September 2008


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 Via MEMRI TV:

Following are excerpts from a sermon by Saudi cleric Muhammad Al-Arifi, which aired on Al-Aqsa TV on September 12, 2008.

Muhammad Al-Arifi: Studies conducted in Tel Aviv and in the Palestinian lands occupied by the Jews showed that they plant Gharqad trees around their homes, because the Prophet Muhammad said that when the Muslims fight the Jews, each and every stone and tree will say: Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. The only exception is the Gharqad tree, which is one of the trees of the Jews, and if they hide behind it, it will not reveal their presence. According to reports of people who went there and saw it with their own eyes, many Jews plant Gharqad trees around their homes, so that when the fighting begins, they can hide behind them. They are not man enough to stand and fight you.

Head_Up Rantburg

By David Dastych  

imageWarsaw, Poland-Early morning on Sunday, September 28, Mr. Piotr (Peter) Stanczak, an engineer from a Polish GEOFIZYKA Krakow Ltd. seismic survey company, drove in his Jeep, along with a Frontier Corps (FC) guard, a driver and an assistant driver.

According to a local police report, about 06:20 a.m. they arrived at the field camp near Pind Sultani village of Tehsil Jand Attock district in the NWFP province of Pakistan, when three to four unknown persons attacked his Jeep No-B-2748(NWFP), killed his Pakistani companions, kidnapped him and escaped in an unknown direction.

The whereabouts of the Polish engineer remain unknown at this time. The Pakistanis shot by gunmen were FC guard Muhammad Saleem, driver Anayatullah and his assistant Riaz. Their bodies were taken to a local hospital in Attock town for post-mortem, and then returned to the company’s camp.
 
 So far, no person or organization has claimed responsibility for the attack.
 
Yacoob Malik of “Dawn” daily wrote on Monday:  “Local people said that the engineer might have been taken to tribal areas near Kohat, about 25km from the camp.” The incident occurred some 85-120 km from Islamabad, in the area of Pakistan inhabited mainly by Pashtu nationals. The area is located close to the boundary of North West Frontier Province, where pro-Taliban militants seized two Chinese telecommunication engineers in late August.
 
Provincial Police officer, Mr Durrani, said it was strange that a foreign technician was sent to the field camp located in a deserted area early in the morning. The camp was without proper security arrangement. Other police officials told media that foreign companies conducting oil exploration and other activities in the district had been cautioned by the government a number of times to make proper security arrangements, particularly during their staff’s movement (Malik, Dawn). “Attackers seized the Polish employee and shot dead his Pakistani driver and guards when they tried to put up resistance,” a senior police official said on condition of anonymity. Somehow, the news of the attack had been reported to a local police station, probably by a Pakistani guard or driver, before they lost their lives in gunfire.

Peter Stanczak worked for the Poland-based Geofizyka Krakow Ltd, which is exploring natural resources reservoirs in Basal area. Many foreign companies are drilling for oil and gas in Attock, where they have their own security staff in addition to local police and a small contingent of the Frontier Corps paramilitary force.

Foreigners and diplomats in Pakistan are feeling at risk as the insurgents have intensified their attacks on “high-value targets” to avenge military operations in the restive northwestern regions, as well as in other parts of the country (Indo-Asian News Service.)
 

Prospecting for oil and gas in Pakistan

Geofizyka Krakow (GK) is one of the two largest Polish companies of this type (the other is Geofizyka Torun (GT), in Northern Poland). Since 1956, Geofizyka Krakow has been helping its clients to successfully explore hydrocarbon and geothermal water deposits, as well as monitor natural resources reservoirs throughout the world. The Polish company maps the world’s basins using the latest technology and highest qualified staff. It is GK’s main preoccupation to sustain close partnership with their clients. This is managed effectively through GK foreign branches duly registered in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Pakistan and Libya.

In Pakistan, equipped with a brand new set of vibrators Sercel Nomad 65, Geofizyka Kraków (GK) commenced 3D Soghri seismic survey, a large project that covers more than 600 sq. km and use 2688 of active channels, what makes it probably the largest seismic venture in Pakistan. The operation is running in agricultural terrains that require particular care and effort to minimize possible damage occurrence. The contract is performed for Oil & Gas Development Company Limited – a Pakistani national oil corporation with whom GK strengthened the cooperation through several projects during its almost 10-year activity in the Pakistani oil and gas market.
 
Since 1998 when the company set its foreign branch in Islamabad, many geophysical surveys have been successfully performed for international and local clients. Up to date GK has been specialized especially in explosive seismic projects performed in difficult terrain conditions of mountainous areas with limited access for heavy track equipment. From the beginning of the year 2008, GK has widened its vibroseis services offer and has become the only contractor performing vibroseis operations exceeding 60, 000 lbs peak force.
 

A brave man

Polish media are still hiding the identity of the captured engineer. They claim that is for security reasons. But the hiding game has caused strange reactions. Some readers of a major Polish Internet magazine, http://www.onet.pl wrote that (Mr. Piotr Stanczak) might be an agent of the Polish Military Intelligence under engineer’s cover and that he might have been kidnapped by Taliban or al-Qaeda operatives for that reason. What nonsense!  As his name has been already revealed by Pakistani and world media, there is no reason to keep it under the carpet.
 
Mr. Piotr (Peter) Stanczak, from a historical southern Polish city of Krakow (Cracow), is a sporting man in his 40s, with a long professional record working abroad. His sister reported to Polish media that her brother was due to return to Poland at the end of October. “He never said it was dangerous in Pakistan. He said all was OK,” she added, telling of his last cell phone call made on Saturday, two weeks ago. “My brother is a brave, resolute man. But I don’t know how he could react now, how he might feel.”

In a short interview for a Polish private television channel TVN-24, his sister, older than him and also living in Krakow, told a TV reporter that her only brother was a “tough man” but “a much loved brother” and he was helping her and their ill mother. In an other TV program, his neighbor said Mr. Stanczak had built a nice house and planted beautiful trees. She also added he helped her family in some difficulties. “He is calm and rational”, she added, and “he can manage in all situations.”
On Monday afternoon, September 29, there was still no breaking news about the kidnapped engineer. The President of Geofizyka Krakow Ltd., Mr. Leopold Sulkowski, told Polish media that they expect some news tomorrow morning. The company HQ is in permanent contact with their subsidiary in Islamabad and with the field camp northwest from the capital. There are still 18 Polish workers there, who remain under the protection of the Pakistani Army. Due to the Sunday incident, the contract might be suspended and they would return to Poland, when the situation is safe enough to fly.
 

No rescue by force planned

Ever since the Sunday kidnapping the Polish authorities were negotiating Mr. Stanczak’s rescue with the top Pakistani authorities, the military and intelligence. Rumors were circulated about a planned use of a Polish special task force GROM, deployed in Afghanistan, but the Polish Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Bogdan Klich, strongly denied them. . A crisis control group had been organized in the MFA, and the Polish Ambassador in Pakistan, Mr. Krzysztof Debnicki, recently met with the Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. The Pakistani authorities are giving all possible assistance to the Polish counterparts and they have organized a search and rescue operation themselves.
 
The situation is developing.

 Via The Gazette:

Searchers on Pikes Peak believe they have located the body of a Fort Carson soldier who went missing Sunday, authorities say.

The soldier – a 23-year-old lieutenant whose name is being withheld pending family notification – appears to have died in a fall, said El Paso County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Lt. Lari Sevene.

Sheriff’s detectives are en route for a death investigation, and members of El Paso County Search and Rescue are evaluating how to get the body down, Sevene said. A helicopter may be required, she said.

The body was found at the base of the Y couloir, and preliminary evidence suggests the soldier may have been attempting an ice climb, said Steve Sperry, a spokesman for Pikes Peak Search and Rescue.

Pikes Peak Rangers found the soldier’s car at the top of the peak Sunday night in their routine sweep to ensure visitors have descended at the mountain’s close.

Rescue crews searched for the man for more than five hours Monday night. It was unclear when the search resumed this morning.

"The Mountain Post Family is deeply saddened by the death of one of our 4th Brigade, 4th Infantry Division Soldiers," Shannon Davis, Fort Carson chief of staff, said in a written statement.

"Our heart-felt condolences go out to the Family and friends of this Soldier. Our Army Family is grieving the loss of one of our own, and we are committed to helping his Family in any way possible."

——————-

Look, let’s be honest here, he was a lieutenant, they’re not known for common sense (in WWII and Nam they were shot by their own—friendly fire) and Ft. Carson doesn’t give a rat’s ass about families. In fact, Ft. Carson, like Ft. Bliss, is out-a-control.

SAN JOSE (BCN) ― A representative from Her Royal Majesty the Queen of England will come to San Jose Tuesday to ask the Independence High School Marching Band to travel to London and perform in the 2010 New Year’s Day Parade.

An official ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. at the school when Lord Roger Bramble requests the presence of the marching band in London, marching band booster club member Kathy Tsukamoto said. Brable and two other representatives will meet the band and officially invite them to London.

The marching band is a two-time California State Champion in its marching division, in 2006 and 2007, Tsukamoto said.

"Word got out that they were doing so well," she said of the band members.

The students must raise $256,000 to fly to London and participate, as the school district will not fund the trip, according to the school.

"We’re going to make it happen," Tsukamoto said of the fundraising. We will be doing some extensive sponsorship searching, as well as other fundraising, because we have 55 to 65 students who will be taking
the trip, she added.

Community leaders as well as members of the East Side Union High
School District will be at the ceremony at 1776 Education Park Drive.

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By Scott Ott for ScrappleFace

Sen. Barack Obama, D-IL, in an effort to demonstrate the leadership qualities which will make him a great president, today offered his own proposal to defuse the current financial crisis in the wake of yesterday’s failure of the Bush-Pelosi financial-sector bailout plan.

“The House rejected the bailout because folks don’t trust [Treasury Secretary] Hank Paulson — a complete stranger — to manage the distribution of $700 billion in taxpayer money,” said Sen. Obama. “My plan calls for putting in charge of that cash pile someone the people of the world can trust — namely me, Barack Obama.”

The Barack Obama Modified Bailout plan would place the same virtually-untrammeled powers in the hands of a man who has already earned the peoples’ trust by distributing tens of millions of dollars in campaign contributions to consultants, caterers and charter airlines.

Sen. Obama said that once given the authority, he would start to stabilize markets by ensuring the election of Democrats who have received large campaign contributions from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and other financial giants.

“Those investments are at risk if Democrats lose in November,” said Sen. Obama. “Uncertainty is the enemy of free markets. By using part of the $700 billion to guarantee that Democrats own Congress and the White House, credit markets will loosen up and money will flow freely again. Then we can return to the days when the news wasn’t dominated by bad mortgages, imprudent investments, and irresponsible CEOs escaping accountability. People don’t want to hear that stuff. My plan will help them recapture their bliss.”

By Douglas J. Hagmann

A week ago, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) took the unprecedented step of temporarily banning the fairly common practice of "short selling" securities in response to the widening economic crisis in the U.S. The essence of the ban is that the SEC has placed a hold on "short selling" in 799 financial institutions until October 2, 2008, in tandem with the FSA, which is the British counterpart of the SEC.

In a press release issued September 19, 2008, the SEC made the following announcement (excerpt):

The Securities and Exchange Commission, acting in concert with the U.K. Financial Services Authority, today took temporary emergency action to prohibit short selling in financial companies to protect the integrity and quality of the securities market and strengthen investor confidence. The U.K. FSA took similar action yesterday.

In its most basic definition, short selling (or selling short) is the act of a person or entity selling a security instrument, such as a stock, expecting, for whatever reason, that the price of the security will decline. For example, a person sells the stock today to a buyer at the current price, buying the stock back later at the anticipated reduced price, keeping the difference as profit. Because a person does not actually own the stock they are selling, such transactions are conducted through securities lenders, such as Goldman Sachs, for example.

The concept of short selling is rather simple: the greater the decline of the particular stock, the more money the seller stands to make in pure profit. The inverse is also true: should the value of the stock rise, the seller would then lose money on the transaction. Perhaps the biggest factor that one must keep in mind about selling short is this: the profit is limited but the loss is unlimited. Therefore, the short seller is taking an exceptional risk when engaging in such transactions -an important fact as you read on.

Short selling of stocks: Sound familiar?

At least in part, short selling transactions have been identified as contributing to the demise or imminent demise of a number of longstanding and historically revered investment firms, including but not limited to Lehman Brothers. According to analysts and experts in the financial markets, there has been a very sharp upsurge in market transactions of this type, ultimately causing a portion of the market woes that we are presently experiencing within our financial markets.

Many might recall one of the murkier aspects of 9/11 conspiracy theories involves the speculation of airline stocks in the weeks before the attacks. It has been proven that the options market for United and American Airlines, two of the airlines involved in the attacks, was unusually busy in the days before 9/11 with an extremely heavy volume of "put options," or selling the stocks "short." The activity was unusual enough that both the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) initiated investigations into the unusual trading activity.

Concurrent with the publication of the 9/11 commission report, the Securities and Exchange Commission stated that they found no evidence of U.S. trading based on inside information related to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack that resulted in wide price swings in some options contracts.

It is important to note that investigation conducted by the SEC and their counterparts was narrowly focused. I am making this statement from my professional opinion as an investigator, and with full knowledge that such a statement will undoubtedly come under attack, citing the fact that the investigation encompassed a review of 103 companies, trading in seven markets, and involved numerous other domestic and foreign oversight and law enforcement agencies.

Consider, however, that the primary focus of the investigation was to determine whether this activity could have been the result of advance knowledge of the attacks, with the trades made for the sole purpose of profiting from the attacks. The focus, as a matter of practicality and necessity, appears to have been rather limited in its scope. But what if those suspicious transactions were not done to merely profit from the attacks, but were part of a larger attack on Wall Street – and the U.S. economy – involving more than those trades?

I’m no economist, so I will defer to the recent statements attributed to Joe Besecker of Emerald Asset Management Company. He was the subject of an article titled Terror Attack on US Financials? Details of SEC Short Ban.

The following is excerpted from that article, referencing the musings of Mr. Besecker:

"He [Joe Besecker] raised an intriguing issue: None of the many hedgies he knew were pressing their bets recently. The bear raids on the banks and brokers were NOT a case of piling on by US- based hedge funds. And from what he was seeing and hearing about in terms of order flow, the vast majority of the financial short selling the past week or so were being done overseas. It appears that the lion’s share of shorting was coming out of overseas bourses such as London and Dubai.It may not be a coincidence that the financial short selling ban is both here and in London.

Then there is another coincidence: The huge increase in shorting of the financials occurred on the anniversary of 9/11. And on top of that, the same institutions attacked on 9/11/01 were the ones suffering in recent days.

Joe asked the question: Is anyone investigating whether this is a case of financial terrorism?

Obviously, I believe that the majority of the blame for our current financial crisis lies with unethical CEOs of various financial organizations, the lack of oversight of government subsidized entities such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, white collar criminals, and some members of Congress. With the countless threats made before and since 9/11 against the U.S. economy, however, isn’t it possible that some aspects of our recent economic woes has been – or is being caused by our enemies? Were the threats posted against Wall Street by Islamic terrorists, some with financial backing from the Saudi’s, interpreted too literally?

I’m not entirely convinced that the SEC investigation into the whole aspect of trading activity concurrent with the 9/11 attacks was performed honestly or adequately. Considering we are now being asked to contribute to a bailout of unfathomable proportions, aren’t we entitled to get some real answers to legitimate questions?

Via Daily Mail:

A Russian nuclear stealth bomber was able to fly within 90 seconds of the British coast without being picked up by radar, it was revealed today.

The supersonic ‘Blackjack’ jet flew completely undetected to within just 20 miles from Hull in one of the worst breaches of British security since the end of the Cold War.

RAF radar eventually picked up the plane, but the only two pairs of fighter jets used for air alerts were on other duties.

Tupoloev

A Tupoloev ‘Blackjack’ bomber similar to the jet that flew within 20 miles of the British coast completely undetected

The embarrassing breach late last year has called into question Britain’s defence capabilities after four jet squadrons were cut from the RAF’s budget four years ago.One senior RAF pilot told The Sun: ‘The Russians made us look helpless. It was a disaster – it basically gave the Russians the green light to fly wherever they want.’ The supersonic jet had taken off from Engel’s Air Base near Saratov on Russia’s Volga delta.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed the incursion took place but said it had a ‘multi-layered’ approach to deterring enemy aircraft.

A spokesman said in a statement: ‘We are satisfied we have the flexibility to launch as many aircraft as the situation requires.’

BRITAIN’S MI6 intelligence service is investigating how a camera holding sensitive information about al-Qaeda suspects came to be lost by one of its agents, Hertfordshire Police said today.

Media reports said the Nikon digital camera was put up for sale on internet trading site eBay and sold for just £17 ($38).

Its memory had names of al-Qaeda members, fingerprints and suspects’ academic records as well as pictures of rocket launchers and missiles, The Sun newspaper reported.

The camera also had detailed information about an MI6 computer system, while The Sun said 46-year-old Abdul al-Hadi al-Iraqi, being held at Guantanamo Bay after being captured by the CIA in 2007, was named in material found on the memory.

"We can confirm we seized a camera after a member of the public reported it," said Hertfordshire Police after the camera was handed into Hemel Hempstead police station.

"Intelligence services are investigating," the statement added.

The incident is the latest in a series of embarrassing data losses to affect the intelligence services and the Government.

Yesterday, prosecutors announced that a senior public official who left top secret intelligence assessments of al Qaeda and the security forces in Iraq on a London commuter train is due to face charges under the Official Secrets Act.

Last year, a civil servant lost computer discs containing the names, addresses and bank details of 25 million people last year, while in January, the Ministry of Defence said it had lost a laptop containing personal data on 600,000 recruits.

The Home Office said in August that a contractor had lost personal details of every prisoner in England and Wales.

National security services rate the current threat of a terrorist attack as "severe," the second-highest state of alert.

 It says the most significant threat comes from al-Qaeda.

Source

Heads_Up Rantburg

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By Stephen Brown
FrontPageMagazine.com

After years of battling al-Qaeda on land, Western forces now face a terrorist war at sea. In a recent communiqué, the Islamist organization claimed responsibility for this year’s surge in pirate attacks in the vital Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia. Dozens of vessels from different nations have been seized and held for ransom, shaking the world’s shipping industry. Al-Qaeda calls its maritime campaign “a new strategy which permits the mujahedeen” to hijack shipping, since “fighters who aspire to establish the caliphate must control the seas and the waterways.”

Counterterrorism consultant Olivier Guitta revealed the al-Qaeda connection in his Asia Times column, writing that the terrorist organization “intends to take control of the Gulf of Aden and the southern entrance of the Red Sea.” Guitta called the area “strategic” for the radical Islamic group.

Al-Qaeda’s goal is the removal of Western military bases from the Arabian Peninsula. It believes sea lanes “weakened by acts of piracy,” combined with mujahedeen attacks, will force concessions from Western powers. And while Al-Qaeda has not abandoned its more traditional tactics – it has a presence in both Somalia and Yemen and attacked the American embassy in Yemen this month, killing 16 – the organization is increasingly focusing its terror on the high seas.

Al-Qaeda’s sea war is already having an effect. Piracy attacks have increased so dramatically in the Horn of Africa that a London-based International Maritime Bureau (IMB) spokesman called the waters off Somalia, a Muslim country, the most dangerous in the world. A failed state, Somalia has possessed neither a navy nor a central government since 1991 – factors exploited by criminal organizations and al-Qaeda, sometimes working together. As a result, in the first two weeks of September alone, Somali pirates attacked 17 ships, four more than in all of 2007, and last week captured a Ukrainian ship carrying 33 T-70 tanks. “In my time here, I must say, this is the most concentrated period of destabilizing activity I have seen in the Gulf of Aden,” said Keith Winstanley, a British naval officer patrolling the gulf.

Altogether, piracy accounts for about 60 attacks against oil tankers and cargo vessels in the Gulf of Aden this year. Most scandalous, however, is that these maritime terrorists are currently holding 14 ships and 300 of their crewmen for large ransoms in Eyl, a pirate town in northern Somalia. On Sunday, the terrorists demanded $20 million for the Ukrainian ship alone, although ransoms for most other captive ships are in the $1-3 million range.

The Gulf of Aden is not a sea route ships can avoid. Situated at the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula between Somalia and Yemen, the 2,500-mile waterway is strategic for the world’s economy. It connects Europe and North America with Asia and East Africa via the Suez Canal. About 1,500 ships, ten percent of global shipping traffic, pass through it every month, including four percent of the world’s daily crude oil supply. The only alternative route, around South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, is thousands of miles longer and much more expensive, considering larger ships cost about $20,000 daily to run.

As it is, the financial costs of piracy in the Gulf of Aden are high enough. The pirates stand to gain an estimated $50 million dollars in ransom money this year. But this sum does not include the losses shipping companies incur for their ships’ inactivity after capture. Increased insurance rates and thousands of dollars in extra fuel consumption costs from ships traversing the gulf at higher than normal speeds to avoid pirates are additional financial burdens facing owners.

The threat that piracy in the Horn of Africa poses to international trade and to freedom of movement is substantial. After two of its vessels were hijacked last month, a major Malaysian shipping company, MISC Berhad, announced that its ships are going to stop using the Gulf of Aden.

World leaders also are waking up to the problem. The United Nations passed a resolution last June giving countries permission to pursue pirates into Somali territorial waters, while French President Nicholas Sarkozy recently sent commandos to wrest an elderly French couple and their yacht from Somali pirates.

The U.S. also has gotten involved. As an anti-piracy measure, the United States in August established a protected shipping corridor in the gulf that Combined Task Force 150, an international naval force under US 5th Fleet command, is patrolling. But although the CTF has thwarted 12 pirate hijackings since then, ships are still being attacked, even in the protected zone, indicating the extent and strength of the piracy problem. Captains are now even being told to traverse the gulf in convoy.

The IMB estimates that about 1,000 pirates are active in the gulf. One sailor, a pirate prisoner for 174 days, said his captors are well-organized in groups of 15-20. Armed with Kalashnikov rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and scaling ladders, they operate hundreds of miles off shore from two or three larger “mother” ships, from which they launch their attacks in speed boats against unsuspecting victims. Naval officer Winstanley said there was a degree of organization in their attacks, “Which is why we are taking action.”

Security experts fear the ransom money the pirates are receiving will allow them to buy better equipment and weapons for larger operations. Another concern focuses on the threat to the world’s energy supply. A Japanese tanker, for example, was hit with a rocket-propelled grenade last year, spilling hundreds of barrels of oil into the gulf. A spate of successful sinking would see sky-rocketing oil prices climb even higher.

Such financial disruption would please al-Qaeda, since it has long targeted the American economy for destruction. It knows the Western world derives its military and cultural strength from its economic power, hence its attack on the World Trade Center. Al-Qaeda also wants to draw America into as many Gulf of Aden-type military sideshows as possible in order to drain American resources.

That may prove a fatal error. A sudden, resolute attack on the pirates’ Somali bases would sink al -Qaeda’s high seas terror war and restore calm to the waters of the vital Gulf of Aden. Before long, the terrorist organization may discover that its chances against American forces are no better on sea than they are on land.

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