July 16, 2007:
In Pakistan, nearly a hundred
people have been killed by terrorist attacks in the tribal areas over the last
few days. The renewed violence is in response to the government crackdown on
rebellious religious extremists in the capital. Meanwhile, the U.S. has doubled
the reward for the capture of Osama bin Laden, to $50 million. This set off
rumors that the increase was in response to tribal chiefs who were willing to
flip on bin Laden, but only if the payday were large enough. The U.S. can
further sweeten the pot by arranging for much of the $750 million in economic
aid, pledged for the tribal areas over the next ten years, to go to certain
chiefs. A major problem with the tribal areas, and their four million poor and
uneducated Pushtun tribals, is corruption and lack of government. Tribal
strongmen monopolize power, and most wealth. That includes government and
foreign economic aid. This has always been a problem, when efforts were made to
improve infrastructure or economic opportunities in the area. But it works in
your favor if you are trying to bribe some of the tribal strongmen.
July 15, 2007: In Pakistan, two suicide bomb
attacks killed 70 and wounded over a hundred in the tribal areas. One attack
was on a military convoy, the other on a police recruiting center.
July 14, 2007: The army has begun moving troops
around the tribal areas. One brigade has been moved towards the town of Tank,
long a stronghold of Islamic militants. In the tribal areas, the pro-Taliban
tribes renounced the ceasefire deal with the government, and declared war on
the government. Suicide bombers attacked a military convoy, killing
24. Suicide bombers, and their bombs, used in Afghanistan, mostly come
from terrorist bases in Pakistan. Now it appears that these weapons will be
used against Pakistani police and troops. While the tribal areas have never
known any sustained rule by outsiders, the tribal areas have been conquered in
the past, many times. The trouble is, the area is so poor, it simply doesn't
pay to maintain soldiers and police necessary to maintain outside rule. Until
the Red Mosque siege, the government was reluctant to risk a major military
operation in the tribal areas. Too many officers and troops were Islamic conservatives.
But now the Islamic radicals have declared war on the government, and troop
loyalty is much less of a problem. For the moment.
July 13, 2007: In Pakistan, president Musharraf
ordered a crackdown on Islamic radicals. This would include the arrest of
leaders and confiscating weapons (especially bomb making materials).
There were calls, by Moslem clergy, for massive demonstrations against
the government. The turnout was, nationwide, a few hundred thousand, and
peaceful. The violence and speed with which the Red Mosque defenders were
defeated has made an impression.
July 12, 2007: Islamic radicals are calling
for rebellion against the Pakistani government. That's a big mistake, because
when you come right down to it, the Islamic radicals are a minority. A loud and
armed minority, but far outnumbered in terms of people and weapons. The
majority of Pakistanis have long been annoyed by the violence and terror
generated by less than ten percent of the population (the tribals and Islamic
militants). Most Pakistanis don't want war, but if the tribal religious
July 11, 2007: The storming of the Red Mosque
complex in Pakistan's capital, forced the government to crack down on the
17,000 other religious schools in the country, most associated with a mosque.
These madrasses average about a hundred students each. The Red Mosque was one
of the larger ones, with several thousand students. The Red Mosque was also
unique because it was in an urban area, a large city and the national capital
at that. Overall, madrasses only reach about ten percent of the school age
population, and that includes those who attend a mosque school just for
religious instruction. Not all madrasses teach hatred for non-Moslems and the
need for holy war against unbelievers. But enough of them, at least a few
hundred, do. These schools, particularly in the tribal areas, produce
thousands of terrorist recruits each year. Not all of these kids turn into
sectarian killers, but enough of them do to create situations like the siege of
the Red Mosque.
The final death toll for the Red Mosque in Pakistan
was 102, all but eleven of them defenders. About half the dead were kids,
mostly teenagers. Several dozen were killed by suicide bombers. Several hundred
women and children were being used as human shields, but the soldiers were able
to get nearly all of these out of the complex safely during the initial stages
of the assault. The government has released no information on the identity of
foreign fighters found in the Red Mosque. Apparently there were some high
ranking al Qaeda operatives trapped in the Red Mosque.
In eastern India, a major battle with Maoists left
over fifty dead (half rebels, half police), during a police search for a Maoist
camp. Over several days of searching, the camp was found, and the Maoists
resisted with automatic weapons and mortars.