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Friday, 15 September 2006 02:19

Gloria R. Lalumia's World Media Watch for September 15, 2006

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WORLD MEDIA WATCH

1//Asia Times Online, Hong Kong--OSAMA'S ON THE MOVE AGAIN (Osama bin Laden is on the move, and Tuesday's terror attack on the US Embassy in the Syrian capital, Damascus, could be a tangible result of this. Exclusive information obtained by Asia Times Online shows that the al-Qaeda leader recently traveled from the South Waziristan tribal area in Pakistan to somewhere in the eastern Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nooristan, or possibly Bajour, a small tribal agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Area of Pakistan in North-West Frontier Province. According to a witness, bin Laden traveled in a double-cabin truck with a few armed guards - not in a convoy. Apparently, this is how he now prefers to move around. Bin Laden, with a US$25 million bounty on his head, has not been sighted for some time, and he has not been seen on any new videotape since late 2004, although audio tapes purporting to be him speaking surfaced this year. At the same time, a close aide responsible for bin Laden's logistics and media relations told Asia Times Online that bin Laden had recovered from serious kidney-related ailments. In Tuesday's attack in Damascus, four men tried to drive two explosives-laden cars into the US Embassy compound. Four of them and a security official were killed. One of the cars exploded outside the compound. The incident not only carries al-Qaeda hallmarks, it is also very much in line with the al-Qaeda leadership's focus, agreed on during the Israel-Hezbollah war, to extend the flames of conflict across the region.)

2//The Mail & Guardian, South Africa--US's ‘LOW INTENSITY WARFARE' IN AFRICA (Africa has emerged as a leading front in the United States military campaign against al-Qaeda, which Washington believes would like to create a new safe haven in the continent's vast, hard-to-govern regions. Small groups of US special forces, known as A-teams and often numbering less than a dozen soldiers, have begun traversing the hinterlands of more than a dozen countries in the Horn of Africa, the Sahel and Sahara regions. Pentagon officials say the main aim is to help African governments from Sudan to Senegal and Nigeria train and equip local troops to combat Islamist militants in swathes of open country, already known as havens for smugglers and bandits. Meanwhile, even smaller units of US civil affairs troops have travelled to remote villages to dispense medical care, dig wells and build schools, hoping to make militancy less attractive. "They're also identifying all the watering holes and any natural features, like caves, that could be used as the basis for training camps. And they're trying to establish links with local people to find out who's in the passing caravans seen by satellites," said a former intelligence official. The strategy, known to Pentagon officials as "low-intensity warfare," has been used by the US military in developing countries since World War II. Nearly five years after the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan, similar campaigns are under way from the Philippines to the Caucasus and Latin America, and ultimately could grow to include 60 countries, independent analysts say.)

3//The Turkish Daily News, Turkey--RALSTON STARTS MISSION, DOUBTS REMAIN ON PROSPECTS FOR SUCCESS (The United States' special envoy for countering the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party [PKK] said that "effective and visible" measures against the terrorist group should be taken urgently, music to the ears of anxious Turkish officials pressing the United States and Iraq for months to take action for the elimination of the group's northern Iraqi bases, but gave little detail on how the struggle should proceed. ... Prior to Ralston's arrival, reports in the Turkish media had suggested that Ankara would ask Ralston for some U.S. military action, such as capturing senior PKK leaders. But diplomatic sources did not say whether any specific measure had been discussed with Ralston, emphasizing that the talks rather focused on how the fight against the PKK could become more effective. Ralston reiterated military measures were not forthcoming, saying after talks with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an that use of force is the "last resort and not the first resort." ... Although Ankara is pleased with the appointment of Ralston as it sees this shows the U.S. commitment to fighting the PKK, it does not pin hopes on what Ralston could do. A possible friction is that Ankara is cool towards the idea of appointment of an Iraqi anti-PKK coordinator if the appointment is to be made by Iraq's semi-autonomous "Kurdistan" government.)

4//The Moscow Times, Russia--CENTRAL BANKER ANDREI KOZLOV SHOT DEAD (Andrei Kozlov, who had spearheaded the campaign against fraudulent banks and money laundering as the No. 2 official at the Central Bank, died of gunshot wounds early Thursday. Kozlov, 41, the bank's first deputy head, and his driver, Alexander Semyonov, 54, were shot by two gunmen with automatic pistols Wednesday evening as Kozlov was exiting the Spartak sports complex. ... It was the highest-profile slaying since President Vladimir Putin took power in 2000, and reminiscent of the more violent 1990s, under Boris Yeltsin. A longtime Central Bank official, Kozlov oversaw the closure of 44 banks accused of improper activities this year alone. He had also pushed for mandatory deposit insurance for banks, which was particularly important to millions of Russians who lost their savings in financial crises in the 1990s. Most recently, he had lobbied for a permanent ban on those convicted of tax evasion from working in the banking sector. Kozlov's killing has raised concerns among many in the banking sector that these reforms and others could be stalled. ... Anatoly Chubais, head of Unified Energy Systems, the national electricity monopoly, was visibly shocked Thursday as he spoke of the banker, also in televised comments. "His murder is an impudent challenge to all of Russia's authorities," said Chubais, who knew Kozlov. "It is a case when the response of the authorities must be tough, prompt and pitiless.")

5//AKI-ADNKronos International, Italy--PHILIIPPINES: TERRORISTS ON OUR TURF, REBELS DENOUNCE (The Moro Islamic Liberation Front [MILF], the main Filipino rebel group fighting for independence, has admitted it does not have the resources to control the territory where terrorists from neighbouring Indonesia are suspected of having taken refuge. "I believe there could be up to 1000 Indonesians in Mindanao," said Eid Kabalu, MILF spokesperson, in an interview with Adnkronos International [AKI]. "Some of those could be associated with terrorist groups but we do not have the resources to control the all territory," he said. Kabalu said the Sulu archipelago was the entry point for these terrorists. ... Kabalu reiterated the group's opposition to terrorism in any form and admitted the possibility that some members of the MILF could tighten the personal links with members of the local terrorist group, Abu Sayyaf or that of the pan-Asian Jemaah Islamiyah, both of which are linked to Al Qaeda. ... Despite Kabalu's statements, experts say that the link between the MILF and the two terrorist organisations continues today among the units led by those who do not approve of the "soft" political position that the rebel group has taken in the last few years.)

* * *

1//Asia Times Online, Hong Kong Sep 14, 2006

OSAMA'S ON THE MOVE AGAIN
By Syed Saleem Shahzad

"Osama bin Laden and other terrorists are still in hiding. Our message to them is clear: no matter how long it takes, America will find you, and we will bring you to justice."
- President George W Bush, September 11, 2006

"On the anniversary of 9/11, the trail [of bin Laden] is stone-cold."- US intelligence official

KARACHI - Osama bin Laden is on the move, and Tuesday's terror attack on the US Embassy in the Syrian capital, Damascus, could be a tangible result of this.

Exclusive information obtained by Asia Times Online shows that the al-Qaeda leader recently traveled from the South Waziristan tribal area in Pakistan to somewhere in the eastern Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nooristan, or possibly Bajour, a s mall tribal agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Area of Pakistan in North-West Frontier Province.

According to a witness, bin Laden traveled in a double-cabin truck with a few armed guards - not in a convoy. Apparently, this is how he now prefers to move around.

Bin Laden, with a US$25 million bounty on his head, has not been sighted for some time, and he has not been seen on any new videotape since late 2004, although audio tapes purporting to be him speaking surfaced this year.

At the same time, a close aide responsible for bin Laden's logistics and media relations told Asia Times Online that bin Laden had recovered from serious kidney-related ailments.

In Tuesday's attack in Damascus, four men tried to drive two explosives-laden cars into the US Embassy compound. Four of them and a security official were killed. One of the cars exploded outside the compound.

The incident not only carries al-Qaeda hallmarks, it is also very much in line with the al-Qaeda leadership's focus, agreed on during the Israel-Hezbollah war, to extend the flames of conflict across the region.

In this vein, bin Laden's No 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, warned on Monday that the Persian Gulf region and Israel would be the next targets of al-Qaeda. He was speaking in a video message released to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

In addition to bin Laden's improved health, al-Qaeda has in the past few months gained some breathing room to regroup and solidify its logistics as a result of the situation in the semi-autonomous North and South Waziristan tribal areas.

This area has long been home to al-Qaeda elements, but until recently they had been under intense pressure from Pakistan's security forces. However, as the tribals gained more strength - some Taliban-affiliated districts have even been declared independent of Islamabad - the authorities realized they were fighting a losing battle.

This culminated last week in security officials and the "Pakistani Taliban" agreeing to a temporary ceasefire. Previously choked channels between the Waziristans and other parts of Pakistan were now fully opened, allowing al-Qaeda to start moving money again.

The bigger playing field
A new dynamic among militant groups has emerged in Egypt to complement al-Qaeda's designs in the Middle East. Tuesday's Damascus attack could also be an illustration of this.

Many youths previously associated with the militant Gamaa Islamiya of Egypt have formed independent cells, while some Egyptian youths of Palestinian origin have created underground organizations to target the pro-Israeli Egyptian government and US interests.

Credit goes to al-Qaeda that in the past six months it established inroads into these organizations, to the extent that they are now directly under the command of the al-Qaeda leadership.

(MORE)

2//The Mail & Guardian, South Africa 15 September 2006 05:26

US's ‘LOW INTENSITY WARFARE' IN AFRICA
David Morgan | Washington, United States

Africa has emerged as a leading front in the United States military campaign against al-Qaeda, which Washington believes would like to create a new safe haven in the continent's vast, hard-to-govern regions.

Small groups of US special forces, known as A-teams and often numbering less than a dozen soldiers, have begun traversing the hinterlands of more than a dozen countries in the Horn of Africa, the Sahel and Sahara regions.

Pentagon officials say the main aim is to help African governments from Sudan to Senegal and Nigeria train and equip local troops to combat Islamist militants in swathes of open country, already known as havens for smugglers and bandits.

Meanwhile, even smaller units of US civil affairs troops have travelled to remote villages to dispense medical care, dig wells and build schools, hoping to make militancy less attractive.

"They're also identifying all the watering holes and any natural features, like caves, that could be used as the basis for training camps. And they're trying to establish links with local people to find out who's in the passing caravans seen by satellites," said a former intelligence official.

The strategy, known to Pentagon officials as "low-intensity warfare," has been used by the US military in developing countries since World War II.

Nearly five years after the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan, similar campaigns are under way from the Philippines to the Caucasus and Latin America, and ultimately could grow to include 60 countries, independent analysts say.

The objective, officials say, is to use a combination of humanitarian aid and small-scale military force to undermine insurgencies long before they can threaten local governments allied with the US war on terrorism.

"These operations exist on every continent except Antarctica and Australia," said Wade Ishimoto, senior Pentagon adviser for special operations and low-intensity conflict.

"We can quell insurgencies. We can quell insurgents. You can suppress them to the point that they're not threatening the livelihood of an entire government," he said.

With almost 170 000 US forces committed to Iraq and Afghanistan, analysts view the low-intensity strategy as a potentially effective way to avoid major security problems that could require large new troop deployments.

"The ideal is El Salvador in the 1980s, where the whole US force structure was limited to 55 special forces operatives who actually achieved more than 550 000 troops did in Vietnam," said Max Boot of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Africa, with its rich energy and mineral reserves, has become increasingly important to Pentagon strategists as they prepare for the expected return of battle-hardened African Islamists from Iraq over the next five years.

"We're talking about a very limited number of al-Qaeda operatives now, and a limited number of al-Qaeda-associated groups," said Andre Le Sage of the National Defense University's Africa Centre for Strategic Studies.

"But ... we have to acknowledge a broader political development of Islamist movements across the region. As these movements become more political, become stronger, they could become destabilising."

(MORE)

3//The Turkish Daily News, Turkey Thursday, September 14, 2006


RALSTON STARTS MISSION, DOUBTS REMAIN ON PROSPECTS FOR SUCCESS

The United States' special envoy for countering the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) said that "effective and visible" measures against the terrorist group should be taken urgently, music to the ears of anxious Turkish officials pressing the United States and Iraq for months to take action for the elimination of the group's northern Iraqi bases, but gave little detail on how the struggle should proceed.

"They need to be visible so that not only the Turkish public but the American public and the Iraqi public can see that we are very serious about eliminating the threat of terrorism," Ralston, on his first visit to Turkey since being appointed to the job late last month, told reporters after a meeting with Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Ali Tuygan.

Prior to Ralston's arrival, reports in the Turkish media had suggested that Ankara would ask Ralston for some U.S. military action, such as capturing senior PKK leaders. But diplomatic sources did not say whether any specific measure had been discussed with Ralston, emphasizing that the talks rather focused on how the fight against the PKK could become more effective.

Ralston reiterated military measures were not forthcoming, saying after talks with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an that use of force is the "last resort and not the first resort."

Turkish officials have particularly underlined the need for Iraqi authorities to take more serious steps against the PKK. Ralston, who headed later in the day to Iraq for talks with Iraqi officials and U.S. military officials there, was told that steps must be taken to prevent the PKK from operating freely in Iraq, "no matter what difficulties Iraq may be facing."

(SNIP)

Although Ankara is pleased with the appointment of Ralston as it sees this shows the U.S. commitment to fighting the PKK, it does not pin hopes on what Ralston could do. A possible friction is that Ankara is cool towards the idea of appointment of an Iraqi anti-PKK coordinator if the appointment is to be made by Iraq's semi-autonomous "Kurdistan" government.

4//The Moscow Times, Russia Friday, September 15, 2006. Issue 3498. Page 1.

CENTRAL BANKER ANDREI KOZLOV SHOT DEAD
By Valeria Korchagina and Maria Levitov, Staff Writers

Andrei Kozlov, who had spearheaded the campaign against fraudulent banks and money laundering as the No. 2 official at the Central Bank, died of gunshot wounds early Thursday.

Kozlov, 41, the bank's first deputy head, and his driver, Alexander Semyonov, 54, were shot by two gunmen with automatic pistols Wednesday evening as Kozlov was exiting the Spartak sports complex.

Kozlov had been at the complex, in northeast Moscow, to take part in a friendly football match with other banking community members. After the shooting, Kozlov was rushed to a hospital, where he died hours later.

It was the highest-profile slaying since President Vladimir Putin took power in 2000, and reminiscent of the more violent 1990s, under Boris Yeltsin.

A longtime Central Bank official, Kozlov oversaw the closure of 44 banks accused of improper activities this year alone. He had also pushed for mandatory deposit insurance for banks, which was particularly important to millions of Russians who lost their savings in financial crises in the 1990s.

Most recently, he had lobbied for a permanent ban on those convicted of tax evasion from working in the banking sector.

Kozlov's killing has raised concerns among many in the banking sector that these reforms and others could be stalled.

While the investigation has just begun, several senior government officials and banking sector experts said Kozlov died because of his work.

"He was a very brave and honest man, and through his activity he repeatedly encroached on the interests of unprincipled financiers," Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said in a statement Thursday.
Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov, in televised comments, on Thursday called for a minute of silence in honor of Kozlov at a government meeting. Cabinet members appeared shocked and sad.

Fradkov also praised the Central Bank for its efforts to make the banking system more transparent.

"This is truly a very complicated task," the prime minister said. "Creation of fair conditions is not always accepted by those who wish to have certain advantages and privileges."

Fradkov ordered Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev to do whatever necessary to apprehend those involved in the deadly attack. Prosecutor General Yury Chaika has personally taken charge of the case.

Anatoly Chubais, head of Unified Energy Systems, the national electricity monopoly, was visibly shocked Thursday as he spoke of the banker, also in televised comments.

"His murder is an impudent challenge to all of Russia's authorities," said Chubais, who knew Kozlov. "It is a case when the response of the authorities must be tough, prompt and pitiless."

(MORE)

5//AKI-ADN Kronos International, Italy Sep-15-2006 03:52 am

PHILIIPPINES: TERRORISTS ON OUR TURF, REBELS DENOUNCE

Cotabato City, 14 Sept. (AKI) - The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the main Filipino rebel group fighting for independence, has admitted it does not have the resources to control the territory where terrorists from neighbouring Indonesia are suspected of having taken refuge. "I believe there could be up to 1000 Indonesians in Mindanao," said Eid Kabalu, MILF spokesperson, in an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI). "Some of those could be associated with terrorist groups but we do not have the resources to control the all territory," he said. Kabalu said the Sulu archipelago was the entry point for these terrorists.

"The border between the two countries is basically open. Anyone can go in and out and there are no checks. The responsibility to check rests with the Filipino and Indonesian governments and not with us," he added.

The Sulu archipelago includes the Filipino island of Mindanao and the island of Borneo that is divided between Indonesia and Malaysia.

Kabalu reiterated the group's opposition to terrorism in any form and admitted the possibility that some members of the MILF could tighten the personal links with members of the local terrorist group, Abu Sayyaf or that of the pan-Asian Jemaah Islamiyah, both of which are linked to Al Qaeda.

(SNIP)

Despite Kabalu's statements, experts say that the link between the MILF and the two terrorist organisations continues today among the units led by those who do not approve of the "soft" political position that the rebel group has taken in the last few years.

The MILF is currently involved in peace talks with Manila for an extended autonomy and not on the creation of an independent state - the objective that they have been fighting for in the past decades.

Copyright 2006, Gloria R. Lalumia

WORLD MEDIA WATCH