Bowe Bergdahl with Taliban members at the time of his release.
In 2009, a fellow who uses the penname Raven-Wolf tells us that he was running networks in Afghanistan, and was asked by a senior officer to take a stab at finding the missing Bowe Bergdahl.
His story seems to have the ring of truth, and if it is on the up-and-up, provides a fascinating inside story.
â€œI will make you a bet I can locate this kid in a week.â€ He looked at me and said nothing. He knew how I worked and I walked out.
I began by walking into the office of an Afghan Intelligence Officer I knew. He greeted me as always; welcomed me in and offered me Chai. We had not seen each other for well over a month. We shared stories, we discussed insurgent tactics, new TTPs, his family, my travels. Then I asked him the question I had come for, â€œColonelâ€¦whereâ€™s our boy?â€ He looked at me and just stared back. Then he said, â€œYou donâ€™t want to know.â€
I was taken aback and frankly irritated. I had had enough of the games over this kidâ€™s search. â€œWhat do you mean I donâ€™t want to know! We are friends; we have been friends a long time. Your answer is not good enough.â€ The Colonel then went on to explain to me how he had offered his support to find Bergdahl. However, the American Army mentors told him they werenâ€™t interested; that they had everything under control.
I reminded him I wasnâ€™t them and that I could frankly give a shit what his Army mentors were or were not interested in. â€œHelp me find him. You and I both know this cannot be done without Afghan intelligence. You and I know that regardless of how stupid this kid is, he needs to be brought home.â€
He sat down at his desk and made a call as he scribbled a few notes on a piece of white paper. He then got up from his desk, walked across the room and sat down in front of a dusty computer at the back. A few keystrokes later, he added a few more notes to the paper, walked over towards me and handed me what he had written.
â€œThese are the names of the villages and GPS coordinates where your boy was the past three nights.â€
I thanked him and took the information back to my Colonel. I told him what was on the paper. He took it with a bit of suspicion, but stated that he would be sending it up to the Special Operations Task Force 373. Later that night he called me into his office.
â€œI donâ€™t know where you are getting your information but keep in coming. They like what you have.â€
Over the next few days I expanded my information gathering to include NDS, Afghan CI, and locals. The Afghans continued to provide details on location, how Bergdahl was traveling, what he was wearing, and his state of mind. The picture continued to grow and the picture was one of a kid that had willingly left his post, deserted his brothers and his commitment to the US Army and our country. Bergdahl was described as dressed in local dress. He was riding around on the back of motorcycles hugging his Afghan captors. He was not in chains or in handcuffs, but willingly moving about to avoid detection. He needed to be retrievedâ€¦not to save him, but to punish him for his betrayal.
The details around Bergdahlâ€™s decision to walk off of his FOB (Forward Operating Base) to explore the wilds of Afghanistan were locked down almost immediately. Even journalists were restricted from access; being denied interviews, field movement or access to anyone with any knowledge of Bergdahl or of his unit. Keeping the lid on the story was the number one command objective. But I dug and I found details. Though I still have this part of the story listed as â€œunconfirmedâ€ this is what I put together:
Bergdahl was unstable the minute he arrived in country. He was unhappy, disconnected from the unit, and dissatisfied with the way his unit had dealt with several incidents. He had illusions of grandeur, talking about getting back to nature. He also had a romanticized ideal of himself as some sort of one man Rambo as well as a love affair with the Afghan indigenous fighter (aka Taliban). Rumors of what happened ranged from his unit running over a child to Bergdahl slowly coming unglued. He had all of the signs of being high risk. There was never any one story that was consistently told about the cause and effect. Both his unit and his command were protective and defensiveâ€¦ obvious signs of hiding something. What was more than clear is that Bergdahl, his unit and his command were a train wreck. As for Bergdahl specifically, his background should have been an early warning that something, anything, could easily set him off. Raised by a Northwest family that would be best described as off the grid, liberal tofu eaters, Bergdahl was homeschooled and raised to be a kind and sensitive child. He learned ballet, and enjoyed long walks in nature. He was almost a modern day young Emerson. When he turned of age he apparently felt he needed some adventure so he talked to a recruiter and fell in love with the â€œbe all you can beâ€ dream and joined the Army. Airborne was now his new meditation mantra and walks in the woods were replaced with forced marches and an 80-pound rucksack. To what should not have been a surprise to anyone, he did not work in well with his unit. Maybe it was the ballet, maybe it was his sensitive nature now imprisoned by his sworn duty to kill the bastards who celebrated the deaths of over 3000 Americans killed on 9-11. Whatever his reasons, when the moment arrived that he decided he was no longer interested in his obligation, his â€œfree spiritâ€spoke as he grabbed his sketchbook and some water and walked off of the FOB. He was AWOL. Nothing more to it than that.
At the end of my seventh day or so of working this problem, I returned to the office of the Afghan Intelligence Colonel. Over another round of Chai and information exchange, I pressed him to leverage his network to set up a meet with the tribe that was holding Bergdahl. By this time the profile of Bergdahlâ€™s captors was becoming clear. Where Bergdahl played out a version of a spoiled bratâ€™s â€œwalk aboutâ€, his captors saw opportunity. They had grievances with the local Governor. They wanted to use Bergdahl to get what they thought they deserved. This was the Afghan way.
During this time the rumors and reports from the US side were that Berdahl had been taken by Haqqani. That was not the case. His captors had sent out word to the Haqqani network asking for a reward, however the initial interest from Haqqani was cool to tepid at best. Their concern was that Bergdahl was mentally unstable; and even though Bergdahl had voluntarily converted to Islam, the Haqqani network was not willing to bring a mentally unstable Muslim convert over the border into Pakistan. We should have paid attention to Haqqani.
I sat with the Afghan Colonel and we went over the tape that had been released of Bergdahl. We watched it a half dozen times. Other Afghan intelligence types entered the room. They dissected the imagesâ€¦the weave on the bread that was shown in the video was only available in one particular village; the sound of the generators demonstrated a level of wealth; the pattern on the rugs provided insight into the owner and their taste; the food and the way it was served provided understanding of tribal habits and behaviors; the interviewer, his English intonation and his camera skills could only be of a select few people; and Bergdahl himself provided a wealth of clues from his dress, to his mannerisms, to his compliant attitude. The Colonel made some notes. The Afghan cadre discussed what they had seen. He felt sure he knew what village Bergdhal was in.
â€œI want to meet with the tribal leader who is holding him. Just me and my interpreter. I will travel in my own vehicle. No military. No guns. You can join me if you wish,â€ I told him.
The Colonel called a friend in Parliament. The discussion was brief. He hung up the phone and we waited. A few minutes later the phone rang; it was his Parliament friend again. The tribal leader had agreed to the meet. The location would be set the next day. The Afghan Colonel and I agreed to travel together. We parted, each of us setting about preparing our kit for the next morning.
The media blast that followed the Bergdahl video was what the RC-East Commander had hoped to avoid. The story was now out. Bergdahl who had been effectively a blip on the radar up to that point became an international star overnight. The elevation of status made him more valuable and Haqqani understood this. The following morning as I walked to the vehicle to meet up with the Afghan Colonel, he greeted me, still wearing his military dress. I knew something was off. He informed me that the meeting had been cancelled. Overnight Haqqani had dispatched a team with an undisclosed amount of cash and had taken control of Bergdahl. From that point forward the chances of getting him back were all but lost.
Though, he might have added: Piss also on the mainstream media that deliberately broke this trivial story to get the holier-than-thous on the warpath and to lend aid and comfort to all the enemies of the US military and the United States. And piss copiously on all the left-wing nincompoops, pillow-biters, and bed-wetters, Charles Johnson in particular, who are trying to make political hay at the expense of the young men in Afghanistan standing between their worthless selves and a brutal, fanatical and barbarous enemy.
Michael Yon, as a tribute, published a photo of the interior of a CH-47 helicopter loaded with troops.
DEBKAfile says that the Taliban shot down that Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopter in Wardak province carrying 25 members of US Navy SEAL Team Six, 5 crew members, and and 7 Afghan allies, the helicopter down brought using only a rocket-propelled grenade.
Downing a helicopter apparently by a rocket-propelled grenade, which is not a standard anti-aircraft weapon, indicates that the Taliban has perfected methods for shooting down low-flying American helicopters with the basic weapons in their possession.
As the investigation begins on the incident, there are conflicting reports about the mission performed by the men aboard.
According to a US military source, they were returning from an operation in which eight insurgents were believed to have been killed. A Taliban insurgent present at the crash scene told Western correspondents the helicopter was not leaving but arriving: “What we saw was that when we were having our pre-dawn (Ramadan) meal, Americans landed some soldiers for an early raid. The other helicopter also came for the raid,” Mohammad Walil Wardag said. “We were outside our rooms on a veranda and saw this helicopter flying very low, it was hit by a rocket and it was on fire. It started coming down and crashed just away form our home close to the river.”
Some are interpreting the helicopter loss as a deliberate attack on the US force responsible for the killing of Osama bin Laden and blame the Obama Administration for basking publicly in the success of that operation and releasing too many details.
James Carville’s own poll finds that 55% of Americans believe Barack Obama is accurately described as a socialist.
Red China’s People’s Daily says that the Taliban are training monkeys (macaques and baboons imported from the jungle) in Waziristan to use AK-47s, Bren guns, and trench mortars against US forces whose uniforms the monkeys are being taught to recognize.
Brad Thor, at Breitbart, claims to be the recipient of a major Intel leak.
Through key intelligence sources in Afghanistan and Pakistan, I have just learned that reclusive Taliban leader and top Osama bin Laden ally, Mullah Omar has been taken into custody. ….
At the end of March, US Military Intelligence was informed by US operatives working in the Af/Pak theater on behalf of the D.O.D. that Omar had been detained by Pakistani authorities. One would assume that this would be passed up the chain and that the Secretary of Defense would have been alerted immediately. From what I am hearing, that may not have been the case.
When this explosive information was quietly confirmed to United States Intelligence ten days ago by Pakistani authorities, it appeared to take the Defense Department by surprise.
Meanwhile, Fox News quotes Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as accusing Pakistan as recently as last weekend of knowing both Osama bin Ladin and Mullah Omar’s whereabouts and not telling.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused members of the Pakistani government over the weekend of practically harboring Usama bin Laden, raising questions about whether the U.S. is pushing hard enough on its presumed ally to give up the world’s most wanted terrorist.
Clinton leveled the charge in an interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes.” She praised Pakistan for a “sea change” in its commitment in going after terrorists, but she added that she expects more cooperation.
“I’m not saying that they’re at the highest levels, but I believe that somewhere in this government are people who know where Usama bin Laden and Al Qaeda is, where Mullah Omar and the leadership of the Afghan Taliban is, and we expect more cooperation to help us bring to justice, capture or kill those who attacked us on 9/11,” she said.
But Brad Thor knew of the Clinton interview, and still seems convinced that he is better informed than Mrs. Clinton.
April 15th: “[F]or nearly half of U.S. households it’s simply somebody else’s problem.
About 47 percent will pay no federal income taxes at all for 2009. Either their incomes were too low, or they qualified for enough credits, deductions and exemptions to eliminate their liability. That’s according to projections by the Tax Policy Center, a Washington research organization.”
St. Vincent’s Hospital in Greenwich Village on Manhattan’s West Side, the last Roman Catholic hospital in New York City, is closing after 160 years.
Jonathan Kay, managing editor of the National Post, attends a workshop on racism at the Toronto Women’s Bookshop:
The central theme of the course was that this twinned combination of capitalism and racism has produced a cult of “white privilege,” which permeates every aspect of our lives. “Canada is a white supremacist country, so I assume that I’m racist,” one of the students said matter-offactly during our first session. “It’s not about not being racist. Because I know I am. It’s about becoming less racist.”
It is difficulty to shoot an AK missing its buttstock accurately
We operated the entire deployment, on every patrol, in the horns of a dilemma. Insurgent forces would engage our forces from a distance with machine-gun fire and sporadic small arms and carefully watch our immediate actions. From day one, at the sound of the sonic pop of the round, Marines are taught to seek immediate cover and identify the source/location of the fire. Cover is almost always available in Afghanistan in the form or dirt berms, dry/filled canals and buildings. Marines tend to gravitate toward the aforementioned terrain features. So what the insurgents would do was booby-trap those areas with I.E.D.s. Whether they were pressure plates or pressure release, they were primed to detonate as Marines dove for cover. Back to the horns of a dilemma. Do I jump for the nearest cover? Run to the nearest building? Jump in the nearest canal? Do I take my chances and stand where I am and drop in place? Not necessarily the things you need to be contemplating as rounds are impacting all around you.
Stung by numerous recent setbacks and by the Pakistani Intelligence Service’s change from an ally to an adversary, the Taliban turned for assistance to the traditional last resort of foundering guerrilla movements: the grand and gaudy symbolic attack on a US facility.
After all, when the Tet Offensive failed militarily and produced such staggering losses that the Viet Cong never recovered as a fighting force, Tet still wound up representing the key turning point of the war, when the international media led by CBS New’s Walter Cronkite pronounced it a major victory and declared the war unwinnable by the US. The symbolic victory that persuaded the pundits the VC had won was a failed attack on the US Embassy in Saigon by a 19 man sapper team.
The 1983 suicide truck bombing of the US Marine barracks in Beirut proved similarly effective. Despite public pledges to maintain a US military presence in Lebanon, the Reagan administration withdrew within a few months.
The attack in Peshawar was clearly designed as another publicity seeking suicide attack at a symbolic US target trying for a win in the newspaper headlines and the evening news broadcasts, leading to the crumbling of US resolve. When you reward a particular behavior, inevitably you get more of it.
Militants attempted to storm the US Consulate in Peshawar today as renewed violence in north-western Pakistan left more than 40 people dead.
Gunmen wearing paramilitary uniforms opened fire outside the consulate from two vehicles before several explosions shook the high-security district, which also houses key government offices.
The men fired mortars or rocket-propelled grenades at the heavily fortified compound in an attempt to get inside, a Pakistani intelligence official said.
â€œThey could not manage to get inside,â€ said Bashir Bilour, a senior provincial minister, adding that at least four attackers were killed by the security forces. He said several unexploded suicide jackets and a large quantity of explosive was also recovered from the scene.
A spokesman for the US Embassy in Islamabad said the militants had attempted to enter the building and fired grenades and other weapons.
At least four US security guards were injured. The US consulate has been attacked several times in the past.
Local television footage showed soldiers taking up positions around the consulate which was covered with grey smoke. Military helicopters circled the area which was cordoned off by the security forces. At least seven people were killed and several others injured in the attack.
Militants mounted an assault against the United States Consulate in this northern Pakistani city on Monday, using a powerful bomb and rocket launchers in a multipronged attack, said a senior Pakistani intelligence officer.
Pakistani soldiers watched smoke billowing from the scene of three bomb blasts near the United States consulates in Peshawar on Monday.
Five people were killed outside the consulate and about 20 were wounded, according to a senior government official.
The United States Embassy in Islamabad said that at least two Pakistani security guards employed by the consulate were killed in the attack, and that a number of others were seriously wounded. The embassy confirmed that the attack was coordinated, and said it involved â€œa vehicle suicide bomb and terrorists who were attempting to enter building using grenades and weapons fire.â€
Militants managed to damage barracks that formed part of the outer layer of security for the heavily fortified consulate area, but did not penetrate inside, the Pakistani intelligence officer said.
Pakistani television networks showed a giant cloud of dust and debris rising from the Saddar area, where the consulate is located, shortly after 1 p.m. Local media reported that there had been three blasts. Authorities cordoned off the area and gunfire was heard long after the explosions.
A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, and warned that â€œwe plan more such attacks,â€ Reuters reported.
The Afghan Taliban’s former second in command has been “singing like a male canary” since his capture last month, officials here told The Washington Examiner.
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who was arrested by Pakistani security agencies in Karachi, has become “a vital asset in gathering information on the Taliban and other extremist groups operating in the region,” one Pakistani counterintelligence official said.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of his work. Baradar is of interest to both U.S. and Afghan authorities. It is believed that U.S. counterintelligence officials are also questioning Baradar, who has close ties to Mullah Omar and other leaders in the region.
Baradar’s information that will aide both Pakistan and the United States in the war on terror, the Pakistani officials said.
“He obviously does not want to be released under any circumstances,” one Pakistani official said. “He would not survive after the information he has given the government.”
Baradar was born in Wetmak village in the southern Uruzgan province of Afghanistan into an ethnic Pashtun Popalzai clan in 1968. His arrest dealt a serious blow to the Afghan Taliban.
The Pakistani official said Islamabad “is expected to turn over Baradar to Afghan authorities after we have finished with him.”
What the article and its sources fail to discuss is the obvious consideration that, post capture, Baradar was not Mirandized, taken to Guantanamo, sent to Illinois, given a trial in Manhattan, or released in Bermuda. In fact, he was not put in US custody at all.
It is only too clear that US domestic differences concerning detainee status, interrogation, and ultimate fate have produced a state of affairs in which we have every interest in making sure that a captured terrorist in possession of valuable information wind up in somebody’s else hands rather than our own. We cannot cope with prisoners.
We can’t interrogate them. We don’t know how to try them. And we are incapable even of keeping them safe in captivity. Bring someone like Baradar into the United States, and Ivy-League-educated attorneys will come a-running to be sure that he gets the full protection of the kind of top flight legal counsel you certainly could not afford, the domestic Constitution, the Magna Carta, and the opinion pages of the Washington Post and New York Times.
In Pakistan, the ISI can apply any enhanced interrogation techniques it cares to try. No wonder Baradar is talking.
Best of all, no one is accusing Barack Obama of renditioning Baradar to Pakistan. Why, the scoundrel was captured there. It’s not Obama’s fault that he fell into the tender mercies of Pakistani intelligence.
Half the Quetta Shura is now under arrest and sources are reporting to the (Pakistani) International News that the Saudi royal family persuaded Pakistani leadership to revise its policy toward the Afghan Taliban, causing the Pakistani intelligence service (ISI) to withdraw its protection and begin actually going after the Afghan Taliban leadership. The results have been impressive.
In a major policy shift, the powerful Pakistani establishment seems to have decided to abandon the former Taliban rulers of Afghanistan by agreeing to launch a massive crackdown against their command-and-control structure, which has already led to the arrest of nine of the 18 key members of the Mullah Omar-led Quetta Shura from different parts of Pakistan, and that too within a short span of two months.
According to well-informed diplomatic circles in Islamabad, the decision-makers in the powerful Pakistani establishment seem to have concluded in view of the ever-growing nexus between the Pakistani and the Afghan Taliban that they are now one and the same and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Quetta Shura Taliban (QST) could no more be treated as two separate Jihadi entities. Therefore, the establishment is believed to have revised its previous strategic assessment of the two Taliban groups, which have a common mentor (Mullah Mohammad Omar) and decided to proceed against the Afghan Taliban as well, considering them a greater threat for Pakistan now than in the past.
Diplomatic circles pointed out that the arrest of the Afghan Taliban leaders have come at a crucial juncture when the US-led allied forces are busy in launching a massive military offensive against the Afghan Taliban forces in the Marjah town of Afghanistanâ€™s southern Helmand province, after President Obamaâ€™s new-year public declaration to kill or capture the top fugitive leaders of the Taliban and the al-Qaeda, both inAfghanistan and Pakistan. Since the beginning of February 2010, the Pakistan authorities have captured seven senior members of the Taliban Shura, including Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the deputy of Mullah Omar, and four Taliban shadow governors of Afghan provinces. These high-profile arrests, combined with the ongoing US-led military offensive in Helmand and the unending spate of drone attacks in Pakistani tribal areas, have adversely dented the command and control structure of the Taliban, thereby affecting its military might in Afghanistan.
However, well informed diplomatic circles in Islamabad maintain that American pressure alone could not have made Pakistan to act against the Taliban network. They claim the influence of the Saudi royal family, coupled with the US pressure, eventually compelled the Pakistani intelligence establishment to finally abandon the Afghan Taliban, who were earlier being protected as a strategic asset to be used in Pakistanâ€™s favour after the exit of the allied forces from Afghanistan. These circles further claim that the Pakistan intelligence establishment was in fact persuaded to cooperate with the Americans by Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, the younger half-brother of King Abdullah. Being the chief of General Intelligence Presidency, which is the Saudi Arabian intelligence service, Muqrin reportedly conducted shuttle diplomacy between the key civil and military leadership of the two important Muslim countries, finally making Pakistan to proceed against the leadership of the Afghan Taliban.
Senior advocate of the European Court of Justice Paolo Mengozzi denounced British suspension of welfare benefits to wives of persons believed to be affiliated with al Qaeda or the Taliban in a 26-page written opinion which declared welfare support to be a human right. A final ruling is expected in a few months.
Terrorist spouses had previous appeals for restoration of income support, child benefit and housing assistance rejected in Britain and subsequently appealed to the European Court of Justice, whose decisions are binding on Britain’s Parliament and courts.
Said Ali al-Shihri, Ibrahim Suleiman al Rubaish (image ID not confirmed); Abdullah Saleh Ali al Ajmi; and Abdullah Mahsud thought the US was pretty stupid to let them go free to resume the fight
The London Times reports that early releases of detainees believed to be less dangerous resulted in a large number of cases of speedy returns to waging holy war against the West, sometimes in prominent leadership roles.
As the Obama Administration tries fulfilling its commitment to empty the prison facility at Guantanamo, prospective beneficiaries of repatriation will inevitably include precisely those detainees considered too obviously guilty and too certain to return to terrorist activities to be released earlier.
At least a dozen former GuantÃ¡namo Bay inmates have rejoined al-Qaeda to fight in Yemen, The Times has learnt, amid growing concern over the ability of the countryâ€™s Government to accept almost 100 more former inmates from the detention centre.
The Obama Administration promised to close the GuantÃ¡namo facility by January 22, a deadline that it will be unable to meet. The 91 Yemeni prisoners in GuantÃ¡namo make up the largest national contingent among the 198 being held.
Six prisoners were returned to Yemen last month. After the Christmas Day bomb plot in Detroit, US officials are increasingly concerned that the country is becoming a hot-bed of terrorism. …
The countryâ€™s mountainous terrain, poverty and lawless tribal society make it, in the opinion of many analysts, a close match for Afghanistan as a new terrorist haven. ..
A Yemeni, Hani Abdo Shaalan, who was released from GuantÃ¡namo in 2007, was killed in an airstrike on December 17, the Yemeni Government reported last week. The deputy head of al-Qaeda in the country is Said Ali al-Shihri, 36, who was released in 2007. Ibrahim Suleiman al-Rubaish, who was released in 2006, is a prominent ideologue featured on Yemeni al-Qaeda websites. …
The US Government issued figures in May showing that 74 of the 530 detainees in GuantÃ¡namo were suspected or known to have returned to terrorist activity since their release. They included the commander of the Taleban in Helmand province, Mullah Zakir, whom the British Chief of the Defence Staff, Sir Jock Stirrup, called â€œa key and seemingly effective tactical leaderâ€. Among others who returned to terrorism was Abdullah Saleh al-Ajmi, a Kuwaiti who killed six Iraqis in Mosul in 2008.
The number believed to have â€œreturned to the fightâ€ in the May 2009 estimate was double that of a US estimate from June 2008. US officials acknowledged that more detainees were known to have reoffended since, but the number has been classified.
â€œThere is a historic trend and it continues. I will only say that we have said there is a trend, we are aware of it, there is no denying the trend and we are doing our best to deal with this reality,â€ Mr Morrell said.
Officials said that a higher proportion of those still being held were likely to return to terrorism because they were considered more of a security threat than those selected in the early stages of the release programme.