Girl Turned into Human Bomb

Rania al Ambaki was handcuffed to a gate at an Iraq security checkpoint. She was a human bomb, CBS News reports.

Suspicious officers immobilized her, jammed cell phone signals that could detonate the explosives, then carefully removed her suicide vest.

She turned out to be just 15 years old, and her story is an increasingly common one.

She comes from Baquba, an al Qaeda hot spot just north of Baghdad. It’s a recruiting ground for women suicide bombers who are responsible for much of the recent carnage in story=3220766>Iraq.

Last year, there were eight women bombers. So far this year, there have been 35. A CBS News crew traveled to Baquba to meet Rania in jail.

“I now thank God that I didn’t get blown up,” she said through a translator.

Rania told police she had no idea the vest was a bomb. Family members, including her husband, she said, had helped her put it on.

Police think they may have drugged her, and meant to blow her up by remote control.

Rania said through a translator: “They told me that it was a kind of medical vest for back pain.”

Gen. Abdul Kareem Qalaf helped interrogate Rania. He said: “She has a low IQ and is a vulnerable teenage girl.”

Why does there suddenly seem to be so many women suicide bombers?

Qalaf said through a translator: “Al Qaeda uses these people – the mentally ill, children and very young women. This shows al Qaeda is failing.”

Al Qaeda is using women bombers – because it works. In a conservative Muslim society, they’re less likely to be searched, and there’s a shortage of female security agents to do the job.

As for Rania, she lived to tell a tale that helped police arrest her husband. But her aunt, the suspected ringleader, is still on the run. She’s one of a new breed of Iraqi women turned into key players in the ruthless business of terrorism.

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Millions Miss out On Vaccine – Taliban at its Best

Polio vaccinations for over a million Afghan children have been cancelled, the World Health Organization said Tuesday after two doctors were killed in a Taliban suicide attack.

“Campaigns in the southern region are cancelled,” WHO spokeswoman Sona Bari told AFP.

The programme was due to start on September 21 and was intended to reach 1.2 million children aged under five in Afghanistan’s southern regions, she said.

Two Afghan doctors working for the WHO were killed in a suicide car bombing in southeastern Afghanistan Sunday that was claimed by the Taliban.

The WHO said that a similar campaign in the eastern provinces of Nangarhar, Kunar and Laghman was still likely to go ahead, as were future campaigns in the south in October and November.

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080916/hl_afp/whohealthpolioafghanistanunrest;_ylt=At2jJv7vTaUI3ymKjBKJCYzVJRIF

Taliban use swords to slit the throats of Afghan ‘traitors’ in public executions before thousands

In a shocking display of hardline violence, Taliban militants in northwest Pakistan publicly slit the throats of two Afghans today after they were accused of spying for US forces suspected of launching a missile strike in May.

The two men, one of them a former Taliban fighter, were brought blindfolded before a crowd of several thousand people near the village of Damadola in the Bajaur region on the Afghan border before they were executed.

Pakistani Taliban get ready to execute the two Afghans - one a former Taliban fighter - accused of spying for the US

‘Spies’: Pakistani Taliban get ready to execute the two Afghans – one a former Taliban fighter – accused of spying for the US

“They were spies. Whoever spies for the Americans will meet the same fate,” Qari Zia-ur-Rehman, a Taliban leader in the area, told the crowd before another man slit the throats of the two with a sword.

The crowd shouted: “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest) when the Taliban held up the severed heads of the victims who Rehman said were from the eastern Afghan province of Kunar.

Bajaur is one of Pakistan’s seven border regions dominated by ethnic Pashtun tribes and a hotbed of support for the Taliban and al Qaeda.

The two condemned men are surrounded by armed militants - one steadily filming the event on a video camera

The two condemned men are surrounded by armed militants – one steadily filming the event on a video camera

After the killings, shooting broke out in the crowd but it was not clear why. Two people were killed and seven wounded.

Rehman said the two Afghans had spied for U.S. forces who the militants believed were responsible for a missile strike on a house in Damadola in May in which 18 people, including foreign militants, were killed.

Two missiles were apparently fired by U.S. drones and a government official said at the time the strike had apparently targeted a mid-level, Arab al Qaeda member, who had been killed.

Islamist militants have killed scores of people in the tribal belt on the Afghan border on suspicion of spying for U.S. forces in Afghanistan but public executions have been rare.

Blaming Others (Farooq Sulehria)

The Amnesty International report on human rights for the year 2007 is out. The Muslim world constitutes, as usual, bleakest chapter. Every single country across the Muslim world has been pointed out by the Amnesty International either for executions and torture or discrimination against women and ethnic and religious minorities. Punishments never handed down even during the Stone Age, have been awarded in 21st century Muslim world. In one case, two Saudi nationals were awarded 7,000 lashes. Yes, 7,000. And executions? Well, 335 in Iran, 158 in Saudi Arabia and 135 in Pakistan. Violation of human rights, it seems, is the only thing that unites the otherwise divided Muslim world.

The report is no exception. The Muslim world cuts a sorry figure every time a global watchdog releases its findings. Freedom of expression here remains curtailed, Reporters Sans Frontieres annually reports. Regarding freedom of expression, there is a joke often told in Arab world. At a meeting, a US journalist says: “We have complete freedom of expression in the US. We can criticise the US president as much as we like.” The Arab journalist replies. “We also have complete freedom of expression in Arab world. We can also criticise the US president as much as we like.”

Similarly, it is either Bangladesh or Pakistan or Nigeria which is on top of Transparency International’s corruption indexes. However, when Nobel laureates gather in Stockholm every December, Muslim scientists and writers are conspicuous by their absence. In case, as Naguib Mahfouz is crowned, he is stabbed and rendered paralysed. The irony, or tragedy, is that his attacker had not even read his excellent books. Or we disown Dr Abdul Salam just because he belonged to the Ahmadiya community. Salam’s case deserves special mention since it underlines the absurdity that characterises this part of the world.

When all else fails, “Jews” and “Christian” West are there to lay the blame for all our ills. Conspiracy theories instead of scientific, rational thought holds sway across much of the Muslim world. And every time a rights abuse is highlighted in Iran, Saudi Arabia or Pakistan, a typical Muslim answer is: Look at Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and Chechnya. True, imperialism and Zionism have a hand in our predicament. However, there are many wounds one can only describe as self-inflicted.

Take, for instance, the Iran-Iraq war, one of the last century’s bloodiest conflicts. There is no denying the fact that the United States backed the Saddam regime. But it was the Arab sheikhdoms, panicked at the Iranian revolution, that stoked the flames of war. And, ironically, now in the post-Saddam era when the “Christian” West has written off Iraq’s Saddam-era debt worth $66 billion, Iraq’s Arab brothers refuse to write off that country’s $67 billion loans.

Similarly, last century’s bloodiest Muslim genocide was not carried out by Serbs, Israelis, Americans, Europeans or Hindus. It was Pakistan’s military that refused to respect a democratic verdict and plunged East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, into an ocean of blood. Millions were killed, maimed, raped and rendered homeless. Luckily, Pakistan has a “Hindu” neighbour. “Hindus are born enemies of Islam’. Hence, Pakistani children are now taught that a Bengali traitor (revered by Bengalis as founder of Bangladesh), in connivance with our “Hindu” neighbour, dismembered Pakistan. Ironically, of all her South Asian neighbours, Pakistan enjoys most cordial relations with the world’s only Hindu state, Nepal. The other big genocide was perpetrated by Indonesia. The target was: its own citizens who were members of the Communist Party.

Figures are not available but Israel perhaps cannot match Iran in executing Arabs. Iran’s confessional regime is a champion of the Arab cause in Occupied Territories but Arabs of its Khuzestan province are regularly sent to the gallows. Seizing the opportunity, one may also point out how only recently Afghan refugees were driven out of Iran as if Afghan refugees were not as Muslim as Palestinians. And, by the way in the fallen “Emirate of Afghanistan” itself, Hazaras were slaughtered by the Taliban in their thousands almost a decade ago – mainly because Hazaras are Shia. In Iraq, more people have been killed in Shia-Sunni clashes than in resisting the US occupation. Shia-Sunni clashes in Pakistan have claimed more lives than those lost in its wars against India. Ironically, this only “nuclear power” of the Muslim world is not being occupied on its eastern front by its “Hindu” neighbour but is losing territory on its western front to its own citizens.

One can mention from the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait to the recent Hamas-Fatah infighting (a shameful tribute to Israel on its 60th anniversary). The list is long. Indeed, unending. However, the solution to all our problems is always simple: return to an imagined past which, mercifully for the people of the seventh century, never existed. Every time, a scientist in the West is ready with an invention, our readymade answer is: we knew about it 1,400 years ago what the West has found only now. We kill Theo van Gogh when confronted with a film. We burn down our own cities in response to a blasphemous and racist caricature. Still, we refuse to understand that our answer to every “provocation” is either a fatwa or mindless violence – perhaps because creativity is anathema to us. Not because we lack fertile minds, but because we lack liberation and freedom — liberation from self-imposed mental, moral, and cultural censors. And freedom to think and express. Time to heed the great Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani, who said:

Five thousand years

Growing beards

In our caves.

Our currency is unknown,

Our eyes are a haven for flies.

Friends,

Smash the doors,

Wash your brains,

Wash your clothes.

Friends,

Read a book,

Write a book,

Grow words, pomegranates and grapes,

Sail to the country of fog and snow.

Nobody knows you exist in caves.

People take you for a breed of mongrels.

This great article appeared in the The News International:
http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=118852

Suicide Bomber Kills Soldiers and Child (Afghanistan)

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A suicide bomber blew himself up as an Afghan army convoy slowed to pass a pothole-riddled section of road Friday in eastern Afghanistan, killing four soldiers and a child, a defense official said.

Four other soldiers were wounded in the attack, about eight miles west of Khost city, said Defense Ministry spokesman Zahir Azimi.

Suicide bombers frequently target military convoys, but civilian passers-by are often killed in such attacks.

Insurgency related violence has killed more than 1,200 people — mostly militants — so far this year, according to an Associated Press tally of figures from Western and Afghan officials.

In eastern Kunar province, meanwhile, deputy police chief Abdul Sabor Allayer said a rocket hit a schoolyard on Wednesday in Asmor district, killing one student and wounding four others. The victims were between eight and 14 years old.

Afghanistan’s Education Minister said earlier this year that the number of students and teachers killed in Taliban attacks spiked in the past year in a campaign to close schools and force teenage boys to join the Islamic militia. UNICEF says 236 school-related attacks occurred last year.

Afghan journalism student facing death over alleged Islam insult says he was tortured

KABUL, Afghanistan: An Afghan journalism student sentenced to death for allegedly insulting Islam told an appeals court Sunday he confessed to writing materials that questioned the religion’s treatment of women because he was tortured. He denied all charges against him.

During a packed hour-long hearing, a judge read a transcript of the proceedings against 24-year-old Sayed Parwez Kambakhsh on Jan. 22 at a lower court in northern Balkh province.

It was the first time that full details have been revealed of the closed-door trial, which reflected the influence of conservative religious attitudes in post-Taliban Afghanistan’s nascent justice system. The verdict sparked an international outcry.

Kambakhsh was studying journalism at Balkh University in Mazar-i-Sharif and writing for local newspapers when he was arrested Oct. 27.

The transcript said he disrupted his university classes by asking questions about women’s rights under Islam. It also said he distributed an article on the subject and wrote an additional three paragraphs for the piece.

The only people with him in the courtroom during the January hearing in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif were three judges, a court scribe and the prosecutor. Kambakhsh said he had no defense lawyer, and only three minutes to defend himself.

He was transferred to Pul-e Charkhi prison on March 27, and his case was moved to Kabul, where rights groups believed he would have a fair trial.

On Sunday, Kambakhsh spoke in the appeals court in Kabul, again without a defense lawyer.

“I’m Muslim, and I would never let myself write such an article. All these accusations are nonsense,” he said, standing before the judge and addressing the court through a microphone in an emotional 15-minute statement.

“These accusations come from two professors and other students because of private hostilities against me. I was tortured by the intelligence service in Balkh province, and they made me confess that I wrote three paragraphs in this article.”

He did not give any further details about the alleged torture.

Saied Ansari, spokesman for the intelligence service, said it had not received any official information on Kambakhsh’s allegations and declined comment.

According to the Balkh court proceedings, the prosecutor said Kambakhsh admitted writing three paragraphs of the article and had initialed them.

He also was accused of writing, “This is the real face of Islam. … The Prophet Muhammad wrote verses of the holy Quran just for his own benefit.”

Prosecutor Ahmad Khan Ayar told the appeals court that the primary court sentence was “the right decision” according to Islamic law and the Afghan Constitution.

“Kambakhsh has insulted Islam by writing these paragraphs, and he has insulted the Prophet Muhammad,” Ayar said. “I ask the appeals court today to uphold the decision of the primary court of Balkh and sentence him to death.”

A number of rights groups have demanded that the case be annulled and Kambakhsh set free. A U.S. State Department spokesman expressed concern that Kambakhsh was sentenced to death for “basically practicing his profession.”

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said it was concerned that Kambakhsh may have been targeted because his brother, Yaqub Ibrahimi, had written about human rights violations and local politics.

Ibrahimi said the family approached more than 10 lawyers who were initially willing to take on the case but later changed their minds.

A week after Kambakhsh was sentenced, lawmakers in the upper house of Parliament lauded the verdict. Conservative clerics and tribal elders have demanded that the government support the court’s decision.

More than 150 people — including several Western observers and more than 20 journalists — filled the courtroom Sunday to view the proceedings.

Kambakhsh said he did not believe he needed a defense lawyer for his appeal because he had not done anything wrong, but when pressed by the judges on the matter he said he would like to have one.

The head of the three-judge panel, Abdul Salaam Qazizada, adjourned the trial until next Sunday to allow Kambakhsh to meet a lawyer and prepare a written defense.

Afghan media have flourished since the fall of the hard-line Taliban regime following a U.S.-led invasion in 2001. Newspapers and TV and radio stations have opened nationwide.

But journalists face violence for news stories that criticize government leaders, warlords and religious clerics or challenge their often authoritarian views.