The Taliban’s Real Attitude

I remember a few years back reading, from Westerners, that the Taliban had changed, moderated its excesses, that it was softer, gentler, etc you can imagine the rest.

I didn’t believe such nonsense then, or now.

Let’s forget not the fate awaiting women and girls under Taliban, arbitrary murder:

“KABUL — A man Afghan officials say is a member of the Taliban shot dead a woman accused of adultery in front of a crowd near Kabul, a video obtained by Reuters showed, a sign that the austere Islamist group dictates law even near the Afghan capital.

In the three-minute video, a turban-clad man approaches a woman kneeling in the dirt and shoots her five times at close range with an automatic rifle, to cheers of jubilation from the 150 or so men watching in a village in Parwan province.

“Allah warns us not to get close to adultery because it’s the wrong way,” another man says as the shooter gets closer to the woman. “It is the order of Allah that she be executed”.

Provincial Governor Basir Salangi said the video, obtained on Saturday, was shot a week ago in the village of Qimchok in Shinwari district, about an hour’s drive from Kabul.

Such rare public punishment was a painful reminder to Afghan authorities of the Taliban’s 1996-2001 period in power, and it raised concern about the treatment of Afghan women 11 years into the NATO-led war against Taliban insurgents. “

Suleiman Abdallah Tortured By America

Suleiman Abdallah’s abduction and torture should be a cautionary tale of how individuals are abused when there are few checks and constraints on security services and governments.

The Nation explains:

“In fact, Suleiman never arrived in the United States, and none of the authorities ever disclosed his whereabouts. Suleiman joined the growing list of disappeared prisoners held at undisclosed locations with no access to a lawyer, tracked by a handful of global NGOs.

As in other countries caught in US crosshairs following the attacks of September 11, 2001, a bounty system emerged in Somalia in 2002, whereby people were captured by local warlords and sold to the CIA as “terror suspects” in return for cash. In lawless Somalia, anyone without local protection is highly vulnerable; as with many others, the main operating factor in Suleiman’s abduction appears to have been that he was a foreigner with few local connections.

As East Africa’s quiet war on terror became an increasing focus of my work, Suleiman’s file grew steadily more intriguing. Shuttled through the global system of secret US prisons, he remained mostly invisible. His name appeared in the margins of a confession barred by a Kenyan court in 2005 for having been obtained through torture. A 2007 report from West Point suggested that upon capture Suleiman was initially presented to the CIA as Fazul Mohammed, a Comorian terror suspect who was eventually killed by Somali police in Mogadishu last year. Elsewhere, media reports confirmed that as a young man, Suleiman’s nickname was “Travolta” because of his love of dancing.

But I still had no idea where Suleiman was being held. My questions probing his whereabouts evoked only blank faces from the former US prisoners I interviewed around the world. Finally, in 2008 I learned “off record” that Suleiman was being held at Bagram by American troops. About a year later, I discovered that he had been released. I arranged to visit him at his home on the Indian Ocean. “

Conservatives, IQ and Bookshops

Some snippets I found, Intelligence Study Links Low I.Q. To Prejudice, Racism, Conservatism.

Look at the 20 Most Beautiful Bookstores in the World, I thought the one in Buenos Aires worth a visit.

An informative piece on Russia and Syria:

“Russian support for the Syrian regime – founded when Bashar al-Assad’s father Hafez seized power in 1970 – is still shaped in part by Cold War-era considerations. Hafez al-Assad’s Ba’ath Party (like its cousin in Iraq) portrayed itself as a force for socialist-style modernization. More importantly, it was staunchly anti-American and anti-Israeli, and quickly turned to the USSR as its principal source for weapons and military advisors.

Those relations continued even after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which tracks arms transfers, estimates the value of Russian arms sales to Syria at $162 million per year in both 2009 and 2010. The total value of Syrian contracts with the Russian defense industry is likely more than $4 billion. Russia also leases a naval facility at the Syrian port of Tartus, giving the Russian navy its only direct access to the Mediterranean, and Moscow its only remaining military base outside the former Soviet Union. Moscow fears that Assad’s fall would jeopardize both its lucrative arms contracts and its access to Tartus.”

Excerpts from Nato report on Taliban at BBC News.

Romney supporters raise millions.

A legal backgrounder on Julian Assange’s appeal at the Supreme Court. The Guardian’s coverage.

Is Alabama’s crackdown on immigration coming back to haunt it?

Peculiarly Western

I enjoy reading Terry Glavin’s writing on Afghanistan and his comments in this article by Eva Sajoo are compelling, if too close to the bone for many:

“We also meet Malalai Ishaqzai, an MP from Kandahar whose views differ sharply from those of the famous Malalai Joya. Joya has become famous in Europe and North America for claiming that international troops have made no difference to Afghan women and should leave immediately.

Many other female MPs, including Ishaqzai, disagree. The mother of seven children, she has been winning male votes in a province considered the Taliban heartland. This is surely progress.

Aware of the fading Canadian commitment, she and other Afghans ask why. Glavin’s answer to that question is complicated. He points to a disturbing tendency to see human rights as a peculiarly Western set of values. This belief has the benefit both of allowing us a sense of superiority while simultaneously distancing ourselves from the struggles of others in the name of respecting their cultural customs. As if people in other societies somehow find oppression more agreeable.

(H/T: Norm)