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FTR #1181 Terror, The Afghanistan War and the American Deep State, Part 1

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FTR #1181 This pro­gram was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment.

Intro­duc­tion: With Pres­i­dent Biden hav­ing announced the with­draw­al of U.S. com­bat forces from Afghanistan, we con­tem­plate the events that led to that involve­ment, espe­cial­ly ter­ror­ist inci­dents cul­mi­nat­ing in the 9/11 attack.

We rely on research done by the bril­liant, ven­er­a­ble Peter Dale Scott.

We begin by not­ing how cyn­i­cal the Deep State can be, act­ing with a com­plete dis­re­gard for Amer­i­can com­bat mil­i­tary per­son­nel: ” . . . . Just how sub­or­di­nat­ed offi­cial pol­i­cy could become to deep state needs was demon­strat­ed in Novem­ber 2001, when Cheney, at the request of [Pakistan’s head of state] Mushar­raf and the ISI [Pakistan’s pri­ma­ry intel­li­gence ser­vice], approved secret air­lifts to fer­ry sur­round­ed Pak­istani and high-lev­el al-Qae­da fight­ers out of Afghanistan, to safe­ty in Pak­istan. . . .”

In the tri­al of Ramzi Yousef, a lay-out of the ter­ror sce­nario that became the 9/11 attacks was on Youse­f’s lap­top, yet was nev­er brought to light.

Like­wise, the name of Khalid Shaikh Mohamed–dubbed the mas­ter­mind of the 9/11 and cur­rent­ly the focal point of ongo­ing legal proceedings–was all but omit­ted from Youse­f’s tri­al, despite his par­tic­i­pa­tion in the abort­ed “Oper­a­tion Bojin­ka” plot to blow up a num­ber of air­lin­ers over the Pacif­ic.

In our series, we note the exclu­sion of key par­tic­i­pants in the mur­der of extrem­ist Rab­bi Meir Kahane, which per­mit­ted co-con­spir­a­tors to par­tic­i­pate in the first World Trade Cen­ter attack in 1993 and Nairo­bi U.S. Embassy bomb­ings in 1998.

Among the prob­a­ble motives for these key, dead­ly omis­sions is the use of these Al-Qae­da, Mus­lim-Broth­er­hood derived ter­ror­ist ele­ments as proxy war­riors in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chech­nya and Uzbek­istan.

“. . . . In Triple Cross, Peter Lance, who does not men­tion KSM’s escape from Qatar, focus­es instead on the way that, lat­er in the same year, U.S. fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors kept his name out of the tri­al of Ramzi Yousef in con­nec­tion with the 1993 World Trade Cen­ter bomb­ing: “Assis­tant U.S. Attor­neys Mike Gar­cia and Diet­rich Snell pre­sent­ed a riv­et­ing, evi­dence-dri­ven case . . . and char­ac­ter­ized the mate­r­i­al retrieved from Ramzi’s Toshi­ba lap­top as ‘the most dev­as­tat­ing evi­dence of all. . . .’ . . . While Yousef’s lap­top . . . con­tained the full details of the plot lat­er exe­cut­ed on 9/11, not a word of that sce­nario was men­tioned dur­ing tri­al . . . . Most sur­pris­ing, dur­ing the entire sum­mer-long tri­al, the name of the fourth Bojin­ka con­spir­a­tor, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed . . . . was men­tioned by name only once, in ref­er­ence to a let­ter found in [Yousef’s apart­ment] . . . .”

Illus­trat­ing the machi­na­tions of what Pro­fes­sor Scott terms “The Amer­i­can Deep State” are the inter­ac­tions between Big Oil, Sul­li­van & Cromwell, the Dulles broth­ers and the Eisen­how­er admin­is­tra­tion to desta­bi­lize the Mossad­eq regime in Iran.

Key Points of Dis­cus­sion and Analy­sis Include: A let­ter writ­ten by Sul­li­van & Cromwell attor­ney John Fos­ter Dulles in the 1930s to a British col­league, cel­e­brat­ing car­tels and the tri­umph of inter­na­tion­al busi­ness­men in over­com­ing bar­ri­ers to geopo­lit­i­cal maneu­ver­ing erect­ed by “nation­al­ist” politi­cians; col­lab­o­ra­tion by the “Sev­en Sis­ters” of Big Oil (Stan­dard Oil of New Jer­sey [now Exxon], Stan­dard Oil of New York [now Mobil], Stan­dard Oil of Cal­i­for­nia [now Chevron], Gulf Oil, Tex­a­co, Roy­al Dutch Shell and Anglo-Iran­ian [now BP] in con­trol­ling the inter­na­tion­al oil busi­ness; a coop­er­a­tive effort by the Sev­en Sis­ters to suc­cess­ful­ly reduce Iran­ian oil pro­duc­tion from 241 mil­lion bar­rels a year in 1950 to 10.6 mil­lion bar­rels a year in 1952 in order to desta­bi­lize pre­mier Mossad­eq; Pro­fes­sor Scott’s point that the CIA’s over­throw of Mossad­eq in 1953 rep­re­sent­ed a “Deep State” real­iza­tion of the goal of the oil car­tel; the role of ARAMCO in the stran­gling of Iran­ian oil pro­duc­tion, off­set­ting the drop in Iran­ian pro­duc­tion by increas­ing its own; change of a Jus­tice Depart­ment suit against Big Oil from a crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ing to a civ­il suit pros­e­cut­ed by the Depart­ment of State; the pre­dictable res­o­lu­tion of that suit in favor of big oil; the fact that the oil car­tel was rep­re­sent­ed in that suit by Sul­li­van & Cromwell and John Fos­ter Dulles was in charge of the State Depart­ment; the fact that John Fos­ter Dulles’ broth­er and Sul­li­van & Cromwell asso­ciate Allen was in charge of the CIA at the same time and over­saw the removal of Mossad­eq; Allen Dulles’ suc­cess­ful gam­bit to side­step Pres­i­dent Eisen­how­er by secur­ing British Prime Min­is­ter Harold MacMil­lan as an exec­u­tive author­i­ty to dis­patch U‑2 flights..

The pro­gram con­cludes with delin­eation of U.S. gov­ern­ment pro­tec­tion of Jihadist ele­ments so that they could be used as proxy war­riors in ongo­ing covert oper­a­tions.

Key Points of Dis­cus­sion and Analy­sis Include: U.S. gov­ern­ment pro­tec­tion for Ali Mohamed, an al-Qae­da oper­a­tive who dou­bled as a Spe­cial Forces oper­a­tive train­ing muja­hadeen for com­bat oper­a­tions in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chech­nya among oth­er places; FBI agent John Zent’s com­mu­ni­ca­tion to the RCMP in Van­cou­ver, lead­ing to Mohamed’s release from cus­tody; Mohamed’s train­ing of muja­hadeen at the Al-Kifah Refugee Cen­ter in Brook­lyn; the assas­si­na­tion of extrem­ist Rab­bi Meir Kahane by trainees of Mohamed’s includ­ing El Sayyid Nosair; the FBI and New York Police Department’s cov­er-up of the par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Kahane killing of Nosair/Mohamed asso­ciates; the even­tu­al par­tic­i­pa­tion of some of those asso­ciates in the 1993 World Trade Cen­ter bomb­ing; the FBI’s sab­o­tage of New York Coun­ty Dis­trict Attor­ney Robert Morgenthau’s attempts to widen the inves­ti­ga­tion of the Al-Kifah milieu; the cen­tral role of Ali Mohamed’s Al-Kifah trainees in the 1993 World Trade Cen­ter bomb­ing.

1. We begin by not­ing how cyn­i­cal the Deep State can be, act­ing with a com­plete dis­re­gard for Amer­i­can com­bat mil­i­tary per­son­nel:

The Amer­i­can Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil and the Attack on Amer­i­can Democ­ra­cy by Peter Dale Scott; Copy­right 2015 by Peter Dale Scott; Row­man & Lit­tle­field [HC]; ISBN 978–1‑442‑1424‑8; p. 78.

. . . . Just how sub­or­di­nat­ed offi­cial pol­i­cy could become to deep state needs was demon­strat­ed in Novem­ber 2001, when Cheney, at the request of [Pakistan’s head of state] Mushar­raf and the ISI [Pakistan’s pri­ma­ry intel­li­gence ser­vice], approved secret air­lifts to fer­ry sur­round­ed Pak­istani and high-lev­el al-Qae­da fight­ers out of Afghanistan, to safe­ty in Pak­istan. (“Cheney took charge. . . . The approval was not shared with any­one at State, includ­ing Col­in Pow­ell, until well after the event. . . . Clear­ly the ISI was run­ning its own war against the Amer­i­cans.”) . . . .

2. In the tri­al of Ramzi Yousef, a lay-out of the ter­ror sce­nario that became the 9/11 attacks was on Youse­f’s lap­top, yet was nev­er brought to light.

Like­wise, the name of Khalid Shaikh Mohamed–dubbed the mas­ter­mind of the 9/11 and cur­rent­ly the focal point of ongo­ing legal proceedings–was all but omit­ted from Youse­f’s tri­al, despite his par­tic­i­pa­tion in the abort­ed “Oper­a­tion Bojin­ka” plot to blow up a num­ber of air­lin­ers over the Pacif­ic.

In our series, we note the exclu­sion of key par­tic­i­pants in the mur­der of extrem­ist Rab­bi Meir Kahane, which per­mit­ted co-con­spir­a­tors to par­tic­i­pate in the first World Trade Cen­ter attack in 1993 and Nairo­bi U.S. Embassy bomb­ings in 1998.

Among the prob­a­ble motives for these key, dead­ly omis­sions is the use of these Al-Qae­da, Mus­lim-Broth­er­hood derived ter­ror­ist ele­ments as proxy war­riors in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chech­nya and Uzbek­istan.

The Amer­i­can Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil and the Attack on Amer­i­can Democ­ra­cy by Peter Dale Scott; Copy­right 2015 by Peter Dale Scott; Row­man & Lit­tle­field [HC]; ISBN 978–1‑442‑1424‑8; p. 74.

. . . . In Triple Cross, Peter Lance, who does not men­tion KSM’s escape from Qatar, focus­es instead on the way that, lat­er in the same year, U.S. fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors kept his name out of the tri­al of Ramzi Yousef in con­nec­tion with the 1993 World Trade Cen­ter bomb­ing:

“Assis­tant U.S. Attor­neys Mike Gar­cia and Diet­rich Snell pre­sent­ed a riv­et­ing, evi­dence-dri­ven case . . . and char­ac­ter­ized the mate­r­i­al retrieved from Ramzi’s Toshi­ba lap­top as ‘the most dev­as­tat­ing evi­dence of all. . . .’ . . . While Yousef’s lap­top . . . con­tained the full details of the plot lat­er exe­cut­ed on 9/11, not a word of that sce­nario was men­tioned dur­ing tri­al . . . . Most sur­pris­ing, dur­ing the entire sum­mer-long tri­al, the name of the fourth Bojin­ka con­spir­a­tor, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed . . . . was men­tioned by name only once, in ref­er­ence to a let­ter found in [Yousef’s apart­ment] . . . .”

3. Illus­trat­ing the machi­na­tions of what Pro­fes­sor Scott terms “The Amer­i­can Deep State” are the inter­ac­tions between Big Oil, Sul­li­van & Cromwell, the Dulles broth­ers and the Eisen­how­er admin­is­tra­tion to desta­bi­lize the Mossad­eq regime in Iran.

The Amer­i­can Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil and the Attack on Amer­i­can Democ­ra­cy by Peter Dale             Scott; Row­man & Lit­tle­field [HC]; Copy­right 2015 by Pete Dale Scott; ISBN 978–1‑4422–1424‑8; pp.18–20.     

Key Points of Dis­cus­sion and Analy­sis Include: A let­ter writ­ten by Sul­li­van & Cromwell attor­ney John Fos­ter Dulles in the 1930s to a British col­league, cel­e­brat­ing car­tels and the tri­umph of inter­na­tion­al busi­ness­men in over­com­ing bar­ri­ers to geopo­lit­i­cal maneu­ver­ing erect­ed by “nation­al­ist” politi­cians; col­lab­o­ra­tion by the “Sev­en Sis­ters” of Big Oil (Stan­dard Oil of New Jer­sey [now Exxon], Stan­dard Oil of New York [now Mobil], Stan­dard Oil of Cal­i­for­nia [now Chevron], Gulf Oil, Tex­a­co, Roy­al Dutch Shell and Anglo-Iran­ian [now BP] in con­trol­ling the inter­na­tion­al oil busi­ness; a coop­er­a­tive effort by the Sev­en Sis­ters to suc­cess­ful­ly reduce Iran­ian oil pro­duc­tion from 241 mil­lion bar­rels a year in 1950 to 10.6 mil­lion bar­rels a year in 1952 in order to desta­bi­lize pre­mier Mossad­eq; Pro­fes­sor Scott’s point that the CIA’s over­throw of Mossad­eq in 1953 rep­re­sent­ed a “Deep State” real­iza­tion of the goal of the oil car­tel; the role of ARAMCO in the stran­gling of Iran­ian oil pro­duc­tion, off­set­ting the drop in Iran­ian pro­duc­tion by increas­ing its own; change of a Jus­tice Depart­ment suit against Big Oil from a crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ing to a civ­il suit pros­e­cut­ed by the Depart­ment of State; the pre­dictable res­o­lu­tion of that suit in favor of big oil; the fact that the oil car­tel was rep­re­sent­ed in that suit by Sul­li­van & Cromwell and John Fos­ter Dulles was in charge of the State Depart­ment; the fact that John Fos­ter Dulles’ broth­er and Sul­li­van & Cromwell asso­ciate Allen was in charge of the CIA at the same time and over­saw the removal of Mossad­eq; Allen Dulles’ suc­cess­ful gam­bit to side­step Pres­i­dent Eisen­how­er by secur­ing British Prime Min­is­ter Harold MacMil­lan as an exec­u­tive author­i­ty to dis­patch U‑2 flights..

4. The pro­gram con­tin­ues with delin­eation of U.S. gov­ern­ment pro­tec­tion of Jihadist ele­ments so that they could be used as proxy war­riors in ongo­ing covert oper­a­tions.

The Amer­i­can Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil and the Attack on Amer­i­can Democ­ra­cy  by Peter Dale Scott; Copy­right 2015 by Peter Dale Scott; Row­man & Lit­tle­field [HC]; ISBN 978–1‑442‑1424‑8; pp. 50–54.

Key Points of Dis­cus­sion and Analy­sis Include: U.S. gov­ern­ment pro­tec­tion for Ali Mohamed, an al-Qae­da oper­a­tive who dou­bled as a Spe­cial Forces oper­a­tive train­ing muja­hadeen for com­bat oper­a­tions in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chech­nya among oth­er places; FBI agent John Zent’s com­mu­ni­ca­tion to the RCMP in Van­cou­ver, lead­ing to Mohamed’s release from cus­tody; Mohamed’s train­ing of muja­hadeen at the Al-Kifah Refugee Cen­ter in Brook­lyn; the assas­si­na­tion of extrem­ist Rab­bi Meir Kahane by trainees of Mohamed’s includ­ing El Sayyid Nosair; the FBI and New York Police Department’s cov­er-up of the par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Kahane killing of Nosair/Mohamed asso­ciates; the even­tu­al par­tic­i­pa­tion of some of those asso­ciates in the 1993 World Trade Cen­ter bomb­ing; the FBI’s sab­o­tage of New York Coun­ty Dis­trict Attor­ney Robert Morgenthau’s attempts to widen the inves­ti­ga­tion of the Al-Kifah milieu; the cen­tral role of Ali Mohamed’s Al-Kifah trainees in the 1993 World Trade Cen­ter bomb­ing.

Discussion

13 comments for “FTR #1181 Terror, The Afghanistan War and the American Deep State, Part 1”

  1. Here’s a pair of recent sto­ries that, tak­en togeth­er, serve as a warn­ing that the US isn’t out of Afghanistan yet, and if there are any attempts to keep the US involved in that con­flict they are prob­a­bly going to have to be pret­ty sig­nif­i­cant:

    First, the US just release the intel­li­gence assess­ment of the ‘Russ­ian Afghan boun­ties’ sto­ry from July of 2020. It sounds like the ‘Afghan boun­ties’ claim had the lev­el of cred­i­bil­i­ty that it appeared to have when the sto­ry first broke last year. Which is to say very lit­tle cred­i­bil­i­ty. Recall how the ‘Russ­ian boun­ties’ appeared to be exclu­sive­ly based on the tes­ti­monies of pris­on­ers and leaked for the pri­ma­ry pur­pose of stalling a US with­draw­al. Well, while the new­ly released US intel­li­gence assess­ment does­n’t state that the sto­ry was con­coct­ed and trumped up for the pur­pose of keep­ing the US in Afghanistan, the assess­ment cer­tain­ly does­n’t do any­thing to dis­miss those sus­pi­cions either:

    The Dai­ly Beast

    U.S. Intel Walks Back Claim Rus­sians Put Boun­ties on Amer­i­can Troops

    It was a huge elec­tion-time sto­ry that prompt­ed cries of trea­son. But accord­ing to a new­ly dis­closed assess­ment, Don­ald Trump might have been right to call it a “hoax.”

    Adam Rawns­ley, Spencer Ack­er­man, and Asaw­in Sueb­saeng
    Updat­ed Apr. 15, 2021 8:54PM ET / Pub­lished Apr. 15, 2021 11:11AM ET

    It was a block­buster sto­ry about Russia’s return to the impe­r­i­al “Great Game” in Afghanistan. The Krem­lin had spread mon­ey around the long­time cen­tral Asian bat­tle­field for mil­i­tants to kill remain­ing U.S. forces. It sparked a mas­sive out­cry from Democ­rats and their #resis­tance ampli­fiers about the trea­so­nous Russ­ian pup­pet in the White House whose admi­ra­tion for Vladimir Putin had endan­gered Amer­i­can troops.

    But on Thurs­day, the Biden admin­is­tra­tion announced that U.S. intel­li­gence only had “low to mod­er­ate” con­fi­dence in the sto­ry after all. Trans­lat­ed from the jar­gon of spy­world, that means the intel­li­gence agen­cies have found the sto­ry is, at best, unproven—and pos­si­bly untrue.

    “The Unit­ed States intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty assess­es with low to mod­er­ate con­fi­dence that Russ­ian intel­li­gence offi­cers sought to encour­age Tal­iban attacks on U.S. and coali­tion per­son­nel in Afghanistan in 2019 and per­haps ear­li­er,” a senior admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial said.

    “This infor­ma­tion puts a bur­den on the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment to explain its actions and take steps to address this dis­turb­ing pat­tern of behav­ior,” the offi­cial said, indi­cat­ing that Biden is unpre­pared to walk the sto­ry back ful­ly.

    Sig­nif­i­cant­ly, the Biden team announced a raft of sanc­tions on Thurs­day. But those sanc­tions, tar­get­ing Russia’s sov­er­eign debt mar­ket, are prompt­ed only by Russia’s inter­fer­ence in the 2020 elec­tion and its alleged role in the Solar­Winds cyber espi­onage. (In con­trast, Biden admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials said that their assess­ment attribut­ing the breach of tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­ny Solar­Winds to hack­ers from Russia’s For­eign Intel­li­gence Ser­vice was “high con­fi­dence.”)

    “We have not­ed our con­clu­sion of the review that we con­duct­ed on the boun­ties issue and we have con­veyed through diplo­mat­ic, intel­li­gence, and mil­i­tary chan­nels strong, direct mes­sages on this issue, but we are not specif­i­cal­ly tying the actions we are tak­ing today to that mat­ter,” a senior admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial told reporters in ref­er­ence to the boun­ty claims.

    Accord­ing to the offi­cials on Thursday’s call, the report­ing about the alleged “boun­ties” came from “detainee reporting”–raising the specter that some­one told their U.S.-aligned Afghan jail­ers what they thought was nec­es­sary to get out of a cage. Specif­i­cal­ly, the offi­cial cit­ed “infor­ma­tion and evi­dence of con­nec­tions to crim­i­nal agents in Afghanistan and ele­ments of the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment” as sources for the intel­li­gence community’s assess­ment.

    With­out addi­tion­al cor­rob­o­ra­tion, such report­ing is noto­ri­ous­ly unre­li­able. Detainee report­ing from a man known as Ibn Shaikh al-Libi, extract­ed from tor­ture, infa­mous­ly and bogus­ly fueled a Bush admin­is­tra­tion claim, used to invade Iraq, about Sad­dam Hus­sein train­ing al Qae­da to make poi­son gas.

    The senior Biden offi­cial added on Thurs­day that the “dif­fi­cult oper­at­ing envi­ron­ment in Afghanistan” com­pli­cat­ed U.S. efforts to con­firm what amounts to a rumor.

    When asked whether Moscow put boun­ties on Amer­i­can forces in Afghanistan, press sec­re­tary Jen Psa­ki said at a press brief­ing on Thurs­day that the Biden admin­is­tra­tion “felt the reports were enough of a cause for con­cern that we want­ed our intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty to look into this report as a part of this over­all assess­ment.”

    Psa­ki reit­er­at­ed the intel­li­gence community’s low-to-mod­er­ate con­fi­dence in its assess­ment about pos­si­ble Russ­ian boun­ties but said that U.S. intel­li­gence had “high con­fi­dence” in a sep­a­rate assess­ment that Russ­ian mil­i­tary intel­li­gence offi­cers “man­age inter­ac­tion with indi­vid­u­als in Afghan crim­i­nal net­works” and that the “involve­ment of this... unit is con­sis­tent with Russia’s encour­ag­ing attacks against U.S. and coali­tion per­son­nel in Afghanistan.”

    “I am unsur­prised that the review led to a murky deter­mi­na­tion of low to mod­er­ate con­fi­dence. While it is clear that Rus­sia and oth­er adver­saries have been pro­vid­ing assis­tance to their prox­ies in Afghanistan, iden­ti­fy­ing type and amount of such assis­tance with great speci­fici­ty has been the per­sis­tent chal­lenge,” Jason Camp­bell, an Afghanistan pol­i­cy offi­cial in the Oba­ma Pen­ta­gon, told The Dai­ly Beast.

    There were rea­sons to doubt the sto­ry from the start. Not only did the ini­tial sto­ries empha­size its basis on detainee report­ing, but the boun­ties rep­re­sent­ed a qual­i­ta­tive shift in recent Russ­ian engage­ments with Afghan insur­gents. Russ­ian oper­a­tives have long been sus­pect­ed of mov­ing mon­ey to var­i­ous Afghan mil­i­tants: an out-of-favor for­mer Tal­iban offi­cial told The Dai­ly Beast on the record that Rus­sia gave them cash for years. But the Rus­sians had not been sus­pect­ed of spon­sor­ing attacks on U.S. forces outright–an esca­la­tion that risked con­fronta­tion with the U.S., and occur­ring long after it could have made a dif­fer­ence in the war.

    As well, there seemed to be no “causative link” to any actu­al U.S. deaths, in the judg­ment of Gen. Frank McKen­zie, the senior U.S. gen­er­al for the Mid­dle East and South Asia. For­mer U.S. diplo­mats and intel­li­gence offi­cers told The Dai­ly Beast last sum­mer that they viewed the boun­ties account skep­ti­cal­ly. One retired diplo­mat sus­pect­ed “some­one leaked this to slow down the troop with­draw­al.”

    Rarely dis­cussed was the main rea­son to believe the sto­ry: the CIA actu­al­ly did fund Afghan gueril­las to kill Russ­ian forces dur­ing the Sovi­et occu­pa­tion of Afghanistan of the 1980s.

    The Pen­ta­gon said at the time that its mas­sive intel­li­gence appa­ra­tus, which includes both bat­tle­field intel­li­gence and the world’s most sophis­ti­cat­ed sur­veil­lance net­work, did not gen­er­ate the boun­ties sto­ry. In Sep­tem­ber, McKen­zie said that the intel­li­gence remained uncor­rob­o­rat­ed. “It just has not been proved to a lev­el of cer­tain­ty that sat­is­fies me,” he told NBC News.

    In the weeks fol­low­ing the exis­tence of the uncor­rob­o­rat­ed Russ­ian-boun­ty intel first break­ing in The New York Times last sum­mer, then-Pres­i­dent Trump would repeat­ed­ly demand in closed-door meet­ings that who­ev­er leaked the infor­ma­tion be found, pun­ished, or even “locked up,” accord­ing to sources and for­mer admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials with knowl­edge of what tran­spired at the time.

    The ini­tial set of Times boun­ty arti­cles caught a num­ber of senior White House staffers off-guard at first, who scram­bled to fig­ure out what was going on. One of the then-pres­i­den­t’s ini­tial instincts was, nat­u­ral­ly, that this was relayed to the press to make him look bad, and he would tell five indi­vid­u­als close to him that it fur­ther con­vinced him that the Unit­ed States should pull its forces out of Afghanistan.

    But in var­i­ous meet­ings at the White House and in pri­vate con­ver­sa­tions that fol­lowed that sum­mer, Trump would con­tin­ue to spec­u­late on how or why this could have end­ed up in the media, three peo­ple famil­iar with the mat­ter said. At times, he said he believed it was done by offi­cials who want­ed Joe Biden to win the 2020 elec­tion, or who want­ed to stay and fight in Afghanistan “for­ev­er.” He demand­ed to know who in the CIA or intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty could have pos­si­bly done this to him.

    At at least one point that sum­mer, Trump men­tioned that he’d heard that the intel could have been “total­ly pho­ny” or man­u­fac­tured because it could have been drawn from intel sources who did­n’t know what they were talk­ing about, mak­ing up wild tales, or say­ing any­thing after some­one had “kicked the crap out of them.”

    That last spec­u­la­tion sur­prised, or some­what con­fused, two of the sources who were famil­iar with the com­ment at the time, if only because Trump had repeat­ed­ly said for years that tor­ture “absolute­ly works” and that the Unit­ed States should revive water­board­ing and oth­er bru­tal mea­sures against ter­ror sus­pects. “It real­ly sound­ed like the [then-]president was just grab­bing for any­thing he could say,” one of these peo­ple recalled. “He was told by admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials that the report­ing was based on unver­i­fied claims, and he spun from that, I think.”

    ...

    ———–

    “U.S. Intel Walks Back Claim Rus­sians Put Boun­ties on Amer­i­can Troop­s­The Dai­ly Beast” by Adam Rawns­ley, Spencer Ack­er­man, and Asaw­in Sueb­saeng; The Dai­ly Beast; 04/15/2021

    “But on Thurs­day, the Biden admin­is­tra­tion announced that U.S. intel­li­gence only had “low to mod­er­ate” con­fi­dence in the sto­ry after all. Trans­lat­ed from the jar­gon of spy­world, that means the intel­li­gence agen­cies have found the sto­ry is, at best, unproven—and pos­si­bly untrue.

    Yes, the ‘Russ­ian boun­ties’ report was based on pris­on­er accounts. ONLY pris­on­er accounts, which is why there are so many con­cerns about the cred­i­bil­i­ty of the report. ‘Detainee report­ing’ is noto­ri­ous­ly unre­li­able. It’s part of what peo­ple were sus­pi­cious about in the first place and why the aggres­sive push­ing of this ques­tion­ably sourced report had the appear­ance of stunt to force then-pres­i­dent Trump into post­pon­ing the announced with­draw­al:

    ...
    Accord­ing to the offi­cials on Thursday’s call, the report­ing about the alleged “boun­ties” came from “detainee reporting”–raising the specter that some­one told their U.S.-aligned Afghan jail­ers what they thought was nec­es­sary to get out of a cage. Specif­i­cal­ly, the offi­cial cit­ed “infor­ma­tion and evi­dence of con­nec­tions to crim­i­nal agents in Afghanistan and ele­ments of the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment” as sources for the intel­li­gence community’s assess­ment.

    With­out addi­tion­al cor­rob­o­ra­tion, such report­ing is noto­ri­ous­ly unre­li­able. Detainee report­ing from a man known as Ibn Shaikh al-Libi, extract­ed from tor­ture, infa­mous­ly and bogus­ly fueled a Bush admin­is­tra­tion claim, used to invade Iraq, about Sad­dam Hus­sein train­ing al Qae­da to make poi­son gas.

    ...

    There were rea­sons to doubt the sto­ry from the start. Not only did the ini­tial sto­ries empha­size its basis on detainee report­ing, but the boun­ties rep­re­sent­ed a qual­i­ta­tive shift in recent Russ­ian engage­ments with Afghan insur­gents. Russ­ian oper­a­tives have long been sus­pect­ed of mov­ing mon­ey to var­i­ous Afghan mil­i­tants: an out-of-favor for­mer Tal­iban offi­cial told The Dai­ly Beast on the record that Rus­sia gave them cash for years. But the Rus­sians had not been sus­pect­ed of spon­sor­ing attacks on U.S. forces outright–an esca­la­tion that risked con­fronta­tion with the U.S., and occur­ring long after it could have made a dif­fer­ence in the war.

    As well, there seemed to be no “causative link” to any actu­al U.S. deaths, in the judg­ment of Gen. Frank McKen­zie, the senior U.S. gen­er­al for the Mid­dle East and South Asia. For­mer U.S. diplo­mats and intel­li­gence offi­cers told The Dai­ly Beast last sum­mer that they viewed the boun­ties account skep­ti­cal­ly. One retired diplo­mat sus­pect­ed “some­one leaked this to slow down the troop with­draw­al.”
    ...

    All in all, this sto­ry is fur­ther con­fir­ma­tion that there is sig­nif­i­cant resis­tance inside the Pen­ta­gon to leav­ing Afghanistan and efforts will be made to keep the US in that con­flict. And that brings us to the fol­low­ing arti­cle describ­ing the behind-the-scenes lob­by­ing efforts under­way by the Pen­ta­gon to con­vince Pres­i­dent Biden to stay in Afghanistan. Efforts that ulti­mate­ly failed, in part due to Biden’s expe­ri­ence deal­ing with this exact same kind of behind-the-scenes lob­by­ing by the Pen­ta­gon to keep the US in Afghanistan while serv­ing as Barack Oba­ma’s vice pres­i­dent.

    Accord­ing to this report, the Pen­ta­gon was hop­ing to once again con­vince the new pres­i­dent to only with­draw troops when secu­ri­ty con­di­tions are met, which is basi­cal­ly a license to occu­py the coun­try for­ev­er. But Biden remained res­olute and deter­mined to order a Sept 11, 2021 with­draw­al date no mat­ter the con­di­tions on the ground. So Biden appears to have drawn a line in the sand indi­cat­ing that dete­ri­o­rat­ing secu­ri­ty con­di­tions on the ground will NOT be used as a pre­text for keep­ing US troops in the coun­try. So if there’s going to be any more ‘intel­li­gence assess­ment’ like the ‘Russ­ian boun­ties’ stunt intent on chang­ing Biden’s mind, it’s going to have to be one hel­lu­va intel­li­gence assess­ment:

    The New York Times

    Debat­ing Exit From Afghanistan, Biden Reject­ed Gen­er­als’ Views

    Over two decades of war, the Pen­ta­gon had fend­ed off the polit­i­cal instincts of elect­ed lead­ers frus­trat­ed with the grind of Afghanistan. But Pres­i­dent Biden refused to be per­suad­ed.

    By Helene Coop­er, Eric Schmitt and David E. Sanger
    April 17, 2021

    WASHINGTON — Pres­i­dent Biden used his dai­ly nation­al secu­ri­ty brief­ing on the morn­ing of April 6 to deliv­er the news that his senior mil­i­tary lead­ers sus­pect­ed was com­ing. He want­ed all Amer­i­can troops out of Afghanistan by Sept. 11, the 20th anniver­sary of the attacks on New York and the Pen­ta­gon.

    In the Oval Office, Defense Sec­re­tary Lloyd J. Austin III and Gen. Mark A. Mil­ley, the chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, want­ed to make cer­tain. “I take what you said as a deci­sion, sir,” Gen­er­al Mil­ley said, accord­ing to offi­cials with knowl­edge of the meet­ing. “Is that cor­rect, Mr. Pres­i­dent?”

    It was.

    Over two decades of war that spanned four pres­i­dents, the Pen­ta­gon had always man­aged to fend off the polit­i­cal instincts of elect­ed lead­ers frus­trat­ed with the grind of Afghanistan, as com­man­ders repeat­ed­ly request­ed more time and more troops. Even as the num­ber of Amer­i­can forces in Afghanistan steadi­ly decreased to the 2,500 who still remained, Defense Depart­ment lead­ers still cob­bled togeth­er a mil­i­tary effort that man­aged to pro­tect the Unit­ed States from ter­ror­ist attacks even as it failed, spec­tac­u­lar­ly, to defeat the Tal­iban in a place that has crushed for­eign occu­piers for 2,000 years.

    The cur­rent mil­i­tary lead­er­ship hoped it, too, could con­vince a new pres­i­dent to main­tain at least a mod­est troop pres­ence, try­ing to talk Mr. Biden into keep­ing a resid­ual force and set­ting con­di­tions on any with­draw­al. But Mr. Biden refused to be per­suad­ed.

    The two Pen­ta­gon lead­ers stood before Mr. Biden near the same Res­olute Desk where Pres­i­dent George W. Bush reviewed plans in 2001 to send in elite Spe­cial Oper­a­tions troops to hunt for Osama bin Laden only to see him melt over the bor­der into Pak­istan. It was the same desk where Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma decid­ed on a surge of forces in 2009, fol­lowed by a rapid draw­down, only to dis­cov­er that the Afghan mil­i­tary was not able to defend itself despite bil­lions of dol­lars in train­ing. It was there that Pres­i­dent Don­ald J. Trump declared that all Amer­i­can troops were com­ing home — but nev­er car­ried through a plan to do so.

    There would be no con­di­tions put on the with­draw­al, Mr. Biden told the men, cut­ting off the last thread — one that had worked with Mr. Trump — and that Mr. Austin and Gen­er­al Mil­ley hoped could stave off a full draw­down.

    They were told, Zero meant zero.

    In that moment, the war — which had been debat­ed across four pres­i­dents, pros­e­cut­ed with thou­sands of com­man­do raids, cost 2,400 Amer­i­can fatal­i­ties and 20,000 injured, with progress nev­er quite being made — began its final chap­ter. It will be over, Mr. Biden has promised, by the 20th anniver­sary of the attacks that stunned the world and led to more than 13,000 airstrikes.

    How this last chap­ter of the Amer­i­can adven­ture in Afghanistan will end is a sto­ry that remains to be writ­ten.

    For Mr. Biden, the specter of heli­copters evac­u­at­ing the strand­ed, as hap­pened in Viet­nam in 1975, or Amer­i­can hostages being exe­cut­ed by Islamist mil­i­tants clad in black, as hap­pened in Syr­ia in 2014, looms large. “We’ve seen this movie before,” Mr. Austin warned the pres­i­dent dur­ing one of sev­er­al meet­ings at the White House before Mr. Biden made his deci­sion.

    But Mr. Biden had sat through hun­dreds of brief­in­gs on Afghanistan dur­ing his years as a sen­a­tor, a vice pres­i­dent, a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date and a pres­i­dent-elect. Few if any of the advis­ers who joined him for four big Afghanistan pol­i­cy debates could tell him any­thing that he had not heard before.

    For the pres­i­dent, it came down to a sim­ple choice, accord­ing to offi­cials with knowl­edge of the debate: Acknowl­edge that the Afghan gov­ern­ment and its frag­ile secu­ri­ty forces would need an Amer­i­can troop pres­ence to prop them up indef­i­nite­ly, or leave.

    “No one wants to say that we should be in Afghanistan for­ev­er, but they insist now is not the right moment to leave,” Mr. Biden said in announc­ing his deci­sion on Wednes­day. “So when will it be the right moment to leave? One more year? Two more years? Ten more years?”

    The sto­ry of how Mr. Biden decid­ed to end the Amer­i­can war in Afghanistan should sur­prise no one who has spent more than 10 min­utes in his com­pa­ny over the past two decades. Yes, he had joined 97 oth­er sen­a­tors on Sept. 14, 2001, to vote in favor of going to war in Afghanistan. He had even been in favor of the Iraq war the next year.

    But Mr. Biden turned on both endeav­ors and told any­one who would lis­ten, in expos­i­to­ry speech­es that some­times last­ed for hours. In 2008, dur­ing vis­its to Afghanistan as chair­man of the Sen­ate For­eign Rela­tions Com­mit­tee, he “found con­fu­sion at all lev­els about our strat­e­gy and objec­tives,” Robert M. Gates, the for­mer defense sec­re­tary, wrote in a mem­oir, “Duty.” Mr. Biden was so frus­trat­ed with the Afghan lead­er­ship, Mr. Gates added, that he once threw down his nap­kin and walked out of a din­ner with Pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai.

    As vice pres­i­dent, Mr. Biden clashed with the Pen­ta­gon, includ­ing Mr. Gates, and Sec­re­tary of State Hillary Clin­ton about troop lev­els in the coun­try, argu­ing for bring­ing them down to a min­i­mal coun­tert­er­ror­ism force. (He lost that bat­tle.) And Mr. Biden was furi­ous, Mr. Oba­ma report­ed in his mem­oir, at gen­er­als who were try­ing to force a deci­sion to com­mit addi­tion­al troops with leaks say­ing that if more were not sent, the result would be mis­sion fail­ure.

    Mr. Oba­ma wrote that Mr. Biden used a vivid epi­thet and warned him about gen­er­als who “are try­ing to box in a new pres­i­dent.” The vice pres­i­dent leaned for­ward, putting his face “a few inch­es from mine and stage-whis­pered, ‘Don’t let them jam you,’ ” Mr. Oba­ma recalled.

    Indeed, a qui­et lob­by­ing cam­paign by top Pen­ta­gon offi­cials and region­al com­man­ders to keep a small coun­tert­er­ror­ism force in Afghanistan for a few more years, if not longer, start­ed soon after Mr. Biden took office in Jan­u­ary.

    Mil­i­tary offi­cials who had become frus­trat­ed with deal­ing with Mr. Trump, an unpre­dictable pres­i­dent who often blind­sided them with tweets stat­ing that Amer­i­can troops would be com­ing home from one mil­i­tary engage­ment or anoth­er, said the chance to deal with a pres­i­dent who would actu­al­ly fol­low a pol­i­cy process before announc­ing a deci­sion was a wel­come one. But they also knew from the start that the meth­ods they had employed with Mr. Trump were like­ly to no longer work.

    The Defense Depart­ment had fend­ed off an effort by Mr. Trump to abrupt­ly pull out all remain­ing U.S. troops by last Christ­mas. Mr. Trump even­tu­al­ly ordered the force cut rough­ly in half — to 2,500, the small­est pres­ence in Afghanistan envi­sioned by Amer­i­can coun­tert­er­ror­ism plan­ners, from 4,500.

    In the new pres­i­dent, Pen­ta­gon offi­cials and top com­man­ders were hold­ing on to the hope that because Mr. Biden had cam­paigned dur­ing the Oba­ma years to keep a small coun­tert­er­ror­ism force in Afghanistan (as opposed to 100,000 troops), they might have a more sym­pa­thet­ic ear.

    Short­ly after Mr. Austin was sworn in on Jan. 22, two days after the inau­gu­ra­tion, he, Gen­er­al Mil­ley and two top mil­i­tary offi­cers — Gen. Austin S. Miller, the com­man­der of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and Gen. Ken­neth F. McKen­zie Jr., the head of the military’s Cen­tral Com­mand, were in lock step in rec­om­mend­ing that about 3,000 to 4,500 troops stay in Afghanistan.

    The Pentagon’s behind-the-scenes effort got a lift from a con­gres­sion­al­ly appoint­ed pan­el led by a friend of all four men: Gen. Joseph F. Dun­ford Jr., a retired four-star Marine gen­er­al who was also a for­mer top com­man­der in Afghanistan and past chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. On Feb. 3, it rec­om­mend­ed that the Biden admin­is­tra­tion should aban­don the May 1 exit dead­line nego­ti­at­ed with the Tal­iban and instead reduce Amer­i­can forces fur­ther only as secu­ri­ty con­di­tions improved.

    The report by the Afghanistan Study Group, a bipar­ti­san pan­el exam­in­ing the peace deal reached in Feb­ru­ary 2020 under the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, found that with­draw­ing troops based on a strict time­line, rather than how well the Tal­iban adhered to the agree­ment to reduce vio­lence and improve secu­ri­ty, risked the sta­bil­i­ty of the coun­try and a poten­tial civ­il war once inter­na­tion­al forces left.

    The pan­el said that experts told it that 4,500 Amer­i­can troops, the num­ber in Afghanistan last fall, was the right fig­ure.

    But send­ing addi­tion­al troops to Afghanistan went against every­thing Mr. Biden had advo­cat­ed over the years. Even before he was elect­ed, his staff had begun exam­in­ing force lev­els in Afghanistan, and, more impor­tant, what they could accom­plish. There were teams of for­eign pol­i­cy spe­cial­ists, all out of pow­er for a num­ber of years, look­ing anew at Afghanistan — and ask­ing the ques­tion of what would hap­pen if all Amer­i­can troops were pulled out.

    The Pen­ta­gon effort received anoth­er set­back when Mr. Biden’s new direc­tor of nation­al intel­li­gence, Avril D. Haines, con­veyed intel­li­gence assess­ments that the nexus of ter­ror­ism had shift­ed from Afghanistan to Africa and oth­er havens. That raised the ques­tion: Was the Unit­ed States mass­ing its forces for a 2001 threat or a 2021 threat?

    But Ms. Haines and the new­ly con­firmed C.I.A. direc­tor, William J. Burns, were also clear that if Mr. Biden decid­ed to pull out, there would be costs to intel­li­gence col­lec­tion. On Wednes­day, pre­sent­ing the government’s annu­al threat assess­ment to the Sen­ate Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, Mr. Burns said: “When the time comes for the U.S. mil­i­tary to with­draw, the U.S. government’s abil­i­ty to col­lect and act on threats will dimin­ish. That is sim­ply a fact.”

    There was anoth­er wor­ry cir­cu­lat­ing in the White House, the Pen­ta­gon and intel­li­gence agen­cies. They feared that once the Unit­ed States left, it was only a mat­ter of time — maybe months, maybe years — until Kab­ul fell. The dis­cus­sion, one par­tic­i­pant said, remind­ed him of accounts he had read of the deci­sion-mak­ing over troops exit­ing Viet­nam in 1973. Then, the Nixon admin­is­tra­tion was seek­ing a “decent inter­val,” to use the phrase at the time, before the fall of the Saigon gov­ern­ment. It turned out the inter­val was a lit­tle more than two years, before peo­ple were evac­u­at­ed from a rooftop 46 years ago, cap­tured in a pho­to­graph that came to sym­bol­ize the fail­ure.

    The par­tic­i­pant said the dis­cus­sions on Afghanistan in the con­text of the col­lapse of South Viet­nam were eerie.

    But Mr. Biden argued that if Kab­ul were to be attacked, there was not much a mere 3,000 Amer­i­can troops in the coun­try could do about it. And as long as they were there, wouldn’t the Afghan gov­ern­ment have lit­tle rea­son to become self-reliant for its own defense?

    As the pol­i­cy debate extend­ed into March, Biden admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials said they grew alarmed at news reports that sug­gest­ed the lengthy debate meant that troops would stay.

    At meet­ings of the North Atlantic Treaty Orga­ni­za­tion in Brus­sels on March 23 and 24, Sec­re­tary of State Antony J. Blinken sought to put allies on notice that they should start think­ing about how to con­duct with­drawals of their own troops in Afghanistan, a com­bat dis­en­gage­ment that the Pen­ta­gon describes as a “mil­i­tary ret­ro­grade oper­a­tion.” Such move­ments often — as they are now — require send­ing addi­tion­al troops to make sure that the depart­ing forces can get out safe­ly.

    For Pen­ta­gon offi­cials, it was start­ing to become clear that their efforts would fall short this time. But offi­cials insist­ed that through­out the process, Mr. Biden heard them out.

    “What I can tell you is this was an inclu­sive process, and their voic­es were heard and their con­cerns tak­en into con­sid­er­a­tion as the Pres­i­dent made his deci­sion,” Mr. Austin told reporters in Brus­sels on Wednes­day, refer­ring to the gen­er­als.

    “But now that the deci­sion has been made, I call upon them to lead their forces through this effort, through this tran­si­tion,” Mr. Austin said. “And know­ing them all very well, as I do, I have every con­fi­dence that they will in fact lead their forces through this effort.”

    Amer­i­can offi­cials said on Sat­ur­day that orders for the remain­ing troops to start leav­ing could be issued in the next few days. If they face no threats from the Tal­iban, the forces could be com­plete­ly with­drawn well before the Sept. 11 dead­line, the offi­cials said.

    ...

    ———-

    “Debat­ing Exit From Afghanistan, Biden Reject­ed Gen­er­als’ Views” By Helene Coop­er, Eric Schmitt and David E. Sanger; The New York Times; 04/17/2021

    “Amer­i­can offi­cials said on Sat­ur­day that orders for the remain­ing troops to start leav­ing could be issued in the next few days. If they face no threats from the Tal­iban, the forces could be com­plete­ly with­drawn well before the Sept. 11 dead­line, the offi­cials said.

    IF they face not threats from the Tal­iban, coali­tion forces could be com­plete­ly with­drawn well before the Sept 11 dead­line. It’s the kind of opti­mistic pre­dic­tion that rais­es the ques­tion: so what hap­pens if there ARE threats from the Tal­iban? Or at least threats attrib­uted to the Tal­iban via intel­li­gence assess­ments? What hap­pens to the with­draw­al plans then?

    ...
    The sto­ry of how Mr. Biden decid­ed to end the Amer­i­can war in Afghanistan should sur­prise no one who has spent more than 10 min­utes in his com­pa­ny over the past two decades. Yes, he had joined 97 oth­er sen­a­tors on Sept. 14, 2001, to vote in favor of going to war in Afghanistan. He had even been in favor of the Iraq war the next year.

    But Mr. Biden turned on both endeav­ors and told any­one who would lis­ten, in expos­i­to­ry speech­es that some­times last­ed for hours. In 2008, dur­ing vis­its to Afghanistan as chair­man of the Sen­ate For­eign Rela­tions Com­mit­tee, he “found con­fu­sion at all lev­els about our strat­e­gy and objec­tives,” Robert M. Gates, the for­mer defense sec­re­tary, wrote in a mem­oir, “Duty.” Mr. Biden was so frus­trat­ed with the Afghan lead­er­ship, Mr. Gates added, that he once threw down his nap­kin and walked out of a din­ner with Pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai.

    As vice pres­i­dent, Mr. Biden clashed with the Pen­ta­gon, includ­ing Mr. Gates, and Sec­re­tary of State Hillary Clin­ton about troop lev­els in the coun­try, argu­ing for bring­ing them down to a min­i­mal coun­tert­er­ror­ism force. (He lost that bat­tle.) And Mr. Biden was furi­ous, Mr. Oba­ma report­ed in his mem­oir, at gen­er­als who were try­ing to force a deci­sion to com­mit addi­tion­al troops with leaks say­ing that if more were not sent, the result would be mis­sion fail­ure.

    Mr. Oba­ma wrote that Mr. Biden used a vivid epi­thet and warned him about gen­er­als who “are try­ing to box in a new pres­i­dent.” The vice pres­i­dent leaned for­ward, putting his face “a few inch­es from mine and stage-whis­pered, ‘Don’t let them jam you,’ ” Mr. Oba­ma recalled.
    ...

    “Don’t let them jam you.” That was the warn­ing Biden had for Barack Oba­ma. And it’s that fear of get­ting ‘jammed’ by the gen­er­als into main­tain­ing the occu­pa­tion that appears to be ani­mat­ing the Biden admin­is­tra­tion’s rapid with­draw­al with­out con­di­tions. Because now it’s Biden’s turn to get jammed.

    So what would it take to ‘jam’ Biden on this issue? It’s the kind of ques­tion a whole lot of dif­fer­ent actors have to be ask­ing them­selves at this point. And based on what we’ve seen in those two arti­cle excerpts, it’s going to take more than just a new ver­sion of the ‘Russ­ian boun­ties’ sto­ry. It’s a good news/bad news sit­u­a­tion: it does­n’t sound like it’s going to be easy to con­vince Biden to stay in Afghanistan. But it does­n’t have to be easy. Dif­fi­cult, wild schemes that involve a lot of may­hem could poten­tial­ly work too.

    It points towards one of the dark ironies of this moment for the peo­ple of Afghanistan: while doom obvi­ous­ly looms for those fac­ing the bru­tal­i­ty of the Tal­iban, it’s this peri­od right before the Tal­iban is allowed to bru­tal­ly take com­plete con­trol that could end up being the most pre­car­i­ous.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 20, 2021, 4:05 pm
  2. In light of Pres­i­dent Biden’s announced US pull-out from Afghanistan, and the result­ing incen­tive this announce­ment gives to any actors who want to see the US remain in Afghanistan to do some­thing that will force the US to reverse this deci­sion and remain in the coun­try, it’s worth not­ing a sto­ry from a few months ago that large­ly slipped through the cracks:

    Cole James Bridges, a US sol­dier sta­tioned out of Fort Stew­art, Geor­gia, was arrest­ed in Jan­u­ary for com­mu­ni­cat­ing with indi­vid­u­als he thought were mem­bers of the ISIS. Bridges passed along what are described as detailed instruc­tions on tac­tics and man­u­als and advice about attack­ing the 9/11 memo­r­i­al and oth­er tar­gets in New York City. So this was a planned attack on the 9/11 memo­r­i­al around the same time the US is plan­ning on pulling out of Afghanistan by the 20th anniver­sary of 9/11. And while it would osten­si­bly have been an attack by ISIS, this is where the often-neb­u­lous nature of ter­ror attack attri­bu­tions could serve as an argu­ment for why the US must remain in Afghanistan, at least for a while longer to avenge the new attack. Accord­ing to the charges, Bridges dia­grammed spe­cif­ic mil­i­tary maneu­vers to help ISIS kill US troops, includ­ing the best way to for­ti­fy an encamp­ment to repel an attack by US Spe­cial Forces and how to wire cer­tain build­ings with explo­sives to kill the US troops. So Bridges thought he was pro­vid­ed ISIS with the kind of tech­ni­cal infor­ma­tion the group would need to cause a mass casu­al­ty event in the Mid­dle East tar­get­ing US troops...exactly the kind of event that could delay a US with­draw­al.

    It turns out Bridges was com­mu­ni­cat­ing with an FBI employ­ee instead if ISIS, so the attacks on the 9/11 memo­r­i­al or US troops in the Mid­dle East he was try­ing to orches­trate remain should hope­ful­ly be avoid­ed. But that rais­es the obvi­ous ques­tion: how many oth­er rad­i­cal­ized ‘Cole Bridges’ are there in the US mil­i­tary look­ing for oppor­tu­ni­ties to net­work with jihadists and arrange for mass casu­al­ty events? Well, we can at least par­tial­ly answer the ques­tion: it’s was­n’t JUST Cole Bridges look­ing to net­work with jihadist and arrange for attacks on US troops. Recall how Ethan Melz­er was arrest back in June on charges of being a mem­ber of the Atom­waf­fen-affil­i­at­ed Satan­ic neo-Nazi “Order of the Nine Angles” group and com­mu­ni­cat­ing his unit’s over­seas assign­ment with a mem­ber of al Qae­da for the pur­pose of facil­i­tat­ing ambush attacks on his unit. Why did Melch­er want to orches­trate an al Qae­da ambush attack on his own mil­i­tary unit? In order to help keep the US fight­ing in the Mid­dle East for anoth­er decade. Doing so would mean “I’ve died suc­cess­ful­ly”, in Melcher’s own words.

    There there’s the two ‘Booga­loo Bois’ — Michael Robert Solomon, 30, of North Car­oli­na, and Ben­jamin Ryan Teeter, 22, of Min­neso­ta — who were arrest­ed in Sep­tem­ber for try­ing to sell weapons to Hamas. What the the motive for this alliance? A shared anti-US stance. Hamas is the ene­my of the US gov­ern­ment and there­fore the friend of the ‘Booga­loo’ move­ment. How many mem­bers of the US mil­i­tary share these deep anti-US sen­ti­ments? Remem­ber Booga­loo mem­ber Steven Car­ril­lo, an active mem­ber of the air­force who killed a fed­er­al offi­cer in order to spark a civ­il war? How many more Steven Car­ril­lo’s are there? How many more far right rad­i­cals are there in the US mil­i­tary who view ISIS, or the Tal­iban, as the friend­ly ‘ene­my of their ene­my’?

    And note that we don’t actu­al­ly know yet if Cole James Bridges is like a a far right neo-Nazi ide­o­logue in addi­tion to be an aspir­ing mem­ber of ISIS. But that’s the thing about the ide­o­log­i­cal deep over­lap between the jihadist extrem­ists and oth­er far right extrem­ist: we don’t real­ly have to ask whether or not Bridges was a far right nut job too. If he was try­ing to join ISIS he was obvi­ous­ly a far right nut job. Mak­ing him one more in the long list of dan­ger­ous far right nut jobs found in the mil­i­tary. A list of dan­ger­ous far right nut jobs in the mil­i­tary who are going to be extra dan­ger­ous between now and when the US final­ly leaves Afghanistan:

    Asso­ci­at­ed Press

    US sol­dier arrest­ed in plot to blow up NYC 9/11 Memo­r­i­al

    By LARRY NEUMEISTER
    Jan­u­ary 19, 2021

    NEW YORK (AP) — A U.S. Army sol­dier was arrest­ed Tues­day in Geor­gia on ter­ror­ism charges after he spoke online about plots to blow up New York City’s 9/11 Memo­r­i­al and oth­er land­marks and attack U.S. sol­diers in the Mid­dle East, author­i­ties said.

    Cole James Bridges of Stow, Ohio, was in cus­tody on charges of attempt­ed mate­r­i­al sup­port of a ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion — the Islam­ic State group — and attempt­ed mur­der of a mil­i­tary mem­ber, said Nicholas Biase, a spokesper­son for Man­hat­tan fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors.

    The 20-year-old sol­dier, also known as Cole Gon­za­les, was with the Third Infantry Divi­sion out of Fort Stew­art, Geor­gia, when he thought he was com­mu­ni­cat­ing with the Islam­ic State online about the ter­ror­ism plots, Biase said.

    Unbe­knownst to Bridges, an FBI employ­ee was in on the chat as Bridges pro­vid­ed detailed instruc­tions on tac­tics and man­u­als and advice about attack­ing the memo­r­i­al and oth­er tar­gets in New York City, Biase said.

    “As we allege today, Bridges, a pri­vate in the U.S. Army, betrayed our coun­try and his unit when he plot­ted with some­one he believed was an ISIS sym­pa­thiz­er to help ISIS attack and kill U.S. sol­diers in the Mid­dle East,” said William F. Sweeney Jr., head of New York City’s FBI office.

    “For­tu­nate­ly, the per­son with whom he com­mu­ni­cat­ed was an FBI employ­ee, and we were able to pre­vent his evil desires from com­ing to fruition,” Sweeney said in a release.

    “Our troops risk their lives for our coun­try, but they should nev­er face such per­il at the hands of one of their own,” U.S. Attor­ney Audrey Strauss said.

    ...

    Accord­ing to a crim­i­nal com­plaint in Man­hat­tan fed­er­al court, Bridges joined the U.S. Army in Sep­tem­ber 2019 and was assigned as a cav­al­ry scout in Fort Stew­art.

    At some point, he began research­ing and con­sum­ing online pro­pa­gan­da pro­mot­ing jihadists and their vio­lent ide­ol­o­gy, author­i­ties said.

    They said he expressed his sup­port for the Islam­ic State group and jihad on social media before he began com­mu­ni­cat­ing in Octo­ber with an FBI employ­ee who posed as an Islam­ic State group sup­port­er in con­tact with the group’s fight­ers in the Mid­dle East.

    Accord­ing to court papers, he expressed his frus­tra­tion with the U.S. mil­i­tary and his desire to aid the Islam­ic State group.

    The crim­i­nal com­plaint said he then pro­vid­ed train­ing and guid­ance to pur­port­ed Islam­ic State fight­ers who were plan­ning attacks, includ­ing advice about poten­tial tar­gets in New York City, includ­ing the 9/11 Memo­r­i­al.

    It said he also pro­vid­ed por­tions of a U.S. Army train­ing man­u­al and guid­ance about mil­i­tary com­bat tac­tics.

    Bridges also dia­grammed spe­cif­ic mil­i­tary maneu­vers to help the ter­ror­ist group’s fight­ers kill U.S. troops, includ­ing the best way to for­ti­fy an encamp­ment to repel an attack by U.S. Spe­cial Forces and how to wire cer­tain build­ings with explo­sives to kill the U.S. troops, the com­plaint said.

    This month, accord­ing to the com­plaint, Bridges sent a video of him­self in body armor stand­ing before an Islam­ic State flag, ges­tur­ing sup­port.

    A week lat­er, Bridges sent a sec­ond video in which he used a voice manip­u­la­tor and nar­rat­ed a pro­pa­gan­da speech in sup­port of the Islam­ic State group’s antic­i­pat­ed ambush of U.S. troops, the com­plaint said.

    ...

    ———-

    “US sol­dier arrest­ed in plot to blow up NYC 9/11 Memo­r­i­al” by LARRY NEUMEISTER; Asso­ci­at­ed Press; 01/19/2021

    “The crim­i­nal com­plaint said he then pro­vid­ed train­ing and guid­ance to pur­port­ed Islam­ic State fight­ers who were plan­ning attacks, includ­ing advice about poten­tial tar­gets in New York City, includ­ing the 9/11 Memo­r­i­al.”

    How would an ISIS attack on the 9/11 memo­r­i­al impact the US’s will­ing­ness to pull out of Afghanistan? It would pre­sum­ably depend on the scale of the attack. But note how Bridges lit­er­al­ly pro­duced a pro­pa­gan­da video in Jan­u­ary in antic­i­pa­tion of the ISIS ambush on US troops he thought he was help­ing to orches­trate. So this ambush attack was planned for basi­cal­ly the end of the Trump admin­is­tra­tion and/or begin­ning of the Biden admin­is­tra­tion. Tim­ing is every­thing. Even with ter­ror attacks:

    ...
    It said he also pro­vid­ed por­tions of a U.S. Army train­ing man­u­al and guid­ance about mil­i­tary com­bat tac­tics.

    Bridges also dia­grammed spe­cif­ic mil­i­tary maneu­vers to help the ter­ror­ist group’s fight­ers kill U.S. troops, includ­ing the best way to for­ti­fy an encamp­ment to repel an attack by U.S. Spe­cial Forces and how to wire cer­tain build­ings with explo­sives to kill the U.S. troops, the com­plaint said.

    This month, accord­ing to the com­plaint, Bridges sent a video of him­self in body armor stand­ing before an Islam­ic State flag, ges­tur­ing sup­port.

    A week lat­er, Bridges sent a sec­ond video in which he used a voice manip­u­la­tor and nar­rat­ed a pro­pa­gan­da speech in sup­port of the Islam­ic State group’s antic­i­pat­ed ambush of U.S. troops, the com­plaint said.

    ...

    How would such an attack on US troops in the Mid­dle East have impact­ed the Biden’s plans to with­draw from Afghanistan this year? At this point we have no idea where exact­ly this ambush was being planned but it’s not like ISIS does­n’t oper­ate in Afghanistan and it’s not like the with­draw­al of the US from Afghanistan was a sur­prise.

    To some extent, we have to ask just how strate­gic was Bridges being in his ter­ror schem­ing? Was he sim­ply out to join ISIS is rack up some ‘wins’ in the form of dead sol­diers? Or did he have some­thing more strate­gi­cal­ly sin­is­ter in mind, like Ethan Melch­er report­ed­ly had when he plot­ted an ambush attack on his own unit with the goal of keep­ing the US in fight­ing in the Mid­dle East for anoth­er decade? We don’t know what exact­ly he was think­ing, but we can be pret­ty con­fi­dent that Cole James Bridges prob­a­bly has­n’t been the only mem­ber of the mil­i­tary with sim­i­lar thoughts.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 21, 2021, 4:34 pm
  3. Here’s a pair of arti­cles that raise all sorts of intrigu­ing ques­tions about just how close a rela­tion­ship US intel­li­gence is plan­ning on devel­op­ing with the Tal­iban fol­low­ing the US with­draw­al of Afghanistan. Ques­tions about just how com­plete that with­draw­al real­ly is and whether or not we’re going to see an endur­ing US intel­li­gence pres­ence in the coun­try. On the hand, some sort of US intel­li­gence pres­ence in Afghanistan is to be expect­ed all things con­sid­ered. But you would­n’t nec­es­sar­i­ly expect a coop­er­a­tive US intel­li­gence pres­ence.

    Yet that’s the kind of rela­tion­ship between the US and Tal­iban that we already appear to be see­ing devel­op­ing. It’s the pic­ture that emerges from the fol­low­ing New­lines Mag­a­zine arti­cle about the Tal­iban’s elite “Red Unit” of high­ly trained sol­diers. The arti­cle reads like a Tal­iban fan piece. Who pub­lished it? New­lines Mag­a­zine. Yes, the very same New­lines Mag­a­zine com­pro­mised of rabid US neo-con­ser­v­a­tives and found­ed by Ahmed Alwani, Vice-Pres­i­dent of the Inter­na­tion­al Insti­tute of Islam­ic Thought (IIIT), one the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood’s key orga­ni­za­tions in North Amer­i­ca. New­lines is like the insti­tu­tion­al man­i­fes­ta­tion of exact­ly the kind of rela­tion­ship between Islamist extrem­ists and the US nation­al secu­ri­ty state that could be devel­op­ing between the US and Tal­iban right now.

    The arti­cle even includes an inter­view with an anony­mous Tal­iban fight­er, going by “Sheikh Ali”, who had to remain anony­mous because he did­n’t have he Tal­iban’s per­mis­sion to speak with New­lines. New­lines has the Tal­iban con­nec­tions appar­ent­ly. That’s all why this arti­cle about the Tal­iban’s Red Unit is so notable. It’s like an unof­fi­cial indi­ca­tion that the offi­cial nar­ra­tive about the Tal­iban is shift­ing towards a nar­ra­tive of the ‘mod­er­ate Tal­iban’ coun­tert­er­ror­ism part­ners.

    On one lev­el it’s rather sur­pris­ing to see an out­let like New­lines, which acts as a mouth­piece for hawk­ish voic­es in the nation­al secu­ri­ty estab­lish­ment, almost imme­di­ate­ly shift to this new nar­ra­tive about the Tal­iban. But it’s not real­ly all that sur­pris­ing when we con­sid­er the infor­ma­tion in a Feb­ru­ary, 2020, arti­cle below describ­ing the then-Trump admin­is­tra­tion’s vision for a post-US-occu­pa­tion Afghanistan. A vision that includ­ed a US counter-ter­ror­ism force that would con­tin­ue oper­at­ing in the coun­try, with a focus on groups like ISIS. A counter-ter­ror­ism force that would include CIA oper­a­tions in Tal­iban-con­trolled areas. So we have to ask, is this New­lines Mag­a­zine arti­cle part of that bud­ding CIA-Tal­iban rela­tion­ship? It cer­tain­ly read like it:

    New­lines Mag­a­zine

    The Spe­cial Units Lead­ing the Taliban’s Fight against the Islam­ic State
    The Red Unit spear­head­ed the Tal­iban’s fight against the Islam­ic State, and helped them orga­nize their ranks and gain pop­u­lar­i­ty at a crit­i­cal time

    By Fazelmi­nal­lah Qaz­izai
    Fazelmi­nal­lah Qa zizai is an Afghan jour­nal­ist and co-author with Chris Sands of “Night Let­ters: Gul­bud­din Hek­mat­yar and Afghan Islamists who Changed the World”

    Sep­tem­ber 3, 2021 07:41 EST

    The Tal­iban move­ment became crit­i­cal­ly divid­ed as news spread in 2015 that its leader, Mul­lah Moham­mad Omar, had died from nat­ur­al caus­es in 2013. The death had been cov­ered up by his con­fi­dants for more than two years until it was revealed by Afghan intel­li­gence. Among those try­ing to exploit the sit­u­a­tion were strate­gists of the Islam­ic State group. They hoped to exploit emerg­ing rifts among the Tal­iban to expand the Islam­ic State’s reach in the region.

    The Islam­ic State’s branch in Afghanistan, Pak­istan and adja­cent areas, named by the group as Kho­rasan, had emerged out of the Tehreek-e-Tal­iban Pak­istan (TTP), whose mem­bers had arrived in Nan­garhar province from Pakistan’s north­west­ern trib­al regions after flee­ing a 2010 Pak­istan mil­i­tary oper­a­tion against them. The Afghan Tal­iban had tried and failed to bring them under their own com­mand. Some of the TTP fight­ers, such as the Lashkar-e-Islam leader Man­gal Bagh, were instead court­ed by the Nation­al Direc­torate of Secu­ri­ty (NDS), the Afghan intel­li­gence ser­vice, which hoped to use them against Pak­istan as retal­i­a­tion for the Pak­istani government’s sup­port for the Afghan Tal­iban. TTP fight­ers often clashed with the Afghan Tal­iban.

    The sit­u­a­tion for the TTP had changed in Novem­ber 2013 with the death of its leader Hakimul­lah Mehsud in a U.S. drone strike. The already fis­si­parous TTP had frag­ment­ed fur­ther, and when Mul­lah Fazlul­lah replaced Hakimul­lah as the leader of the TTP, many refused to sub­mit to his com­mand. Mean­while, TTP num­bers in Afghanistan were swelled by the arrival of more mil­i­tants from Pakistan’s north­west­ern trib­al regions fol­low­ing new Pak­istani mil­i­tary oper­a­tions in 2014 and 2015.

    On Jan. 26, 2015, the Islam­ic State’s now-dead spokesper­son Abu Muham­mad al-Adnani released an audio state­ment accept­ing pledges of alle­giance from defect­ing Tal­iban fight­ers and announced the expan­sion of the “caliphate” with the cre­ation of a “Kho­rasan Province” (wide­ly abbre­vi­at­ed as ISKP). Hafiz Saeed Khan, the for­mer TTP leader from Pakistan’s Orakzai region, was appoint­ed as its local gov­er­nor and Mul­lah Kha­dem as his deputy. The new Islam­ic State fran­chise was also joined by local and for­eign fight­ers.

    In ear­ly 2015, ten­sions in Achin, a dis­trict in the south of Nan­garhar province, esca­lat­ed after the Afghan Tal­iban mobi­lized to pre­vent a spate of kid­nap­pings by Islam­ic State mil­i­tants in the neigh­bor­ing dis­trict of Bati Kot. This result­ed in vio­lent clash­es between the two groups, and some of the Tal­iban in Achin switched sides in the wake of the con­flict. Achin even­tu­al­ly fell to the Islam­ic State lat­er that year.

    In response to this unprece­dent­ed chal­lenge to its insur­gent dom­i­nance, the Afghan Tal­iban stepped up plans to form a spe­cial forces unit tasked with main­tain­ing uni­ty of com­mand. This “Red Unit” would stand apart because of its advanced mil­i­tary train­ing and dis­ci­pline, a field com­man­der of the Red Unit told New­lines. It quick­ly emerged as a vital piece in the Taliban’s fight to deal with threats from the Islam­ic State off­shoot in Afghanistan. In the sum­mer of 2015, pho­tos cir­cu­lat­ed on social media of the Red Unit under­go­ing rig­or­ous mil­i­tary train­ing, dressed in com­bat gear sim­i­lar to West­ern spe­cial forces. As the Tal­iban began to frac­ture after the news of Mul­lah Omar’s death, the unit proved even more crit­i­cal in that sec­ondary con­flict the Tal­iban engaged in.

    The Red Unit, or Sara Kheta in Pash­to, is divid­ed into sev­er­al bat­tal­ion-sized teams of 300 to 350 men, hand­picked by field com­man­ders based on their dis­ci­pline, com­mit­ment and per­for­mance. Each team is giv­en respon­si­bil­i­ties in a giv­en province. In emer­gen­cies, the teams work togeth­er to cov­er a zone con­sist­ing of sev­er­al provinces. Besides the Islam­ic State, they fight Afghan gov­ern­ment forces and U.S. troops.

    One of the first teams was sent to the west­ern province of Farah, on the Iran­ian bor­der, where a Tal­iban splin­ter group had formed under the dis­si­dent com­man­der Mul­lah Muham­mad Rasool. The Red Unit’s com­man­dos had a dev­as­tat­ing effect on Rasool’s group, killing sev­er­al of his men and forc­ing him to flee to Pak­istan. Rasool was replaced by Mul­lah Man­soor Dadul­lah, an expe­ri­enced fight­er from a fam­i­ly of insur­gents, who declared his alle­giance to the Islam­ic State and moved to Zab­ul province in the south, where he set­tled in the dis­trict of Khak-e-Afghan, an impov­er­ished region of val­leys, deserts and moun­tains.

    By then, the Islam­ic State had expand­ed their area of oper­a­tions, tar­get­ing High­way 1, the main road link­ing Kab­ul and the south of Afghanistan. They launched sev­er­al ambush­es, kid­nap­ping civil­ians trav­el­ing along the high­way. They abduct­ed dozens of Haz­aras, an eth­nic minor­i­ty of pre­dom­i­nant­ly Shi­ite Mus­lims. Hostages includ­ed women and chil­dren.

    The abduc­tions pro­voked out­rage among Afghans in Kab­ul, who crit­i­cized the gov­ern­ment for being unable to pro­tect its own peo­ple. The Tal­iban sensed an oppor­tu­ni­ty. Eager to win more pub­lic sup­port for their insur­gency and des­per­ate to pre­vent the Islam­ic State from mak­ing fur­ther inroads into their ter­ri­to­ry, they decid­ed to esca­late the fight against the group.

    The Tal­iban first sent a del­e­ga­tion of muftis — Islam­ic legal experts — and cler­ics to Khak-e-Afghan. The del­e­ga­tion spent a week try­ing to per­suade the Islam­ic State’s Salafist cler­ics to sub­mit to the Taliban’s com­mand, to lit­tle avail. Even­tu­al­ly the Tal­iban cler­ics gave their rivals an ulti­ma­tum to sur­ren­der or be attacked. When the talks led nowhere, the Tal­iban dis­patched hun­dreds of Red Unit com­man­dos to the area in Novem­ber 2015. The teams were drawn from units in Zab­ul, Ghazni and War­dak. Sheikh Ali (whose name has been changed to pro­tect his iden­ti­ty since he did not have the Taliban’s per­mis­sion to talk to New­lines) from War­dak province was one of them.

    Accord­ing to Sheikh Ali and based on his expe­ri­ence fight­ing the group in Khak-e-Afghan, the Islam­ic State’s fight­ers were a mix­ture of Afghans from across the coun­try and mil­i­tants from Uzbek­istan who had their fam­i­lies with them. Vil­lagers report­ed see­ing them trav­el­ing around the area on motor­bikes dec­o­rat­ed with Dadullah’s name and the slo­gan “Dawlat-Al-Islam Baqiya” (the Islam­ic State Remains).

    The Red Unit tried one more time to per­suade the Islam­ic State’s mil­i­tants to sur­ren­der by send­ing a squad toward the group’s moun­tain head­quar­ters with an offer of clemen­cy. But the fight­ers respond­ed by launch­ing an attack, injur­ing four Red Unit fight­ers.

    That was the bat­tle that would change the course of the insur­gent civ­il war. The assault began at night, and the Red Unit advanced into the moun­tains, killing many of the Islam­ic State’s trench­men and cap­tur­ing their heavy-weapons post on a moun­tain ridge.

    Over the next few days, the Red Unit combed the area, searched local hous­es and found sev­er­al of the kid­napped Haz­ara, who had been tied up and blind­fold­ed. The Tal­iban hanged the Uzbek fight­ers for kid­nap­ping and mas­sacring the Haz­ara. “The fat­wa to hang and kill the Daesh fight­ers was issued by Sheikh Hakim Haqqani,” said Sheikh Ali, using the Ara­bic name for the Islam­ic State.

    The Red Unit com­man­dos even­tu­al­ly tracked down Dadul­lah by mon­i­tor­ing the radio traf­fic of the sur­viv­ing Islam­ic State fight­ers. Dadul­lah was arrest­ed, tak­en to an iso­lat­ed val­ley, shot and thrown into a flood­plain.

    Four mem­bers of the Red Unit were killed in the oper­a­tion. Mean­while, word spread of a major suc­cess against the Islam­ic State, and reports of the Red Unit’s effec­tive­ness even caused alarm with­in the Afghan gov­ern­ment, sources said.

    The Tal­iban turned the unit into a rapid response force under the lead­er­ship of its most famous com­man­der, Pir Agha, from Kan­da­har. Although much of his back­ground remains a mys­tery, Agha is believed to be in his late 40s, from Sangis­ar in the Pan­jwayi dis­trict of Kan­da­har. Those who have met him describe him as an effec­tive com­man­der, ora­tor and strate­gist.

    ...

    The Red Unit from War­dak province was led for a while by Mawlawi Abdul­lah, one of the main field com­man­ders in the Zab­ul bat­tle. This Unit was deployed to Achin dis­trict in Nan­garhar province, east­ern Afghanistan. “Daesh­es were argu­ing with us by radio, say­ing Sheikh Osama and Ustad Yasir are our lead­ers — not yours, they belong to us,” Sheikh Ali said, refer­ring to Osama bin Laden and a notable Tal­iban ide­o­logue and a vet­er­an of the anti-Sovi­et jihad who had been instru­men­tal in recruit­ing for the TTP before his sus­pect­ed death a decade ago.

    The Red Unit is one of the Taliban’s elite forces, tak­ing on dif­fer­ent roles with­in the coun­try. The most vis­i­ble group in recent weeks has been an elite mil­i­tary force known as Badri 313, a high­ly dis­ci­plined bat­tal­ion-size force designed to be the nexus of a new Islamist-ori­ent­ed Afghan army to replace the U.S.-backed army that melt­ed away before the Kab­ul fall. The force is named after the Bat­tle of Badr, when Prophet Muham­mad sup­pos­ed­ly van­quished his ene­mies with only 313 sol­diers. “Badri 313 is the new army of Afghanistan,” said Sheikh Ali.

    The Tal­iban trained a Red Unit for each pop­u­lous province, but the Red Unit in War­dak province has remained the most uti­lized. It has been deployed more than oth­ers in the bat­tle against the Islam­ic State. After clear­ing the Nan­garhar province of the Islam­ic State, they were deployed to Kunar province, where they also suc­ceed­ed in dri­ving out the Islam­ic State mil­i­tants. “We lost many men in Kunar, more than any oth­er Red Unit,” said Sheikh Ali.

    With the defeat of the West­ern-sup­port­ed Afghan gov­ern­ment and the depar­ture of NATO forces, the only tan­gi­ble threat the Tal­iban are like­ly to face is from the Islam­ic State. So far the Tal­iban have been ruth­less and effec­tive in this fight. The Islam­ic State has lost the ter­ri­to­ry it once held and its num­bers have dwin­dled. It is small­er, weak­er and with less pop­u­lar sup­port than it was in 2015. Back then, the group oper­at­ed in more areas in dif­fer­ent parts of Afghanistan, and had more resources and weapons. Its sup­port base is shrink­ing, except in the east of the coun­try, where the group can still recruit from with­in the Salafist pop­u­la­tion there. This does not mean they are going away. They still car­ry out assas­si­na­tions and bomb­ing and sui­cide attacks.

    As the Tal­iban adopt the rhetoric and aes­thet­ics of West­ern coun­tert­er­ror­ism, they might come to learn from the mis­takes that turned a friend­ly pop­u­la­tion against West­ern forces in much of rur­al Afghanistan. The aggres­sive pos­ture of coun­tert­er­ror­ism com­bined with the kind of sum­ma­ry jus­tice the Tal­iban mete out can often lend itself to abuse. Like NATO, the Tal­iban will like­ly dis­cov­er that supe­ri­or fight­ing abil­i­ty alone is not enough to elim­i­nate threats as long as greater effort isn’t put into win­ning legit­i­ma­cy and guar­an­tee­ing account­abil­i­ty.

    ———–

    “The Spe­cial Units Lead­ing the Taliban’s Fight against the Islam­ic State” by Fazelmi­nal­lah Qaz­izai; New­lines Mag­a­zine; 09/03/2021

    As the Tal­iban adopt the rhetoric and aes­thet­ics of West­ern coun­tert­er­ror­ism, they might come to learn from the mis­takes that turned a friend­ly pop­u­la­tion against West­ern forces in much of rur­al Afghanistan. The aggres­sive pos­ture of coun­tert­er­ror­ism com­bined with the kind of sum­ma­ry jus­tice the Tal­iban mete out can often lend itself to abuse. Like NATO, the Tal­iban will like­ly dis­cov­er that supe­ri­or fight­ing abil­i­ty alone is not enough to elim­i­nate threats as long as greater effort isn’t put into win­ning legit­i­ma­cy and guar­an­tee­ing account­abil­i­ty.”

    “As the Tal­iban adopt the rhetoric and aes­thet­ics of West­ern coun­tert­er­ror­ism,...”. That’s the pre­view of how this sto­ry is intend­ed to play out: The Tal­iban will be encour­aged to adopt the rhetoric and aes­thet­ics of West­ern coun­tert­er­ror­ism and, over time, become a ‘nor­mal­ized’ Islamist extrem­ist gov­ern­ment. Yes, they’ll be extrem­ists, but the good kind of extrem­ists, like the gov­ern­ments of Sau­di Ara­bia or UAE. That’s how low the bar is to achieve ‘less­er evil’ sta­tus: just be bet­ter than ISIS. Or at least make an effort to project an image of being bet­ter than ISIS. That’ll be good enough.

    That ‘less­er evil’ real­ly con­text is meta-nar­ra­tive of this sto­ry about the for­ma­tion of the “Red Unit”: a Tal­iban army built to fight ISIS:

    ...
    On Jan. 26, 2015, the Islam­ic State’s now-dead spokesper­son Abu Muham­mad al-Adnani released an audio state­ment accept­ing pledges of alle­giance from defect­ing Tal­iban fight­ers and announced the expan­sion of the “caliphate” with the cre­ation of a “Kho­rasan Province” (wide­ly abbre­vi­at­ed as ISKP). Hafiz Saeed Khan, the for­mer TTP leader from Pakistan’s Orakzai region, was appoint­ed as its local gov­er­nor and Mul­lah Kha­dem as his deputy. The new Islam­ic State fran­chise was also joined by local and for­eign fight­ers.

    In ear­ly 2015, ten­sions in Achin, a dis­trict in the south of Nan­garhar province, esca­lat­ed after the Afghan Tal­iban mobi­lized to pre­vent a spate of kid­nap­pings by Islam­ic State mil­i­tants in the neigh­bor­ing dis­trict of Bati Kot. This result­ed in vio­lent clash­es between the two groups, and some of the Tal­iban in Achin switched sides in the wake of the con­flict. Achin even­tu­al­ly fell to the Islam­ic State lat­er that year.

    In response to this unprece­dent­ed chal­lenge to its insur­gent dom­i­nance, the Afghan Tal­iban stepped up plans to form a spe­cial forces unit tasked with main­tain­ing uni­ty of com­mand. This “Red Unit” would stand apart because of its advanced mil­i­tary train­ing and dis­ci­pline, a field com­man­der of the Red Unit told New­lines. It quick­ly emerged as a vital piece in the Taliban’s fight to deal with threats from the Islam­ic State off­shoot in Afghanistan. In the sum­mer of 2015, pho­tos cir­cu­lat­ed on social media of the Red Unit under­go­ing rig­or­ous mil­i­tary train­ing, dressed in com­bat gear sim­i­lar to West­ern spe­cial forces. As the Tal­iban began to frac­ture after the news of Mul­lah Omar’s death, the unit proved even more crit­i­cal in that sec­ondary con­flict the Tal­iban engaged in.
    ...
    T

    And note the cel­e­bra­tion of the Tal­iban sav­ing kid­napped mem­bers of the Haz­ara com­mu­ni­ty. No men­tion at all that the Haz­ara com­mu­ni­ty is absolute­ly ter­ri­fied of the Tal­iban tak­ing con­trol of the coun­try giv­en the exten­sive his­to­ry of Haz­ara mas­sacres at the hands of the Tal­iban. Nope, the Red Unit are Haz­ara sav­iors in this piece. A ruth­less and effec­tive anti-ISIS army:

    ...
    The Tal­iban first sent a del­e­ga­tion of muftis — Islam­ic legal experts — and cler­ics to Khak-e-Afghan. The del­e­ga­tion spent a week try­ing to per­suade the Islam­ic State’s Salafist cler­ics to sub­mit to the Taliban’s com­mand, to lit­tle avail. Even­tu­al­ly the Tal­iban cler­ics gave their rivals an ulti­ma­tum to sur­ren­der or be attacked. When the talks led nowhere, the Tal­iban dis­patched hun­dreds of Red Unit com­man­dos to the area in Novem­ber 2015. The teams were drawn from units in Zab­ul, Ghazni and War­dak. Sheikh Ali (whose name has been changed to pro­tect his iden­ti­ty since he did not have the Taliban’s per­mis­sion to talk to New­lines) from War­dak province was one of them.

    Accord­ing to Sheikh Ali and based on his expe­ri­ence fight­ing the group in Khak-e-Afghan, the Islam­ic State’s fight­ers were a mix­ture of Afghans from across the coun­try and mil­i­tants from Uzbek­istan who had their fam­i­lies with them. Vil­lagers report­ed see­ing them trav­el­ing around the area on motor­bikes dec­o­rat­ed with Dadullah’s name and the slo­gan “Dawlat-Al-Islam Baqiya” (the Islam­ic State Remains).

    The Red Unit tried one more time to per­suade the Islam­ic State’s mil­i­tants to sur­ren­der by send­ing a squad toward the group’s moun­tain head­quar­ters with an offer of clemen­cy. But the fight­ers respond­ed by launch­ing an attack, injur­ing four Red Unit fight­ers.

    That was the bat­tle that would change the course of the insur­gent civ­il war. The assault began at night, and the Red Unit advanced into the moun­tains, killing many of the Islam­ic State’s trench­men and cap­tur­ing their heavy-weapons post on a moun­tain ridge.

    Over the next few days, the Red Unit combed the area, searched local hous­es and found sev­er­al of the kid­napped Haz­ara, who had been tied up and blind­fold­ed. The Tal­iban hanged the Uzbek fight­ers for kid­nap­ping and mas­sacring the Haz­ara. “The fat­wa to hang and kill the Daesh fight­ers was issued by Sheikh Hakim Haqqani,” said Sheikh Ali, using the Ara­bic name for the Islam­ic State.

    ...

    With the defeat of the West­ern-sup­port­ed Afghan gov­ern­ment and the depar­ture of NATO forces, the only tan­gi­ble threat the Tal­iban are like­ly to face is from the Islam­ic State. So far the Tal­iban have been ruth­less and effec­tive in this fight. The Islam­ic State has lost the ter­ri­to­ry it once held and its num­bers have dwin­dled. It is small­er, weak­er and with less pop­u­lar sup­port than it was in 2015. Back then, the group oper­at­ed in more areas in dif­fer­ent parts of Afghanistan, and had more resources and weapons. Its sup­port base is shrink­ing, except in the east of the coun­try, where the group can still recruit from with­in the Salafist pop­u­la­tion there. This does not mean they are going away. They still car­ry out assas­si­na­tions and bomb­ing and sui­cide attacks.
    ...

    This Red Unit sure sounds like some­one the West can work with, right? That’s clear­ly a mes­sage the piece intend­ed to con­vey, if no explic­it­ly. A mes­sage com­ing from a neocon/Muslim Broth­er­hood fusion think-tank just weeks after the US’s with­draw­al from the coun­try fol­lowed by the imme­di­ate col­lapse of the Afghan gov­ern­ment. And a with­draw­al that saw the US and Tal­iban arrive at some sort of tem­po­rary secu­ri­ty arrange­ment. What’s next in this bud­ding US/Taliban rela­tion­ship? We’ll see, but if the fol­low­ing Feb­ru­ary 2020 piece about the deal the US and Tal­iban were secret­ly hash­ing out at the time is accu­rate, we should expect quite a few more arti­cles of this nature get­ting pumped out by West­ern think-tanks. Because it sure sounds like the plan was for US troops to with­draw­al while the CIA remained and con­tin­ued work­ing with the Tal­iban on anti-ter­ror oper­a­tions. But the con­tin­ued US coun­tert­er­ror­ism oper­a­tions must remain a secret:

    Time

    Secret Annex­es, Back­room Deals: Can Zal­may Khalilzad Deliv­er Afghan Peace for Trump?

    By Kim­ber­ly Dozi­er / Wash­ing­ton and Doha, Qatar
    Updat­ed: Feb­ru­ary 15, 2020 10:47 PM ET | Orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished: Feb­ru­ary 13, 2020 8:48 PM EST

    The best hope for an end to the 18-year war in Afghanistan may lie in a sump­tu­ous con­fer­ence room in Doha’s Diplo­mat­ic Club in Qatar. But there may be only one per­son who knows whether a paper peace deal nego­ti­at­ed there will trans­late into actu­al peace on the ground in the long-suf­fer­ing coun­try 1,000 miles to the north­east: U.S. envoy Zal­may Khalilzad.

    For more than a year, Khalilzad has worked to end America’s fight with the Tal­iban, using the club and near­by five-star hotels as a kind of ad hoc head­quar­ters. Now Khalilzad is con­fi­dent he’s on the brink of ink­ing an elu­sive peace deal between Wash­ing­ton and the mil­i­tants that shel­tered Al Qae­da ter­ror­ists while they plot­ted the attacks of 9/11. He’s so con­fi­dent, in fact, that his team is already siz­ing up venues for a sign­ing cer­e­mo­ny, accord­ing to Afghan and west­ern offi­cials.

    If Khalilzad suc­ceeds, he will deliv­er a piv­otal elec­tion-year vic­to­ry for his boss, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, who has long pledged to end America’s involve­ment in “end­less wars.” If he fails, the U.S. will remain mired in the longest war in Amer­i­can his­to­ry, a con­flict that has killed more than 3,500 U.S. and NATO troops, cost U.S. tax­pay­ers near­ly $900 bil­lion, and left thou­sands of Afghans dead and mil­lions more dis­placed.

    The dif­fer­ence hangs on the con­vo­lut­ed details Khalilzad has ham­mered out over months shut­tling between Doha, Kab­ul, and Wash­ing­ton, drink­ing end­less cups of tea and flat­ter­ing, cajol­ing, and lec­tur­ing top play­ers on all side.

    At its heart, Khalilzad’s deal offers this basic bar­gain: the Tal­iban will reduce its vio­lent attacks on U.S. and Afghan troops, and the U.S. will with­draw much its forces from the coun­try. The Tal­iban has agreed to a sev­en-day “reduc­tion in vio­lence” to show that it’s seri­ous. But, cru­cial­ly, its lead­ers will not agree in pub­lic to the U.S. demand to keep coun­tert­er­ror­ism forces in Afghanistan.

    To get past that road­block, Khalilzad has come up with a rick­ety workaround. The deal con­tains secret annex­es, accord­ing to three peo­ple famil­iar with details of the cur­rent draft. The first is an agree­ment for U.S. coun­tert­er­ror­ism forces to stay in the coun­try. The sec­ond is a Tal­iban denounce­ment of ter­ror­ism and vio­lent extrem­ism. The third annex con­tains a mech­a­nism to mon­i­tor whether all sides are hon­or­ing the semi-truce while talks between war­ring Afghan par­ties pro­ceed, accord­ing to two of the sources, and the last address­es how the CIA will oper­ate in future in Tal­iban-con­trolled areas.

    Details of the secret annex­es were pro­vid­ed in writ­ing to TIME by one of the sources, who insist­ed on anonymi­ty to dis­close details of the con­fi­den­tial talks. A U.S. law­mak­er and two Afghan offi­cials con­firmed that a long-term coun­tert­er­ror­ism force num­ber­ing 8,600 U.S. troops, down from the cur­rent 13,000, is part of the deal. The State Depart­ment and Khalilzad’s office declined to com­ment, as did the CIA. Khalilzad declined to be inter­viewed for this arti­cle. A Tal­iban offi­cial insist­ed Thurs­day that the deal requires a full U.S. troop with­draw­al and said that talk of secret annex­es were just rumors.

    The deal could be signed by the end of the month, accord­ing to U.S. and Afghan offi­cials, if every­one stays on board. But a lot can hap­pen in two weeks. Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo still has to meet Afghan Pres­i­dent Ashraf Ghani, who has nev­er been a fan of Khalilzad’s plan. Tal­iban ground forces could catch wind that their lead­ers have covert­ly agreed to let some U.S. forces stay and launch a new, desta­bi­liz­ing attack. Or Trump could tap out a dam­ag­ing tweet—and send his envoy back to the nego­ti­at­ing table.

    For Afghanistan, where an entire gen­er­a­tion has grown up dur­ing the war, the stakes couldn’t be high­er. For Khalilzad, or “Zal,” has he’s wide­ly known, it would be the deal of a life­time. Even if peace doesn’t last, Khalilzad can say he has done his part, cement­ing his sta­tus as a deal­mak­er by deliv­er­ing an agree­ment once thought to be impos­si­ble.

    ZAL HAS COME CLOSE BEFORE. Last Sep­tem­ber, a U.S.-Taliban deal seemed immi­nent when it was derailed by a Tal­iban bomb­ing in Kab­ul that killed sev­er­al peo­ple, includ­ing a U.S. sol­dier. Trump abrupt­ly called off peace talks in an on-brand tweet­storm on Sept. 7, putting Khalilzad’s cov­et­ed deal on ice for months. The talks resumed in Decem­ber, and this week offi­cials say the deal is again ready to sign—if the Tal­iban can stop its mem­bers from attack­ing U.S. and Afghan forces for a full sev­en days.

    That’s a big ‘if.’ The Tal­iban has had trou­ble in the past main­tain­ing con­trol among its fac­tions, some of which may be dis­ap­point­ed by a deal that fails to deliv­er a total U.S. with­draw­al. Two U.S. sol­diers were killed on Sat­ur­day when an assailant dressed in an Afghan army uni­form opened fire with a machine gun, bring­ing to six the num­ber of ser­vice mem­bers killed in Afghanistan this year. The Tal­iban point­ed­ly did not take respon­si­bil­i­ty for killing the troops on Sat­ur­day.

    The secret annex­es could also com­pli­cate the deal’s abil­i­ty to deliv­er last­ing peace. The Tal­iban rank and file will expect to see all Amer­i­can troops pack­ing up and leav­ing, but it will become appar­ent by year’s end that U.S. forces are not going down to zero. “If the Tal­iban make these agree­ments known, they will melt down, and fade away,” one of the sources briefed on the draft said, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty to dis­cuss the sen­si­tive deal. ”So they keep it secret.”

    In some ways the rick­ety deal is clas­sic Khalilzad. Resem­bling a grace­ful­ly aging Hol­ly­wood char­ac­ter actor, the near­ly six-foot-tall 69-year-old favors tai­lored dark suits and slicked-back grey hair. Afghan-born and U.S. edu­cat­ed, Khalilzad served as one of the first U.S. ambas­sadors to post‑9/11 Afghanistan.

    ...

    Khalilzad was born in 1951 in a mod­est neigh­bor­hood in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, then a bustling hub of pol­i­tics and com­merce for “Afghan Turk­istan” as the area close to the Uzbek bor­der was known. His father was a mid-lev­el civ­il ser­vant, and his moth­er mar­ried very young and gave birth to 13 chil­dren. Only sev­en sur­vived, includ­ing Zal, who got his first taste of life out­side Afghanistan as a high school exchange stu­dent in Cal­i­for­nia, where he per­fect­ed his Eng­lish prac­tic­ing in front of the mir­ror, accord­ing to his mem­oir, The Envoy. He was pulled into the neo­con move­ment in the U.S. while earn­ing his Ph.D. at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go in 1979, and has since held senior posi­tions in the admin­is­tra­tions of Ronald Rea­gan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush.

    After the 9/11 attacks prompt­ed the U.S.-led inva­sion of Afghanistan that drove the Tal­iban from pow­er for host­ing al-Qae­da, Khalilzad played a key role in select­ing Hamid Karzai as Afghanistan’s next leader. At the 2001 Bonn Inter­na­tion­al Con­fer­ence, Afghan del­e­gates had first cho­sen a respect­ed offi­cial from the Afghan king’s rule, seen by many as a gold­en age of equal­i­ty among the country’s Pash­tun, Tajik and oth­er tribes, accord­ing to a west­ern offi­cial and a for­mer Afghan offi­cial who took part.

    After 48 hours of arm twist­ing, Khalilzad con­vinced the del­e­gates the leader had to be Pashtun—Afghanistan’s largest eth­nic group—to unite the coun­try. Specif­i­cal­ly, it had to be Karzai. “He gets his way,” griped one West­ern offi­cial who had backed the for­mer roy­al offi­cial as more like­ly to unite the coun­try.

    KHALILZAD HAS TRUMP’S FULL SUPPORT to close this deal, Zal’s allies say. He was one of the few promi­nent Bush Repub­li­cans who endorsed Trump’s run for the high­est office ear­ly on, by intro­duc­ing him at a 2016 event spon­sored by the pub­li­ca­tion Nation­al Inter­est. At the time, oth­ers he’d served with were sign­ing “Nev­er Trump” let­ters, a for­mer senior U.S. offi­cial recalls, mark­ing it as Khalilzad’s ear­ly gam­bit for a senior role on Team Trump.

    Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo rec­om­mend­ed Khalilzad for the peace envoy job, telling the Pres­i­dent that he knew the play­ers and had pulled off tough nego­ti­a­tions before. “Zal sold him­self to the Pres­i­dent as the only guy who could nego­ti­ate with the Tal­iban because of his Afghan her­itage, his deal mak­ing skills, and his rela­tion­ships with pow­er­ful fig­ures in the coun­try,” says a for­mer offi­cial who served in the coun­try.

    The talks com­menced in the fall of 2018, reg­u­lar­ly held beneath the pala­tial arch­es of Doha’s dune-col­ored Diplo­mat­ic Club, over­look­ing the Per­sian Gulf. Zal con­vinced the Tal­iban to talk by agree­ing to sep­a­rate the U.S. peace talks from nego­ti­a­tions with Afghan gov­ern­ment, which the Tal­iban con­sid­ers to be invalid. The U.S. and Tal­iban would agree on the con­di­tions for a cease­fire and troop with­draw­al; the Afghan talks deter­min­ing the future of Afghanistan would come lat­er.

    Even that defer­ral of a last­ing peace deal required a ques­tion­able workaround. Khalilzad got the Tal­iban to talk with Afghan gov­ern­ment offi­cials only by arrang­ing the cre­ation of an intra-Afghan com­mit­tee of com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers with whom for­mal talks would be held. Afghan gov­ern­ment offi­cials would attend those talks only in a per­son­al capac­i­ty.

    Afghan offi­cials have com­plained the indi­rect struc­ture shows the U.S. envoy bend­ing over back­wards for the mil­i­tants, instead of demand­ing that they offi­cial­ly rec­og­nize the elect­ed gov­ern­ment of the Afghan Repub­lic.

    Ghani, the Afghan pres­i­dent, is bid­ing his time, let­ting this chap­ter play out rather than play spoil­er, one senior Afghan offi­cial says. For now, he has des­ig­nat­ed del­e­gates to join the intra-Afghan com­mit­tee talks to deter­mine the shape of a future Afghan gov­ern­ment, and what the Taliban’s role in it will be. Ghani, and most of the pop­u­la­tion accord­ing to recent polls by the Asia Foun­da­tion, want the coun­try to remain a democ­ra­cy. The Tal­iban have made no secret they want to return to being an “Emi­rate” where reli­gious author­i­ties have greater pow­er.

    In ear­ly con­ver­sa­tions with Afghan del­e­gates includ­ing women in Doha, the Tal­iban have said they would sup­port women’s rights, allow­ing them to be edu­cat­ed and to work out­side the home. But that hasn’t been the prac­tice in some parts of Afghanistan now under their sway. Long­time Tal­iban watch­ers also doubt the group will fol­low through with a pledge made as part of the talks to break with Al Qaeda—the ter­ror­ist group is now lit­er­al­ly fam­i­ly, with many mem­bers hav­ing mar­ried into Afghan tribes in the decades of fight­ing U.S. troops after 9/11.

    For­mer senior CIA offi­cer Dou­glas Wise, who served twice in Afghanistan, says the Taliban’s ulti­mate goal is to reclaim the pow­er it held before the U.S. inva­sion that fol­lowed 9/11. “If you look at the Taliban’s strate­gic goals, it is to return to pow­er, to expel the West­ern-imposed expa­tri­ate, Afghan-run gov­ern­ment and to recre­ate the ‘Islam­ic Emi­rate of Afghanistan,’” as the Tal­iban still describes itself. Wise, the for­mer deputy chief of the Defense Intel­li­gence Agency, gives lit­tle cre­dence to Tal­iban pledges to respect human and women’s rights. “That’s all BS. They will say any­thing to get us an agree­ment to get us to leave. What­ev­er it takes to get the Amer­i­cans out.”

    Ghani and his advi­sors evince sim­i­lar skep­ti­cism. They believe the Tal­iban will have trou­ble main­tain­ing a future “reduc­tion of vio­lence” dur­ing intra-Afghan talks. If vio­lence breaks out, and if Ghani sur­vives oppo­si­tion chal­lenges to the Sep­tem­ber elec­tion that nar­row­ly gave him anoth­er five years in office, his gov­ern­ment will aban­don the talks and reach out to indi­vid­ual Tal­iban fac­tions, offer­ing one-off deals to divide and con­quer the oft-squab­bling tribes.

    That would be just fine for Khalilzad and Trump, who could argue that fail­ure of the intra-Afghan talks, or even a full return to Tal­iban con­trol, would be on the Afghan gov­ern­ment, not on Wash­ing­ton.

    ...

    ————-

    “Secret Annex­es, Back­room Deals: Can Zal­may Khalilzad Deliv­er Afghan Peace for Trump?” by Kim­ber­ly Dozi­er; Time; 02/15/2020

    “At its heart, Khalilzad’s deal offers this basic bar­gain: the Tal­iban will reduce its vio­lent attacks on U.S. and Afghan troops, and the U.S. will with­draw much its forces from the coun­try. The Tal­iban has agreed to a sev­en-day “reduc­tion in vio­lence” to show that it’s seri­ous. But, cru­cial­ly, its lead­ers will not agree in pub­lic to the U.S. demand to keep coun­tert­er­ror­ism forces in Afghanistan.

    It’s a fas­ci­nat­ing detail to have revealed: the US-Tal­iban peace talks involve US demands of an ongo­ing coun­tert­er­ror­ism pres­ence in the coun­try, but the Tal­iban demand­ed this remain a secret. Three secret annex­es were devel­oped. The first was an agree­ment to US coun­tert­er­ror­ism forces to stay in the coun­try, the sec­ond is for the Tal­iban to denounce vio­lent extrem­ism, and the third is to address how the CIA will oper­ate in Tal­iban-con­trolled ter­ri­to­ry in the future. We’re also told the long-term plan was for a US coun­tert­er­ror­ism force of 8,600 to remain in the coun­ty long-term. That part of the plan does­n’t appear to have been stuck to giv­en the US’s pull out. But what about the rest of it? The Tal­iban is indeed going through the motions of denounc­ing extrem­ism and putting on a ‘mod­er­ate’ pub­lic face to the world. Is there a secret Tal­iban arrange­ment with the CIA?

    ...
    To get past that road­block, Khalilzad has come up with a rick­ety workaround. The deal con­tains secret annex­es, accord­ing to three peo­ple famil­iar with details of the cur­rent draft. The first is an agree­ment for U.S. coun­tert­er­ror­ism forces to stay in the coun­try. The sec­ond is a Tal­iban denounce­ment of ter­ror­ism and vio­lent extrem­ism. The third annex con­tains a mech­a­nism to mon­i­tor whether all sides are hon­or­ing the semi-truce while talks between war­ring Afghan par­ties pro­ceed, accord­ing to two of the sources, and the last address­es how the CIA will oper­ate in future in Tal­iban-con­trolled areas.

    Details of the secret annex­es were pro­vid­ed in writ­ing to TIME by one of the sources, who insist­ed on anonymi­ty to dis­close details of the con­fi­den­tial talks. A U.S. law­mak­er and two Afghan offi­cials con­firmed that a long-term coun­tert­er­ror­ism force num­ber­ing 8,600 U.S. troops, down from the cur­rent 13,000, is part of the deal. The State Depart­ment and Khalilzad’s office declined to com­ment, as did the CIA. Khalilzad declined to be inter­viewed for this arti­cle. A Tal­iban offi­cial insist­ed Thurs­day that the deal requires a full U.S. troop with­draw­al and said that talk of secret annex­es were just rumors.

    The deal could be signed by the end of the month, accord­ing to U.S. and Afghan offi­cials, if every­one stays on board. But a lot can hap­pen in two weeks. Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo still has to meet Afghan Pres­i­dent Ashraf Ghani, who has nev­er been a fan of Khalilzad’s plan. Tal­iban ground forces could catch wind that their lead­ers have covert­ly agreed to let some U.S. forces stay and launch a new, desta­bi­liz­ing attack. Or Trump could tap out a dam­ag­ing tweet—and send his envoy back to the nego­ti­at­ing table.

    ...

    The secret annex­es could also com­pli­cate the deal’s abil­i­ty to deliv­er last­ing peace. The Tal­iban rank and file will expect to see all Amer­i­can troops pack­ing up and leav­ing, but it will become appar­ent by year’s end that U.S. forces are not going down to zero. “If the Tal­iban make these agree­ments known, they will melt down, and fade away,” one of the sources briefed on the draft said, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty to dis­cuss the sen­si­tive deal. ”So they keep it secret.”
    ...

    So giv­en this not-so-secret arrange­ment between the US and the Tal­iban ham­mered out by the Trump admin­is­tra­tion to arrange for some sort of long-term Tal­iban-CIA work­ing rela­tion­ship, we have to ask: was that New­lines Mag­a­zine puff piece about the Tal­iban’s Red Unit part of this deep­en­ing CIA-Tal­iban work­ing rela­tion­ship? It sure looks like it. And if so, they aren’t wast­ing any time.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 4, 2021, 3:46 pm
  4. @Pterrafractyl–

    One can but won­der if the Red Unit will be net­work­ing with CIA/Saudi/­Pan-Turk­ist Grey Wolf ele­ments in an anti-Chi­na coali­tion?

    Will we see an iter­a­tion of the proxy-war­rior strat­e­gy we have seen in Afghanistan (vs. Sovi­ets), the Balka­ns and Chech­nya?

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | September 4, 2021, 4:02 pm
  5. I can tell you right now, Mr. Emory, that the main tar­get of the War in Afghanistan has always been Chi­na.

    I spent thir­teen months in for­ward com­bat oper­a­tions at FOB Boris in the Pak­ti­ka Province, South­ern Waziris­tan, and the bulk (I’d esti­mate about 65%) of the intel­li­gence oper­a­tions con­duct­ed at my FOB’s tac­ti­cal oper­a­tions cen­ter were tar­get­ing exfil­tra­tion routes into the Xin­jiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

    And as for Turk­ish “Grey Wolf” ter­ror­ist ele­ments, one of the intel­li­gence teams that used to stage cross-bor­der raider atacks from my FOB was Duane Rams­dell “Dewey” Clar­ridge’s “Eclipse Group” com­man­do teams.

    And of course, we all know who was run­ning the Grey Wolf-con­nect­ed, stay-behind army “Kon­trg­er­il­la” in the 1970’s: why none oth­er than Lt. Col. Oliv­er North’s boss,the CIA Chief of the Latin Amer­i­ca Divi­sion, Duane Clar­ridge!

    Small world, eh?

    Posted by Robert Ward Montenegro | September 5, 2021, 2:13 am
  6. @Dave: Here’s a Voice of Amer­i­ca News sto­ry from a few days ago that points towards one of the sce­nar­ios we could see unfold: The Uyghur com­mu­ni­ty liv­ing in Afghanistan is express­ing to jour­nal­ists fears of being deport­ed to Chi­na under the Tal­iban rule. The fears are par­tial­ly jus­ti­fied on the real­i­ty that the Tal­iban-led Afghan gov­ern­ment is estab­lish­ing diplo­mat­ic rela­tions in Chi­na and Uyghur-relat­ed issues will no doubt be part of that dia­logue. But the nar­ra­tive we’re get­ting from these reports is fears that the Tal­iban will round up the Uyghur com­mu­ni­ty and deport them en mass to Chi­na where they’ll be interned with the mil­lions of oth­er Uyghurs in the giant hid­den con­cen­tra­tion camps of Xin­jiang. That nar­ra­tive of mil­lions of Uyghurs being held in Chi­nese con­cen­tra­tion camps is accept­ed as a giv­en in the arti­cle.

    While it does­n’t sound like the prospects of wide­spread depor­ta­tion of Uyghurs to Chi­na looks like, there are some Uyghur com­mu­ni­ties who might have legit­i­mate con­cerns. In par­tic­u­lar, Uyghur jihadist extrem­ists. As the arti­cle notes, Chi­na asked for the Tal­iban’s coop­er­a­tion in com­bat­ing the extrem­ist East Turkestan Islam­ic Move­ment (ETIM) in Afghanistan last month. Recall how one of the only pri­ma­ry sources for the claims by Adri­an Zenz and oth­er ‘Uyghur schol­ars’ of mil­lions being held in Chi­nese intern­ment camps came from a small news out­let in Turkey with close ties to ETIM.

    As the arti­cle notes, while ETIM is a UN-des­ig­nat­ed inter­na­tion­al ter­ror orga­ni­za­tion, the US removed it from its ter­ror list in 2020, cit­ing “no cred­i­ble evi­dence” that the group con­tin­ued to exist. Yep, the Trump admin­is­tra­tion just have removed ETIM from the ter­ror watch list last year. And this ter­ror group that alleged­ly no longer exists is the group that’s going to become the new glob­al ral­ly­ing cry over Chi­nese Uyghur crimes against human­i­ty. One of the inter­viewed indi­vid­u­als expressed asserts that all mem­bers of the Uyghur com­mu­ni­ty are brand­ed mem­bers of ETIM by the Tal­iban, so that will pre­sum­ably be part of the nar­ra­tive.

    Now, if it turns out there real­ly are mass depor­ta­tions of Uyghurs to Chi­na, well, that will be quite a dis­turb­ing devel­op­ment. But it’s hard to imag­ine that actu­al­ly hap­pen­ing, espe­cial­ly with the Tal­iban try­ing to woo the world with its new found ‘mod­er­a­tion’. Indi­vid­ual depor­ta­tions of small groups of actu­al ETIM mem­bers, on the oth­er hand, do sound quite plau­si­ble.

    So it looks like we’re in store for a wave of reports about mass Uyghur depor­ta­tions to Chi­nese intern­ment camps. And while that nar­ra­tive looks unlike­ly to be backed by real­i­ty, it is actu­al­ly very pos­si­ble that mem­bers of ETIM will end up being deport­ed, which will no doubt fuel the mass depor­ta­tion nar­ra­tives. Yes, the pos­si­ble depor­ta­tion of mem­bers of the ter­ror­ist group that served as the source of the orig­i­nal ‘mil­lions in intern­ment camps’ claims — and that the US deter­mined no longer exists — will be used to fur­ther spread those intern­ment camp claims. It’s an appro­pri­ate­ly dark next chap­ter a glob­al intel­li­gence-dri­ven geostrate­gic gaslight­ing cam­paign:

    Voice of Amer­i­ca News
    South & Cen­tral Asia

    Uyghurs From Afghanistan Fear Depor­ta­tion to Chi­na

    By Asim Kash­gar­i­an
    Sep­tem­ber 01, 2021 03:44 PM

    As many as 2,000 eth­nic Uyghurs born or liv­ing in Afghanistan have been placed in jeop­ardy by the Tal­iban takeover, with many fear­ing they will be deport­ed Chi­na to join an esti­mat­ed 1 mil­lion fel­low Uyghurs in Xin­jiang intern­ment camps.

    That esti­mate came from Afghan Uyghurs who spoke to VOA about their anx­i­eties, espe­cial­ly as they see Tal­iban and Chi­nese offi­cials explor­ing poten­tial avenues for coop­er­a­tion.

    Memet, a Uyghur jew­el­ry mer­chant from Kab­ul and the father of five, told VOA he was more fright­ened than he’d ever been before. He said he thought the Tal­iban, who are in dire need of eco­nom­ic sup­port, would not hes­i­tate to exchange peo­ple like him and his fam­i­ly for Chi­nese finan­cial aid.

    “I’m most fear­ful that the Tal­iban will even­tu­al­ly give us back to Chi­na, and Chi­na will just shoot us,” said Memet, who asked that only his first name be used. He said he was born in Afghanistan, the son of exiled Uyghur par­ents who came to Afghanistan in 1961 from Chi­na’s autonomous region of Xin­jiang.

    ...

    Chi­na-Tal­iban rela­tions

    Last month, when a Tal­iban del­e­ga­tion met with the Chi­nese for­eign min­is­ter in Tian­jin, Chi­na asked for the Tal­iban’s coop­er­a­tion in com­bat­ing the extrem­ist East Turkestan Islam­ic Move­ment (ETIM) in Afghanistan. The Tal­iban reit­er­at­ed that they would nev­er allow any force to use the Afghan ter­ri­to­ry to engage in acts detri­men­tal to Chi­na.

    ETIM is a U.N.-designated inter­na­tion­al ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion linked to Uyghur mil­i­tants out­side Chi­na. The Unit­ed States removed it from its ter­ror list in 2020, cit­ing “no cred­i­ble evi­dence” that it con­tin­ued to exist.

    Memet said the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment con­sid­ers any Uyghur in Afghanistan to be ETIM and there­fore a threat to Chi­na.

    “The Tal­iban have been say­ing they rep­re­sent and pro­tect the inter­ests of Mus­lims, but what they are promis­ing to [the] Chi­nese gov­ern­ment is the exact oppo­site of that,” Memet said.

    Memet’s fear of depor­ta­tion is not unfound­ed, accord­ing to Bradley Jar­dine, an ana­lyst at the Wash­ing­ton-based Oxus Soci­ety for Cen­tral Asian Affairs.

    “Depor­ta­tions of Uyghurs have tak­en place his­tor­i­cal­ly under the Tal­iban, with 13 Uyghurs hand­ed over to Chi­na fol­low­ing a [2000] meet­ing between Chi­nese Ambas­sador to Pak­istan Lu Shulin and Tal­iban leader Mul­lah Omar in Kan­da­har,” Jar­dine told VOA.

    He added that Afghanistan has his­tor­i­cal­ly been viewed as safer for Uyghurs than neigh­bor­ing Cen­tral Asian coun­tries because it lacks a for­mal extra­di­tion treaty with Chi­na.

    Jar­dine also ref­er­enced the report­ed depor­ta­tion by the Afghan gov­ern­ment of Israel Ahmat, a Uyghur busi­ness­man, in 2015.

    Escap­ing per­se­cu­tion

    A Uyghur woman in Kab­ul, who said she had been liv­ing in Afghanistan since 1961, told VOA over the phone that she was most wor­ried for the safe­ty of her chil­dren and grand­chil­dren, who might end up in Chi­nese intern­ment camps in Xin­jiang.

    “Run­ning away from Chi­na’s per­se­cu­tion, my par­ents brought me to Afghanistan 60 years ago, and now I can’t take my chil­dren and grand­chil­dren to a safe place as my par­ents had done when I was 5,” said the woman, who request­ed anonymi­ty. She said the Uyghurs in Afghanistan need­ed urgent help from the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty to avoid depor­ta­tion to Chi­na.

    Coun­tries such as the Unit­ed States and human rights orga­ni­za­tions such as Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al and Human Rights Watch accuse Chi­na of geno­cide and crimes against human­i­ty as it holds more than 1 mil­lion Uyghurs in intern­ment camps in Xin­jiang. Chi­na denies the accu­sa­tions and says the camps are train­ing cen­ters where Uyghurs whose minds have been poi­soned by reli­gious extrem­ism gain both voca­tion­al and legal train­ing.

    Pos­si­ble dis­ap­pear­ance

    The Uyghurs in Afghanistan are main­ly con­cen­trat­ed in cities such as Kab­ul, Badakhshan and Mazar-i-Sharif, said Abdu­laz­iz Naseri, an Afghan Uyghur who has lived in Istan­bul since 2019.

    “My friends and rel­a­tives in those places call me and tell me that their homes are now being checked by Tal­iban forces,” Naseri told VOA from Istan­bul.

    Naseri said it is easy for the Tal­iban to find the Uyghurs because their Afghan nation­al iden­ti­fi­ca­tion cards show “over­seas Chi­nese” or “Uyghur” as their eth­nic­i­ty.

    “Tal­iban will take Uyghurs and hand them over to Chi­na and will deny the dis­ap­pear­ance of Uyghurs as they have denied oth­er forced dis­ap­pear­ances of dis­si­dents in the past,” Naseri said.

    Hen­ryk Szadziews­ki, research direc­tor at the Wash­ing­ton-based Uyghur Human Rights Project, told VOA that giv­en Bei­jing’s long record of transna­tion­al repres­sion tar­get­ing Uyghurs, the pos­si­bil­i­ty that Chi­na and the Tal­iban would coop­er­ate to deport Uyghurs was high.

    “The new admin­is­tra­tion in Kab­ul has long-stand­ing ties to Bei­jing and is look­ing for polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic sup­port,” Szadziews­ki said. “The Uyghurs are caught between these actors whose oblig­a­tions to inter­na­tion­al rights stan­dards are either nonex­is­tent or lip ser­vice at best.”

    ———–

    “Uyghurs From Afghanistan Fear Depor­ta­tion to Chi­na” by Asim Kash­gar­i­an; Voice of Amer­i­ca News; 09/01/2021

    Coun­tries such as the Unit­ed States and human rights orga­ni­za­tions such as Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al and Human Rights Watch accuse Chi­na of geno­cide and crimes against human­i­ty as it holds more than 1 mil­lion Uyghurs in intern­ment camps in Xin­jiang. Chi­na denies the accu­sa­tions and says the camps are train­ing cen­ters where Uyghurs whose minds have been poi­soned by reli­gious extrem­ism gain both voca­tion­al and legal train­ing.”

    Mil­lions of Uyghurs are liv­ing in intern­ment camps, con­sti­tut­ing a crime against human­i­ty. That’s the US gov­ern­men­t’s nar­ra­tive, backed by west­ern NGO’s like Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al and Human Rights Watch. And yet as we’ve seen, when asked for the actu­al evi­dence of these mass intern­ment camps, we aren’t shown port­fo­lios of satel­lite pho­tos show­ing these giant camps. No, the evi­dence is based on the joke ‘schol­ar­ship’ of fig­ures Adri­an Zenz, whose ‘mil­lions in intern­ment camps’ claims orig­i­nat­ed from Istiqlal TV, an ETIM-friend­ly media out­let in Turkey. And here we are in 2021, with reports that the Tal­iban are plan­ning on declar­ing all Uyghurs ETIM mem­bers deport­ing them off to the Chi­nese intern­ment camps:

    ...
    Last month, when a Tal­iban del­e­ga­tion met with the Chi­nese for­eign min­is­ter in Tian­jin, Chi­na asked for the Tal­iban’s coop­er­a­tion in com­bat­ing the extrem­ist East Turkestan Islam­ic Move­ment (ETIM) in Afghanistan. The Tal­iban reit­er­at­ed that they would nev­er allow any force to use the Afghan ter­ri­to­ry to engage in acts detri­men­tal to Chi­na.

    ETIM is a U.N.-designated inter­na­tion­al ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion linked to Uyghur mil­i­tants out­side Chi­na. The Unit­ed States removed it from its ter­ror list in 2020, cit­ing “no cred­i­ble evi­dence” that it con­tin­ued to exist.

    Memet said the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment con­sid­ers any Uyghur in Afghanistan to be ETIM and there­fore a threat to Chi­na.

    ...

    Memet’s fear of depor­ta­tion is not unfound­ed, accord­ing to Bradley Jar­dine, an ana­lyst at the Wash­ing­ton-based Oxus Soci­ety for Cen­tral Asian Affairs.

    “Depor­ta­tions of Uyghurs have tak­en place his­tor­i­cal­ly under the Tal­iban, with 13 Uyghurs hand­ed over to Chi­na fol­low­ing a [2000] meet­ing between Chi­nese Ambas­sador to Pak­istan Lu Shulin and Tal­iban leader Mul­lah Omar in Kan­da­har,” Jar­dine told VOA.
    ...

    It’s also worth not­ing that the con­cerns that the Afghan nation­al iden­ti­fi­ca­tion cards will make it easy to iden­ti­fy the Uyghurs isn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly a ground­less con­cern. The bio­met­ric sys­tem left over by the US real­ly could be invalu­able for iden­ti­fy­ing indi­vid­u­als and that sys­tem is now being oper­at­ed by the Tal­iban. But that’s also going to be an impor­tant fact to keep in mind when the mass-depor­ta­tion fears don’t actu­al­ly man­i­fest: the Tal­iban prob­a­bly could iden­ti­fy the vast major­i­ty of the Uyghurs liv­ing in the coun­try and deport them if the group real­ly want­ed to. It has the required infor­ma­tion to car­ry out that kind of oper­a­tion:

    ...
    The Uyghurs in Afghanistan are main­ly con­cen­trat­ed in cities such as Kab­ul, Badakhshan and Mazar-i-Sharif, said Abdu­laz­iz Naseri, an Afghan Uyghur who has lived in Istan­bul since 2019.

    “My friends and rel­a­tives in those places call me and tell me that their homes are now being checked by Tal­iban forces,” Naseri told VOA from Istan­bul.

    Naseri said it is easy for the Tal­iban to find the Uyghurs because their Afghan nation­al iden­ti­fi­ca­tion cards show “over­seas Chi­nese” or “Uyghur” as their eth­nic­i­ty.

    “Tal­iban will take Uyghurs and hand them over to Chi­na and will deny the dis­ap­pear­ance of Uyghurs as they have denied oth­er forced dis­ap­pear­ances of dis­si­dents in the past,” Naseri said.
    ...

    So one of the big ques­tions regard­ing how the Tal­iban takeover of Afghanistan will impact the grow­ing ten­sions between Chi­na and the West is the ques­tion of just how many Uyghurs the Tal­iban ends up deport­ing. Will in be just a few high-tar­get indi­vid­u­als? Dozens? Hun­dreds? We don’t know but we can be con­fi­dent that what­ev­er the num­ber is, it will be inflat­ed sig­nif­i­cant­ly and ampli­fied around the world.

    And then there’s the ques­tion of how much longer will it be before ETIM ‘ris­es from the dead’ and is rebrand­ed a right­eous free­dom fight­er group in need of covert mil­i­tary aid.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 5, 2021, 4:16 pm
  7. @Robert Ward Mon­tene­gro and Pter­rafractyl–

    The his­to­ry of the con­cate­na­tion that you have both admirably iden­ti­fied is worth tak­ing stock of:

    The series I am doing about the Nar­co-Fas­cism of Chi­ang Kai-shek is not some­thing that was “long ago and far away.”

    From FTR#1145 (https://spitfirelist.com/for-the-record/ftr-1145-the-uyghurs-and-the-destabilization-of-china-part‑3/): ” . . . .The Far-Right Roots of the Uyghur “Human Rights” Move­ment

    Behind its care­ful­ly con­struct­ed human rights brand, the Uyghur sep­a­ratist move­ment emerged from ele­ments in Xin­jiang which view social­ism as “the ene­my of Islam,” and which sought Washington’s sup­port from the out­set, pre­sent­ing them­selves as eager foot-sol­diers for US hege­mo­ny.

    The found­ing father of this sep­a­ratist move­ment was Isa Yusuf Alptekin. His son, Erkin Alptekin, found­ed the WUC and served as the organization’s inau­gur­al pres­i­dent. The senior Alptekin is referred to as “our late leader” by the WUC and cur­rent Pres­i­dent Dolkun Isa.

    Born at the turn of the 20th cen­tu­ry, Alptekin was the son of a local gov­ern­ment Xin­jiang offi­cial. He received a large­ly Islam­ic edu­ca­tion as a youth, as his fam­i­ly intend­ed for him to be a reli­gious schol­ar.

    Dur­ing the Chi­nese Civ­il War that raged between the nation­al­ists and com­mu­nists from 1945 to ’49, Alptekin served under the nation­al­ist Kuom­intang (KMT) admin­is­tra­tion in Xin­jiang. Through­out this peri­od, the KMT received mas­sive mil­i­tary and eco­nom­ic back­ing from the Unit­ed States — includ­ing bil­lions of dol­lars in cash and mil­i­tary hard­ware, along with the deploy­ment of tens of thou­sands of US marines — in an effort to quash the Chi­nese rev­o­lu­tion.

    At the same time, accord­ing to his­to­ri­an Lin­da Ben­son, Alptekin “became more active in both the Guo­min­dang [sic] and nation­al lev­el pol­i­tics … and met sev­er­al times with [KMT leader] Chi­ang Kai-shek per­son­al­ly.” For Alptekin and fel­low trav­el­ers advanc­ing Tur­kic nation­al­ism and the region’s even­tu­al inde­pen­dence, “equal­ly impor­tant was the neces­si­ty of pro­tect­ing the land they called East Turkestan from Sovi­et and Chi­nese com­mu­nism, both of which were viewed as real and present dan­gers to Islam­ic peo­ples.”

    For the KMT, Uyghur activists like Alptekin made prime can­di­dates for Xinjiang’s provin­cial admin­is­tra­tion. As Ben­son explained, “[t]he essen­tial qual­i­fi­ca­tion for such appointees… was that they be anti-Com­mu­nist and anti-Sovi­et.” In his mem­oirs, Alptekin revealed that he “sought to elim­i­nate all Rus­sians and left­ists in the gov­ern­ment,” and said that “schools were also encour­aged to include reli­gious instruc­tion in their cur­ricu­lum.”

    A fer­vent oppo­nent of mis­ce­gena­tion, Alptekin worked to pre­vent inter­mar­riage between Han Chi­nese and Uyghur Mus­lims. Dur­ing his time in gov­ern­ment, reli­gious fun­da­men­tal­ists “attacked the hous­es of Han Chi­nese who were mar­ried to Moslem [sic] women […] The mob abduct­ed the Moslem wives, and in some cas­es the unfor­tu­nate women were forced to mar­ry old Moslem men.” Though the vio­lence killed numer­ous Han Chi­nese, it pro­ceed­ed with­out any gov­ern­ment response dur­ing Alptekin’s tenure.

    As the civ­il war wore on, Alptekin grew frus­trat­ed with the declin­ing pow­er of the nation­al­ists and met with US and British Con­suls in Xin­jiang, beseech­ing the twin pow­ers to deep­en their inter­ven­tion in Chi­na and the region. With the com­ing vic­to­ry of the Chi­nese Rev­o­lu­tion, Alptekin went into exile in 1949.

    Alptekin even­tu­al­ly set­tled in Turkey, emerg­ing as the pre-emi­nent leader of the Uyghur sep­a­ratist move­ment through­out the lat­ter half of the 20th cen­tu­ry. He set out to enlist inter­na­tion­al sup­port for the cause of East Turkestan inde­pen­dence, court­ing lead­ing US offi­cials and far-right, neo-Ottoman­ist ide­o­logues in Turkey. . . .”

    That mate­r­i­al is excerpt­ed from https://thegrayzone.com/2020/03/05/world-uyghur-congress-us-far-right-regime-change-network-fall-china/

    Shows worth review­ing in this con­text:

    AFA#14: https://spitfirelist.com/anti-fascist-archives/rfa-14-the-world-anti-communist-league-pt‑1/

    The AFA series about the shoot­ing of the Pope: https://spitfirelist.com/anti-fascist-archives/rfa-17–21-who-shot-the-pope/

    https://spitfirelist.com/for-the-record/ftr-59-the-turkish-stay-behind/

    Ain’t we got fun!

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | September 5, 2021, 6:12 pm
  8. When it is all said and done, all we are real­ly look­ing at in places like Xin­jiang and Kab­ul is a grotesque, CIA-backed, per­ver­sion of a Reichssicher­heit­shaup­tamt coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence oper­a­tion called “Unternehmen Zep­pelin”, which, at it’s core, mil­i­ta­rized Islam­ic cler­i­cal fas­cists, gave them weapons, and point­ed them in the direc­tion of the Sovi­et Red Army.

    It would behoove all of Dave Emory’s lis­ten­ers to learn all you can about the activ­i­ties of five Nazis-turned CIA offi­cers:

    François Genoud

    Ger­hard von Mende

    Ruzi Nazar

    SS-Sturm­ban­n­führer Johann von Leers

    *SS-Stan­darten­führer Wil­helm Hin­ter­satz

    The inno­cent peo­ples of West­ern Eura­sia are cur­rent­ly liv­ing in a night­mare of their mak­ing...

    *(It should be not­ed that Wil­helm Hin­ter­satza was a Nazi Islam­ic cler­i­cal fas­cist who com­mand­ed the blood-thirsty “Waf­fen­gruppe Idel-Ural Ost­musel­man­is­ches SS-Reg­i­ment”, many of whose sur­viv­ing mem­bers formed Vice Pres­i­dent Nixon’s pet project, “Nation­al Cap­tive Nations Com­mit­tee”; in fact, when Richard Nixon vis­it­ed Kab­ul air­field in 1953, he was greet­ed by Afghan Army solid­ers wear­ing Waf­fen-SS uni­forms, many of them vet­er­ans of the Ost­musel­man­is­ches SS-Reg­i­ment — here is a link to a pho­to­graph of Richard Nixon meet­ing those Nazi com­man­dos: https://picryl.com/media/vice-president-richard-nixon-reviews-an-honor-guard-upon-arrival-in-kabul-1ce85d).

    Posted by Robert Montenegro | September 6, 2021, 10:50 am
  9. @Robert Ward Mon­tene­gro–

    Amen, or should it be “Sieg Heil!?”

    One key name miss­ing from your alto­geth­er sub­stan­tive “Mur­der­ers’ Row”–SS Offi­cer and lat­er Ger­man cab­i­net offi­cer Theodore Ober­lan­der.

    He was a real “Earth Island Spe­cial­ist,” avid­ly pro­mot­ing both Ukrain­ian and var­i­ous Mus­lim nation­al­i­ties as Third Reich troops.

    Von Mende report­ed to him, as did Roman Shukhevych, who led the pogrom at Lvov in 1941.

    Ober­lan­der was also a key mem­ber of Willough­by’s Inter­na­tion­al Com­mis­sion For the Defense of Chris­t­ian Cul­ture.

    Not a name most peo­ple know, but you undoubt­ed­ly do.

    I rec­om­mend to ambi­tious lis­ten­ers that they tack­le AFA#‘s 17–21 about the shoot­ing of the Pope.

    A High-Calo­rie diet but well worth the time need­ed to con­sume it!

    BTW–as dis­cussed in FTR#1144 (https://spitfirelist.com/for-the-record/ftr-1144-the-uyghurs-and-the-destabilization-of-china-part‑2/) Nazar worked with Isa Yusuf Alptekin at the Ban­dung Con­fer­ence in 1955.

    Ques­tion about the Nixon pho­to.

    Is that a Copy­right­ed pho­to or can it be used in a post with­out a licens­ing fee?

    BTW–it looks like your aver­age, run-of-the-mill Repub­li­can get togeth­er!

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | September 6, 2021, 5:03 pm
  10. Yes, Mr. Emory, the Nixon-Afghan com­man­do pho­to is pub­lic domain, and it can be used in a post with­out a licens­ing fee.

    As for Theodor Ober­län­der, it could be argued that all the “Inter­na­tion­al Com­mit­tee for the Defence of Chris­t­ian Cul­ture” orga­ni­za­tion real­ly was, that is, it’s main func­tion, is it was an inter­na­tion­al intel­li­gence net­work for rev­o­lu­tion­ary fas­cist net­works, many of whom graft­ed them­selves to the far-right cliques of the anti-Cas­tro ter­ror­ist ele­ments head­quar­tered at CIA Sta­tion “JMWAVE” in Mia­mi, Flori­da.

    I think you coined the best term for it — a “Cuban Freiko­rps”.

    One Nazi com­man­do that was involved in Islam­ic cler­i­cal fas­cist death-squad activ­i­ties in Iran dur­ing WWII (in a covert oper­a­tion dubbed “Oper­a­tion François”), one Waf­fen-SS Lt. Col. Otto Sko­rzeny, has now been pos­i­tive­ly iden­ti­fied as an asset of the anti-Cas­tro Cuban ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion “Alpha-66” founder Eloy Gutiér­rez Menoyo (here are some sup­port­ing doc­u­ments: https://www.archives.gov/files/research/jfk/releases/docid-32336950.pdf).

    It seems that all of Mr. Emory’s dis­senters to the Nazi angles sur­round­ing the mur­der of Pres­i­dent Kennedy have some­thing new to con­tend with: doc­u­ments.

    Sor­ry to detract so far from the top­ic of this post (deep pol­i­tics in Afghanistan), but it should be not­ed that one of the many rea­sons Pres­i­dent Kennedy was mur­dered (and an over­looked one to be sure) was his peace­ful con­ces­sions to the non-aligned King of Afghanistan, Mohammed Zahir Shah (here are some doc­u­ments sup­port­ing the JFK-Zahir rela­tion­ship: https://www.jfklibrary.org/asset-viewer/archives/JFKPOF/111/JFKPOF-111–004).

    Inci­den­tal­ly King Zahir of Afghanistan was in 1973, him­self a vic­tim of a CIA-backed mil­i­tary coup! In fact, the man that replaced him, Gen­er­al Mohammed Daoud Khan, has long been sus­pect­ed of being a CIA asset or a CAS (Con­trolled Amer­i­can Source) of sorts.

    But, I digress...

    Posted by Robert Montenegro | September 6, 2021, 6:54 pm
  11. @Robert Ward Mon­tene­gro–

    I for­got to men­tion (in the con­text of the Cap­tive Nations Com­mit­tee) that they are the par­ent orga­ni­za­tion of the Vic­tims of Com­mu­nism Memo­r­i­al Foun­da­tion, the spon­sor of Adri­an Zenz, the Ger­man End Times Chris­t­ian who is the West­ern medi­a’s go-to-guy for the Uighur geno­cide b.s.

    As the French say, “The More Things Change, The More They’re The Same!”

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | September 7, 2021, 3:25 pm
  12. @Dave: Here’s a set of four arti­cles that tells an illus­tra­tive sto­ry in the laun­der­ing of ‘facts’ in the media around the issue of Chi­na’s treat­ment of the Uyghurs:

    1. The first arti­cle, from August 17, 2021, is about the secu­ri­ty risks and chal­lenges the Tal­iban takeover of Afghanistan pos­es to Chi­na. In that arti­cle, we find the fol­low­ing unqual­i­fied state­ments about how hun­dreds of thou­sand sof Uyghurs and oth­er sus­pect­ed of Islamist rad­i­cal­iza­tion were thrown into deten­tion camps, includ­ing women and the elder­ly, also not­ing the Trump admin­is­tra­tion said this meets the def­i­n­i­tion of geno­cide. What’s the source for these claims of hun­dreds of thou­sands of Uyghurs lan­guish­ing in camps? We only get a link back to May 2018 Wash­ing­ton Post arti­cle:

    ...
    China’s fears of ter­ror­ism in Xin­jiang prompt­ed one of the most cost­ly and crit­i­cized poli­cies of Pres­i­dent Xi Jinping’s tenure. In 2017, Chi­na began a sweep­ing crack­down in Xin­jiang, which shares land bor­ders with Afghanistan and Pak­istan-con­trolled Kash­mir. Hun­dreds of thou­sands of Uyghurs and oth­er minori­ties said to be sus­pect­ed of Islamist rad­i­cal­iza­tion were thrown into deten­tion camps with­out tri­als, includ­ing women and the elder­ly.

    The indis­crim­i­nate nature of the deten­tions raised alarms around the world, espe­cial­ly as detainees’ tes­ti­monies of tor­ture trick­led out. The Unit­ed States said the pro­gram meets the def­i­n­i­tion of “geno­cide,” and imposed sanc­tions on a long list of Xin­jiang-made prod­ucts.
    ...

    2. Next, look­ing at that May 2018 Wash­ing­ton Post arti­cle, we learn more about the source of those “hun­dreds of thou­sands” claims. Sur­prise! It was Adri­an Zenz. He’s described sim­ply as a lead­ing author­i­ty on the cur­rent crack­down in Xin­jiang:

    ...
    Between sev­er­al hun­dred thou­sand and more than 1 mil­lion Mus­lims have been detained in China’s mass “reed­u­ca­tion” camps in the restive province of Xin­jiang, Adri­an Zenz of the Euro­pean School of Cul­ture and The­ol­o­gy in Korn­tal, Ger­many, said in a report released Tues­day. Zenz is a lead­ing author­i­ty on the cur­rent crack­down in Xin­jiang.
    ...

    So Zen­z’s claims of there being between sev­er­al hun­dred thou­sand and more than 1 mil­lion being detained pub­lished in a 2018 Jamestown Foun­da­tion report were being laun­dered as indis­putable facts three years lat­er. That’s how this works.

    But it’s near the end of this arti­cle where we find anoth­er exam­ple of Xin­jiang ‘fact’ laun­der­ing, and this one is a doozie: After link­ing to Radio Free Asi­a’s Uyghur news page, the arti­cle links back to a Jan­u­ary 5 2018 RFA report, claim­ing that this report quot­ed a Chi­nese offi­cial mak­ing pret­ty inflam­ma­to­ry state­ments seem­ing to more or less admit all of Zen­z’s claims about mass indis­crim­i­nate deten­tions:

    ...
    Also detained have been dozens of fam­i­ly mem­bers of jour­nal­ists from the Wash­ing­ton-based RFA, who have been at the fore­front of report­ing on the deep­en­ing crack­down in Xin­jiang and the reed­u­ca­tion camps. At least two of the affect­ed reporters, both nat­u­ral­ized U.S. cit­i­zens, have rea­son to believe their fam­i­ly mem­bers were detained specif­i­cal­ly because of their report­ing, RFA said.

    In one report, RFA quot­ed a Chi­nese offi­cial as jus­ti­fy­ing the wide­spread deten­tions in blunt terms.

    “You can’t uproot all the weeds hid­den among the crops in the field one by one — you need to spray chem­i­cals to kill them all,” the offi­cial was quot­ed as say­ing. “Reed­u­cat­ing these peo­ple is like spray­ing chem­i­cals on the crops. That is why it is a gen­er­al reed­u­ca­tion, not lim­it­ed to a few peo­ple.”
    ...

    3. Ok, so look­ing back at that Jan 5, 2018, RFA arti­cle, do we indeed find that a Chi­nese offi­cial was quot­ed say­ing these things? Well, not quite. The RFA report was about the arrest of four wealth Uyghurs in May 2017, and seemed to con­firm rumors of their arrests. The arrests were con­firmed by an anony­mous source to the RFA reporter. But then it gets weird. Those anony­mous claims were then backed up by an indi­vid­ual iden­ti­fied as Yasi­nahun, the secu­ri­ty chief the chief of secu­ri­ty for Kashgar’s Chasa town­ship. No last name is giv­en. It’s just “Yasi­nahun”, the secu­ri­ty chief of Chasa town­ship, seem­ing­ly open­ly talk­ing with this RFA reporter. And, lo and behold, it turns out those inflam­ma­to­ry quotes from that Chi­nese offi­cial did­n’t come direct­ly from that offi­cial. They were recount­ed to the RFA reporter by Yasi­nahun:

    ...
    Yasi­nahun said he was unsure of how many peo­ple are cur­rent­ly being held in re-edu­ca­tion camps in Kash­gar city, but that “around 2,000 peo­ple” were being held from Chasa alone.

    “Most peo­ple are being detained at the Yawagh Street deten­tion facil­i­ty in Kash­gar city,” he said.

    The secu­ri­ty chief also said it was unclear when the cam­paign of polit­i­cal re-edu­ca­tion in Kash­gar would end.

    At one of the meet­ings held in the city, one of the Chi­nese offi­cials said, ‘you can’t uproot all the weeds hid­den among the crops in the field one by one—you need to spray chem­i­cals to kill them all,’” he said.

    He went on to say, ‘re-edu­cat­ing these peo­ple is like spray­ing chem­i­cals on the crops. That is why it is a gen­er­al re-edu­ca­tion, not lim­it­ed to a few peo­ple.’”

    The mes­sage I got from this was that the re-edu­ca­tion will last a very long time.”
    ...

    So we have “Yasi­nahun”, the alleged secu­ri­ty chief of Chasa town­ship, quot­ing oth­er Chi­nese offi­cials mak­ing remark­able admis­sions about the Uyghurs. And Yasi­nahun is telling all this to an RFA reporter. Seem­ing­ly with no fear of gov­ern­ment reprisal.

    4. And that brings us to the fourth arti­cle. It’s a Jan 22, 2018, RFA arti­cle by the same reporter. The arti­cle is about how an anony­mous Chi­nese offi­cial con­firmed to the RFA reporter that around 120,000 Uyghurs were detained in re-edu­ca­tion camps in Kash­gar pre­fec­ture alone. It’s the kind of claim that goes a long way towards con­firm­ing all of the worst wears about a hid­den geno­cide tak­ing place right now. Except it’s also a claim that is so mind numb­ing­ly stu­pid it’s hard to know how to inter­pret it. Because we aren’t just told that this was an anony­mous Chi­nese offi­cial seem­ing to con­firm the mass deten­tion claims. We are specif­i­cal­ly told it was the secu­ri­ty chief of Kash­gar city’s Chasa town­ship recent­ly con­firmed these fears to RFA on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty. This anony­mous secu­ri­ty chief of Chasa went on to brag about his close rela­tion­ship with all the oth­er gov­ern­ment offi­cials involved with this pol­i­cy. Yes, it was lit­er­al­ly report­ed exact­ly like that:

    ...
    The secu­ri­ty chief of Kash­gar city’s Chasa town­ship recent­ly told RFA on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty that “approx­i­mate­ly 120,000” Uyghurs are being held through­out the pre­fec­ture, based on infor­ma­tion he has received from oth­er area offi­cials.

    “I have great rela­tion­ships with the heads of all the gov­ern­ment depart­ments and we are in reg­u­lar con­tact, inform­ing each oth­er on the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion,” he said, adding that he is also close with the prefecture’s chief of secu­ri­ty.
    ...

    How are we to inter­pret some­thing this stu­pid? It does­n’t even qual­i­fy as fact laun­der­ing. Or gaslight­ing. It’s like a dark satir­i­cal ver­sion of fact laun­der­ing.

    So, to review, we have a Jan 5, 2018, RFA arti­cle where Yasi­nahun, secu­ri­ty chief of Chasa town­ship, quotes oth­er Chi­nese offi­cials mak­ing inflam­ma­to­ry com­ments about mass indis­crim­i­nate deten­tions. Two and a half weeks lat­er, the same RFA reporter then seems to con­firm that 120,000 peo­ple for Kash­gar pre­fec­ture alone are being held in these camps, cit­ing the anony­mous Chasa town­ship secu­ri­ty chief. Four months lat­er, the Wash­ing­ton Post pub­lish­es an arti­cle tout­ing Adri­an Zen­z’s claims of between sev­er­al hun­dred thou­sand or more than a mil­lion Uyghurs being held in these camps, link­ing back to the first RFA arti­cle and refer­ring to the inflam­ma­to­ry quotes but pass­ing it off as if it was a direct quote from the offi­cial and not a recount­ing by Yasi­nahun. And then, more than three years lat­er, we find a Wash­ing­ton Post arti­cle mak­ing straight unqual­i­fied asser­tions about hun­dreds of thou­sands of Uyghur deten­tions that might amount to geno­cide and link­ing back to that May 2018 Wash­ing­ton Post arti­cle. It’s jour­nal­is­tic myth-mak­ing in action.

    Ok, first, here’s the Wash­ing­ton Post arti­cle from a few weeks ago about the secu­ri­ty chal­lenges Chi­na faces with a Tal­iban-run Afghanistan. Chal­lenges that some secu­ri­ty experts are pre­dict­ing will test Chi­na’s resolve to remain a non-mil­i­tary-dri­ven glob­al pow­er that influ­ences pri­mar­i­ly through eco­nom­ic car­rots vs mil­i­tary sticks. As these experts point out, it’s not just jihadist attacks inside Chi­na that could prompt a Chi­nese mil­i­tary response. Chi­na has grow­ing eco­nom­ic inter­ests through­out Cen­tral Asia (i.e. the Belt and Road ini­tia­tive). Jihadist attacks through­out the region could poten­tial­ly threat­en that agen­da and draw Chi­na into a mil­i­tary con­flict. The kind of mil­i­tary con­flict that could poten­tial­ly shat­ter Chi­na’s plans for becom­ing a non-impe­r­i­al glob­al pow­er. It’s a grim reminder that schemes for draw­ing Chi­na into a deep­er con­flict with jihadists might involve try­ing to cre­ate that con­flict out­side of Chi­na’s bor­der by cre­at­ing a much larg­er region­al con­flict:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    Chi­na faces threat in volatile bor­der­lands after Afghanistan falls to the Tal­iban

    By Eva Dou and Rebec­ca Tan
    August 17, 2021 at 5:52 a.m. EDT

    A year into the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, a Chi­nese secu­ri­ty schol­ar warned her country’s para­mil­i­tary offi­cers about the Taliban’s reach close to home.

    More than 400 “sep­a­ratists” in China’s north­west Xin­jiang region had been trained in light and heavy weapons and explo­sive devices in Tal­iban train­ing camps, accord­ing to a paper by Wang Yan­ing, a lec­tur­er at the Chi­nese Armed Police Force Acad­e­my, pub­lished in the school’s jour­nal in 2002.

    “The Tal­iban pro­vides arms sup­port for Xin­jiang sep­a­ratist forces,” she wrote.

    ...

    The depar­ture of the Unit­ed States from Afghanistan also gives Chi­na an oppor­tu­ni­ty to step into a larg­er role, at a time when Bei­jing is seek­ing greater inter­na­tion­al sway. Chi­nese offi­cials sig­naled their inter­est in Afghanistan’s future late last month, when For­eign Min­is­ter Wang Yi host­ed senior Tal­iban offi­cials in Tian­jin.

    At the meet­ing, Wang demand­ed that the Tal­iban sev­er ties with the East Turkestan Islam­ic Move­ment (ETIM), a sep­a­ratist group that Bei­jing has blamed for attacks in Xin­jiang, even as he said the Tal­iban would play an impor­tant role in rebuild­ing Afghanistan.

    “Chi­na has made it very clear,” said Vic­tor Gao, a for­mer Chi­nese For­eign Min­istry offi­cial who is now a chair pro­fes­sor at Soo­chow Uni­ver­si­ty. “Chi­na will not allow Afghanistan to be used by any force as a threat to Chi­na.”

    China’s fears of ter­ror­ism in Xin­jiang prompt­ed one of the most cost­ly and crit­i­cized poli­cies of Pres­i­dent Xi Jinping’s tenure. In 2017, Chi­na began a sweep­ing crack­down in Xin­jiang, which shares land bor­ders with Afghanistan and Pak­istan-con­trolled Kash­mir. Hun­dreds of thou­sands of Uyghurs and oth­er minori­ties said to be sus­pect­ed of Islamist rad­i­cal­iza­tion were thrown into deten­tion camps with­out tri­als, includ­ing women and the elder­ly.

    The indis­crim­i­nate nature of the deten­tions raised alarms around the world, espe­cial­ly as detainees’ tes­ti­monies of tor­ture trick­led out. The Unit­ed States said the pro­gram meets the def­i­n­i­tion of “geno­cide,” and imposed sanc­tions on a long list of Xin­jiang-made prod­ucts.

    Chi­na has qui­et­ly eased up parts of its Xin­jiang pro­gram, even as it has vocif­er­ous­ly defend­ed the crack­down as nec­es­sary for coun­tert­er­ror­ism.

    Now, Bei­jing faces the poten­tial of renewed rad­i­cal­iza­tion to its west, and ques­tions of how to man­age Xin­jiang, a resource-rich region more than twice the size of Texas with a pop­u­la­tion of 25 mil­lion. A renewed ramp-up of Chi­nese secu­ri­ty forces in Xin­jiang would prob­a­bly prompt an inter­na­tion­al out­cry, after the doc­u­ment­ed human rights abus­es and eth­nic dis­crim­i­na­tion of the last cam­paign.

    Chi­na also faces the prospect of an influx of Afghan refugees.

    Claude Rak­isits, a for­mer Aus­tralian defense offi­cial and an hon­orary asso­ciate pro­fes­sor at the Aus­tralian Nation­al Uni­ver­si­ty, said Chi­na is seek­ing to have more influ­ence in Afghanistan, and could emerge as the top exter­nal play­er in the coun­try. But it’s unlike­ly to fol­low the U.S. exam­ple in a mil­i­tary inter­ven­tion, he said.

    “They are cer­tain­ly not going to put boots on the ground,” he said. “Look at these three, the Brits, the Rus­sians, the Amer­i­cans. They’ve all basi­cal­ly broke their teeth there.”

    Sean Roberts, a George Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty pro­fes­sor who stud­ies the Xin­jiang region, said devel­op­ments in Afghanistan in the com­ing months may test China’s self-pro­claimed strat­e­gy of stay­ing out of oth­er coun­tries’ inter­nal affairs. If the rise of the Tal­iban caus­es pro­tract­ed insta­bil­i­ty in Afghanistan or fuels Islamist extrem­ism in oth­er parts of Cen­tral Asia where Chi­na has eco­nom­ic inter­ests, “the fal­la­cy of the dichoto­my between polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic engage­ment will be dif­fi­cult to main­tain,” Roberts said.

    Chi­nese offi­cials wor­ry about the prospect of Afghanistan becom­ing a haven for Islamist mil­i­tant groups, includ­ing ETIM. In 2016, Kyr­gyzs­tan said Uyghur mil­i­tants were behind a sui­cide bomb attack on the Chi­nese Embassy. Islamist extrem­ists have assert­ed respon­si­bil­i­ty for sev­er­al inci­dents of vio­lence against Chi­nese work­ers in Pak­istan, and in 2017, the Chi­nese Embassy in Islam­abad issued a warn­ing of “immi­nent attacks” to cit­i­zens.

    “This threat is real,” said Haiyun Ma, an asso­ciate pro­fes­sor at Frost­burg State Uni­ver­si­ty who stud­ies China’s rela­tions with Islam­ic coun­tries, though it’s hard to ascer­tain whether the attacks are being dri­ven specif­i­cal­ly by Uyghur mil­i­tants or oth­er groups. There hasn’t been reli­able research done on how many Uyghur mil­i­tants are present in Cen­tral Asia, he not­ed, and it’s pos­si­ble that Chi­nese author­i­ties have over­es­ti­mat­ed and exag­ger­at­ed their num­bers.

    Chi­na may try to offer the Tal­iban eco­nom­ic aid or inter­na­tion­al recog­ni­tion in exchange for its com­mit­ment to cut ties with ETIM — Wang, the for­eign min­is­ter, made this request explic­it­ly at a recent meet­ing — but whether it can trust the Tal­iban remains to be seen, experts say.

    The Tal­iban could restrict groups such as ETIM from attack­ing Chi­na or Chi­nese projects, but it’s unlike­ly to quash them entire­ly or force­ful­ly eject them from Afghanistan, Ma said.

    “It’s real­ly dan­ger­ous for Tal­iban to fight against ETIM . . . because Tal­iban will lose legit­i­ma­cy as a jihadist orga­ni­za­tion,” he said. Groups like ETIM are con­nect­ed to a com­plex net­work of oth­er Islamist mil­i­tants across Cen­tral Asia, he added, and the Tal­iban risks infight­ing if it tar­gets one or the oth­er.

    Roberts said the Tal­iban may promise Chi­na that it won’t allow Uyghur mil­i­tants to attack Chi­nese projects or insti­tu­tions, but “it’s still a ques­tion as to whether the Tal­iban can con­trol every­body with­in its orbit.”

    ...

    ————

    “Chi­na faces threat in volatile bor­der­lands after Afghanistan falls to the Tal­iban” by Eva Dou and Rebec­ca Tan; The Wash­ing­ton Post; 08/17/2021

    “China’s fears of ter­ror­ism in Xin­jiang prompt­ed one of the most cost­ly and crit­i­cized poli­cies of Pres­i­dent Xi Jinping’s tenure. In 2017, Chi­na began a sweep­ing crack­down in Xin­jiang, which shares land bor­ders with Afghanistan and Pak­istan-con­trolled Kash­mir. Hun­dreds of thou­sands of Uyghurs and oth­er minori­ties said to be sus­pect­ed of Islamist rad­i­cal­iza­tion were thrown into deten­tion camps with­out tri­als, includ­ing women and the elder­ly.

    Hun­dreds of thou­sands of Uyghurs have been thrown into deten­tion camps with­out tri­al. State­ments like this are just made with­out qual­i­fi­ca­tions these days. It’s accept­ed as a giv­en that of course Chi­na is mass detain­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of Uyghurs. Every­one knows it, after all. But there is at least a link to a May 2018 Wash­ing­ton Post sto­ry where there “hun­dreds of thou­sands” num­ber came from. As we’re going to see, it came from Adri­an Zenz. Because of course it did. Zenz is the lead author of this nar­ra­tive. Although not the only one. It’s a group effort, like when then-Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo declared there was geno­cide tak­ing place in Xin­jiang. We’re assured this is all thor­ough­ly documented...we’re just nev­er actu­al­ly shown the thor­ough doc­u­men­ta­tion:

    ...
    The indis­crim­i­nate nature of the deten­tions raised alarms around the world, espe­cial­ly as detainees’ tes­ti­monies of tor­ture trick­led out. The Unit­ed States said the pro­gram meets the def­i­n­i­tion of “geno­cide,” and imposed sanc­tions on a long list of Xin­jiang-made prod­ucts.

    Chi­na has qui­et­ly eased up parts of its Xin­jiang pro­gram, even as it has vocif­er­ous­ly defend­ed the crack­down as nec­es­sary for coun­tert­er­ror­ism.

    Now, Bei­jing faces the poten­tial of renewed rad­i­cal­iza­tion to its west, and ques­tions of how to man­age Xin­jiang, a resource-rich region more than twice the size of Texas with a pop­u­la­tion of 25 mil­lion. A renewed ramp-up of Chi­nese secu­ri­ty forces in Xin­jiang would prob­a­bly prompt an inter­na­tion­al out­cry, after the doc­u­ment­ed human rights abus­es and eth­nic dis­crim­i­na­tion of the last cam­paign.
    ...

    Final­ly, note the pre­dic­tions of West­ern secu­ri­ty ana­lysts on whether or not Chi­na will be able to resist a mil­i­tary to poten­tial ter­ror activ­i­ty by groups like ETIM ema­nat­ing from Afghanistan: if Tal­iban rule results in pro­tract­ed Islamist extrem­ism in parts of Cen­tral Asia where Chi­na has eco­nom­ic inter­ests, Chi­na may find it dif­fi­cult to rely exclu­sive­ly on polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic tools. In oth­er words, we should prob­a­bly expect jihadist activ­i­ty all along Chi­na’s Cen­tral Asian “Silk Road” eco­nom­ic ambi­tions. Not just in Xin­jiang:

    ...
    Claude Rak­isits, a for­mer Aus­tralian defense offi­cial and an hon­orary asso­ciate pro­fes­sor at the Aus­tralian Nation­al Uni­ver­si­ty, said Chi­na is seek­ing to have more influ­ence in Afghanistan, and could emerge as the top exter­nal play­er in the coun­try. But it’s unlike­ly to fol­low the U.S. exam­ple in a mil­i­tary inter­ven­tion, he said.

    “They are cer­tain­ly not going to put boots on the ground,” he said. “Look at these three, the Brits, the Rus­sians, the Amer­i­cans. They’ve all basi­cal­ly broke their teeth there.”

    Sean Roberts, a George Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty pro­fes­sor who stud­ies the Xin­jiang region, said devel­op­ments in Afghanistan in the com­ing months may test China’s self-pro­claimed strat­e­gy of stay­ing out of oth­er coun­tries’ inter­nal affairs. If the rise of the Tal­iban caus­es pro­tract­ed insta­bil­i­ty in Afghanistan or fuels Islamist extrem­ism in oth­er parts of Cen­tral Asia where Chi­na has eco­nom­ic inter­ests, “the fal­la­cy of the dichoto­my between polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic engage­ment will be dif­fi­cult to main­tain,” Roberts said.

    Chi­nese offi­cials wor­ry about the prospect of Afghanistan becom­ing a haven for Islamist mil­i­tant groups, includ­ing ETIM. In 2016, Kyr­gyzs­tan said Uyghur mil­i­tants were behind a sui­cide bomb attack on the Chi­nese Embassy. Islamist extrem­ists have assert­ed respon­si­bil­i­ty for sev­er­al inci­dents of vio­lence against Chi­nese work­ers in Pak­istan, and in 2017, the Chi­nese Embassy in Islam­abad issued a warn­ing of “immi­nent attacks” to cit­i­zens.

    “This threat is real,” said Haiyun Ma, an asso­ciate pro­fes­sor at Frost­burg State Uni­ver­si­ty who stud­ies China’s rela­tions with Islam­ic coun­tries, though it’s hard to ascer­tain whether the attacks are being dri­ven specif­i­cal­ly by Uyghur mil­i­tants or oth­er groups. There hasn’t been reli­able research done on how many Uyghur mil­i­tants are present in Cen­tral Asia, he not­ed, and it’s pos­si­ble that Chi­nese author­i­ties have over­es­ti­mat­ed and exag­ger­at­ed their num­bers.

    Chi­na may try to offer the Tal­iban eco­nom­ic aid or inter­na­tion­al recog­ni­tion in exchange for its com­mit­ment to cut ties with ETIM — Wang, the for­eign min­is­ter, made this request explic­it­ly at a recent meet­ing — but whether it can trust the Tal­iban remains to be seen, experts say.

    The Tal­iban could restrict groups such as ETIM from attack­ing Chi­na or Chi­nese projects, but it’s unlike­ly to quash them entire­ly or force­ful­ly eject them from Afghanistan, Ma said.

    “It’s real­ly dan­ger­ous for Tal­iban to fight against ETIM . . . because Tal­iban will lose legit­i­ma­cy as a jihadist orga­ni­za­tion,” he said. Groups like ETIM are con­nect­ed to a com­plex net­work of oth­er Islamist mil­i­tants across Cen­tral Asia, he added, and the Tal­iban risks infight­ing if it tar­gets one or the oth­er.

    Roberts said the Tal­iban may promise Chi­na that it won’t allow Uyghur mil­i­tants to attack Chi­nese projects or insti­tu­tions, but “it’s still a ques­tion as to whether the Tal­iban can con­trol every­body with­in its orbit.”
    ...

    Ok, now let’s take a look at the May 2018 Wash­ing­ton Post arti­cle that the above August 2021 arti­cle links to when mak­ing the “hun­dreds of thou­sand in camps” blan­ket asser­tion. It was, of course, a “fact” brought to us by Adri­an Zenz. And it’s in this arti­cle that we find what appears to be con­fir­ma­tion by Chi­nese offi­cials of Zen­z’s claims. An offi­cial more or less admit­ted to the mass indis­crim­i­nate re-edu­ca­tion camps to a Radio Free Asia reporter four months ear­li­er. At least that’s what the Wash­ing­ton Post arti­cle erro­neous­ly claims, while link­ing back to that RFA arti­cle:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    For­mer inmates of China’s Mus­lim ‘reed­u­ca­tion’ camps tell of brain­wash­ing, tor­ture

    By Simon Deny­er
    May 17, 2018

    BEIJING — Kayrat Samarkand says his only “crime” was being a Mus­lim who had vis­it­ed neigh­bor­ing Kaza­khstan. On that basis alone, he was detained by police, aggres­sive­ly inter­ro­gat­ed for three days, then dis­patched in Novem­ber to a “reed­u­ca­tion camp” in China’s west­ern province of Xin­jiang for three months.

    There, he faced seem­ing­ly end­less brain­wash­ing and humil­i­a­tion, he said in an inter­view, and was forced to study com­mu­nist pro­pa­gan­da for hours every day and chant slo­gans giv­ing thanks and wish­ing long life to Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping.

    “Those who dis­obeyed the rules, refused to be on duty, engaged in fights or were late for stud­ies were placed in hand­cuffs and ankle cuffs for up to 12 hours,” he said. Fur­ther dis­obe­di­ence would result in water­board­ing or long peri­ods strapped in agony in a met­al con­trap­tion known as a “tiger chair,” Samarkand said, a pun­ish­ment he said he suf­fered.

    Between sev­er­al hun­dred thou­sand and more than 1 mil­lion Mus­lims have been detained in China’s mass “reed­u­ca­tion” camps in the restive province of Xin­jiang, Adri­an Zenz of the Euro­pean School of Cul­ture and The­ol­o­gy in Korn­tal, Ger­many, said in a report released Tues­day. Zenz is a lead­ing author­i­ty on the cur­rent crack­down in Xin­jiang.

    In a region of 21 mil­lion peo­ple, includ­ing 11 mil­lion Mus­lims, the num­ber of those he reports to be detained would be a sig­nif­i­cant pro­por­tion of the pop­u­la­tion, espe­cial­ly of young adult men.

    Emerg­ing accounts of the con­di­tions in these camps make for chill­ing read­ing.

    “China’s paci­fi­ca­tion dri­ve in Xin­jiang is, more than like­ly, the country’s most intense cam­paign of coer­cive social re-engi­neer­ing since the end of the Cul­tur­al Rev­o­lu­tion,” Zenz wrote, refer­ring to the chaos unleashed by Mao Zedong in the 1960s.

    “The state’s pro­claimed ‘war on ter­ror’ in the region is increas­ing­ly turn­ing into a war on reli­gion, eth­nic lan­guages and oth­er expres­sions of eth­nic iden­ti­ty,” he wrote.

    Chi­na has blamed vio­lent attacks in Xin­jiang in recent years on Islamist extrem­ists bent on wag­ing holy war on the state, with rad­i­cal ideas said to be com­ing from abroad over the Inter­net and from vis­its to for­eign coun­tries by Uighurs, the region’s pre­dom­i­nant eth­nic group.

    In response, Bei­jing has turned the entire region into a 21st-cen­tu­ry sur­veil­lance state, with ubiq­ui­tous check­points and wide­spread use of facial-recog­ni­tion tech­nol­o­gy, and has even forced Mus­lims to install spy­ware on their phones allow­ing author­i­ties to mon­i­tor their activ­i­ty online, experts say. Long beards and veils have been banned, and overt expres­sion of reli­gious sen­ti­ment is like­ly to cause imme­di­ate sus­pi­cion.

    In an exten­sion of the already per­va­sive pro­gram of human sur­veil­lance, more than 1 mil­lion Com­mu­nist Par­ty cadres have been dis­patched to spend days on end stay­ing in the homes of fam­i­lies — most of them Mus­lim — through­out Xin­jiang, accord­ing to a report by Human Rights Watch released this week. There, they car­ry out polit­i­cal indoc­tri­na­tion and report back on any­thing from the extent of reli­gious beliefs to unclean­li­ness and alco­holism.

    ...

    Region­wide reed­u­ca­tion

    But reed­u­ca­tion camps that appear to have opened all across the region have sparked the great­est glob­al con­cern.

    Samarkand said 5,700 peo­ple were detained in just one camp in the vil­lage of Kara­m­a­gay, almost all eth­nic Kaza­khs and Uighurs, and not a sin­gle per­son from China’s Han major­i­ty eth­nic group. About 200 were sus­pect­ed of being “reli­gious extrem­ists,” he said, but oth­ers had been abroad for work or uni­ver­si­ty, received phone calls from abroad, or sim­ply had been seen wor­ship­ing at a mosque.

    The 30-year-old stayed in a dor­mi­to­ry with 14 oth­er men. After the room was searched every morn­ing, he said, the day began with two hours of study on sub­jects includ­ing “the spir­it of the 19th Par­ty Con­gress,” where Xi expound­ed his polit­i­cal dog­ma in a three-hour speech, and China’s poli­cies on minori­ties and reli­gion. Inmates would sing com­mu­nist songs, chant “Long live Xi Jin­ping” and do mil­i­tary-style train­ing in the after­noon before writ­ing accounts of their day, he said.

    His account was cor­rob­o­rat­ed by Omir Bekali, an eth­nic Kaza­kh who was work­ing in a tourism com­pa­ny in Urumqi, Xinjiang’s cap­i­tal, until he was arrest­ed by police on a vis­it to see his par­ents in the vil­lage of Shan­shan in March 2017. Four days of inter­ro­ga­tion, dur­ing which he was pre­vent­ed from sleep­ing, were fol­lowed by sev­en months in a police cell and 20 days in a reed­u­ca­tion camp in the city of Kara­may, he said. He was giv­en no tri­al, he said, nor was he grant­ed access to a lawyer.

    ...

    ‘De-extrem­i­fi­ca­tion’

    Although the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment offi­cial­ly has denied the exis­tence of these camps, Zenz gath­ered evi­dence of 73 gov­ern­ment pro­cure­ment and con­struc­tion bids val­ued at more than $100 mil­lion, along with pub­lic recruit­ment notices and oth­er doc­u­ments, point­ing to the estab­lish­ment of camps across the region.

    He dates the onset of wide­spread deten­tions to March 2017 and a gov­ern­ment cam­paign of “de-extrem­i­fi­ca­tion” through edu­ca­tion. That fol­lowed the appoint­ment of Chen Quan­guo as par­ty sec­re­tary in Xin­jiang in August 2016 and his trans­fer from Tibet, where he over­saw a sim­i­lar pro­gram of intense social con­trol, sur­veil­lance and secu­ri­ti­za­tion.

    Many pro­cure­ment bids, Zenz not­ed, man­date the instal­la­tion of com­pre­hen­sive secu­ri­ty fea­tures that turn exist­ing facil­i­ties into pris­on­like com­pounds, with walls, secu­ri­ty fences, barbed wire, rein­forced secu­ri­ty doors, sur­veil­lance sys­tems, secure-access sys­tems, watch­tow­ers and guard rooms for police.

    “While there is no pub­lished data on reed­u­ca­tion detainee num­bers, infor­ma­tion from var­i­ous sources per­mit us to esti­mate intern­ment fig­ures at any­where between sev­er­al hun­dred thou­sand and just over one mil­lion,” Zenz wrote in the report, first pub­lished by the Jamestown Foun­da­tion.

    “The lat­ter fig­ure is based on a leaked doc­u­ment from with­in the region’s pub­lic secu­ri­ty agen­cies, and, when extrap­o­lat­ed to all of Xin­jiang, could indi­cate a deten­tion rate of up to 11.5 per­cent of the region’s adult Uighur and Kaza­kh pop­u­la­tion,” he wrote.

    Bekali said he met doc­tors, lawyers and teach­ers in the camps, while Radio Free Asia (RFA) has report­ed that wealthy busi­ness exec­u­tives, 80-year-olds and breast-feed­ing moth­ers have been among the detainees.

    One of the best-known detainees is a Uighur soc­cer play­er, Erfan Hez­im, 19, a for­mer mem­ber of China’s youth soc­cer team and now a for­ward for Chi­nese Super League team Jiang­su Sun­ing. Hez­im, also known by his Chi­nese name Ye Erfan, was detained in Feb­ru­ary while vis­it­ing his par­ents in Xin­jiang, accord­ing to RFA, on the pre­text that he had vis­it­ed for­eign coun­tries, although he had report­ed­ly trav­eled abroad only to train and take part in soc­cer match­es.

    Also detained have been dozens of fam­i­ly mem­bers of jour­nal­ists from the Wash­ing­ton-based RFA, who have been at the fore­front of report­ing on the deep­en­ing crack­down in Xin­jiang and the reed­u­ca­tion camps. At least two of the affect­ed reporters, both nat­u­ral­ized U.S. cit­i­zens, have rea­son to believe their fam­i­ly mem­bers were detained specif­i­cal­ly because of their report­ing, RFA said.

    In one report, RFA quot­ed a Chi­nese offi­cial as jus­ti­fy­ing the wide­spread deten­tions in blunt terms.

    “You can’t uproot all the weeds hid­den among the crops in the field one by one — you need to spray chem­i­cals to kill them all,” the offi­cial was quot­ed as say­ing. “Reed­u­cat­ing these peo­ple is like spray­ing chem­i­cals on the crops. That is why it is a gen­er­al reed­u­ca­tion, not lim­it­ed to a few peo­ple.”

    ———–

    “For­mer inmates of China’s Mus­lim ‘reed­u­ca­tion’ camps tell of brain­wash­ing, tor­ture” by Simon Deny­er; The Wash­ing­ton Post; 05/17/2018

    “Between sev­er­al hun­dred thou­sand and more than 1 mil­lion Mus­lims have been detained in China’s mass “reed­u­ca­tion” camps in the restive province of Xin­jiang, Adri­an Zenz of the Euro­pean School of Cul­ture and The­ol­o­gy in Korn­tal, Ger­many, said in a report released Tues­day. Zenz is a lead­ing author­i­ty on the cur­rent crack­down in Xin­jiang.

    Zenz is a lead­ing author­i­ty on the cur­rent crack­down in Xin­jiang. It is known. We should all just ignore how Zenz is basi­cal­ly an ama­teur inter­net sleuth who some­how deduced the exis­tence of a net­work of camps secret­ly hous­ing a sub­stan­tial per­cent­age of Xin­jiang’s pop­u­la­tion, based sole­ly on his inter­pre­ta­tion of con­struc­tion bid­ding doc­u­ments, var­i­ous tes­ti­monies, and a whole bunch of extrap­o­lat­ing. Recall how com­pa­nies in Xin­jiang filed a law­suit against Zenz back in March over the low qual­i­ty of his claims, poten­tial­ly forc­ing Zenz to defend them in court. But that court defense has yet to hap­pen, if ever. In the mean time, we’ll just have to be sat­is­fied with Zen­z’s unqual­i­fied claims:

    ...
    Although the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment offi­cial­ly has denied the exis­tence of these camps, Zenz gath­ered evi­dence of 73 gov­ern­ment pro­cure­ment and con­struc­tion bids val­ued at more than $100 mil­lion, along with pub­lic recruit­ment notices and oth­er doc­u­ments, point­ing to the estab­lish­ment of camps across the region.

    He dates the onset of wide­spread deten­tions to March 2017 and a gov­ern­ment cam­paign of “de-extrem­i­fi­ca­tion” through edu­ca­tion. That fol­lowed the appoint­ment of Chen Quan­guo as par­ty sec­re­tary in Xin­jiang in August 2016 and his trans­fer from Tibet, where he over­saw a sim­i­lar pro­gram of intense social con­trol, sur­veil­lance and secu­ri­ti­za­tion.

    Many pro­cure­ment bids, Zenz not­ed, man­date the instal­la­tion of com­pre­hen­sive secu­ri­ty fea­tures that turn exist­ing facil­i­ties into pris­on­like com­pounds, with walls, secu­ri­ty fences, barbed wire, rein­forced secu­ri­ty doors, sur­veil­lance sys­tems, secure-access sys­tems, watch­tow­ers and guard rooms for police.

    “While there is no pub­lished data on reed­u­ca­tion detainee num­bers, infor­ma­tion from var­i­ous sources per­mit us to esti­mate intern­ment fig­ures at any­where between sev­er­al hun­dred thou­sand and just over one mil­lion,” Zenz wrote in the report, first pub­lished by the Jamestown Foun­da­tion.

    “The lat­ter fig­ure is based on a leaked doc­u­ment from with­in the region’s pub­lic secu­ri­ty agen­cies, and, when extrap­o­lat­ed to all of Xin­jiang, could indi­cate a deten­tion rate of up to 11.5 per­cent of the region’s adult Uighur and Kaza­kh pop­u­la­tion,” he wrote.
    ...

    And note Zen­z’s inter­pre­ta­tion of the anti-ter­ror mea­sures Chi­na has under­tak­en against actu­al jihadist ter­ror attacks: Chi­na’s ‘war on ter­ror’ is real­ly a war on reli­gion and the Uyghur eth­nic iden­ti­ty. In oth­er words, the ter­ror attacks are jus­ti­fied because of Chi­na’s crack­down. It’s the kind of nar­ra­tive we should prob­a­bly expect to hear a lot more of in com­ing years. And as we’re going to see in the two fol­low RFA arti­cles from Jan­u­ary of 2018, that was the explic­it mes­sage both arti­cles end with. A mes­sage that repres­sive domes­tic poli­cies are respon­si­ble for the upsurge in vio­lence:

    ...
    In a region of 21 mil­lion peo­ple, includ­ing 11 mil­lion Mus­lims, the num­ber of those he reports to be detained would be a sig­nif­i­cant pro­por­tion of the pop­u­la­tion, espe­cial­ly of young adult men.

    ...

    “The state’s pro­claimed ‘war on ter­ror’ in the region is increas­ing­ly turn­ing into a war on reli­gion, eth­nic lan­guages and oth­er expres­sions of eth­nic iden­ti­ty,” he wrote.
    ...

    But here’s where we find an exam­ple of how shod­di­ly sourced claims get rehashed from arti­cle to arti­cle until they’re treat­ed as ver­i­fied fact: The arti­cle refers to an RFA report that quote a Chi­nese offi­cial stat­ing, “You can’t uproot all the weeds hid­den among the crops in the field one by one — you need to spray chem­i­cals to kill them all,...Reeducating these peo­ple is like spray­ing chem­i­cals on the crops. That is why it is a gen­er­al reed­u­ca­tion, not lim­it­ed to a few peo­ple.” It’s quite an explo­sive quote com­ing from a Chi­nese offi­cial. The kind of quote that we would expect to have seen echoed across West­ern media for years:

    ...
    Also detained have been dozens of fam­i­ly mem­bers of jour­nal­ists from the Wash­ing­ton-based RFA, who have been at the fore­front of report­ing on the deep­en­ing crack­down in Xin­jiang and the reed­u­ca­tion camps. At least two of the affect­ed reporters, both nat­u­ral­ized U.S. cit­i­zens, have rea­son to believe their fam­i­ly mem­bers were detained specif­i­cal­ly because of their report­ing, RFA said.

    In one report, RFA quot­ed a Chi­nese offi­cial as jus­ti­fy­ing the wide­spread deten­tions in blunt terms.

    “You can’t uproot all the weeds hid­den among the crops in the field one by one — you need to spray chem­i­cals to kill them all,” the offi­cial was quot­ed as say­ing. “Reed­u­cat­ing these peo­ple is like spray­ing chem­i­cals on the crops. That is why it is a gen­er­al reed­u­ca­tion, not lim­it­ed to a few peo­ple.”
    ...

    Now, as we’re going to see, this quote comes from the fol­low­ing Jan 5, 2018 RFA arti­cle. The arti­cle cites an anony­mous source mak­ing claims about the arrest of four of the wealth­i­est Uyghurs in Xin­jiang. Here’s where it gets weird: the claims of that anony­mous source are then open­ly backed by a named source. A remark­able named source if this per­son is real: A man iden­ti­fied by a sin­gle name, Yasi­nahun. He is described as the chief of secu­ri­ty for Kashgar’s Chasa town­ship. This per­son is the actu­al source of the alleged quote from the Chi­nese offi­cial. It’s Yasi­nahun who recounts to the RFA reporter, Shohret Hoshur:

    ...
    At one of the meet­ings held in the city, one of the Chi­nese offi­cials said, ‘you can’t uproot all the weeds hid­den among the crops in the field one by one—you need to spray chem­i­cals to kill them all,’” he said.

    He went on to say, ‘re-edu­cat­ing these peo­ple is like spray­ing chem­i­cals on the crops. That is why it is a gen­er­al re-edu­ca­tion, not lim­it­ed to a few peo­ple.’”

    The mes­sage I got from this was that the re-edu­ca­tion will last a very long time.”
    ...

    So the “quote” from this unnamed Chi­nese offi­cial about how the entire Uyghur pop­u­la­tion need­ed to be re-edu­cat­ed is actu­al­ly a rehash­ing of what Yasi­nahun heard this offi­cial say.

    Now, on one lev­el, it’s pret­ty remark­able that a Chi­nese secu­ri­ty offi­cial is will­ing to make these state­ments to an RFA report­ed. Even more remark­able that they gave their name. Isn’t Yasi­nahun con­cerned about gov­ern­ment reprisal?

    It’s the kind of bizarre report­ing that rais­es the ques­tion of whether or not Yasi­nahun is a pure fab­ri­ca­tion. And then it gets extra weird: because as we’re going to see in a fol­low­ing Jan­u­ary 22, 2018, RFA arti­cle by the same RFA reporter, Shohret Hoshur, also cites an anony­mous Chi­nese offi­cial seem­ing­ly con­firm­ing that approx­i­mate­ly 120,000 Uyghurs are being held through­out the pre­fec­ture, based on infor­ma­tion he received from oth­er area offi­cial. This anony­mous offi­cial also told the reporter that “I have great rela­tion­ships with the heads of all the gov­ern­ment depart­ments and we are in reg­u­lar con­tact, inform­ing each oth­er on the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion,” he said, adding that he is also close with the prefecture’s chief of secu­ri­ty. And this the kick­er: while we obvi­ous­ly aren’t giv­en the iden­ti­ty of this anony­mous offi­cial, we’re told that it’s the secu­ri­ty chief of Kash­gar city’s Chasa town­ship. Yep:

    ...
    The secu­ri­ty chief of Kash­gar city’s Chasa town­ship recent­ly told RFA on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty that “approx­i­mate­ly 120,000” Uyghurs are being held through­out the pre­fec­ture, based on infor­ma­tion he has received from oth­er area offi­cials.
    ...

    So on Jan 5, 2018, we get an RFA report that cites an anony­mous source mak­ing claims that are seem­ing­ly backed up by Yasi­nahun, the chief of secu­ri­ty for Kashgar’s Chasa town­ship. And then, two and a half weeks lat­er, the same RFA reporter puts out a report seem­ing­ly con­firm­ing that 120,000 peo­ple are locked up in re-edu­ca­tion camps in Kash­gar pre­fec­ture alone, cit­ing “the secu­ri­ty chief of Kash­gar city’s Chasa town­ship recent­ly told RFA on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty.” The lay­ers of stu­pid­i­ty here are mind numb­ing. And yet, as we saw above, the quote from “Yasi­nahun” in that Jan 5 2018 report about what a dif­fer­ent Chi­nese offi­cial report­ed­ly said about how all the Uyghurs were going to have to be re-edu­cat­ed was laun­dered in the May 2018 Wash­ing­ton Post report as a valid quote com­ing direct­ly from a Chi­nese offi­cial. It’s like the suc­cess­ful deploy­ment of strate­gic jour­nal­is­tic neg­li­gence:

    Radio Free Asia

    Chi­nese Author­i­ties Jail Four Wealth­i­est Uyghurs in Xinjiang’s Kash­gar in New Purge

    Report­ed by Shohret Hoshur for RFA’s Uyghur Ser­vice. Trans­lat­ed by Alim Seytoff and Mamat­jan Juma. Writ­ten in Eng­lish by Joshua Lipes.
    2018-01-05

    Author­i­ties in north­west­ern China’s Xin­jiang region have jailed the four wealth­i­est eth­nic Uyghurs in Kash­gar (in Chi­nese, Kashi) city for acts of “reli­gious extrem­ism,” accord­ing to an offi­cial, amid a crack­down he said is unlike­ly to end any time soon.

    A source, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty, recent­ly told RFA’s Uyghur Ser­vice that Abdu­jelil Hajim, Gheni Haji, Memet Tur­sun Haji, and Imin Hajim—all suc­cess­ful busi­ness own­ers in Kashgar—were tak­en into cus­tody in May 2017.

    The four men, whose last names sig­ni­fy that they have made the Mus­lim holy pil­grim­age to Mec­ca, were lat­er sen­tenced to a total of 42 years in prison, the source said.

    Chair­man of the Kash­gar Pre­fec­tur­al Trade Asso­ci­a­tion Abdu­jelil Hajim—who owns a firm that trans­ports goods between Chi­na, Kyr­gyzs­tan and Tajik­istan, as well as large tracts of prop­er­ty in Kash­gar and Xinjiang’s cap­i­tal Urumqi—was sen­tenced to 18 years in prison.

    Gheni Haji, the own­er of the Emin Trad­ing Plaza at Kashgar’s Sun­day Mar­ket; Memet Tur­sun Haji, own­er of Eziz Diyar Plaza at the same mar­ket; and Imin Hajim, own­er of the Ibnsi­na Den­tal Facil­i­ty; were each sen­tenced to eight years in jail, accord­ing to the source.

    The source’s claims were ver­i­fied ear­li­er this week by Yasi­nahun, the chief of secu­ri­ty for Kashgar’s Chasa town­ship, who con­firmed that the four men topped the list of the city’s wealth­i­est Uyghurs and that they had all been arrest­ed in May, although he was unable to say where they are being held.

    “Gheni Haji, Imin Hajim, and Memet Tur­sun Haji had dis­played signs of reli­gious extrem­ism, so they were arrest­ed,” he told RFA in a phone inter­view, adding that their activ­i­ties were char­ac­ter­ized as “abnor­mal” by author­i­ties.

    “I was told that Memet Tur­sun Haji did not hold a funer­al when his father passed away. Not hold­ing a funer­al is one of the signs of extrem­ism. Gheni and Imin prayed only eight times at prayer ser­vice, not 20 as oth­ers usu­al­ly do. That is also a sign of extrem­ism.”

    Imin Hajim, Yasi­nahun said, is “a man of few words” who nor­mal­ly kept to him­self, but had protest­ed police search­es of his home.

    “He expressed extreme dis­plea­sure with our vis­its to his house relat­ed to our secu­ri­ty work and said, ‘I am a Chi­nese cit­i­zen, why do you con­duct so many search­es,’” he said.

    ...

    While Yasi­nahun did not pro­vide the spe­cif­ic rea­son for Abdu­jelil Hajim’s arrest, he said that all four men had also under­tak­en “unap­proved, pri­vate hajj” pil­grim­ages and been involved with imams who were not sanc­tioned by the state.

    Re-edu­ca­tion camps

    Since April last year, eth­nic Uyghurs accused of har­bor­ing “extrem­ist” and “polit­i­cal­ly incor­rect” views have been jailed or detained in polit­i­cal re-edu­ca­tion camps through­out Xin­jiang, where mem­bers of the eth­nic group have long com­plained of per­va­sive dis­crim­i­na­tion, reli­gious repres­sion, and cul­tur­al sup­pres­sion under Chi­nese rule.

    Yasi­nahun said he was unsure of how many peo­ple are cur­rent­ly being held in re-edu­ca­tion camps in Kash­gar city, but that “around 2,000 peo­ple” were being held from Chasa alone.

    “Most peo­ple are being detained at the Yawagh Street deten­tion facil­i­ty in Kash­gar city,” he said.

    The secu­ri­ty chief also said it was unclear when the cam­paign of polit­i­cal re-edu­ca­tion in Kash­gar would end.

    At one of the meet­ings held in the city, one of the Chi­nese offi­cials said, ‘you can’t uproot all the weeds hid­den among the crops in the field one by one—you need to spray chem­i­cals to kill them all,’” he said.

    He went on to say, ‘re-edu­cat­ing these peo­ple is like spray­ing chem­i­cals on the crops. That is why it is a gen­er­al re-edu­ca­tion, not lim­it­ed to a few peo­ple.’”

    The mes­sage I got from this was that the re-edu­ca­tion will last a very long time.”

    Region-wide purge

    Dolkun Isa, pres­i­dent of the Munich-based World Uyghur Con­gress exile group, told RFA that Chi­na has been “tar­get­ing all Uyghurs as poten­tial state ene­mies” since Xin­jiang par­ty chief Chen Quan­guo was appoint­ed to his post in August 2016.

    “Chen has ini­ti­at­ed an unprece­dent­ed region-wide purge of Uyghur intel­lec­tu­als, reli­gious fig­ures, busi­ness­men, and any Uyghur who is not pleased with Chi­nese rule as ‘two-faced’ peo­ple,” Isa said.

    He has locked up tens of thou­sands in the polit­i­cal re-edu­ca­tion camps, in much the same way that the Nazis did the Jews, soon after com­ing to pow­er in Ger­many,” he added.

    “The inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty should close­ly mon­i­tor what the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment is doing in [Xin­jiang] and express con­cern, because the Uyghur home­land is now sim­ply a mas­sive con­cen­tra­tion camp.”

    While Chi­na blames some Uyghurs for “ter­ror­ist” attacks, experts out­side Chi­na say Bei­jing has exag­ger­at­ed the threat from the Uyghurs and that repres­sive domes­tic poli­cies are respon­si­ble for an upsurge in vio­lence there that has left hun­dreds dead since 2009.

    ———–

    “Chi­nese Author­i­ties Jail Four Wealth­i­est Uyghurs in Xinjiang’s Kash­gar in New Purge” by Shohret Hoshur; Radio Free Asia; 01/05/2018

    “A source, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty, recent­ly told RFA’s Uyghur Ser­vice that Abdu­jelil Hajim, Gheni Haji, Memet Tur­sun Haji, and Imin Hajim—all suc­cess­ful busi­ness own­ers in Kashgar—were tak­en into cus­tody in May 2017.”

    Yes, this anony­mous source shared with RFA news about the arrest of Xin­jiang’s four wealth­i­est Uyghurs in May of 2017. But we don’t just have to rely on this anony­mous source because it was appar­ent­ly backed by “Yasi­nahun”, the chief of secu­ri­ty for Kashgar’s Chasa town­ship:

    ...
    The source’s claims were ver­i­fied ear­li­er this week by Yasi­nahun, the chief of secu­ri­ty for Kashgar’s Chasa town­ship, who con­firmed that the four men topped the list of the city’s wealth­i­est Uyghurs and that they had all been arrest­ed in May, although he was unable to say where they are being held.

    ...

    While Yasi­nahun did not pro­vide the spe­cif­ic rea­son for Abdu­jelil Hajim’s arrest, he said that all four men had also under­tak­en “unap­proved, pri­vate hajj” pil­grim­ages and been involved with imams who were not sanc­tioned by the state.
    ...

    And it’s fur­ther down in this arti­cle where we find Yasi­nahun quot­ing an unnamed offi­cial who alleged­ly made state­ments about how all the Uyghurs were going to need to be re-edu­cat­ed for a very long time to come. Yasi­nahun sure had a lot of sen­si­tive stuff to share with this RFA reporter. And as we saw, this alleged quote from the offi­cial recount­ed to the RFA by Yasi­nahun is treat­ed by the Wash­ing­ton Post months lat­er like it was an actu­al direct quote from a Chi­nese offi­cial. The leg­end of the Uyghur re-edu­ca­tion camps are built one decep­tive­ly-sourced arti­cle at a time:

    ...
    At one of the meet­ings held in the city, one of the Chi­nese offi­cials said, ‘you can’t uproot all the weeds hid­den among the crops in the field one by one—you need to spray chem­i­cals to kill them all,’” he said.

    He went on to say, ‘re-edu­cat­ing these peo­ple is like spray­ing chem­i­cals on the crops. That is why it is a gen­er­al re-edu­ca­tion, not lim­it­ed to a few peo­ple.’”

    The mes­sage I got from this was that the re-edu­ca­tion will last a very long time.”
    ...

    Next, just note the how wild­ly the num­bers of detained peo­ple fluc­tu­ates among those mak­ing these claims. Dolkun Isa, pres­i­dent of the World Uyghur Con­gress, was equat­ing the alleged mass re-edu­ca­tion camps to the Nazi treat­ment of the Jews, charg­ing that “tens of thou­sands” have been locked up in these camps. It’s just two and a half weeks lat­er that we get the RFA arti­cle assert­ing that 120,000 peo­ple from Kash­gar pre­fec­ture alone are being detained:

    ...
    Dolkun Isa, pres­i­dent of the Munich-based World Uyghur Con­gress exile group, told RFA that Chi­na has been “tar­get­ing all Uyghurs as poten­tial state ene­mies” since Xin­jiang par­ty chief Chen Quan­guo was appoint­ed to his post in August 2016.

    “Chen has ini­ti­at­ed an unprece­dent­ed region-wide purge of Uyghur intel­lec­tu­als, reli­gious fig­ures, busi­ness­men, and any Uyghur who is not pleased with Chi­nese rule as ‘two-faced’ peo­ple,” Isa said.

    He has locked up tens of thou­sands in the polit­i­cal re-edu­ca­tion camps, in much the same way that the Nazis did the Jews, soon after com­ing to pow­er in Ger­many,” he added.

    “The inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty should close­ly mon­i­tor what the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment is doing in [Xin­jiang] and express con­cern, because the Uyghur home­land is now sim­ply a mas­sive con­cen­tra­tion camp.”
    ...

    Final­ly, note how the arti­cle ends: with a state­ment essen­tial­ly blam­ing any ter­ror­ism in Xin­jiang that has left hun­dreds dead since 2009 on the Chi­na’s repres­sive domes­tic poli­cies. In oth­er words, the jihadists are jus­ti­fied. The fol­low­ing Jan 22, 2018, RFA arti­cle we’re going to look at next ends with the exact same sen­tence. It’s a recur­ring theme:

    ...
    While Chi­na blames some Uyghurs for “ter­ror­ist” attacks, experts out­side Chi­na say Bei­jing has exag­ger­at­ed the threat from the Uyghurs and that repres­sive domes­tic poli­cies are respon­si­ble for an upsurge in vio­lence there that has left hun­dreds dead since 2009.
    ...

    Ok, now let’s take a look at the Jan 22, 2018, RFA arti­cle, writ­ten by the same reporter as the last arti­cle, that seem­ing­ly con­firms Adri­an Zen­z’s worst fears: around 120,000 peo­ple are being held in re-edu­ca­tion camps in Kash­gar pre­fec­ture alone. Those fears were seem­ing­ly con­firmed by an anony­mous source. A bizarrely non-anony­mous anony­mous source iden­ti­fied as the “secu­ri­ty chief of Kash­gar city’s Chasa town­ship”. Now, putting aside the mind-numb­ing stu­pid­i­ty of try­ing to anony­mous­ly cit­ed the secu­ri­ty chief of Chasa, don’t for­get that “Yasi­nahun” had that exact posi­tion. So this RFA reporter tried to anony­mous­ly cite Yasi­nahun two and a half weeks after Yasi­nahun was open­ly cit­ed pass­ing on quotes from oth­er Chi­nese offi­cials. This is the kind of stu­pid­i­ty that’s suc­cess­ful­ly being laun­dered:

    Radio Free Asia

    Around 120,000 Uyghurs Detained For Polit­i­cal Re-Edu­ca­tion in Xinjiang’s Kash­gar Pre­fec­ture

    Report­ed by Shohret Hoshur for RFA’s Uyghur Ser­vice. Trans­lat­ed by RFA’s Uyghur Ser­vice. Writ­ten in Eng­lish by Joshua Lipes.

    2018-01-22

    Around 120,000 eth­nic Uyghurs are cur­rent­ly being held in polit­i­cal re-edu­ca­tion camps in Kash­gar (in Chi­nese, Kashi) pre­fec­ture of north­west China’s Xin­jiang region alone, accord­ing to a secu­ri­ty offi­cial with knowl­edge of the deten­tion sys­tem.

    Since April 2017, Uyghurs accused of har­bor­ing “extrem­ist” and “polit­i­cal­ly incor­rect” views have been jailed or detained in re-edu­ca­tion camps through­out Xin­jiang, where mem­bers of the eth­nic group have long com­plained of per­va­sive dis­crim­i­na­tion, reli­gious repres­sion, and cul­tur­al sup­pres­sion under Chi­nese rule.

    Pri­or report­ing by RFA’s Uyghur Ser­vice found that as arrests in Xin­jiang increased around the sen­si­tive 19th Com­mu­nist Par­ty Con­gress in Bei­jing in Octo­ber, the region’s re-edu­ca­tion camps have been inun­dat­ed by detainees, who are forced to endure cramped and squalid con­di­tions in the facil­i­ties.

    The secu­ri­ty chief of Kash­gar city’s Chasa town­ship recent­ly told RFA on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty that “approx­i­mate­ly 120,000” Uyghurs are being held through­out the pre­fec­ture, based on infor­ma­tion he has received from oth­er area offi­cials.

    “I have great rela­tion­ships with the heads of all the gov­ern­ment depart­ments and we are in reg­u­lar con­tact, inform­ing each oth­er on the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion,” he said, adding that he is also close with the prefecture’s chief of secu­ri­ty.

    Tens of thou­sands of peo­ple are detained with­in Kash­gar city alone, the Chasa town­ship secu­ri­ty offi­cer said, cit­ing sta­tis­tics from the city’s sub­dis­tricts.

    “Around 2,000 [are detained] from the four neigh­bor­hoods of Kash­gar city, as well as an addi­tion­al 30,000 in total from the city’s 16 vil­lages,” he said.

    Among Kash­gar city’s four neigh­bor­hoods, the largest num­ber of detainees—more than 500 people—are from Yawagh, while among its 16 vil­lages, the largest num­ber are from Yen­gi-osteng, he added, with­out pro­vid­ing spe­cif­ic details.

    Kash­gar city is home to four re-edu­ca­tion camps, the secu­ri­ty chief said, the largest of which was estab­lished in the city’s No. 5 Mid­dle School in May 2017.

    “It’s locat­ed in the Esh­mi­ka neigh­bor­hood and is new­ly built,” he said.

    “The plan was ini­tial­ly to build the new school in that area and trans­fer the cur­rent mid­dle school stu­dents there. That is why it was named No. 5 Mid­dle School.”

    Around 80 peo­ple are liv­ing in the school’s main hall, the secu­ri­ty chief said, while 20–25 peo­ple sleep in each of its class­rooms.

    Over­crowd­ed and squalid

    Sources say that author­i­ties often con­vert gov­ern­ment build­ings and schools into makeshift re-edu­ca­tion camps to deal with over­crowd­ing, and rou­tine­ly shift detainees between locations—that include prisons—without inform­ing their fam­i­ly mem­bers.

    In Bayin’gholin Mon­gol (Bayin­guoleng Meng­gu) Autonomous Prefecture’s Kor­la city—where sources told RFA recent­ly that as many as 1,000 peo­ple have been admit­ted to the city’s deten­tion facil­i­ties over the course of a few days—a local gov­ern­ment employ­ee named Erkin Baw­dun recent­ly said that area re-edu­ca­tion camps “are com­plete­ly full.”

    Baw­dun said that a friend who spent time as an inmate at a local re-edu­ca­tion camp told him he had seen offi­cials from the cen­ter tell the police to “stop bring­ing peo­ple … as it is already too full.”

    He described cells that had pre­vi­ous­ly held eight peo­ple now accom­mo­dat­ing 14 inmates, who “were not allowed pil­lows” and “had to lay on their sides because there was not enough room to lay flat,” let alone space to turn over or stretch their legs.

    Oth­er acquain­tances told Baw­dun that they had seen “detainees walk­ing bare­foot,” and that inmates were “not allowed clothes with but­tons or met­al zip­pers,” belts, shoelaces, or “even under­wear” in some cas­es, despite aver­age low tem­per­a­tures of around 15 degrees Fahren­heit (-10 degrees Cel­sius) at night in Decem­ber.

    ...

    While Chi­na blames some Uyghurs for “ter­ror­ist” attacks, experts out­side Chi­na say Bei­jing has exag­ger­at­ed the threat from the Uyghurs and that repres­sive domes­tic poli­cies are respon­si­ble for an upsurge in vio­lence there that has left hun­dreds dead since 2009.

    ————-

    “Around 120,000 Uyghurs Detained For Polit­i­cal Re-Edu­ca­tion in Xinjiang’s Kash­gar Pre­fec­ture” by Shohret Hoshur; Radio Free Asia; 01/22/2018

    The secu­ri­ty chief of Kash­gar city’s Chasa town­ship recent­ly told RFA on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty that “approx­i­mate­ly 120,000” Uyghurs are being held through­out the pre­fec­ture, based on infor­ma­tion he has received from oth­er area offi­cials.”

    Oh gee, who could this anony­mous Chasa town­ship secu­ri­ty chief be? It’s a total mys­tery, espe­cial­ly after they shared with the reporter how great their rela­tion­ships are with the the heads of all the gov­ern­ment depart­ments. It’s like The Onion, but less sin­cere:

    ...
    “I have great rela­tion­ships with the heads of all the gov­ern­ment depart­ments and we are in reg­u­lar con­tact, inform­ing each oth­er on the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion,” he said, adding that he is also close with the prefecture’s chief of secu­ri­ty.

    Tens of thou­sands of peo­ple are detained with­in Kash­gar city alone, the Chasa town­ship secu­ri­ty offi­cer said, cit­ing sta­tis­tics from the city’s sub­dis­tricts.

    “Around 2,000 [are detained] from the four neigh­bor­hoods of Kash­gar city, as well as an addi­tion­al 30,000 in total from the city’s 16 vil­lages,” he said.

    Among Kash­gar city’s four neigh­bor­hoods, the largest num­ber of detainees—more than 500 people—are from Yawagh, while among its 16 vil­lages, the largest num­ber are from Yen­gi-osteng, he added, with­out pro­vid­ing spe­cif­ic details.

    Kash­gar city is home to four re-edu­ca­tion camps, the secu­ri­ty chief said, the largest of which was estab­lished in the city’s No. 5 Mid­dle School in May 2017.

    “It’s locat­ed in the Esh­mi­ka neigh­bor­hood and is new­ly built,” he said.
    ...

    But the anony­mous words of the not-so-anony­mous Yasi­nahun weren’t the only sources this report was based on. The report also includ­ed the tes­ti­mo­ny of a local gov­ern­ment employ­ee named Erkin Baw­dun who con­firmed that area re-edu­ca­tion camps “are com­plete­ly full.” But this tes­ti­mo­ny by Baw­dun does­n’t appear to be based on Baw­dun’s gov­ern­ment work. It was based on Baw­dun’s friend and acquain­tances who were alleged­ly locked up on the re-edu­ca­tion camps. So in the same report where we have the claims of mass deten­tions from the not-actu­al­ly-anony­mous Yasi­nahun, we also have claims from a local gov­ern­ment offi­cial who did­n’t both­er to hide their name. But like Yasi­nahun, this alleged local gov­ern­ment employ­ee did­n’t cite their own direct expe­ri­ences in mak­ing these claims. They instead were relay­ing what oth­ers told this. In Yasi­nahun’s case, it was oth­er gov­ern­ment offi­cials. In Baw­dun’s case, it’s his friends and acquain­tances locked up in the camp. And for what­ev­er rea­son, Erkin Baw­dun sees no need to hide their identity...kind of like Yasi­nahun weeks ear­li­er felt no need to hide their iden­ti­ty while reveal­ing all these seem­ing­ly scan­dalous details:

    ...
    Sources say that author­i­ties often con­vert gov­ern­ment build­ings and schools into makeshift re-edu­ca­tion camps to deal with over­crowd­ing, and rou­tine­ly shift detainees between locations—that include prisons—without inform­ing their fam­i­ly mem­bers.

    In Bayin’gholin Mon­gol (Bayin­guoleng Meng­gu) Autonomous Prefecture’s Kor­la city—where sources told RFA recent­ly that as many as 1,000 peo­ple have been admit­ted to the city’s deten­tion facil­i­ties over the course of a few days—a local gov­ern­ment employ­ee named Erkin Baw­dun recent­ly said that area re-edu­ca­tion camps “are com­plete­ly full.”

    Baw­dun said that a friend who spent time as an inmate at a local re-edu­ca­tion camp told him he had seen offi­cials from the cen­ter tell the police to “stop bring­ing peo­ple … as it is already too full.”

    He described cells that had pre­vi­ous­ly held eight peo­ple now accom­mo­dat­ing 14 inmates, who “were not allowed pil­lows” and “had to lay on their sides because there was not enough room to lay flat,” let alone space to turn over or stretch their legs.

    Oth­er acquain­tances told Baw­dun that they had seen “detainees walk­ing bare­foot,” and that inmates were “not allowed clothes with but­tons or met­al zip­pers,” belts, shoelaces, or “even under­wear” in some cas­es, despite aver­age low tem­per­a­tures of around 15 degrees Fahren­heit (-10 degrees Cel­sius) at night in Decem­ber.
    ...

    Final­ly, again, note how the RFA arti­cle ends: by fram­ing the ter­ror­ist vio­lence that’s tak­en place in the region since 2009 on Chi­na’s repres­sive domes­tice poli­cies. Trans­la­tion: the ter­ror­ists have a point:

    ...
    While Chi­na blames some Uyghurs for “ter­ror­ist” attacks, experts out­side Chi­na say Bei­jing has exag­ger­at­ed the threat from the Uyghurs and that repres­sive domes­tic poli­cies are respon­si­ble for an upsurge in vio­lence there that has left hun­dreds dead since 2009.
    ...

    What ever become of “Yasi­nahun”, the brave or not so brave secu­ri­ty chief of Chasa? Do records of such an indi­vid­ual even exist? How about Erkin Baw­dun? This report was from three and a half years ago. Has any­one fol­lowed up on Baw­dun’s where­abouts and wel­fare? Were they thrown in the very same re-edu­ca­tion camps they seemed to con­firm to the world exists? We of course nev­er find out. These are unim­por­tant details. What’s impor­tant is that Adri­an Zen­z’s worst fears were con­firmed. It was all true. It was in the news, after all.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 7, 2021, 3:33 pm
  13. Here’s a pair of arti­cles look­ing at the dynam­ics emerg­ing between the rul­ing Tal­iban and jihadist groups oper­at­ing in Afghanistan like the East Turkestan Islam­ic Move­ment (ETIM). Specif­i­cal­ly, how the Tal­iban might walk that tricky line of pla­cat­ing its neigh­bors’ anti-ter­ror requests — like Chi­na’s requests for some­thing to be done about the rough­ly 500 ETIM fight­ers oper­at­ing in Badakhshan province — while acknowl­eg­ing the real­i­ty that those ETIM fight­ers and numer­ous oth­er jihadist groups now com­prise the a large chunk of the Tal­iban’s non-Pash­tun fight­ing force. If the Tal­iban does crack down on ETIM, it could end up dri­ving the Uyghurs in Afghanistan into the hands of the Pan­jeer Val­ley resis­tance forces or, worse, into the hands of ISIS‑K. And a sim­i­lar ten­sion exists for the rest of the non-Pash­tun jihadist groups that have become incor­po­rat­ed into the Tal­iban in recent years. It points towards a per­verse sit­u­a­tion we could see emerg­ing: Afghanistan being turned into a Tal­iban-run jihadist safe-haven under the aus­pices of try­ing to avoid see­ing the coun­try turn into an even more hor­rif­ic jihadist safe-haven under ISIS:

    The Hin­dus­tan Times

    ETIM may shift to ISKP with Tal­iban-Chi­na alliance over Xin­jiang
    UN reports indi­cate that around 500 fight­ers of East Turkestan Islam­ic Move­ment form the bulk of Tal­iban force along with Tajiks, Uzbeks, Haz­ara and Chechen fight­ers not Pash­tuns in Badakhshan province adjoin­ing Chi­nese Xin­jiang via Wakhan cor­ri­dor.

    By Shishir Gup­ta, Hin­dus­tan Times, New Del­hi
    PUBLISHED ON AUG 30, 2021 12:44 PM IST

    With the US com­plete­ly hand­ing over Kab­ul and the coun­try to the Sun­ni Pash­tun Islamists on August 31, the fun­da­men­tal ques­tion from the Indi­an per­spec­tive is whether Afghanistan will sta­bi­lize under the Amer­i­can army fatigue and M‑4 car­bine car­ry­ing Tal­iban or the lat­est Islam­ic emi­rate will still car­ry the bur­den of his­to­ry and remain unsta­ble as ever. UK, Sovi­ets and now US have burnt their hands in Afghanistan and pre­sum­ably have no appetite for any mil­i­tary adven­ture in that coun­try. Will Chi­na with its client state Pak­istan, the moth­er of Tal­iban and all assort­ed ter­ror­ist groups, will be able to cap­i­tal­ize on the sit­u­a­tion with the for­mer exploit­ing the min­er­al resources of Afghanistan under the garb of Belt Road Ini­tia­tive (BRI) and Rawalpin­di get­ting its so-called strate­gic depth against India?

    Despite Beijing’s tremen­dous finan­cial and mil­i­tary clout and its hold on the Pakistan’s mil­i­tary and civil­ian set-up, the answer to the above ques­tions is no as Afghanistan has been and will be hope­less­ly split on trib­al and eth­nic lines and there are frac­tures with­in the ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive Pash­tuns. Already, there are intel­li­gence reports com­ing about infight­ing in Kan­da­har among the Tal­iban lead­er­ship for the share of polit­i­cal pie in Kab­ul.

    While the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Par­ty (CCP) unlike the US and Sovi­ets is not expect­ed cross the Rubi­con by becom­ing polit­i­cal or mil­i­tar­i­ly active in Afghanistan, it will sure­ly use its new friend, the Tal­iban, for tak­ing action against some 500 East Turkestan Islam­ic Move­ment (ETIM) fight­ers whose goal is to lib­er­ate Xin­jiang Uighurs from the yoke of Bei­jing. The ETIM fight­ers are most­ly locat­ed in Badak­shan province in north Afghanistan which links with Xin­jiang in Chi­na via the Wakhan cor­ri­dor. Even though the Tal­iban have tra­di­tion­al­ly a close rela­tion­ship with the ETIM, the Pash­tuns are con­cen­trat­ed in south and its is the minor­i­ty Tajiks, Uzbeks, Haz­aras, Uighur and Chechen who com­prise the bulk of Tal­iban cadre in north Afghanistan. If the Tal­iban start harass­ing the Afghan minori­ties, it is these non-Pash­tun ele­ments who will join the core of Pan­jshir resis­tance in future. Already, intel­li­gence reports from Afghanistan and Turkey indi­cate that the ETIM group will shift its alle­giance to Islam­ic State of Kho­rasan Province (ISKP) as they fear Tal­iban will act against them and hand them over to the MSS, the Chi­nese secret ser­vice. It is for this very rea­son that Chi­na wants US to redes­ig­nate ETIM as a glob­al ter­ror­ist group, which is rather rich for a coun­try that sat on the UN des­ig­na­tion of Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as glob­al ter­ror­ist for near­ly three years.

    The oth­er Chi­nese inter­est in Tal­iban regime in Kab­ul is to ask the Islamist lead­er­ship of Sun­ni Pash­tun force to put pres­sure on their blood broth­er, the Tehreek-e-Tal­iban, across the Durand line to buy peace for their CPEC project in Pak­istan. While the TTP is attack­ing the Chi­nese nation­als involved in CPEC projects in Khy­ber-Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and Occu­pied Kash­mir, the Balochis­tan insur­gents are mil­i­tar­i­ly tak­ing on both the Chi­nese and the Pak­ista­nis in the Gwadar deep sea project. While the TTP has sworn alle­giance (Bay­at) to Taliban’s nev­er to be seen supreme leader Mul­lah Haibat­ul­lah Akhundza­da, it has made it amply clear that it will con­tin­ue to tar­get the Rawalpin­di GHQ from with­in Pak­istan and does not need the safe ter­ror sanc­tu­ary of Afghanistan.

    ...

    While Pak­istan may get deni­a­bil­i­ty of ter­ror attacks against India by allow­ing all ter­ror fac­to­ries to shift to Afghanistan under Tal­iban, the eco­nom­ic and mil­i­tary gap between New Del­hi and Islam­abad is ever widen­ing under the Modi regime and there is a sea change from India of the 1990s. With the abro­ga­tion of arti­cle 370 and 35 A in August 2019, the union ter­ri­to­ry of Jam­mu and Kash­mir, and Ladakh is direct­ly under con­trol of the Cen­tral Gov­ern­ment and the room for Pak­istan sup­port­ed Hur­riy­at and oth­er local par­ties has near­ly dis­ap­peared. To top it all, the Modi regime refus­es to get black-mailed over Pakistan’s nuclear sta­tus and is ready to mil­i­tar­i­ly respond to any ter­ror attack inspired and orches­trat­ed by Rawalpin­di. Fact is that actu­al­ly the strate­gic space for Pak­istan has shrunk with Chi­na demand­ing its share of pie for CPEC and resur­gent Tal­iban becom­ing the rad­i­cal­iz­ing force for not only all the Pash­tuns on both sides of Durand Line, which is not rec­og­nized by Tal­iban, but also jihadists of all genre in the region. US is gone and the new Great Game has just begun.

    ———–

    “ETIM may shift to ISKP with Tal­iban-Chi­na alliance over Xin­jiang” by Shishir Gup­ta; The Hin­dus­tan Times; 08/30/2021

    “While the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Par­ty (CCP) unlike the US and Sovi­ets is not expect­ed cross the Rubi­con by becom­ing polit­i­cal or mil­i­tar­i­ly active in Afghanistan, it will sure­ly use its new friend, the Tal­iban, for tak­ing action against some 500 East Turkestan Islam­ic Move­ment (ETIM) fight­ers whose goal is to lib­er­ate Xin­jiang Uighurs from the yoke of Bei­jing. The ETIM fight­ers are most­ly locat­ed in Badak­shan province in north Afghanistan which links with Xin­jiang in Chi­na via the Wakhan cor­ri­dor. Even though the Tal­iban have tra­di­tion­al­ly a close rela­tion­ship with the ETIM, the Pash­tuns are con­cen­trat­ed in south and its is the minor­i­ty Tajiks, Uzbeks, Haz­aras, Uighur and Chechen who com­prise the bulk of Tal­iban cadre in north Afghanistan. If the Tal­iban start harass­ing the Afghan minori­ties, it is these non-Pash­tun ele­ments who will join the core of Pan­jshir resis­tance in future. Already, intel­li­gence reports from Afghanistan and Turkey indi­cate that the ETIM group will shift its alle­giance to Islam­ic State of Kho­rasan Province (ISKP) as they fear Tal­iban will act against them and hand them over to the MSS, the Chi­nese secret ser­vice. It is for this very rea­son that Chi­na wants US to redes­ig­nate ETIM as a glob­al ter­ror­ist group, which is rather rich for a coun­try that sat on the UN des­ig­na­tion of Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as glob­al ter­ror­ist for near­ly three years.”

    Are the ‘free­dom fight­ers’ of ETIM poised to become the Uyghur branch of ISIS? Those fears are already report­ed­ly held by ana­lysts. And pre­sum­ably held by the Tal­iban.

    And as the fol­low­ing June 2016 arti­cle in For­eign Pol­i­cy makes clear, these kinds of fears aren’t new. Or at least should­n’t be new. Because the Tal­iban has been mak­ing sig­nif­i­cant inroads in court­ing Afghanistan’s non-Pash­tun pop­u­la­tions since at least 2015, rely­ing on a strat­e­gy of exploit­ing local minor­i­ty frus­tra­tions with the Afghan gov­ern­ment. In oth­er words, the tables have turned and it’s now the Tal­iban’s turn to be ‘the gov­ern­ment’ and ISIS-K’s turn to play the role of rogue suit­or:

    For­eign Pol­i­cy

    Eth­nic Minori­ties Are Fuel­ing the Taliban’s Expan­sion in Afghanistan
    The Tal­iban is gain­ing dan­ger­ous lever­age by recruit­ing Tajiks, Turk­men, and Uzbeks.

    By Frud Bezhan
    June 15, 2016, 11:51 AM

    The Tal­iban has tra­di­tion­al­ly drawn on eth­nic Pash­tuns in its insur­gency against the Afghan gov­ern­ment, but it has begun to suc­cess­ful­ly recuit dis­grun­tled mem­bers of oth­er eth­nic groups as it expands its reach.

    Dis­en­fran­chised com­mu­ni­ties of eth­nic Tajiks, Turk­men, and Uzbeks are join­ing the Tal­iban in the country’s north, accord­ing to local elders and trib­al lead­ers in the region. The new recruits have giv­en the mil­i­tant group the abil­i­ty to seize ter­ri­to­ry in areas out­side of its tra­di­tion­al pow­er base in Pash­tun-major­i­ty areas in the country’s south and east.

    The Taliban’s new recruits have con­tributed to sig­nif­i­cant gains on the ground in the north, help­ing expand the group’s reach to lev­els not seen since the U.S.-led inva­sion in 2001. There are no offi­cial sta­tis­tics avail­able on the num­ber of non-Pash­tuns who have joined the Tal­iban in recent years. But the Tal­iban has made a clear shift towards recruit­ing from oth­er eth­nic groups, which have assumed posi­tions in the Tal­iban lead­er­ship and key posts in the provinces.

    In the 1990s, the pre­dom­i­nate­ly Pash­tun Tal­iban move­ment encoun­tered a hos­tile pop­u­la­tion in Afghanistan’s north, where the major­i­ty of peo­ple are not Pash­tun. The Tal­iban fought fierce bat­tles and endured heavy casu­al­ties in wrest­ing con­trol of the region from eth­nic Haz­ara, Tajik, and Uzbek war­lords and mili­tia groups, often com­mit­ting vio­lent atroc­i­ties and alien­at­ing the local pop­u­la­tion.

    Now, non-Pash­tuns make up around one-quar­ter of the Tal­iban lead­er­ship coun­cil and its var­i­ous com­mis­sions. In Jan­u­ary, at least three non-Pash­tuns were induct­ed to the lead­er­ship coun­cil.

    Eth­nic minori­ties have also gained a larg­er num­ber of provin­cial and dis­trict shad­ow gov­er­nor­ships and zon­al com­mands. The insur­gent shad­ow gov­ern­ments and mil­i­tary struc­tures in the north have increas­ing­ly adapt­ed to be more accom­mo­dat­ing to non-Pash­tuns who are will­ing to fight under the flag of the Taliban’s Islam­ic Emi­rate, but not direct­ly under Pash­tuns.

    The Tal­iban has recruit­ed eth­nic Tajiks in north­east­ern Badakhshan Province, and eth­nic Turk­men and Uzbeks in north­west­ern Faryab Province and in the north­ern province of Jowz­jan. Qari Salahud­din Ayu­bi, an eth­nic Uzbek, was the Taliban’s shad­ow gov­er­nor for Faryab until he was killed in a NATO air strike on Octo­ber 6, 2015. And his pre­de­ces­sor, an eth­nic Uzbek known as Yar Moham­mad, was killed in 2012. Moham­mad ranked so high in the Tal­iban hier­ar­chy that the mil­i­tant group, which rarely con­firms casu­al­ties, issued a state­ment to com­mem­o­rate his death.

    In Faryab, the Tal­iban has also giv­en oper­a­tional com­mand to for­eign Uzbek mil­i­tants from the Islam­ic Move­ment of Uzbek­istan (IMU), which appears to have attract­ed local eth­nic Uzbeks to their cause. In 2012, NATO said it had killed an IMU com­man­der, who was also a Tal­iban dis­trict gov­er­nor, in Faryab. In 2013, three IMU com­man­ders were killed in Bagh­lan, anoth­er north­ern province.

    In fact, the Taliban’s ranks have been bol­stered by hun­dreds of for­eign fight­ers — includ­ing Cen­tral Asians, Chechens, and Chi­nese Uighurs — who reset­tled in north­ern Afghanistan after they were flushed out of their safe havens in Pakistan’s trib­al regions by a Pak­istani mil­i­tary offen­sive ear­li­er this year.

    The Tal­iban has exploit­ed the frac­tious eth­nic land­scape in north­ern Afghanistan to win over dis­af­fect­ed lead­ers and trib­al chiefs. In some cas­es, these lead­ers and chiefs have joined the Tal­iban because they can­not rely on the gov­ern­ment for pro­tec­tion, accord­ing to Bar­nett Rubin, a for­mer U.S. State Depart­ment offi­cial and lead­ing spe­cial­ist on Afghanistan. Oth­ers have joined because they feel mar­gin­al­ized by the gov­ern­ment in terms of mon­ey or polit­i­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

    The Tal­iban sends cadres to vil­lages to iden­ti­fy and nego­ti­ate with trib­al chiefs and eth­nic lead­ers sus­cep­ti­ble to recruit­ment, offer­ing pow­er, sta­tus, or mon­ey, accord­ing to Ted Calla­han, a west­ern secu­ri­ty expert based in Afghanistan. The mil­i­tant group also sends preach­ers and estab­lished reli­gious school offi­cials to prop­a­gate its mes­sage. Calla­han said that the Tal­iban has tried to expand to sym­pa­thet­ic eth­nic groups. “The Tal­iban has done a real­ly great job of get­ting the mes­sage right, tai­lor­ing it to that spe­cif­ic group and their griev­ances, and then at the same time giv­ing them a large degree of oper­a­tional auton­o­my with­in the Tal­iban move­ment,” said Calla­han.

    The Tal­iban has also exploit­ed increased hos­til­i­ty on the part of locals towards pro-gov­ern­ment mili­tias, includ­ing the Afghan Local Police, accus­ing them of extor­tion, rape, and extra­ju­di­cial killings. The police are sup­posed to fall under the com­mand of the gov­ern­ment, but in real­i­ty, their alle­giance lies with local war­lords who have been accused of a range of rights abus­es.

    Although the Taliban’s approach is not new, the suc­cess of its recruit­ment strat­e­gy only became vis­i­ble dur­ing last year’s fight­ing sea­son. In 2015, the mil­i­tant group focused its annu­al spring offen­sive on north­ern Afghanistan, seiz­ing ter­ri­to­ry all over the region. The Tal­iban claimed its biggest prize in Sep­tem­ber when it briefly cap­tured the key north­ern city of Kun­duz, the first time it had seized a provin­cial cap­i­tal since it was oust­ed by the U.S.-led inva­sion near­ly 14 years ago.

    ...

    In order to reverse the Taliban’s influ­ence among dis­grun­tled eth­nic and trib­al groups, the Afghan gov­ern­ment must address the local griev­ances that the Tal­iban is exploit­ing for recruit­ment pur­pos­es. If not, Afghanistan may wit­ness the fall of a record num­ber of dis­tricts to the Tal­iban this fight­ing sea­son.

    —————
    “Eth­nic Minori­ties Are Fuel­ing the Taliban’s Expan­sion in Afghanistan” by Frud Bezhan; For­eign Pol­i­cy; 06/15/2016

    In order to reverse the Taliban’s influ­ence among dis­grun­tled eth­nic and trib­al groups, the Afghan gov­ern­ment must address the local griev­ances that the Tal­iban is exploit­ing for recruit­ment pur­pos­es. If not, Afghanistan may wit­ness the fall of a record num­ber of dis­tricts to the Tal­iban this fight­ing sea­son.”

    Local griev­ances must be addressed. That was the case in 2016 and it’s going to remain the case today. All the more so today because the Tal­iban was so suc­cess­ful at win­ning over that non-Pash­tun eth­nic minor­i­ty sup­port pre­cise­ly by exploit­ing those local griev­ances. It’s a tried and true tac­tic. And if those aren’t addressed, the hun­dreds of for­eign fight­ers who have been bol­ster­ing the Tal­iban’s forces just might end up bol­ster­ing ISIS-K’s forces instead. Or the Pan­jeer resis­tance. They’ll have options:

    ...
    Now, non-Pash­tuns make up around one-quar­ter of the Tal­iban lead­er­ship coun­cil and its var­i­ous com­mis­sions. In Jan­u­ary, at least three non-Pash­tuns were induct­ed to the lead­er­ship coun­cil.

    Eth­nic minori­ties have also gained a larg­er num­ber of provin­cial and dis­trict shad­ow gov­er­nor­ships and zon­al com­mands. The insur­gent shad­ow gov­ern­ments and mil­i­tary struc­tures in the north have increas­ing­ly adapt­ed to be more accom­mo­dat­ing to non-Pash­tuns who are will­ing to fight under the flag of the Taliban’s Islam­ic Emi­rate, but not direct­ly under Pash­tuns.

    ...

    In Faryab, the Tal­iban has also giv­en oper­a­tional com­mand to for­eign Uzbek mil­i­tants from the Islam­ic Move­ment of Uzbek­istan (IMU), which appears to have attract­ed local eth­nic Uzbeks to their cause. In 2012, NATO said it had killed an IMU com­man­der, who was also a Tal­iban dis­trict gov­er­nor, in Faryab. In 2013, three IMU com­man­ders were killed in Bagh­lan, anoth­er north­ern province.

    In fact, the Taliban’s ranks have been bol­stered by hun­dreds of for­eign fight­ers — includ­ing Cen­tral Asians, Chechens, and Chi­nese Uighurs — who reset­tled in north­ern Afghanistan after they were flushed out of their safe havens in Pakistan’s trib­al regions by a Pak­istani mil­i­tary offen­sive ear­li­er this year.
    ...

    While it remains to be seen how the Tal­iban will respond to Chi­nese demands to cut ties with ETIM, what this his­to­ry sug­gests is that the Tal­iban will poten­tial­ly have wig­gle room with the inter­a­tional com­mu­ni­ty if it choos­es to cod­dle ETIM, and any oth­er ter­ror group oper­at­ing in the coun­try, under the pre­tense of hold­ing ISIS‑K at bay. At least as long as ter­ror attacks attrib­uted to those groups don’t end up tak­ing place out­side of Afghanistan’s bor­ders. Well, OK, maybe if they hit the bor­der­ing coun­tries of Chi­na, Iran, or Rus­sia, that would be seen as OK. But attacks any­where else would be very unac­cept­able.

    So giv­en all the spec­u­la­tion about whether or not the US with­draw­al from Afghanistan is going to prompt a for­eign pol­i­cy shift in Chi­na towards more open­ness towards using mil­i­tary force in the region, the fact that the Tal­iban is fac­ing some sort of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” choice over whether or not they’ll crack down on the for­eign jihadists — fight­ers who are simul­ta­ne­ous­ly affil­i­ates of the Tal­iban but also giant for­eign pol­i­cy headaches for the Tal­iban — sug­gests those deci­sions could end up being made by Chi­na soon­er or lat­er. Fate­ful deci­sions on pro­ject­ing mil­i­tary force out­side Chi­na’s bor­ders.

    It all rais­es the grim ques­tion: just how awful would a ter­ror attack on Chi­na need to be in order to prompt an inva­sion of Afghanistan? What would ETIM need to do? How many peo­ple do they need to kill? What is the ter­ror thresh­old for prompt­ing the kind of nation­al-rage-induced con­sen­sus for a for­eign occu­pa­tion that 9/11 trig­gered for the US? These are the kinds of ques­tions both Chi­na and the Tal­iban are no doubt ask­ing them­selves. Along with ETIM, although the group prob­a­bly asked and answered these ques­tions years ago...they’ve got to be onto the plan­ning stages by now.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 8, 2021, 3:49 pm

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