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08 October 2009


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Clifford Kiracofe

Then there is the rumor of the Christine Fair, a RANDoid, for DAS at State. Many observers familiar with her writings and positions perceive her as heavily "pro-Pakistan." So this would naturally raise some eyebrows in India. Indians I have spoken to regard her as "abrasive" and we already have that out there with Holbrooke.

IMO, it would have been more appropriate to appoint a professional diplomat from within State for this sensitive position.

"NEW DELHI: Christine Fair, political scientist and South Asia specialist at Rand Corporation, is likely to be the new pointperson on India at the
South Asia bureau in the US state department.

Sources said she is likely to be appointed deputy assistant secretary for South Asia soon, a prospect that is already raising eyebrows here, despite her evident familiarity with the region and the complex dynamics of the India-Pakistan relationship.
A scholar on South Asia, Fair has written extensively on Pakistan. In fact, she has spent a lot more time on Pakistan than on India. But when she hasfocused on India, Fair has often barked up the wrong tree. For instance, after the Mumbai attacks, she was quoted in international media as saying, "There's absolutely nothing Al Qaida-like about it. Did you see any suicide bombers? And there are no fingerprints of Lashkar. They don't do hostage taking, and they don't do grenades." ...


Wow, this is going to be weird for sure. my trend map now is all over the place.

all over the place?

If this means the move has created a slight disorder in your astute prognostications, I must admit it somehow confirms my impression, this is an interesting move. Usually I do not pay much attention on these matters, but I agree interesting choice. As I register American anger: What for, good speeches?


Nir Rosen embedded with the Taliban.

Mark Stuart

Clifford Kiracofe:

1-"I had an interesting conversation recently with an Egyptian analyst who pointed out elements of Wahabbism underlying AQ ideology, for example."

Could you please elaborate a bit Sir? It would be interesting to the extent that Egyptians are traditional antagonists of the Saudi Kingdom. And although Wahhabism takes its geographical roots in Arabia, al-Qa'ida takes its in both Egypt and the Arabian Peninsula.

2-"The original Wahabbi missionary contact from Arabia to South Asia runs back into the 18th century and the movement developed rapidly in the 19th."

Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab was born in Saudi Arabia 1703 and died in 1792. The Deobandi movement had not started till 1867 in India. Considering the communication systems of the time, I'm not sure one movement had great influence over the other. It is my understanding that Abd-al-Wahhab main concern was more within the Arabian Peninsula rather than global. Not to mention his strict aversion for religious innovations to which the Deobandis were inclined.
Indeed, the Saudi Government could have still decided to finance movements linked to the Deobandis much later on. I would be then curious to hear something about the Saudi religious establishment' stance on that financing since they were intimately involved in the fight of the Mujahideen and strictly opposed to such thoughts as the Deobandis'? Anything on that on your part?

3-Regarding that "worst case scenario" so often mentioned in MSM, do you believe that this is plausible or mere media marketing ploy? The likes of Y2K or the nuclear bomb shipped off to Long Beach, CA? Drug cartels are interested in big bucks. And big bucks they already make with all their pawns installed in gvt., federal and local. What would be their interest in associating with terrorists considering the current sate of al-Qa'ida and their finances, and the tremendous risk they would then take? 9/11 and terrorists disrupted their business down in FL and CA. They have everything to gain to see that terrorists are off their routes.

4-"40 some million Pashtuns in "Af-Pak" [...] move around within their traditional areas."
But the same could have been said of the Chechens or the Uygurs Sir. And still we found many fighters from those countries when we arrived in Afghanistan. So, wouldn't it be fair to assume that in case we succeed in routing them out of Af-Pak, they would skedaddle out of regions under our control using those multiple friendlier routes and build news sanctuaries across those borders? And what could our hand be then? Any suggestion?

5-I beg to differ with you when you say Sir that "this is owing much to the proliferation across the US of the Hispanic gangs out of California/Mexico"
IMO, this is just as for 9/11, owing to the many corrupt law enforcement people who feel too secure in their office to do their job, or have some interest in dealing with those gangs. Corruption in high ranking offices is more rampant than one might imagine. If we didn't use, they wouldn't sell. The Justice Department studies and reports will never give names of those ones working for them who consume and are perfect preys for those gangs. But they are there. Doing their nefarious job. And this is first hand experience, not mere speculation, slandering or backbiting .

F B Ali:
Do you have Sir, at least the beginning of a potential explanation for that "weird! Surreal!" rational? If so, would you care to share it with us even if mere conjecture?

Mark Stuart

Sidney O. Smith III:

Country music is gut-wrenching for me away from home Sir! Tony Rice and Freeborn Man make me long for home. So does Church Street Blues.

Clifford Kiracofe

Mark Stuart,

I would point you and those interested to the books I suggested as basic background reading on the political Islam issues noted.

Your point 5 to me is incoherent. But, I would point those interested to official Justice Department docs and other related US gov docs available to the public.

For example,

1. "National Gang Intelligence Center
NGIC integrates the gang intelligence assets of all Department of Justice agencies and has established partnerships with other federal, state, and local agencies that possess gang-related information--serving as a centralized intelligence resource for gang information and analytical support. This enables gang investigators and analysts to identify links between gangs and gang investigations, to further identify gangs and gang members, to learn the full scope of their criminal activities and enterprises, to determine which gangs pose the greatest threat to the United States, to identify trends in gang activity and migration, and to guide the appropriate officials in coordinating their investigations and prosecutions to disrupt and dismantle gangs. The NGIC's mission is to support law enforcement agencies through timely and accurate information sharing and strategic/tactical analysis of federal, state, and local law enforcement intelligence focusing on the growth, migration, criminal activity, and association of gangs that pose a significant threat to communities throughout the United States." etc.

2. "Criminal gangs in the USA have swelled to an estimated 1 million members responsible for up to 80% of crimes in communities across the nation, according to a gang threat assessment compiled by federal officials.
The major findings in a report by the Justice Department's National Gang Intelligence Center, which has not been publicly released, conclude gangs are the "primary retail-level distributors of most illicit drugs" and several are "capable" of competing with major U.S.-based Mexican drug-trafficking organizations.

"A rising number of U.S.-based gangs are seemingly intent on developing working relationships" with U.S. and foreign drug-trafficking organizations and other criminal groups to "gain direct access to foreign sources of illicit drugs," the report concludes.

The gang population estimate is up 200,000 since 2005.

Bruce Ferrell, chairman of the Midwest Gang Investigators Association, whose group monitors gang activity in 10 states, says the number of gang members may be even higher than the report's estimate.

"We've seen an expansion for the last 10 years," says Ferrell, who has reviewed the report. "Each year, the numbers are moving forward."

'Growing threat' on the move

The report says about 900,000 gang members live "within local communities across the country," and about 147,000 are in U.S. prisons or jails.

"Most regions in the United States will experience increased gang membership … and increased gang-related criminal activity," the report concludes, citing a recent rise in gangs on the campuses of suburban and rural schools.

Among the report's other findings:

•Last year, 58% of state and local law enforcement agencies reported that criminal gangs were active in their jurisdictions, up from 45% in 2004.

•More gangs use the Internet, including encrypted e-mail, to recruit and to communicate with associates throughout the U.S. and other countries.

•Gangs, including outlaw motorcycle groups, "pose a growing threat" to law enforcement authorities along the U.S.-Canadian border. The U.S. groups are cooperating with Canadian gangs in various criminal enterprises, including drug smuggling.

Assistant FBI Director Kenneth Kaiser, the bureau's criminal division chief, says gangs have largely followed the migration paths of immigrant laborers.

He says the groups are moving to avoid the scrutiny of larger metropolitan police agencies in places such as Los Angeles. "These groups were hit hard in L.A." by law enforcement crackdowns, "but they are learning from it," Kaiser says.

MS-13 far-flung from L.A. incubator

One group that continues to spread despite law enforcement efforts is the violent Salvadoran gang known as MS-13.

Michael Sullivan, the departing director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, says the gang's dependence on shocking violence to advance extortion, prostitution and other criminal enterprises has frustrated attempts to infiltrate and disrupt the insular group's activities.

"MS-13's foothold in the U.S. is expanding," Sullivan says.

Kaiser says the street gang is in 42 states, up from 33 in 2005. "Enforcement efforts have been effective to a certain extent, but they (gang members) keep moving," he says.

MS-13 is the abbreviation for the gang also known as Mara Salvatrucha. The group gained national prominence in the 1980s in Los Angeles, where members were linked to incidents involving unusual brutality.

Since then, it has formed cells or "cliques" across the U.S., says Aaron Escorza, chief of the FBI's MS-13 National Gang Task Force.

The task force was launched in 2004 amid concerns about the gang's rapid spread. Gang members were targeted in broad investigations similar to those used to bust organized crime groups from Russia and Italy.

Among law enforcement efforts:

•Omaha: The last of 24 MS-13 members swept up on federal firearms charges and conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine were sentenced last year in the largest bust since the group emerged there in 2004.

The gang's strength dimmed as a result, but the nine-month probe did not eradicate the group, says Ferrell, who assisted in the investigation.

•Nashville: During the last two years, 14 MS-13 members pleaded guilty on charges ranging from murder to obstruction of justice.

Davidson County, Tenn., Sheriff Daron Hall, whose jurisdiction includes Nashville, says MS-13 started growing there about five years ago, corresponding with an influx of immigrant labor.

Last April, county officials began checking the immigration status of all arrestees. "We know we have removed about 100 gang members, including MS-13," to U.S. authorities for deportation, Hall says.

•Maryland: Earlier this month, federal authorities said they had convicted 42 MS-13 members since 2005. More than half were charged in a "racketeering conspiracy" in which members participated in robberies and beatings and arranged the murders of other gang members, according to Justice Department documents.

In one case, Maryland gang members allegedly discussed killing rivals with an MS-13 leader calling on a cellphone from a Salvadoran jail, the documents say.

Escorza says a "revolving door" on the border has kept the gang's numbers steady — about 10,000 in the U.S. — even as many illegal immigrant members are deported.

The FBI, which has two agents in El Salvador to help identify and track members in Central America and the United States, plans to dispatch four more agents to Guatemala and Honduras, Escorza says.

"They evolve and adapt," he says. "They know what law enforcement is doing. Word


Mark Stuart

Clifford Kiracofe :

With all due respect Sir, i did not ask for basic background reading on the political Islam issues noted. I asked specific questions:

1- You said: an Egyptian analyst who pointed out elements of Wahabbism underlying AQ ideology...

So I asked if you could please share with us some specific points he gave you.

2- You asserted via your Wikipedia entry on the Taliban that Saudi money was critical in financing the Taliban and Deobandi movements.

To which I asked: "How come Sir? Since the Saudi religious establishment was already financing the original Afghan Mujahideen and condemned Deobandis."

You responded by listing two books:

-Taliban by Ahmed Rashid which doesn't give any answer to that question and
-Barbara D. Metcalf who seems to concur with me when she says :

"I will also attempt to explain why it is implausible to believe that the Tablighis support terrorism or are in any way affiliated with other terrorist or ‘jihadi’ movements such as the Taliban or Al Qaeda." (Murat Kurnaz,Department of Defense, pages 96-98)

She also said: "I must emphasize this last point, that the Tablighis formally and actively believe that traveling to engage in missionary activity fully discharges any religious obligation to engage in Jihad." (Murat Kurnaz ARB, Department of Defense, pages 103-105)

There seems to be a total ideological opposition between Deobandis (Tablighis are Deobandis) and the Saudis. So again, allow me to reiterate my question: how is it possible to explain as you said that: the Taliban's extremely strict and "anti-modern" ideology has been described as an "innovative" form of sharia combining Pashtun tribal codes [...] with radical Deobandi interpretations of Islam [...] contributing to the admixture was the Wahhabism of their Saudi financial benefactors...

4- No response?

3 and 5- are related to the drug business and the potential association of gangs and drug cartels with terrorists:

You said:Per the meth and all that, well this is owing much to the proliferation across the US of the Hispanic gangs out of California/Mexico [...] The worst case scenario is AQ and friends linking to the gangs already operative in the US.

I read everything you posted about gang activity in the US Sir; their rise and drug related criminal activities. And i'm still asking:

Do you believe that it is in the interest of such gangs and drug related criminal organizations to associate with terrorists? al-Qa'ida has no money left to pay them. So what would be in it for drug cartels and gangs to associate with terrorists?

And second, what do you make of the assertion made publicly by high ranking Mexican officials that as long as there were corrupt American high ranking officials in our own administration that facilitate and benefit from the transfer of drugs and arms across our border, the situation would get worst at the border?

I hope i was more concise and clear Sir, and that you will shine some light on those questions.

F B Ali

Mark Stuart

If you wish to understand what I was talking about, I would suggest that you read up on the developments in Pakistan in the last few days. A good place to start is the website of the principal newspaper there, The News, at:


It has a Back Issues button. I suggest you start reading from around October 3.

Clifford Kiracofe

"Mark Stuart",

To make things more simple for you, which I can see you need, I would point you again to the Rashid book on Taliban. He discusses the broad spectrum of issues. This book was quite popular with the general reader audience about a decade ago and is used in academic settings as well.

If you live in the US, (you do live in the US???) you can order it from any local bookstore. Here is the notice from Yale University Press which you could print out and take to the bookstore.

Now I must say, I do find your conspiracy theories about US officials at the Justice Department being responsible for the drug trade in the US a bit, well...You need to do some more reading on the matter of the threat from organized crime to the US homeland. You are a US citizen I take it?

Mark Stuart

F B Ali :

Thank you Sir. It is always a pleasure to read you. Your articles and sources of info. are invaluable. Thanks again.

Clifford Kiracofe:
1-To make things more simple for you, which I can see you need

I never pretended Sir to be a scholar as knowledgeable and reputable as you are. So thank you for taking the time to respond and for the book recommendation.

2-If you live in the US, (you do live in the US???) [...] You are a US citizen I take it?

I fail again to see the bearing on our discussion.

3-I do find your conspiracy theories about US officials at the Justice Department being responsible for the drug trade in the US a bit, well...

I never said the DOJ were responsible for the drug trade Sir. But that some officials at Federal, State and local level, are indeed corrupt and that makes things harder to control at the border.

Corruption within our own system is something publicly sated by Mexican Drug officials. You also said yourself: "They evolve [gangs] and adapt," he says. "They know what law enforcement is doing..
And it is something i've witnessed first hand. So it can hardly be in the realm of conspiracy theories. At least to me.

Furthermore, you told us plenty about the increase in gang activity and their drug related crimes. But you have kept mum on the financial interest drug cartels and gangs would have to deal with terrorists (I'm assuming financial gains being their main drive).

I don't want to go through millions of DOJ investigative reports to find out. So if you could just summarize for us their take, or your take on this question, i would appreciate.

eagle in the mountains

In regard to the question of the relations between Taliban and AQ, it should be borne in mind that OBL married his son off to the daughter of Mullah Omar--they can't be on very poor terms.

Does anyone know the role the Sufis play in all of this?

On the one hand, someone commented earlier that the Afghani Sufis were the first to resist the Soviet occupation (info?); in addition, the Deobandis (the Taliban are Deobandi) are said to practise Sufism (how?).

On the other hand, the Pakistani Taliban recently blew up a Sufi shrine (surely Deobandi Sufi practice is different from traditional Sufi practice, but does anyone have any information?).

Anyone have any information how all of this ties together?

It seems to me that if Mullah Omar and OBL are related by marriage each must have a very good idea of what the other teaches and practises, and the one might even have borrowed from the other.

Mark Stuart

F B Ali:

I read everything from Oct. 3rd.
I wish they had come up in Congress with a similar bill for Israel!

But again, they don't have Mark A. Siegel nor Cassidy and Associates as lobbyists. Some people out there are awfully aggervatin! Others are living on bard time!


Clifford Kiracofe

"how all of this ties together?"

Eagle IM,

I would recommend Ahmed Rashid's "Taliban" (New Haven: Yale Univesity Press, 2001) $14.95. This is a good background overview of many of the issues which have been brought up in this thread.

Surfing/googling the net randomly and piecemeal is not going to be that productive for finding a serious integrated analysis. Those with access to the many powerful academic online services through university libraries, of course, can locate quantities of relevant scholarly analysis.

Eagle In the Mountains

To Clifford Kiracofe:

Thanks for the reference to the book. I will try to get hold of it to read it.

Does it handle the issue of Sufism? I'm particularly interested in the role of traditional Sufism in the conflict, starting with the Soviet period, and also in the role that Sufism plays in Deobandi and presumably therefore modern Taliban and perhaps even AQ.


Mark Stuart

Are we getting closer to India, while pushing Pakistan in the arms of the Chinese? any basis to that?


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