Tehran, and since than there have been three further mysterious deaths, including Roshan's, plus a series of unexplained explosions.

Previous assassination using the same magnetic bomb

Some believe this adds up to a secret war waged by Israel while it simultaneously presses the international community for tougher sanctions and prepares for a possible military strike.
The German news organisation Spiegel published a report last August quoting unnamed Israeli security sources saying the Jewish state was waging a covert war on Iran, suggesting the policy was being driven by the Mossad's new chief, Tamir Pardo, who took up his post on 1 January 2011.
Plume of smoke after the explosion at Bid Ganeh

Bid Ganeh explosion

Two months ago, the Mossad was speculatively linked to a blast at Bid Ganeh, an Iranian military facility, in which 17 people were killed. Time quoted a western intelligence source claiming it was the work of the Mossad, and saying: "There are more bullets in the magazine."
Also in November, the Iranian authorities said they had arrested 12 people they claimed were CIA agents working in liaison with the Mossad. Parviz Sorouri, a member of the Iranian government's foreign policy and national security committee, said: "The US and Zionist regime's espionage apparatuses were trying to damage Iran both from inside and outside with a heavy blow, using regional intelligence services. Fortunately, with swift reaction by the Iranian intelligence department, the actions failed to bear fruit."
However, as one Israeli official pointed out, disinformation obscured the true picture. "There is so much opacity, it's not possible to connect the dots," the official said. "I don't think we are the only ones interested in troubling Iran, and sometimes things are attributed to the usual suspects when it isn't necessarily so."

The Mossad has a long track record of meticulously planned covert operations and targeted assassinations outside Israel. It was suspected of killing Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a Hamas commander, in a Dubai hotel two years ago during an operation in which its agents used passports stolen and cloned from British, Irish and other citizens.

As well as targeting pro-Palestinian militants, the Mossad was also allegedly responsible for the death in 2008 of Muhammad Suleiman, reported to be the head of Syria's nuclear programme, who was shot dead from a boat while on a beach.

The Israeli government and security establishment never admits to its covert operations.
© 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Reuters photographer and Marine meet again in Helmand

MAR 22, 2010 05:50 IST

Almost two years ago, Reuters photographer Goran Tomasevic captured a dramatic shot of U.S. Marine Sergeant William Bee, from Wooster, Ohio, the moment a Taliban bullet hit a wall inches from this head.
In the photo Bee is just about holding on to his rifle as he is hit by a spray of rocks and dirt when the bullet hits a compound wall in front of him.
sgt bee1
goran and bee
When the photo was published by Reuters, in May 2008, it was picked up by several newspapers, widely distributed over the internet and has become one of the defining images of the war in Afghanistan.
Last month, en route to Marjah to cover the U.S. Marine-led operation in the town, Goran bumped into Bee for the first time since he took that photo. Bee was on Camp Dwyer, a large base home to mainly Marines in southern Helmand province. Bee was also on his way to Marjah with Alpha Company of the First Battalion, Sixth Marines.
“I was doing change over, getting dressed, getting washed, stuff like that. We heard one gun shot by one of the posts, I went over there to check and make sure it was alright. I’ve seen this guy, I drew down on him and the world went black. Then I came to, I was on a stretcher, everybody thought I got shot. But I was fine. Had a couple of Tylenol. Goran came up to me with a big smile on his face and said ‘dude, you got to see what I got’. That was pretty much it,” Bee said. “I was hoping Goran was out here, I like him a lot. He’s probably the best embed I’ve ever worked with, plus he gave us a shit load of cigarettes when we didn’t have any.”
At the time, Bee’s wife was seven months pregnant with their first child. The shock of seeing the picture sent her into false labour. ”My wife’s not too keen on having the prints up on the house.”
“I saw the picture about five or 10 minutes after it happened, I laughed, I thought it was hilarious … My wife had already seen the picture and knew it was me by the time I’d called her — so that was an interesting conversation.”
Asked if he has acquired any nicknames from his platoon on account of the photograph, Bee joked: “mostly ‘that dumb ass who wasn’t wearing his gear in the picture’.”