Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Today's "Winds of War" is brought to you by Dan Darling of Regnum Crucis. TOP TOPICS * Our own Armed Liberal spent the day at USMC Camp Pendleton, packing medical supplies et. al. for Iraqi civilians. These items will be part of the Marines' coming "velvet glove" strategy in Iraq's Sunni Triangle. In contrast, Lt. Col. Gentile of the 4th Infantry Division discusses "The Risk of Velvet Gloves" because of the cultural and tactical situation there. Do you think he's right? * Joe discusses Bush's State of the Union Address, and how it relates to the evolution of the War on Terror. Porphyrogenitus, meanwhile, sees a lot of significance in the non-military approaches Bush discussed: "...it doesn't involve killing our enemies but rather trying to persuade those who are being deceived by them." * In recent weeks, Pakistan has launched series of crackdowns on both al-Qaeda as well as its domestic affiliates. I have a general round-up of the crackdown here as well as some thoughts as to just who the captured al-Qaeda leader in Karachi might be. Other Topics Today Include: Iraq Briefing; Iran Reports; al-Qaeda training camps in Saudi Arabia; Russians destroy major armed formations in Chechnya; Basayev rants and raves; Victory Day bombing mastermind identified; FIS wants to negotiate; NPA forms an alliance with MILF; Saif al-Adel launches online terrorist manual; Mullah Krekar ordering suicide bombings over the Internet; al-Qaeda's underground operation in Spain; Turkish al-Qaeda suspects confess training details; and Russia sends an army for beer.
IRAQ BRIEFING * The US is agreeing with Iraqi leaders that the UN needs to be integrated into the process of selecting an interim government for the country. Towards that end, Bremer seems to be revising US plans for Iraqi self-rule and the UN seems willing to participate. * The two major Kurdish parties PUK and KDP are moving closer towards a merger according to al-Jazeera. * Defenselink has a nice round-up of the progress that has been made in Iraq's reconstruction since the fall of the Baathist regime nearly a year ago. * The US is developing a clearer picture of the Baathist insurgents and their operations. * Western citizens are reportedly among those members of the Mujahideen-e-Khalq captured in Iran. * An Iraqi car bombing in Baquba has killed 8. * Some disturbing reports are emerging about the murder of Iraqi liquor salesmen, likely by representatives of the radical Shi'ite leader Moqtada Sadr. * The IAEA has confirmed that the yellowcake found in Rotterdam likely came from Iraq, possibly from a known mine that was active before the Gulf War. * The late British scientist David Kelly apparently believed that Iraq both possessed WMDs and that it posed an immediate threat, according to newly released video footage. * Which "cards" have we captured so far? The CENTCOM list. And the visual version of "Ba'ath Poker." * The troops are still there. So is the Winds of Change.NET consolidated directory of ways you can support the troops: American, Australian, British, Canadian and Polish. Anyone out there with more information, please let us know [updated January 15, 2004] IRAN REPORTS * Did Iran assist al-Qaeda in the 9/11 attacks? According to a witness in the case of accused Hamburg cell member Abdelghani Mzoudi as reported in Der Spiegel, that indeed appears to be the case. I'm still looking for a better translation, but in the meantime you can read my own translation via Alta Vista. Rantburg poster True German Ally (who lives up every bit to his screen name) has his own translation - it's very chilling and a lot better than my own. Still, take a deep breath and remember the "7-day rule" for news like this. * Western diplomats are expressing concern that Iran has reneged on its promise to suspend uranium enrichment. * Amir Taheri takes a long look at Iran's "sort of democracy" and finds it rather lacking. And in a bid to lessen the poison as Taheri puts it, the Guardian Council will allow 200 reformists of the 3,500 blacklisted on the ballot in next month's elections. * Hassan Rowhani, the head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, is claiming that Iran has extradited al-Qaeda members back to Saudi Arabia (a claim I would take with a whole shaker of salt). Rowhani, who is in France on a diplomatic mission, is announcing that Iran will expand its ties with the European Union, likely as part of a plan to counter any US moves against it. * The death toll from the Bam earthquake has topped 41,000, according to Mohammed Mohammedi Golpayegani, a close aid to Ayatollah Khamenei. THE WIDER WAR * Al-Qaeda military command Saif al-Adel has launched an online terrorist manual in an effort to provide expertise to would-be jihadis who are unable to attend formal terrorist training camps. How thoughtful. * Al-Qaeda ran quite an interesting operation in Spain that should serve as an example of how al-Qaeda operates under the radar in Western nations. * The CIA is claiming that Mullah Krekar was ordering suicide bombings via the Internet - so much for him "no longer being affiliated with Ansar al-Islam." When will Norway get serious about him? * Turkish al-Qaeda suspects arrested in Gebze are detailing their jihadi careers, as well as those of the other 450 Turks who received training in Afghanistan. * Saudi authorities have just discovered a network of terrorist training camps spread throughout the Kingdom. The Saudi authorities, as Spartacus notes, seem to be channeling the spirit of Police Captain Paul Renault in Casablanca. * Fred Pruitt weighs in on Russian claims that no large armed groups remain in Chechnya, though there still seems to be quite a bit of violence in the region. Meanwhile, Chechen al-Qaeda leader Shamil Basayev weighs in on the Chechen war with his usual calm and rational manner ... * Russia has identified the mastermind of the Victory Day bombing in Kaspiysk, Dagestan in May 2002 as Chechen field commander Rappani Khalilov, who is still at large. * The Algerian Islamic party FIS, whose election wins over a decade ago served as the catalyst for the nation's civil war, is now unveiling a blueprint for peace in the troubled African nation. No word on whether or not the GIA or GSPC will follow suit ... * The Filippino communist group New People's Army has forged an alliance with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate. Thank God we all know that secular and religious totalitarians would never cooperate, or this might worry us... * We try to end on a lighter note if possible. Russia has seemingly called in the army to bolster a week-long struggle to rescue 10 tons of beer trapped under Siberian ice. But did the operation have U.N. permission?