TORTURE NEVER STOPS... (Thank you, Frank Zappa !)

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

The same old story Frankenstein, Fuckistan, etc.

Rights Groups Tie Pakistan to Militants’ Disappearances
Published: December 29, 2010

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is expressing alarm over reports that thousands of political separatists and captured Taliban insurgents have disappeared into the hands of Pakistan’s police and security forces, and that some may have been tortured or killed.

The issue came up in a State Department report to Congress last month that urged Pakistan to address this and other human rights abuses. It threatens to become the latest source of friction in the often tense relationship between the wartime allies.

The concern is over a steady stream of accounts from human rights groups that Pakistan’s security services have rounded up thousands of people over the past decade, mainly in Baluchistan, a vast and restive province far from the fight with the Taliban, and are holding them incommunicado without charges. Some American officials think that the Pakistanis have used the pretext of war to imprison members of the Baluch nationalist opposition that has fought for generations to separate from Pakistan. Some of the so-called disappeared are guerrillas; others are civilians.

“Hundreds of cases are pending in the courts and remain unresolved,” said the Congressionally mandated report that the State Department sent to Capitol Hill on Nov. 23. A Congressional official provided a copy of the eight-page, unclassified document to The New York Times.

Separately, the report also described concerns that the Pakistani military had killed unarmed members of the Taliban, rather than put them on trial.

Two months ago, the United States took the unusual step of refusing to train or equip about a half-dozen Pakistani Army units that are believed to have killed unarmed prisoners and civilians during recent offensives against the Taliban. The most recent State Department report contains some of the administration’s most pointed language about accusations of such so-called extrajudicial killings. “The Pakistani government has made limited progress in advancing human rights and continues to face human rights challenges,” the State Department report concluded. “There continue to be gross violations of human rights by Pakistani security forces.”

The Obama administration has largely sought to confront Pakistan in private with evidence of human rights abuses by its intelligence and security forces, fearing that a public scolding could imperil the country’s cooperation in combating Al Qaeda, the Taliban and other extremist groups.

After the Sept. 11 attacks, the administration of President George W. Bush urged Pakistan to capture militants and Islamic extremists linked to the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Since then, human rights groups have said that Pakistan’s security forces used that campaign as a cover to round up hundreds, if not thousands, of political activists and guerrilla fighters in Baluchistan and hold them in secret detention.

Precise numbers of disappearances are difficult to pin down, human rights advocates say, partly because family members fear that reporting missing relatives could endanger the relatives or even themselves.

“It is very difficult to put numbers on disappearances as they are accompanied by intimidation of the next of kin of the disappeared,” said Ali Dayan Hasan, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch in Lahore, Pakistan. “People are unable to speak publicly. But we can safely say that disappearances are the order of the day across Pakistan, particularly in relation with counterterrorism.”

In Islamabad on Wednesday, the interior minister, Rehman Malik, addressed the security issue in Baluchistan without mentioning the disappearances. “We are trying to ensure law and order in Baluchistan,” he told lawmakers in the National Assembly. “I will assure that we will do everything to improve the situation.” In August 2009, he acknowledged that 1,291 people were missing in the country. Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington, said in an e-mail on Wednesday that “the courts and the government are investigating cases of disappearances with a view to establishing the whereabouts of the disappeared persons and the circumstances under which the alleged disappearances took place.”

Under pressure from Pakistan’s Supreme Court, which has held hearings on petitions filed by family members of missing Baluch men, as well as public rallies in supported of the disappeared, the government of President Asif Ali Zardari has been forced to respond to the outcry. A judicial commission established to investigate the disappearances is scheduled to present its report to the Supreme Court on Friday.

Pakistani intelligence officials say that human rights groups have exaggerated the number of people held incommunicado. The officials seemed to justify the extrajudicial detentions by citing the country’s weak judicial system and often poor police investigations that they say have led to dozens of terrorism suspects’ being acquitted by local courts.

American officials have dismissed these claims for years. “ ‘Disappeared’ Pakistanis — innocent and guilty alike — have fallen into a legal black hole,” the United States Embassy in Islamabad said in a cable, dated Feb. 8, 2007, that was obtained by WikiLeaks and made available to some news organizations, including The New York Times.

American officials are expanding programs to build up the judicial system in Pakistan. Officials also offer human-rights training to police officers and finance programs to reduce the backlogs of court cases that prevent family members of those who disappear from seeking relief through the Pakistani judicial system.

“This issue has been a persistent challenge for Pakistan,” said a senior American official who deals with South Asia and who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the matter. “We’re trying to help Pakistan build democratic institutions so they can be a more effective partner.”

But American officials concede that the programs may take years to produce enduring results. The State Department’s most recent report on human rights in Pakistan, issued in March, said that during 2009 “politically motivated disappearances continued, and police and security forces held prisoners incommunicado and refused to disclose their location.”

That report, citing a Pakistani human rights group, said that in August 2009, Pakistani Frontier Corps paramilitary troops arrested two members of the Baluchistan National Party in Khuzdar, Pakistan. Two days later, the men were turned over to the police. “Both men showed evidence of having been tortured,” the report said. “Authorities reportedly forced them to make false confessions before their release.”

Salman Masood contributed reporting from Islamabad, Pakistan.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Today Germany, tomorrow the whole world...

Raid on Islamic Groups in Germany
Published: December 14, 2010

BERLIN — The German Interior Ministry ordered simultaneous raids in three states on Tuesday against what it called Salafist networks suspected of seeking the imposition of an Islamic state. The action signaled growing concern over the radical messages of some Islamic groups.

The raids, in Bremen, Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia, were not linked to a recent terrorism alert reportedly inspired by phone calls from a man who said he wanted to quit working with terrorists and who warned of a pending Mumbai-style attack, the Interior Ministry said.

The ministry statement said the raids were directed at two groups: Invitation to Paradise in the cities of Brunswick and Mönchengladbach, and the Islamic Culture Center of Bremen, on the North Sea coast. The two groups work closely together and share the same ideology. The authorities are seeking to outlaw both groups.

The raids appeared to represent a departure for the German authorities in their dealings with radical Muslim groups. They were conducted under the authority of postwar laws enacted with an eye to the Nazis to prevent the overthrow of the state or Constitution by extremist groups. Before, those statutes had been invoked primarily against right-wing nationalist and neo-Nazi groups, and German intelligence had focused primarily on individual Muslim extremists rather than groups.

The ministry’s statement emphasized this shift in approach. “For a well-fortified democracy, it is necessary and demanded, without waiting for the jihad to occur in the form of armed struggle, to take action against anti-constitutional organizations.”

The statement said the groups were suspected of opposing constitutional order by seeking to “overthrow it in favor of an Islamic theocracy.” There was no indication that any arrests were made.

“The group is very influential and is especially active in converting people,” a senior German security official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the investigation was still under way. The best-known figure in the group is a German citizen, Pierre Vogel, a former boxer and convert to Islam. “They do have the aim to change Germany and make it Islamic, but there is no evidence that they were or are involved in any terrorism,” the official said.

The Interior Ministry statement, signed by the spokesman Stefan Paris, said one of the leaders of Invitation to Paradise had called for the imposition of Shariah law, the statement said, adding that the raids had been carried out under Germany’s laws of association. Shariah is the legal code of Islam based on the Koran.

However, the statement said it remained to be seen whether the raids would confirm suspicions about the groups’ intentions.

Dozens of private homes were searched Tuesday, as well as religious schools and a store belonging to Invitation to Paradise that sells face-covering veils for women and caftans for men, The Associated Press reported, quoting a security official. The police said they seized evidence during the raids, but would not comment further.

German intelligence authorities have said they regard Salafist institutions as a potential source of terrorism.

The term Salafist usually denotes an extreme form of Islamic fundamentalism. But Salafists are divided into several schools, including one that believes that Muslims should remain politically disengaged and take up arms only when called to duty in a Muslim-governed country; anything else represents rebellion against the government, which violates Islamic law.

At the same time, the Salafist movement also has its share of revolutionaries — the so-called Salafi jihadis — who contend that rebellion is permissible. Germany has become increasingly vigilant in recent months about potential threats amid deepening concerns that a small number of German citizens may be under the influence of terrorist groups determined to stage new attacks, either in Germany or elsewhere in Europe.

The recent terrorism alert was prompted by a caller who claimed to have been a jihadist working with terrorists in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region and provided what law enforcement officials called concrete information concerning a recent plot to rampage through the Reichstag, the seat of Germany’s Parliament and a popular tourist site. As a result of that alarm, the authorities deployed heavily armed police officers across the nation.

The Interior Ministry said that there was “no connection” with Germany’s current alert and that the raids had been “planned for a long time.”

The authorities’ actions recalled events last summer when officials in Hamburg closed a mosque where Mohamed Atta, one of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers, had prayed. It had become a destination for jihadi tourism.

Alan Cowell reported from Berlin, and Michael Slackman from Erlangen, Germany. Souad Mekhennet contributed reporting from Frankfurt.

A version of this article appeared in print on December 15, 2010, on page A8 of the New York edition.