27 August 2011

FLASH - nEW aq nO.2 IS 'droned' in Pakistan; The END Is NIGH?

- flash- OPEN SOURCE

August 27, 2011

C.I.A. Drone Is Said to Kill Al Qaeda’s No. 2

WASHINGTON — A drone operated by the Central Intelligence Agency killed Al Qaeda’s second-ranking figure in the mountains of Pakistan on Monday, American and Pakistani officials said Saturday, further damaging a terrorism network that appears significantly weakened since the death of Osama bin Laden in May.
An American official said that the drone strike killed Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, a Libyan who in the last year had taken over as Al Qaeda’s top operational planner. Mr. Rahman was in frequent contact with Bin Laden in the months before the terrorist leader was killed on May 2 by a Navy Seals team, intelligence officials have said.
American officials described Mr. Rahman’s death as particularly significant as compared with other high-ranking Qaeda operatives who have been killed, because he was one of a new generation of leaders that the network hoped would assume greater control after Bin Laden’s death.
Thousands of electronic files recovered at Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, revealed that Bin Laden communicated frequently with Mr. Rahman. They also showed that Bin Laden relied on Mr. Rahman to get messages to other Qaeda leaders and to ensure that Bin Laden’s recorded communications were broadcast widely.
After Bin Laden was killed, Mr. Rahman became Al Qaeda’s No. 2 leader under Ayman al-Zawahri, who succeeded Bin Laden.
There were few details on Saturday about the strike that killed Mr. Rahman. In the months since Bin Laden’s death, the C.I.A. has maintained a barrage of drone missile strikes on mountainous redoubts in Pakistan, a bombing campaign that continues to strain America’s already turbulent relationship with Pakistan.
The C.I.A almost never consults Pakistani officials in advance of a drone strike, and a Pakistani government official said Saturday that the United States had told Pakistan’s government that Mr. Rahman had been the target of the strike only after the spy agency confirmed that he had been killed.
The drone strikes have been the Obama administration’s preferred means of hunting and killing operatives from Al Qaeda and its affiliate groups. Over the past year the United States has expanded the drone war to Yemen and Somalia.
Some top American officials have said publicly that they believe Al Qaeda is in its death throes, though many intelligence analysts are less certain, saying that the network built by Bin Laden has repeatedly shown an ability to regenerate.
Yet even as Qaeda affiliates in places like Yemen and North Africa continue to plot attacks against the West, most intelligence analysts believe that the remnants of Al Qaeda’s leadership in Pakistan have been weakened considerably. Mr. Rahman’s death is another significant blow to the group.
“Atiyah was at the top of Al Qaeda’s trusted core,” the American official said. “His combination of background, experience and abilities are unique in Al Qaeda — without question, they will not be easily replaced.”
The files captured in Abbottabad revealed, among other things, that Bin Laden and Mr. Rahman discussed brokering a deal with Pakistan: Al Qaeda would refrain from mounting attacks in the country in exchange for protection for Qaeda leaders hiding in Pakistan.
American officials said that they found no evidence that either of the men ever raised the idea directly with Pakistani officials, or that Pakistan’s government had any knowledge that Bin Laden was hiding in Abbottabad.
Mr. Rahman also served as Bin Laden’s liaison to Qaeda affiliates. Last year, American officials said, Mr. Rahman notified Bin Laden of a request by the leader of Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen to install Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical American-born cleric, as the leader of the group in Yemen.
That group, known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, apparently thought Mr. Awlaki’s status as an Internet celebrity, for his popular video sermons, and his knowledge of the United States might help the group’s fund-raising efforts. But according to the electronic files in Abbottabad, Bin Laden told Mr. Rahman that the group’s leadership should remain unchanged.
After Bin Laden’s death, some intelligence officials saw a cadre of Libyan operatives as poised to assume greater control inside Al Qaeda, which at times has been fractured by cultural rivalries.
Libyan operatives like Mr. Rahman, they said, had long bristled at the leadership of an older generation, many of them Egyptian like Mr. Zawahri and Sheikh Saeed al-Masri.
Mr. Masri was killed last year by a C.I.A. missile, as were several Qaeda operations chiefs before him. The job has proved to be particularly deadly, American officials said, because the operations chief has had to transmit the guidance of Bin Laden and Mr. Zawahri to Qaeda operatives elsewhere, providing a way for the Americans to track him through electronic intercepts.
Mr. Rahman assumed the role after Mr. Masri’s death. Now that Mr. Rahman has died, American officials said it was unclear who would take over the job.

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As US hopes for defeat of al-Qaida, officials say group’s No. 2 leader killed in Pakistan

By Associated Press, Updated: Saturday, August 27, 2011 : 7:42 PM

WASHINGTON — U.S. and Pakistani officials said Saturday that al-Qaida’s second-in-command, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, has been killed in Pakistan, delivering another big blow to a terrorist group that the U.S. believes to be on the verge of defeat.
Al-Rahman was killed Monday in the lawless Pakistani tribal region of Waziristan, according to a senior administration official who insisted on anonymity to discuss intelligence issues.
A Pakistani intelligence official said al-Rahman died in a U.S. missile strike in Machi Khel village in North Waziristan on Monday.
Since Navy SEALs stormed Osama bin Laden’s compound and killed him in May, the Obama administration has been unusually frank in its assessment that al-Qaida is on the ropes, its leadership in disarray. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said last month that al-Qaida’s defeat was within reach if the U.S. could mount a string of successful attacks.
“Now is the moment, following what happened with bin Laden, to put maximum pressure on them,” Panetta said, “because I do believe that if we continue this effort we can really cripple al-Qaida as a major threat.”
A Libyan national, al-Rahman never had the worldwide name recognition of bin Laden or bin Laden’s successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri. But al-Rahman was regarded as an instrumental figure in the terrorist organization, trusted by bin Laden to oversee al-Qaida’s daily operations.
When the SEALs raided bin Laden’s compound, they found evidence of al-Rahman’s deep involvement in running al-Qaida.
Senior al-Qaida figures have been killed before, only to be replaced. But the Obama administration’s tenor reflects a cautious optimism that victory in the decade-long fight against al-Qaida could be at hand.
“It does hold the prospect of a strategic defeat, if you will, a strategic dismantling, of al-Qaida,” incoming CIA Director David Petraeus said in July.
Since bin Laden’s death, counterterrorism officials have hoped to capitalize on al-Qaida’s unsettled leadership. The more uncertain the structure, the harder it is for al-Qaida to operate covertly and plan attacks.
Al-Zawahiri is running the group but is considered a divisive figure who lacks the founder’s charisma and ability to galvanize al-Qaida’s disparate franchises.
A U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to summarize the government’s intelligence on al-Rahman, said al-Rahman’s death will make it harder for Zawahiri to oversee what is considered an increasingly weakened organization.
“Zawahiri needed Atiyah’s experience and connections to help manage al-Qaida,” the official said.
The U.S. official would not say how al-Rahman was killed. The Pakistani official did not say how the country’s main intelligence agency, the ISI, knew that al-Rahman was dead. This official did not give his name in keeping with agency rules.
Intelligence officials had said at the time that four people were killed in the attack.
A CIA drone strike was reported that day in Waziristan. Such strikes by unmanned aircraft are Washington’s weapon of choice for killing terrorists in the mountainous, hard-to-reach area along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
Al-Rahman has been thought to be dead before. Last year, there were reports that al-Rahman was killed in a drone strike; neither U.S. officials nor al-Qaida ever confirmed them. The officials who confirmed the death Saturday said it represented the consensus opinion of the U.S. government.
Born in Libya, al-Rahman joined bin Laden as a teenager in Afghanistan to fight the Soviet Union.
He once served as bin Laden’s personal emissary to Iran. Al-Rahman was allowed to move freely in and out of Iran as part of that arrangement and has been operating out of Waziristan for some time, officials have said.
Associated Press writer Riaz Khan in Peshawar, Pakistan, contributed to this report.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Pres

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24 August 2011

U.S. to re-investigate al-Awlaki's ties to 9/11 hijackers

TSP/2; HST/2; OSINT/2; FRG/2; BKYN/2; US/30; KL/1255

In an exclusive statement to Asharq Al-Awsat, US Department of Justice spokesman, Dean Boyd, has revealed that the US House Committee on Homeland Security – led by Congressman Peter King – has initiated an investigation into US-born Al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki’s possible involvement in the planning and execution of the 9/11 attacks.

Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the office of the US Attorney General has in fact already, in cooperation with the Federal Bureau of Investigations [FBI], initiated a special investigation focusing on al-Awlaki’s possible involvement in the [9/11] attacks.”

He added that this investigation would “review all testimony and documents relating to 9/11, including e-mails and audio recordings made by al-Awlaki, as well as some of the lectures that he delivered at the Dar Al-Hijrah mosque in northern Virginia, in addition to reviewing the investigations conducted with him in the aftermath of the attacks.”

However Department of Justice spokesman Dean Boyd refused to comment on when the results of these investigations would be made public.

With the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks fast approaching, Fox News broke the story that the US House Committee on Homeland Security is initiating an investigation into radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, quoting a letter from committee chairman Peter King to US Attorney General Eric Holder.

Investigations confirm that Anwar al-Awlaki was in contact with three of the five hijackers on Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon, and the US House Committee on Homeland Security believes that this is more than a coincidence.

The US House Committee on Homeland Security is seeking to determine whether al-Awlaki was involved in the planning or execution of the 9/11 attacks – which are considered the worse terrorist attack on US soil – and the precise nature of his relationship with 3 of the 19 hijackers; namely Hani Hanjour, Nawaf Al-Hazmi, and Khalid al-Mihdhar.

In a three-page letter addressed to US Attorney General Eric Holder, which was sent in May, US Congressman King reveals that the congressional investigation will seek to determine two main issues, namely “to what extent Anwar al-Awlaki wittingly or unwittingly facilitated the plot of the 9/11 hijackers” and “to what extent al-Awlaki was an Al Qaeda operative, offering support to acts of terrorism, prior to 9/11.”

King writes that “there exists a well-documented factual basis for this congressional investigation” adding that “al-Awlaki’s status as an Al Qaeda operative is undeniable.”

The US Congressman relates a number of terrorist incidents that al-Awlaki has been involved in, including “on December 25, 2009, AQAP trained and directed Nigerian national Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to detonate a bomb on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 over Detroit, Michigan. On February 9, 2011, the National Counterterrorism Center Director Michael E. Leiter testified before the Committee on Homeland Security: ‘Anwar al-Awlaki, a dual US – Yemeni citizen and leader within AQAP, played a significant role in the attempted airliner attack.’”

King added “with the years of hindsight into al-Awlaki’s growing status within Al Qaeda, including his involvement in the Christmas Day 2009 attacks, there exists the critical need to reexamine the facts surrounding al-Awlaki and the 9/11 attacks.”

Citing further evidence for reopening the investigation into al-Awlaki, King asserted that “the 9/11 Commission Report suspected that al-Awlaki tasked Jordanian national Eyad al-Rababah in May 2001 to assist two 9/11 hijackers in finding an apartment.” He added that “in 1999, a prior investigation by the San Diego FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) tied al-Awlaki to 9/11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden. A known Al Qaeda procurement agent named Ziyad Khaleel had been in contact with al-Awlaki, and Khaleel had previously purchased a satellite phone for Osama Bin Laden.”

In addition to this, King claims that investigations reveal that “[9/11 hijackers] Al-Mindhar and Al-Hazmi attended the Rabat mosque [in San Diego] where al-Awlaki preached. In addition, al-Awlaki acted as a spiritual advisor to both.”

Additional information further strengthens the relationship between al-Awlaki and a number of the 9/11 hijackers, including the fact that “in January 2001, al-Awlaki relocated to Northern Virginia and began preaching at the Dar al Hijra mosque…four months later, on April 4, 2001, Nawaf Al-Hazmi and Hani Hanjour moved from Arizona to Northern Virginia.”

King concluded his letter to the US Attorney General by stressing that “given the greater collection of intelligence and integration of pertinent data since the attacks of 9/11, I believe that al-Awlaki may have played greater roles in the terrorist attacks of 9/11, as well as the other terrorist plots, than those of which we have been previously aware. Accordingly, I request the full assistance of the Department of Justice in carrying out this inquiry.”

US born Al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki has been implicated in a number of terrorist plots against the US, most notably the 2009 “Christmas Day attacks” and the Fort Hood shootings. He has been described by US politicians as “terrorist number one” and “the world’s most dangerous man.” He is currently believed to be in hiding in Yemen, and reports indicate that he is considered so dangerous that the Obama administration may have authorized killing him.


[Information contained in BKNT E-mail is considered Attorney-Client and Attorney Work Product privileged, copyrighted and confidential. Views that may be expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of any government, agency, or news organization.]

22 August 2011

BlackVAULT--Judith Miller: Who are these Libyan rebels anyway?

OPEN SOURCE                 Member CONTRIBUTION

Flag of the Libyan Republic

(‘51-‘69 – Now used by National Transitional Council)

[ed.note: If you missed my article on this topic (Below) in the Wall Street Journal back in May, or my discussion this morning at the crack of dawn on Fox and Friends, tune in to Fox this afternoon. I'll be discussing some of what we know about the TNC with Shepard Smith, 3:30 pm EST.
allbest, Judy]

The Libyan Opposition Makes Its Case

by Judith Miller
The Wall Street Journal
May 19, 2011

Mahmoud Jibril, the interim prime minister of the Libyan opposition government, is a desperate man with a fondness for medical metaphors. "If you're bleeding to death, you need a tourniquet, not another diagnosis," he told the diplomats, lobbyists and pro-democracy activists invited to a reception at the Libyan ambassador's elegant house in Washington, D.C., last Thursday.

This was the first official visit by Mr. Jibril and other representatives of the Transitional National Council (TNC) who are struggling to manage Libya's transition from 42 years of Moammar Gadhafi's dictatorship to a democratic future. The delegation left Washington over the weekend with lots of goodwill but without the "tourniquet" Mr. Jibril was seeking—access to $3 billion of the $32 billion in Libyan assets that the U.S. froze in February.

After almost two days of nonstop meetings between the Libyans and members of Congress, officials at the State Department and the Pentagon, and National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, the White House issued a terse statement calling Mr. Jibril and the TNC he co-chairs "credible and legitimate." Privately, the White House also pledged to help speed legislation suggested by Sen. John Kerry (D., Mass.), and supported by Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), to give the rebels access to some $180 million of Libyan funds.

But legislation takes time. And Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar's reluctance to get more deeply involved in Libya—the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee did not attend Friday's meeting with the Libyans—does not bode well for quick action. Time is an all-too-precious commodity for the rebels, who say they are running out of money.

Ali Tarhouni, the interim government's finance minister, said that even if Mr. Kerry's relief package were approved, the money only would cover the cost of feeding and providing power to Libya's liberated areas for 10-12 days. "We really appreciate everything the U.S. is doing," Mr. Tarhouni told me. "But it doesn't solve my problem. I'm basically trying to run a war economy without resources. We're not asking for American taxpayer money," he said, "just access to our own frozen funds, or loans using them as collateral."
Mr. Tarhouni said he hoped that Qatar and the United Arab Emirates would provide some more interim relief. Support from both countries—which along with France, Italy and a few African states have recognized the TNC as Libya's legitimate government and sent fuel to the rebels—has been "outstanding," he said.

Although the delegation left Washington empty-handed, it made some progress, according to Libyan and American sources. The delegation's visit reminded America that while Washington dithers, Libyans continue to die. Mr. Jibril told me that, based on hospital estimates, more than 11,000 Libyans have already been killed in the 12 weeks of fighting. The United Nations says that more than 800,000 people have fled Libya and that 1.6 million inside the country need assistance.

The visit has also allayed some concern that the rebel leadership is infiltrated and unduly influenced by al Qaeda or its longtime affiliate, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) —a standard theme of Gadhafi's narrative about the TNC.

Messrs. Jibril and Tarhouni acknowledge there are LIFG members and some other militants' voices represented in the council. Since the TNC represents all anti-Gadhafi elements of the country, "they are included," Mr. Jibril says. But he insists they are not in leadership positions and will not determine foreign or domestic policy if and when Gadhafi is overthrown, if the TNC survives.

Mr. Jibril got his masters and a doctorate in strategic planning from the University of Pittsburgh in 1985. Though he served from 2007-09 as the chair of the Gadhafi's National Economic Development Board and led the Libyan National Planning Council, Libya experts never considered him part of the dictator's inner circle.

Mr. Tarhouni's democratic credentials are more impressive. He was a university student in Libya decades ago when his antiregime activities landed him on a Gadhafi hit list and forced him to flee. An economics professor at the University of Washington, he abruptly left his family and students to join the Libyan uprising, apologizing to his students for his departure. "I told them I had been waiting 40 years for this moment. In fact, I had almost lost hope that I would ever live to see it," he said.

Both men express gratitude toward the U.S.—as well as their growing frustration—in vivid, colloquial English. Mr. Jibril, for instance, explaining why the rebels have been unwilling to declare themselves Libya's government, articulated his dilemma this way: If the TNC took such action, Gadhafi would accuse them of being a separatist movement. "Damned if you do, damned if you don't," he told an audience at the Brookings Institution on Thursday.
It is this legalistic never-never land that has complicated the TNC's effort to secure more concrete support from Washington. But that alone does not fully explain Washington's hesitation. Some in Congress and within the White House continue to warn of "mission creep" in Libya. What began, belatedly, as an effort to protect the population of Benghazi in eastern Libya has become a grueling stalemate. With no obvious vital strategic interests at stake in the vast, oil-rich land of 6.5 million, and with two other wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, some American analysts warn ominously about the dangers of "imperial overreach."

The Obama administration has repeatedly called for Gadhafi to relinquish power, and it has been quietly searching for a country that will host him. The State Department has not permitted Gadhafi to replace his ambassadors in Washington and at the United Nations. Both have defected to the rebels. But the U.S. has not recognized the TNC as Libya's legitimate government either.

After their meetings in Washington, neither Mahmoud Jibril nor Ali Tarhouni seemed worried about tomorrow's War Powers Act deadline—which requires President Obama to end the use of force absent a Congressional decision to keep going. "The message we got is that this is not going to be a problem," Mr. Tarhouni said.

The administration "is not going to pull the plug on this engagement," says Dirk Vandewalle, a Libya expert and professor of government at Dartmouth. "We may not know who will lead Libya after Gadhafi falls," he added, "but the TNC has emerged as a coherent force that is reaching out to a wide range of Libyans and thinking seriously about the future."


[Information contained in BKNT E-mail is considered Attorney-Client and Attorney Work Product privileged, copyrighted and confidential. Views that may be expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of any government, agency, or news organization.]

21 August 2011



[ed.note: CNN, however, is reporting Tripoli counter-attack, at 2147 ET…]

NEW ;YORK TIMESAugust 21, 2011

Little Resistance as Rebels Enter Tripoli

TRIPOLI, Libya — Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s grip on power dissolved with astonishing speed on Monday as rebels marched into the capital and arrested two of his sons, while residents raucously celebrated the prospective end of his four-decade-old rule.
In the city’s central Green Square, the site of many manufactured rallies in support of Colonel Qaddafi, jubilant Libyans tore down green flags and posters of Colonel Qaddafi and stomped on them. The leadership announced that the elite presidential guard protecting the Libyan leader had surrendered and that they controlled many parts of the city, but not Colonel Qaddafi’s leadership compound.
The National Transitional Council, the rebel governing body, issued a mass text message saying, “We congratulate the Libyan people for the fall of Muammar Qaddafi and call on the Libyan people to go into the street to protect the public property. Long live free Libya.”
Officials loyal to Colonel Qaddafi insisted that the fight was not over, and there were clashes between rebels and government troops early on Monday morning. But NATO and American officials said that the Qaddafi government’s control of Tripoli, which had been its final stronghold, was now in doubt.
“Clearly, the offensive for Tripoli is under way,” the State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement. The statement said “Qaddafi’s days are numbered,” and urged the rebel leadership to prepare for a transfer of power and to “maintain broad outreach across all segments of Libyan society and to plan for a post-Qaddafi Libya.”
After six months of inconclusive fighting, the assault on the capital unfolded at a breakneck pace, with insurgents capturing a military base of the vaunted Khamis Brigade, where they had expected to meet fierce resistance, then speeding toward Tripoli and through several neighborhoods of the capital effectively unopposed.
A separate group of rebels waged a fierce battle near the Rixos Hotel, a bastion of Qaddafi support near the city center. A team of rebels there captured Colonel Qaddafi’s son and one-time heir apparent, Seif al-Islam. Rebels also claimed to have accepted the surrender of a second Qaddafi son, Mohammed.
Rebel spokesmen said that their fighters had surrounded the Bab al-Aziziya compound where they believed Colonel Qaddafi may still be holding out, but that they were reluctant to begin an all-out assault.
Colonel Qaddafi issued a series of defiant audio statements during the night, calling on people to “save Tripoli” from a rebel offensive. He said Libyans were becoming “slaves of the imperialists” and that “all the tribes are now marching on Tripoli.”
Mahmoud Hamza, a senior official of the Qaddafi Foreign Ministry, acknowledged in a phone call at 1 a.m. local time on Monday that “it is getting near the end now.” But he said that the Qaddafi forces had not given up.
“Tripoli now is very dangerous. There is a lot of fighting but there is not yet an assault on Bab al-Aziziya,” he said. “For me this is the most fearful thing. I hope it does not come to that.”
Al Arabiya television broadcast images of Libyans celebrating in central Tripoli and ripping down Qaddafi posters. Huge crowds gathered in Benghazi, the capital of the rebel-controlled eastern part of the country, as expectations grew that Colonel Qaddafi’s hold on power was crumbling.
Earlier on Sunday, protesters took to the streets and cells of rebels inside Tripoli clashed with Qaddafi loyalists, opposition leaders and refugees from the city said. Fighting had been heavy in the morning, but by midnight Colonel Qaddafi’s forces had withdrawn from many districts without a major battle.
A rebel spokesman said insurgents had opened another line of attack on Tripoli by sending boats from the port city of Misurata to link up with fighters in the capital. It was not clear how many fighters were involved in that operation.
Moussa Ibrahim, the government’s spokesman, issued press statements through the night, saying that more than 1,300 people had died in fighting in the city but that government troops remained in control. Those claims could not be confirmed.
But the turmoil inside Tripoli and the crumbling of defenses on its outskirts suggested a decisive shift in the revolt, the most violent of the Arab Spring uprisings.
NATO troops continued close air support of the rebels all day, with multiple strikes by alliance aircraft helping clear the road to Tripoli from Zawiyah. Rebel leaders in the west credited NATO with thwarting an attempt on Sunday by Qaddafi loyalists to reclaim Zawiyah with a flank assault on the city.
Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi has been a central character in the drama of the Libyan revolt. Before the uprising began he was known as Libya’s leading advocate of reform in both economic and political life. He cultivated an Anglophile persona, and often appeared to be waging a tug-of-war against his father’s older and more conservative allies. He was increasingly seen as the most powerful figure behind the scenes of the Libyan government as well as his father’s likely successor.
When the revolt broke out it was Seif al-Islam who delivered the government’s first public response, vowing to wipe out what he called “the rats” and warning of a civil war.
In his last public interview, he appeared a changed man. Sitting in a spare hotel conference room, he wore a newly grown beard and fingered prayer beads. After months of denouncing the rebels as dangerous Islamic radicals, he insisted that he was brokering a new alliance with the Islamist faction among the rebels to drive out the liberals.
While rebels expressed hope that Colonel Qaddafi’s forces had lost their will to fight, support for the government could remain strong inside some areas of Tripoli. Analysts said the crucial role played by NATO in aiding the rebel advance in the relatively unpopulated areas outside the capital could prove far less effective in an urban setting, where concerns about civilian casualties could hamper the alliance’s ability to focus on government troops.
A senior American military officer who has been following the developments closely, and who has been in contact with African and Arab military leaders in recent days, expressed caution on Sunday about the prospects for Libya even if the Qaddafi government should fall. Even if Colonel Qaddafi is deposed in some way, the senior officer said, there was still no clear plan for a political succession or for maintaining security in the country.
“The leaders I’ve talked to do not have a clear understanding how this will all play out,” said the officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly.
Few would have predicted that the rebels would meet so little resistance from the 32nd Brigade, a unit that NATO had considered one of the most elite in Libya and commanded by Khamis Qaddafi, one of the leader’s sons. The so-called Khamis Brigade was one of the crucial units enforcing the defense lines around the capital, extending about 17 miles outside Tripoli to the west and about 20 miles to the south.
Rebels said those points had been breached by Sunday afternoon despite the expectation that Colonel Qaddafi would use heavily armored units and artillery to defend them. It was unclear whether the government troops had staged a tactical retreat or had been dislodged by NATO strikes.
After a brief gun battle, rebels took over one of the brigade’s bases along the road to Tripoli. Inside the base, rebels raised their flag and cheered wildly. They began carting away stores of weapons, including rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
While the bodies of several dead loyalist soldiers were left on the ground in the base, it appeared the troops there had retreated rather than being forced out in battle. At least one structure suffered significant damage from NATO bombs.
American officials say they are preparing contingency plans if and when Colonel Qaddafi’s government falls to help prevent the vast Libyan government stockpiles of weapons, particularly portable antiaircraft missiles, from being stolen and dispersed.
Untold numbers of the missiles, including SA-7s, have already been looted from government arsenals, and American officials fear they could circulate widely, including heat-seeking antiaircraft missiles that could be used against civilian airliners. “What I worry about most is the proliferation of these weapons,” the senior military officer said, noting that the United States had already been quietly meeting with leaders of Libya’s neighbors in Africa’s Sahel region to stem the flow of the missiles.
The officer said that small teams of American military and other government weapons experts could be sent into Libya after the fall of the Qaddafi government to help Libyan rebel and other international forces secure the weapons.
If Colonel Qaddafi himself continued to hold out in Tripoli, it became increasingly clear that even his most senior aides were making exits of their own.
The Tunisian state news agency reported Saturday that Libya’s oil minister, Omran Abukraa, had sought refuge in Tunisia after leaving Tripoli on what was ostensibly a business trip abroad. If confirmed, his flight would be the third of a senior government official in the past week.
Abdel Salam Jalloud, a former Qaddafi deputy, was reported to have left on Friday. A senior security official, Nassr al-Mabrouk Abdullah, flew to Cairo with his family on Monday.
After reports of the Tripoli fighting began, some residents said that a group of rebel fighters had infiltrated the city from the east and were spearheading the uprising, surprising the pro-Qaddafi forces who had fortified for an attack from the western approach guarded by Zawiyah. Residents added that in recent weeks rebels had also smuggled weapons into the city by boat to the beaches east of Tripoli to prepare. Their claims could not be independently confirmed.
Amid worries from the West and humanitarian groups that rebel fighters might seek revenge against Qaddafi supporters, the rebels’ National Transitional Council said Saturday that it was reissuing a booklet reminding its mostly novice fighters about the international laws of war.
Kareem Fahim reported from Tripoli, and David D. Kirkpatrick from Zintan, Libya. Eric Schmitt contributed reporting from Washington.

[Information contained in BKNT E-mail is considered Attorney-Client and Attorney Work Product privileged, copyrighted and confidential. Views that may be expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of any government, agency, or news organization.]

19 August 2011

Pentagon Report Flags Latest in Long History of Flawed Body Armor Testing

GIse/2; YQG/1; US/5; HST/2  Member CONTRIBUTIONS

by Marian Wang

The Army failed to properly test a critical component of body armor and can’t say for sure that 5 million pieces of the bullet-stopping equipment offers sufficient protection for troops. Those are the findings contained in a new report [PDF] by the Pentagon’s inspector general. 

Tests for extreme temperature, altitude, and weathering were “routinely” eliminated or tweaked for the ceramic plates inside body armor, which are a “significant part of the soldier’s protection system," the report said. It looked at testing records for $2.5 billion in contracts awarded to armor manufacturers between 2004 and 2006. The inspector general did not conduct independent testing. 

The Pentagon also ceded too much authority to the defense contractors, the report concluded. Contractor employees performed “inherently governmental functions” such as evaluating test results to decide whether to accept or reject the products.

The Army responded that it has adopted the report’s recommendations and improved the process by which it tests body armor. Last year, it adopted a standard testing protocol that’s being used across the Defense Department. “The U.S. Army conducts rigorous and extensive testing of body armor to ensure that it meets U.S. Army standards and is safe for use by Soldiers in combat,” it said. 

But the report's findings are the latest in a series of revelations about inadequate testing and problematic procurement for body armor.

In the early days of the Iraq war, after initially limiting the distribution of new bulletproof armor to only soldiers on the front lines, the Army reversed course and scrambled to buy them for all troops in Iraq. But those orders took several months to get to the troops, even while U.S. allies that purchased body armor received their orders in just 12 days.

Then came a scathing 2006 Pentagon report, which found that of the U.S. Marines in Iraq killed by shots to the torso, at least 80 percent could perhaps have survived if they’d had extra body armor protecting their sides. That sent off another scramble by both the Marines and the Army to send over additional armor. The report also prompted calls from lawmakers for a review by the Pentagon’s inspector general.

In a subsequent 2009 rep­­ort [PDF], the Pentagon’s inspector general identified testing flaws in one order of ceramic inserts and recommended that the Army recall more than 16,000 of them. The Army maintained that the gear was safe but issued a recall anyway. That same year, the Army also decided to test the armor in its own laboratory instead of using private labs.

Two more reports this year build on those 2009 findings, expanding the inquiry to a total of 13 contracts. In addition to the latest report on the seven contracts for ceramic inserts, another report in January found that the testing done on 1.2 million outer vests for body armor—six contracts worth $434 million in all—also fell short of what was required [PDF].

CyBER-BlackSEC Debate

BlackNIGHT Target Practice

SEAL Team SIX - Iron Will from CBS News

The Devil's Advocate?

In 1991, [the late former Secretary of State Lawrence 'Just call me George'] Eagleburger explained to The Post why all of his sons were named Lawrence.

“First of all, it was ego,” he said. “And secondly, I wanted to screw up the Social Security system.”