War on Terrorism

Friday, September 30, 2011

ISAF Helicopter Takes Fire, Makes Landing

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Compiled from International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Releases

WASHINGTON, Sept. 30, 2011 – An International Security Assistance Force CH-47 Chinook helicopter made a precautionary landing after receiving small-arms fire in southern Afghanistan today, military officials reported.

The helicopter was on a medical evacuation mission at the time and had one patient on board. Shortly after the landing, another ISAF helicopter arrived on the scene and transported the patient, passengers and aircrew to a nearby ISAF facility without further incident.

The landing site has been secured and efforts are under way to recover the aircraft.

In other Afghanistan operations today:

-- A combined Afghan and coalition force detained a Taliban facilitator and two suspects, and confiscated weapons in the Faizabad district of Jowzjan province. The facilitator planned and conducted attacks against Afghan forces and distributed weapons to insurgent fighters. A rocket-propelled grenade launcher and some grenades were confiscated.

-- A combined force detained a Taliban leader and several suspects in the Archi district of Kunduz province. The Taliban leader plans and conducts attacks against Afghan forces.

-- In the Sabari district of Khost province, a combined force detained several suspects while searching for a Haqqani network leader. The insurgent leader plans attacks against Afghan forces.

In Afghanistan operations yesterday:

-- In the Zharay district of Kandahar province, a combined force seized 84 pounds of homemade explosives, five pressure plates and six 60 mm mortar rounds.

In Sept. 28 Afghanistan operations:

-- A combined patrol killed an insurgent leader and seized weapons in the Mahmud-e Raqi district of Kapisa province. The insurgent leader distributes improvised explosive devices used in attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. The patrol seized one high-explosive grenade, one assault rifle, four rocket-propelled grenades, two anti-personnel mines and some small arms.

-- A combined patrol detained several suspects and seized 1,764 pounds of dry opium in the Maiwand district of Kandahar province.

-- In the Baghran district of Helmand province, a combined patrol seized 1,424 gallons of morphine solution, 6,085 pounds of sodium carbonate, 4,762 pounds of ammonium chloride, three drug presses and 75 55-gallon barrels, a tractor and three motorcycles.

-- A combined patrol in the Pul-E Lam district of Logar province confiscated five rocket-propelled grenade rounds, nine recoilless-rifle rounds, 92 mortar charges, 126 fuses and some small-arms ammunition.

Combined Force Captures Two Taliban Leaders

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Compiled from International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Releases

WASHINGTON, Sept. 29, 2011 – A combined Afghan and coalition security force captured two Taliban leaders, detained several suspects and seized hundreds of pounds of heroin in the Ghorak district of Afghanistan’s Kandahar province yesterday, military officials reported.

One captured Taliban leader planned and coordinated roadside-bomb attacks against Afghan security forces. The second insurgent leader was a Taliban-appointed judge in the Ghorak district.

The combined force also seized 400 pounds of heroin.

In other Afghanistan operations yesterday:

-- A combined force captured a Taliban facilitator and one suspect in the Balkh district of Balkh province. The facilitator provided supplies to insurgents and organized attacks against Afghan forces.

-- In the Muhhamad Aghah district of Logar province, a combined force detained one suspect during a search for a Taliban leader.

-- Coalition forces killed four insurgents, detained six suspects and seized three enemy supply caches during separate operations in Regional Command East. Forces seized 60 .303-caliber rounds, some assault rifles, six magazines, two mines, four rocket-propelled grenades, two RPG warheads, one munitions box and a shotgun.

Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

1st. Lt. Andres Zermeno, 26, of San Antonio, Texas, died Sep. 25 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with a rocket propelled grenade.  He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort. Polk, La.

For more information the media may contact the 10th Mountain Division public affairs office at 315-772-8286 or Julie Cupernall at julie.cupernall@us.army.mil .

Marine Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Lance Cpl. John R. Wimpey Cagle, 19, of Tucker, Ga., died Sept. 28 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

This incident is under investigation.

For additional background information on this Marine, news media representatives may contact the 2nd Marine Division public affairs office at910-378-6193.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Much Improved Iraq Enjoys Liberty, U.S. Commander Says

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 29, 2011 – American forces’ efforts in Iraq “have given the people of Iraq a huge gift” through the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of a democratic society, a senior U.S. commander said today.

“We have given them freedom and liberty that they've never known, and we have given them the potential to have a democracy in this part of the world … where it would be a unique institution,” Army Maj. Gen. David G. Perkins, commander of U.S. Division-North and the U.S. Army’s 4th Infantry Division, told Pentagon reporters via video teleconference from his headquarters in Tikrit.

U.S. military forces are slated to depart Iraq by the end of the year. Iraq has experienced significant improvements, although some problems remain to be solved, the general said.

Operation Iraqi Freedom, launched in March 2003, ended the regime of the ruthless Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Iraqi Freedom transitioned to Operation New Dawn in September 2010, marking the shift from combat operations to training, equipping and assisting Iraqi forces. Perkins’ division has led those efforts in the northern provinces of Nineveh, Kirkuk and Diyala since last October.

The 4th was involved in the first troop rotation to Iraq and is now completing its fourth deployment, the general said, adding that every tour there has had unique aspects.

The advise, train and assist mission also has involved transitioning operations, operating areas and bases to Iraqi forces, Perkins said.

Those forces, he noted, now lead their own internal security operations and are focusing much of their training on the military’s traditional mission of defending against external threats.

Iraqi and Kurdish forces now share bilateral responsibility for 22 formerly trilateral checkpoints along disputed territory in northern Iraq, Perkins said, as U.S. forces have pulled back into an overwatch role.

No violence has occurred at any of those checkpoints since U.S. forces withdrew from daily presence, the general said, noting arbitration mechanisms are in place to manage any disputes, the general said.

“At the very senior level of this mechanism, we will have State Department people engaged as well as Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq people engaged, but it's at a much lower level as far as number of people than we had when I first got here,” Perkins said.

Iraqi forces also take the lead against al-Qaida activity in the north, which has long been a main operating and fund-raising area for the group as well as a primary entry point into the region for foreign fighters, he said.

“We've seen a dramatic drop-off in the foreign fighter flow coming into Iraq … [and] instead of foreign aid coming in large amounts, they're resorting to what I would call extortion, black marketing, robbery of jewelry stores, things like that,” Perkins said.

“We are now seeing intra-al-Qaida fighting and disputes [in] the organization itself about how money is distributed,” he added.

Perkins credited al-Qaida’s decline in Iraq to the capabilities and persistence of the country’s soldiers and police.

“They generally are on the pointy end of the spear here going after these folks,” Perkins said of the antiterrorism efforts conducted by Iraq’s security forces “And then when they do that, they are getting much better at getting their own internal intelligence, turning it around and going after the networks.”

The al-Qaida network in northern Iraq is not ineffective, but it has been “highly degraded,” the general said.

“We see now more vehicle-borne explosive devices that are parked and detonated versus being driven and detonated, which means they're having a hard time getting people who are true believers to actually be the suicide folks,” he said.

Perkins said Iranian-backed attacks in the north also have declined recently under pressure from Iraqi security forces.

“But, again, we know that capacity is there, so we keep those pressures on those networks,” he said, adding that historically, most Iranian-backed attacks happen in Baghdad and the southern part of Iraq.

Iraqi forces must be self-sustainable to maintain pressure on criminal and terrorist networks without U.S. military support, Perkins noted.

“From day one, our intent was to build a sustainable capability that on the last day, we can walk away, and then the day after that, it continues,” he said.

In training Iraqi forces, his troops are now focused on the areas of intelligence fusion and logistics, he added.

“We've paid additional attention to developing a logistics system, a supply system and also an ability for them to share intelligence not only within their army but between their police and border organizations … because, again, fusing that intelligence allows them to get after threats both internal and external,” the general said.

Perkins said his troops have spent much time putting together doctrinal and instructional manuals and getting them translated to Arabic.

“After we leave, again, there is something that they can build on,” he said. “We also videotaped and recorded … infantry movements, all the basic kind of things so they can take a very immature force, recruits, show them what right looks like and then move forward on it.”

Iraq’s defense capability will increase with its recently announced purchase of 18 F-16 fighters, the general said.

“I think the significant part is that they have made that commitment to get 18 [fighters] initially, which means they are now going to have a modern air force,” Perkins said. “They're going to have pilot training; they're going to have to have a maintenance program … and then adding aircraft after that is much easier.”

That sort of capability-building already has taken place in the Iraqi intelligence-gathering community, Perkins said.

“They weren't asking for their own [intelligence and surveillance] platforms because they didn't even know they had them,” he said. “And so once we told them that they had them, once we showed them how to ask for them, then that became self-sustaining because they generated a demand signal which then had to be met by their institution.”

Over the past year U.S. forces in northern Iraq have decreased from around 10,000 in 38 bases to about 5,000 in 14 locations, Perkins said.

“We have tried to do it in a very deliberate manner, in going over in a very deliberate way how they are going to conduct security,” he said.

“We've been very pleased, I think, with their ability to stand up and not only control the base and equipment, but keep security under control here in the north,” he said.

The United States has invested “a lot of treasure, both human and financial” in Iraq, the general said.

“Each day we hand more and more of the responsibility off to the Iraqis … [and] they are grabbing hold of and running with it,” he said.

Iraq’s leaders will determine how successful their country will ultimately be, Perkins said.

“It is up to the [Iraqi] political leadership to make this thing work and do the kind of tough work, selfless service, to make those hard decisions that are for the benefit of their country to make sure that this is a viable democracy,” he said.

Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Spc. Garrett A. Fant, 21, of American Canyon, Calif., died Sept. 26 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 4th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.

For more information the media may contact the 1st Infantry Division public affairs office at 785-240-6359.

DOD Announces Charges Referred Against Detainee Al Nashiri

The Department of Defense announced today that the Convening Authority, Office of Military Commissions referred charges to a military commission in the case of United States v. Abd Al Rahim Hussayn Muhammad Al Nashiri. The referred charges allege, among other things, that Al Nashiri was in charge of the planning and preparation for the attack on USS Cole (DDG 67) in the Port of Aden, Yemen, on Oct. 12, 2000. That attack killed 17 sailors, wounded 37 sailors, and severely damaged the ship.

The Convening Authority referred the charges to a capital military commission, meaning that, if convicted, Al Nashiri could be sentenced to death. Pursuant to the reforms in the Military Commissions Act of 2009, Al Nashiri has been provided with additional counsel, learned in the applicable law relating to capital cases, to assist in his defense.

The charges also allege that Al Nashiri was in charge of planning and preparation for an attempted attack on USS The Sullivans (DDG 68) as that ship refueled in the Port of Aden on Jan. 3, 2000. The charges further allege that Al Nashiri was in charge of the planning and preparation for attack on the French civilian oil tanker MV Limburg in the Gulf of Aden on Oct. 6, 2002. This attack resulted in the death of one crewmember and the release of approximately 90,000 barrels of oil into the gulf.

In accordance with Military Commissions rules and procedures, the Chief Trial Judge of the Military Commissions Trial Judiciary will assign a military judge to the case, and Al Nashiri will be arraigned at Guantanamo within 30 days of service of the referred charges upon him.

More information, including the relevant charge sheets, is available at the Office of Military Commissions website at http://www.mc.mil .

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Forces Make Drug Sweep, Take Out Insurgents in Afghanistan

Compiled from International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Releases

WASHINGTON, Sept. 28, 2011 – Combined Afghan and coalition security forces made a major drug sweep and killed numerous insurgent fighters in separate operations yesterday in Afghanistan, military officials reported.

In Helmand province’s Baghran district, Afghan and International Security Assistance Force members conducted what is believed to be the largest-ever narcotics seizure by combined forces in Afghanistan.

The combined team, acting on intelligence, targeted an area believed to be manufacturing drugs used to finance lethal aid to be used against Afghan and coalition forces. The security force discovered three narcotics laboratories containing drugs with an estimated street value of more than $350 million.

The force destroyed the narcotics labs, along with about 1,800 gallons of morphine solution, 220 pounds of heroin, 176 pounds of opium, and 26,500 pounds of chemicals used to process narcotics, as well as drug processing equipment.

Marine Corps Maj. Gen. James B. Laster, head of joint operations at ISAF Joint Command, said the seizure would disrupt insurgents’ ability to attack. “We are committed to ensuring a more secure and stable future for the people of Afghanistan,” he said.

Also yesterday, a combined security force killed numerous insurgents during an operation in search of a senior Taliban leader in the eastern border province of Nangarhar. The man is wanted for orchestrating multiple direct fire and bomb attacks against Afghan forces.

During the operation, the force observed multiple insurgents armed with rocket-propelled grenade launchers and assault rifles maneuvering to attack. The force engaged the threat, killing the insurgents. Numerous additional suspects were detained.

In other ISAF news yesterday:

-- Combined forces discovered two drug caches in the Zharay district of Kandahar province. The caches contained 308 pounds of cannabis, 88 pounds of poppy seeds and 506 pounds of hashish. The security force seized the drugs for safe disposal at a later date.

-- Also in Zharay, a combined force found and destroyed an improvised explosive device, 132 pounds of homemade explosives, two rifles and two 82 mm rounds.

-- A combined patrol detained an insurgent leader in Helmand’s Qalah district. The man is known to organize IED and suicide bomb attacks and to supply weapons to insurgents.

-- In Helmand’s Now Zad district, a combined force detained multiple suspected insurgents while searching for an insurgent who reports to Pakistan-based Taliban leadership. Forces seized multiple weapons and drugs in the operation, including a 40 mm grenade launcher and grenades and 50 pounds of black tar heroin.

-- In the Ghaziabad district of Kunar province, a combined force seized 14 assault rifles, 50 fuses, five radios and 42 shotguns.

-- In the Pul-e Alam district of Logar province, a combined force detained multiple insurgents while searching for a Taliban fighter responsible for vehicle-borne IED attacks in the region.

Massachusetts Man Charged with Plotting Attack on Pentagon and U.S. Capitol and Attempting to Provide Material Support to a Foreign Terrorist Organization

Public Was Not in Danger from Explosive Devices, Which Were Controlled by Undercover FBI Employees

BOSTON—A 26-year-old Ashland man was arrested and charged today in connection with his plot to damage or destroy the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol, using large remote controlled aircraft filled with C-4 plastic explosives. Rezwan Ferdaus, a U.S. citizen, was also charged with attempting to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization, specifically to al Qaeda, in order to carry out attacks on U.S. soldiers stationed overseas. (See more examples in these terrorism books)

“Our top priority is to protect our nation from terrorism and national security threats. The conduct alleged today shows that Mr. Ferdaus had long planned to commit violent acts against our country, including attacks on the Pentagon and our nation’s Capitol. Thanks to the diligence of the FBI and our many other law enforcement partners, that plan was thwarted,” said U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz. “I want the public to understand that Mr. Ferdaus’ conduct, as alleged in the complaint, is not reflective of a particular culture, community, or religion,” she added. “In addition to protecting our citizens from the threats and violence alleged today, we also have an obligation to protect members of every community, race, and religion against violence and other unlawful conduct.”

The public was never in danger from the explosive devices, which were controlled by undercover FBI employees (UCs). The defendant was closely monitored as his alleged plot developed and the UCs were in frequent contact with him.

Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Boston Division said, “Today’s arrest was the culmination of an investigation forged through strong relationships among various Massachusetts law enforcement agencies to detect, deter, and prevent terrorism. Each of the more than 30 federal, state, and local agencies on the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) worked together to protect the community from this threat. In this particular investigation, the Worcester, Ashland, and Framingham Police Departments and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, played particularly critical roles. The communities of Worcester, Ashland, and Framingham should be proud of the unwavering commitment and professionalism the agencies demonstrated in ensuring that their towns and region were safe from harm. The Massachusetts State Police and the Commonwealth Fusion Center also contributed significantly to this investigation.”

“The FBI used an undercover operation to conduct this investigation. Undercover operations are used to combat all types of crimes and criminals, including in the counterterrorism arena.”

“The JTTF initiated this investigation because we have an obligation to take action to protect the public whenever an individual expresses a desire to commit violence. A committed individual, even one with no direct connections to, or formal training from, an international terrorist organization, can pose a serious danger to the community,” added DesLauriers. “It is important to remember that our system of justice is based on the notion of individual responsibility. Therefore, no one should cite Mr. Ferdaus’ actions as an excuse or reason to engage in any unlawful behavior against others in the community. We will work diligently to protect the civil rights of all Americans.”

The affidavit alleges the following: Ferdaus, a Northeastern University graduate with a degree in physics, began planning to commit a violent “jihad” against the U.S. in early 2010. He obtained mobile phones, each of which he modified to act as an electrical switch for an IED. He then supplied the phones to FBI UCs, who he believed to be members of, or recruiters for, al Qaeda. According to the affidavit, Ferdaus believed that the devices would be used to kill American soldiers overseas. During a June 2011 meeting, he appeared gratified when he was told that his first phone detonation device had killed three U.S. soldiers and injured four or five others in Iraq. Ferdaus responded, “That was exactly what I wanted.”

According to the affidavit, after each subsequent delivery, Ferdaus was anxious to know how well each of his detonation devices had worked and how many Americans they had killed. During recorded conversations, Ferdaus stated that he devised the idea of attacking the Pentagon long before he met with the government’s cooperating witness (CW) and UC, and that his jihad had, “started last year.”

In recorded conversations with the CW that began in January 2011, Ferdaus stated that he planned to attack the Pentagon using aircraft similar to “small drone airplanes” filled with explosives and guided by GPS equipment. According to the affidavit, in April 2011, Ferdaus expanded his plan to include an attack on the U.S. Capitol. In May and June 2011, Ferdaus delivered two thumb drives to the UCs, which contained detailed attack plans with step-by-step instructions as to how he planned to attack the Pentagon and Capitol. The plans included using three remote controlled aircraft and six people, including himself, whom he described as an “amir,” i.e., an Arabic term meaning leader.

During various recorded meetings, Ferdaus envisioned causing a large “psychological” impact by killing Americans, including women and children, who he referred to as “enemies of Allah.” According to the affidavit, Ferdaus’ desire to attack the United States is so strong that he confided, “I just can’t stop; there is no other choice for me.”

In May 2011, Ferdaus traveled from Boston to Washington, D.C., conducted surveillance and took photographs of his targets (Pentagon and Capitol), and identified and photographed sites at the East Potomac Park from which he planned to launch his aircraft filled with explosives. Upon his return, Ferdaus told the UC that “more stuff ha[d] to be done,” that his plan needed to be expanded, and that he had decided to couple his “aerial assault” plan with a “ground directive.” Ferdaus indicated that his ground assault plan would involve the use of six people, armed with automatic firearms and divided into two teams. Ferdaus described his expanded attack as follows:

...with this aerial assault, we can effectively eliminate key locations of the P-building then we can add to it in order to take out everything else and leave one area only as a squeeze where the individuals will be isolated, they’ll be vulnerable and we can dominate.

Once isolated, Ferdaus planned to “open up on them” and “keep firing” to create “chaos” and “take out” everyone. He also provided the expanded plan to the UC on a thumb drive.

Between May and September 2011, Ferdaus researched, ordered and acquired the necessary components for his attack plans, including one remote controlled aircraft (F-86 Sabre). This morning prior to his arrest, Ferdaus received from the UCs 25 pounds of (what he believed to be) C-4 explosives, six fully-automatic AK-47 assault rifles (machine guns) and grenades. In June 2011, Ferdaus rented a storage facility in Framingham, Mass., under a false name, to use to build his attack planes and maintain all his equipment.

According to the affidavit, in August 2011, the F-86 remote controlled aircraft was delivered to the Framingham storage facility. Ferdaus delivered a total of eight detonation devices to the UCs over the course of the investigation, which he built with the intention that they be used by al Qaeda operatives overseas to kill U.S. soldiers. On September 20, 2011 Ferdaus made a training video, which he provided to the UCs, demonstrating how to make “cell phone detonators.”

According to the affidavit, at today’s meeting the UCs allowed Ferdaus to inspect the explosives and firearms (a quantity of C-4 explosives, three grenades, and six fully-automatic AK-47 assault rifles) that the UCs delivered, and that Ferdaus had requested for his attack plan. After inspecting the components, Ferdaus brought them to his storage unit, took possession of the explosives and firearms, and locked them in his storage unit. Ferdaus was then immediately arrested.

Although Ferdaus was presented with multiple opportunities to back out of his plan, including, being told that his attack would likely kill women and children, the affidavit alleges that Ferdaus never wavered in his desire to carry out the attacks.

If convicted, Ferdaus faces up to 15 years in prison on the material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization charge; up to 20 years in prison on the charge of attempting to destroy national defense premises; and a five-year minimum mandatory in prison and up to 20 years on the charge of attempting to damage and destroy buildings that are owned by the United States, by using an explosive. On each charge Ferdaus also faces up to three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.

The case was investigated by the FBI, with assistance from the Worcester, Ashland and Framingham Police Departments and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms ,and Explosives.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys B. Stephanie Siegmann and Donald L. Cabell of Ortiz’s Anti-Terrorism and National Security Unit.

The details contained in the complaint are allegations. The defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Iraq Makes First Payment for 18 F-16 Fighters

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 28, 2011 – The Iraqi government has transferred its first payment for 18 F-16C fighter aircraft, bringing Iraq closer to independently securing its airspace, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said yesterday.

“These aircraft will help provide air sovereignty for Iraq to protect its own territory, and deter or counter regional threats,” Little said.

The fighter aircraft, he added, “are also a symbol of the commitment to a long-term strategic partnership between the United States and Iraq.

The fighters are the block 50/52 variant of the aircraft -- the current production version of the F-16 Fighting Falcon. The sale is valued at about $3 billion, Little said.

The United States conducts foreign military sales with Iraq, he added, “and fully supports Iraq's efforts to purchase military equipment in line with its domestic spending priorities and in accordance with its budget laws and procedures.”

Such foreign military sales will be a cornerstone of future cooperation and support the development of a long-term cooperative security relationship with Iraq, Little said.

“Foreign military sales around the world, such as this purchase of F-16 aircraft,” the press secretary said, “strengthen our diplomatic and military relationships with our allies and supports American industry and jobs at home.”

U.S., Pakistani Militaries Work to Resolve Differences

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 28, 2011 – Despite difficulties in the relationship between the United States and Pakistan, the Defense Department will continue to try to work through the differences, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said today.

“We want to maintain a relationship with Pakistan that’s grounded in common interests, to include going after terrorists that threaten both countries,” Little told Pentagon reporters in a briefing that included Joint Staff spokesman Navy Capt. John Kirby.

“There are differences from time to time in the relationship with Pakistan, as there are in any partnership,” he added. “Those differences have been made public, and we continue to discuss [them] in private.”

Last weekend, according to a Sept. 26 statement from the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis, commander of U.S. Central Command, met there with Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, chief of the Pakistani army, and Gen. Khalid Wynne, chief of staff of the Pakistani armed forces.

“The generals had candid discussions about the current challenges in the U.S.-Pakistan relationship,” the embassy reported, and Mattis emphasized the vital role of the Pakistan military in international security efforts to protect the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, discussed the challenges Sept. 22 in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, citing as an example “the impunity with which certain extremist groups are allowed to operate from Pakistani soil.”

The Haqqani network, he told the committee, “acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency.”

ISI-supported Haqqani operatives planned and conducted the Sept. 10 truck bomb attack that killed five people and wounded 77 in Kabul, Afghanistan, and the assault there last week on the U.S. embassy, Mullen said, along with the June 28 attack on the Inter-Continental Hotel, also in the capital city, and other operations.

“In choosing to use violent extremism as an instrument of policy, the government of Pakistan, and most especially the Pakistani army and ISI, jeopardizes not only the prospect of our strategic partnership, but Pakistan's opportunity to be a respected nation with legitimate regional influence,” the chairman said.

By exporting violence, Mullen said, the government has eroded its internal security and position in the region, and undermined its international credibility and economic well-being.

“Only a decision to break with this policy can pave the road to a positive future for Pakistan,” he said.

“We’ve had discussions with [the government of Pakistan] and expressed these concerns,” Kirby told reporters, adding, “We’ve provided, in the past, examples of how we know this complicity continues to exist.”

Kirby said the chairman’s testimony was “a reflection of his growing frustration over the course of the summer of the increased and increasingly brazen activities of the Haqqani network.”

Nevertheless, Mullen told the senators, military cooperation, again, is warming and transparency slowly is returning.

Without Pakistan’s help, he said, “We would be in a far tougher situation in the wake of the frostiness which fell over us after the bin Laden raid were it not for the groundwork General Kayani and I had laid, were it not for the fact that we could at least have a conversation about the way ahead, however difficult that conversation might be.”

What matters most right now is moving forward, Mullen added.

The Defense Department, Little said, looks forward to working with the Pakistanis to try to resolve such differences.

“It’s important that both sides continue the dialogue,” he added, “and that’s happening.”

Former U.S. Head of Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation Sentenced to 33 Months in Federal Prison

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Perouz Sedaghaty Was Convicted by a Jury for Lying About Funds Bound for Religious Extremists in Chechnya

EUGENE, OR—In September 2010, a federal jury in Eugene, Oregon convicted Perouz Sedaghaty, a/k/a Pete Seda, on two felony charges, both relating to Sedaghaty’s attempt to covertly send $130,000 from the United States to Chechnya, where the money was provided to violent religious extremists. Sedaghaty, 53, is the former U.S. head of the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, Inc., which was headquartered in Ashland, Oregon before it was declared a Specially Designated Global Terrorist organization in 2004 by the United States government. Al-Haramain’s parent organization in Saudi Arabia and several of its worldwide satellites have been similarly branded as supporters of terrorism by the United States.

Sedaghaty was convicted of filing a false tax return and criminal conspiracy based on his attempt to hide the trail of a $150,000 donation that Al-Haramain received in 2000 from Egypt. The $150,000 was wire transferred by an Egyptian donor from an account in London, England to an Al-Haramain account in Oregon. Sedaghaty and a fugitive co-defendant named Soliman Al-But’he, controlled the Oregon bank account. Sedaghaty and Al-But’he converted $130,000 of the funds into traveler’s checks and the remainder was withdrawn in the form of a cashier’s check. The funds were hand carried by Al-But’he from Oregon to Saudi Arabia. The traveler’s checks were cashed for Saudi Riyals at the Al Rajhi bank and were ultimately smuggled into Chechnya. Al-But’he deposited the cashier’s check into a bank account in Saudi Arabia. In attempting to account for the funds with the Internal Revenue Service—which monitors charities to assure they are not using funds for improper purposes—Sedaghaty falsely reported in Al- Haramain’s tax return that most of the $150,000 was used by Al-Haramain to purchase a building in Missouri.

Today, United States District Judge Michael Hogan ordered that Sedaghaty spend 33 months in federal prison and that he begin serving his sentence within 60 days.

United States Attorney Dwight Holton stated that the government is satisfied whenever a defendant who conceals money that is provided to terrorists goes to prison. “Money is the lifeblood of terrorism. We stand ready to aggressively investigate and prosecute anyone involved in terrorist funding or who tries to conceal financial transactions involving money that goes to support terrorists.”

Marcus Williams, Special Agent in Charge, Pacific Northwest Division of IRS - Criminal Investigation, added “IRS Criminal Investigation will always be there to partner with the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and all other law enforcement in investigating those who become involved in financial transactions with funds that end up in the hands of violent extremists.”

“Money drives the violence that is at the very heart of terrorism,” said Greg Fowler, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon. “The FBI and our partners are always going to go after those who funnel funds that end up with violent groups. In the end, this case shows that strong partnerships between law enforcement agencies can result in a safer and more secure nation for our citizens.”

The prosecution was led by Assistant United States Attorneys Charles Gorder and Christopher Cardani. The IRS, Criminal Investigation, and the FBI investigated the case. U.S. Attorney Holton praised the joint efforts of the Department of Justice, the IRS, the FBI, ICE, as well as other agencies that helped prepare the case and obtain evidence from around the world, including the Departments of State and Treasury.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Face of Defense: Airman Survives Wounds to Save Others

By Air Force Capt. Kristen D. Duncan
Air Force Special Operations Command

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla., Sept. 27, 2011 – When Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Gutierrez Jr. was shot in the chest during a mission in Afghanistan, he knew he may have only minutes to live. He also knew that as the only qualified joint terminal attack controller there, he had to stay alive for the sake of his battle buddies.

Gutierrez recovered from his wounds from two years ago, and recently was awarded the Air Force Cross for extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship and aggressiveness in the face of the enemy, according to the medal citation. Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, Air Force chief of staff, announced the award Sept. 20 during the Air Force Association convention in National Harbor, Md.

Gutierrez was a Special Operations Command combat controller on Oct. 5, 2009, when an armor-piercing round entered his left shoulder and wreaked havoc throughout his chest.

"I've seen those types of injuries before, and time isn't your friend," he said later. "I thought, ‘I have three minutes before I'm going to die. I've got to do something big. Based on that time frame, I'm going to change the world in three minutes.’"

The team of 30 U.S. Army Special Forces and Afghan army commandos was surrounded in a Taliban-sympathetic village in western Afghanistan’s Herat province. According to official reports, enemy fighters were positioned on rooftops just 10 feet from the team's position inside a neighboring building. Gutierrez was shot during the four-hour firefight that included sniper and small-arms fire, as well as rocket-propelled grenades.

As the combat controller, Gutierrez was the only qualified radio operator communicating with airmen overhead to provide close air support and real-time battlefield surveillance that was critical for the team mission and to be able to evacuate their wounded.

"Combat controllers are the air-to-ground interface, bringing the firepower and communications links to the ground force commander," Gutierrez said. "We bring an extraordinary amount of firepower in a small package able to shoot, move and communicate at the same time."

Believing he was about to die, the San Diego native refused to remove his body armor, which held his radio, despite two medics repeatedly ordering him to take it off so his wounds could be treated. Gutierrez only relented momentarily, allowing the medic to insert a needle decompression tube just below his collarbone.

A sucking chest wound, which is common in gunshot victims, fills the chest cavity with blood, collapsing the lungs. The medic's procedure released the growing pressure on his collapsed lung, allowing Gutierrez to breathe and speak – enough so that he got back on the radio. He continued to advise the ground force commander and request close air support of F-16 Fighting Falcons and A-10 Thunderbolt IIs overhead.

The A-10 pilot said Gutierrez's voice was calm the entire time, and he only knew of his injuries when the team was moving to the medical evacuation landing zone.

"I realized he was shot after the third [and final] strafe pass," said Air Force Capt. Ethan Sabin, then assigned to the 354th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron. "He said he would be off of the mic for a few to handle his gunshot wounds. Until that point he was calm, cool and collected."

"There is no doubt his heroic action under extremely dangerous circumstances, and despite being wounded, [he] saved the lives of his teammates," said Air Force Lt. Gen. Eric Fiel, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command. "His courage and character is unsurpassed. While I know he is a humble person that does not seek the spotlight, he is so deserving of the Air Force Cross. His actions are just a snapshot of what AFSOC airmen are doing everyday in our current theater of operations."

In all, Gutierrez incurred a gunshot wound to the upper shoulder and triceps and left chest and lateral muscle that resulted in two broken ribs, a broken scapula, a softball-sized hole in his back, a collapsed lung and multiple blood infections, which required three chest tubes, three blood transfusions and seven surgeries. To top it off, the 30 mm strafing runs ruptured both of his eardrums.

Despite losing five pints of blood and walking about a mile, Gutierrez stayed on the radio calling for his own medical evacuation and ensuring surveillance coverage for the safe return of the ground-force team.

Gutierrez credits the Special Forces medic and an A-10 pilot with saving their lives. "I don't care if I get an award or not,” he said in a 2010 interview. “The team was outstanding. I'm just a product of what I've been taught and a product of AFSOC."

Since 9/11, four Air Force Cross medals have been awarded, all to AFSOC airmen. Gutierrez is the second living recipient to receive the medal. Staff Sgt. Zachary Rhyner was awarded the Air Force Cross while assigned to the 21st Special Tactics Squadron, Pope Air Force Base, N.C., for actions as a combat controller April 6, 2008, in eastern Afghanistan’s Nuristan province. Gutierrez was a teammate during that operation and received the Bronze Star Medal with Valor and the Purple Heart.

Gutierrez was assigned to the 21 STS during the 2009 operation and now is assigned to the Air Force Special Operations Training Center here, instructing future special tactics airmen.

Marine Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Lance Cpl. Franklin N. Watson, 21, of Vonore, Tenn., died Sept. 24 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to Company D, 4th Combat Engineer Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve, based out of Knoxville, Tenn.

For additional background information on this Marine, news media representatives may contact the Marine Forces Reserve public affairs office at 504-697-8309.

Libya Operations Remain Fluid, NATO Official Says

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 27, 2011 – NATO’s decision to extend the alliance’s mission in Libya shows its work there is not yet done, a NATO spokeswoman said today.

NATO’s North Atlantic Council extended Operation Unified Protector by 90 days during a meeting in New York last week that coincided with a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly.

“In New York, the message was clear: a new day is dawning for Libya, and the international community is rallying around the new Libya,” Oana Lungescu told reporters during a briefing at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels.

Lungescu reiterated NATO’s commitment to the Libyan people.

“Our job under the mandate of the United Nations and in support of the Libyan people is not yet done,” she said. “The situation remains fluid. And while threats persist, NATO will continue to protect civilians together with our partners, under the mandate confirmed by the recent United Nations Security Council Resolution 2009.”

Lungescu also reiterated NATO’s intention to continue its work while maintaining oversight of when to end its mission. “The mission will continue as long as it is necessary, but end as soon as possible,” she said. “We also decided to keep the situation under regular review, and that means that the North Atlantic Council can terminate the operation at any time and as soon as possible, in coordination with the United Nations and the will and aspirations of the Libyan people.”

Col. Roland Lavoie of the Canadian air force, military spokesman for Operation Unified Protector, discussed operations against remaining forces in the country loyal to Moammar Gadhafi.

“Recent developments in Surt and Bani Walid have been our main area of attention over the last few days,” he said. “Indeed, it’s clear that remaining Gadhafi forces refuse to recognize their defeat and that the former regime has lost both legitimacy and public support.

“As a last resort,” he continued, “they are hiding in urban areas, from where they attempt to control the surrounding population and use civilians as shields against attempts [by forces of Libya’s transitional government] to dislodge them.”

Lavoie cited signs of the “worsening situation” in Surt and Bani Walid. “Availability of drinking water, food resupply, electricity, medicine and fuel is severely impeded, which puts an enormous pressure on the civilian population,” he said.

“Numerous checkpoints and surrounding sniper positions are being used to prevent families from moving to safer locations,” Lavoie added, “and Gadhafi forces, mercenaries and Gadhafi supporters roam the streets taking hostages and conducting executions.”

Lavoie also said Gadhafi forces are turning away neutral humanitarian aid, “which is appalling and senseless, as this gives Gadhafi forces no military advantage at all.”

The military spokesman said National Transitional Council forces have seen some success in recent days.

“On a more positive note, the NTC forces have opened a line of communication in the northwest coastal area last weekend, which has allowed thousands to escape from that route,” he said. “This life-saving operation resulted in NTC casualties, but allowed many to escape a very tough, if not to say dire, situation.”

Lavoie also said transitional government forces have gained control of Libya’s remaining stockpile of chemical and nuclear-related agents.

“We are confident that allies in international organizations that are in contact with the NTC are working to ensure that Libya’s governing authorities can take full control of any proliferation sensitive material that is left and that they start planning for their safe disposal,” he said.

Lavoie stressed that NATO will continue to monitor ground conditions and safeguard civilians as mandated by the Security Council resolution.

“Operation Unified Protector is not over yet,” he said. “We are committed to pursuing it to protect the population of Libya for as long as necessary, but not any longer.”

Airstrike Kills Key Taliban Fighter in Afghanistan

From an International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Release

KABUL, Afghanistan, Sept. 27, 2011 – Afghan and coalition forces used a precision airstrike to kill a key Taliban leader in Afghanistan’s Wardak province yesterday, military officials reported.

The combined security force conducted the airstrike in Wardak’s Sayyidabad district, resulting in the death of a man they said was responsible for providing weapons and logistical support to insurgents for ambush and roadside-bomb attacks along the main thoroughfare, Highway 1.

The force called for the airstrike after ensuring no civilians were in the area, officials said, and following the strike, they assessed the area and determined no civilians were harmed.

In other operations around the front lines in Afghanistan yesterday:

-- A combined force killed a Taliban leader and two of his associates as they attempted to place a roadside bomb in the Chahar Bolak district of Balkh province. The leader organized and participated in attacks against Afghan forces, and distributed roadside bombs and weapons throughout the region. Multiple weapons and the roadside bomb were confiscated from the scene, and no civilians were harmed.

-- In the Chahar Darah district of Kunduz province, a combined security force captured a Taliban leader who had organized a group of insurgent fighters and was responsible for roadside bombs and direct-fire attacks throughout the region. Another suspected insurgent was detained.

-- A combined force detained a Taliban leader in the Dahanah-ye Ghori district of Baghlan province. The leader oversaw insurgent fighters and conducted large-scale attacks against Afghan forces and orchestrated bomb networks. The security force also detained another suspected insurgent.

-- Also in Kunduz, a combined force detained a Taliban member who specialized in the construction and transportation of roadside bombs for use in attacks against Afghan forces throughout the region.

-- In the Zharay district of Kandahar province, a combined force found and seized nine hand grenades, nine grenade fuses and 350 7.62 mm rounds.

-- In Kandahar’s Panjwai district, a combined force detained a Taliban leader who trafficked weapons and explosives and planned attacks against Afghan forces.

-- A combined force in the Zurmat district of Paktia province found 38 mortar canisters, various mortar rounds, an antipersonnel mine and five 105 mm rockets. The combined force blocked off the area to protect civilians, and an explosive ordnance disposal team safely removed the items.

-- In the Andar district of Ghazni province, a combined force found and seized an assault rifle and more than 1,200 7.62 mm and 9 mm rounds.

-- A combined force in the Behsud district of Nangarhar province found and seized nearly 8,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate, which is used as an explosive.