Archive for the ‘Pakistan’ category

Trump Ends $1.3 Billion Payments To Pakistan: “I Ended It Because They Don’t Do Anything For Us”

November 20, 2018

US President Donald Trump on Sunday defended his administration’s decision to stop hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Pakistan, saying the country does not do “a damn thing” for the US and its government had helped Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden hide near its city.

By ROBERT SPENCER — NOVEMBER 19, 2018 Freedom Outpost

Source Link: Trump Ends $1.3 Billion Payments To Pakistan: I Ended It Because They Don’t Do Anything For Us

{It’s refreshing to see some real leadership in this country for a change. – LS}

Bravo. This is long overdue. For years I’ve called for a reconfiguration of our global alliances in light of the realities of the global jihad. The alliance with Pakistan was always a sham, and should have been ended long ago.  “…we give Pakistan $1.3 billion a year. … (Laden) lived in Pakistan, we’re supporting Pakistan, we’re giving them $1.3 billion a year – which we don’t give them anymore, by the way, I ended it because they don’t do anything for us, they don’t do a damn thing for us,” he said.”

“Pakistan doesn’t ‘care’ about US: Trump,” by Shafqat Ali, Nation.pk, November 19, 2018:

Islamabad/WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump on Sunday defended his administration’s decision to stop hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Pakistan, saying the country does not do “a damn thing” for the US and its government had helped Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden hide near its city.

Referring to Laden and his former compound in Abbottabad, Trump in an interview to Fox News said “You know, living – think of this – living in Pakistan, beautifully in Pakistan in what I guess they considered a nice mansion, I don’t know, I’ve seen nicer.”

The compound was demolished shortly after US Naval Special Warfare Development Group forces, in a daring helicopter raid, killed Laden there in 2011.

“But living in Pakistan right next to the military academy, everybody in Pakistan knew he was there,” Trump added. “And we give Pakistan $1.3 billion a year. … (Laden) lived in Pakistan, we’re supporting Pakistan, we’re giving them $1.3 billion a year – which we don’t give them anymore, by the way, I ended it because they don’t do anything for us, they don’t do a damn thing for us,” he said.

The ties between the two countries strained after Trump, while announcing his Afghanistan and South Asia policy in August last year, hit out at Pakistan for providing safe havens to “agents of chaos” that kill Americans in Afghanistan and warned Islamabad that it has “much to lose” by harbouring terrorists.

In September, the Trump administration cancelled $300 million in military aid to Islamabad for not doing enough against terror groups active on its soil.

Trump also said that he has plans to visit Iraq and Afghanistan to meet American troops stationed there. “Well, I think you will see that happen. There are things that are being planned. We don’t want to talk about it because of – obviously because of security reasons and everything else,” he said.

Trump has been criticised by his political opponents for not visiting either Afghanistan or Iraq in the first two years of his presidency….

Pakistan Secures Release of American Family Held Hostage for 5 Years

October 12, 2017

Pakistan Secures Release of American Family Held Hostage for 5 Years, Washington Free Beacon, October 12, 2017

Caitlan Coleman and family in a Taliban proof of life video / Screenshot via YouTube

The release surprised many in the U.S. government since the action marks a departure from Islamabad’s lukewarm cooperation with the United States against terrorism in the past.

A senior U.S. intelligence official said in the past Pakistan’s ISI intelligence service had been known to support Afghan terrorist groups.

Trump criticized Pakistan in a major speech in August outlining a new strategy to dealing with the war in Afghanistan.

Trump identified the United States’ tougher approach to Pakistan as a key pillar of the administration’s new strategy toward the war in Afghanistan.

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The government of Pakistan, under pressure from President Trump to do more against Islamic terrorism, secured the release of an American mother and her family after five years captivity at the hands of Islamic terrorists.

Caitlan Coleman, her Canadian husband, and three children, including a very young child, were freed from control of the al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network terrorist group Wednesday night and were in Pakistani government custody awaiting transfer to American officials.

The years’ long hostage case was resolved after the Islamabad government notified the U.S. government several days ago it had located the family and was close to securing their release.

“We’re tremendously grateful to the government of Pakistan for securing the release of Caitlan Coleman and her family,” said a senior official.

“The relationship with Pakistan has had its challenges but this is exactly the kind of action that will put the relationship on the right track. This could be a new beginning.”

The release surprised many in the U.S. government since the action marks a departure from Islamabad’s lukewarm cooperation with the United States against terrorism in the past.

A senior U.S. intelligence official said in the past Pakistan’s ISI intelligence service had been known to support Afghan terrorists groups.

Trump criticized Pakistan in a major speech in August outlining a new strategy to dealing with the war in Afghanistan.

Trump identified the United States’ tougher approach to Pakistan as a key pillar of the administration’s new strategy toward the war in Afghanistan.

“We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond,” Trump said in the Aug. 21 speech.

Trump said Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with the United States in Afghanistan and “much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals and terrorists.”

The president said in his speech that Pakistan had sheltered terrorist organizations that were killing Americans. “We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting,” he said.

“But that will have to change. And that will change immediately. No partnership can survive a country’s harboring of militants and terrorists who target U.S. service members and officials. It is time for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilization, order, and to peace,” Trump said.

Coleman, her husband Josua Boyle, and two of her children were last heard of during a proof-of-life video made public in December in which she urged then-President Obama to secure their release before leaving office.

Officials said a robust U.S. diplomatic effort in support of Coleman has been under way for the past several months and gained momentum when the Pakistani government contacted U.S. officials to say they had located the family and were arranging for their release.

The family was held as hostages by the Haqqani Network, a faction of the Islamist Taliban terror group currently the target of U.S. counterterrorism efforts in Afghanistan.

They were captured in 2012 while hiking in Wardak Province, near Kabul. Coleman was pregnant at the time with their first child.

Officials said the location of the family that includes three small children, had been the subject of intensive U.S. intelligence and military operations.

“We’d only been able to get very few indications of where they were located,” said one U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

The Haqqani Network is believed to have kept the family in isolation in the remote border region of Waziristan, located along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

According to the Director of National Intelligence, the Haqqani Network is a Sunni Islamist terror group founded by Jalaluddin Haqqani, who first emerged during the 1980s as an Afghan warlord opposing the Soviet Union.

Haqqani was part of the Hezb-e Islami faction headed by mujahedin commander Younis Khalis.

Haqqani was an associate of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Ladin and was regarded as a close mentor to bin Ladin, according to the DNI.

The Haqqani network is currently headed by Sirajuddin Haqqani, Jalaluddin’s son.

The main operating area for the group is North Waziristan, Pakistan.

“The Haqqanis are considered the most lethal and sophisticated insurgent group targeting U.S., coalition, and Afghan forces in Afghanistan; they typically conduct coordinated small-arms assaults coupled with rocket attacks, IEDs, suicide attacks, and attacks using bomb-laden vehicles,” the DNI said.

In the video made public in December, Coleman said her family’s captivity was “Kafkaesque” and that her children had witnessed their mother being defiled.

In the video, she was shown with two children. U.S. officials said the family now has a very young third child, who is being released.

“Please don’t become the next Jimmy Carter,” said Coleman stated in the video. “Just give the offenders something so they and you can save face so we can leave the region permanently.”

The reference to Carter likely was meant as the failed efforts of Carter to secure the release of American hostages held captive in Iran from 1979 to 1980.

The New York Times reported in December that efforts to broker the release of Coleman were set back as the result of an American military drone strike that killed an Afghan Taliban leader in May 2016.

The Times reported that the Haqqani network had demanded the release of one of its commanders, Anas Haqqani, captured by Afghanistan’s government in 2014.

At least two other Americans reportedly are being held hostage by the Haqqanis.

Pentagon Chief James Mattis: Iran, Russia Still Arming Afghan Taliban

September 29, 2017

Pentagon Chief James Mattis: Iran, Russia Still Arming Afghan Taliban, BreitbartEdwin Mora, September 29, 2017

Getty Images

The Trump plan to end the 16-year-old war in Afghanistan is “determined” to force the Taliban to the peace negotiation table, said Gen. Nicholson.

Moreover, Trump’s plan is expected to pressure Pakistan to no longer harbor terrorist groups fighting and killing Americans in Afghanistan, including the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and their ally the Haqqani Network, among others.

Unlike the failed policy of the previous administration, conditions on the ground will drive Trump’s strategy rather than arbitrary timelines.

In other words, the Trump administration has not set any timetables to draw down its forces, choosing to wait until it accomplishes its goals instead.

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Russia and U.S.-designated state sponsor of terrorism Iran continue to provide weapons and other military aid to Taliban jihadists in Afghanistan, reiterates United States Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, repeating accusations made by the United States armed forces.

During his first visit to Afghanistan since U.S. President Donald Trump unveiled a new South Asia strategy last month, Secretary Mattis discussed the ongoing 16-year-old war in Afghanistan with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, and American Gen. John Nicholson, the top commander of U.S. and international troops in the conflict-ridden nation.

The Pentagon chief blasted Russia and Iran’s continued support to Taliban jihadists, echoing concerns previously expressed by U.S. officials, including Gen. Nicholson, who has also noted that Pakistan is assisting the terrorist group as well.

“Those two countries have suffered losses to terrorism, so I think it would be extremely unwise if they think they can somehow support terrorism in another country and not have it come back to haunt them,” declared Mattis, referring to Iran and Russia, reports the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). 

Support from Russia and Iran is strengthening the Taliban and lending legitimacy to the jihadist organization, notes the newspaper, citing unnamed U.S. military officials.

“That’s a lot more dangerous right now than what they’re providing in terms of material,” a military official told the WSJ. 

Russia and Iran have conceded sharing information with the Taliban to fight their mutual enemy, the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), but both countries deny providing military assistance to the group.

Afghanistan’s neighbor Iran, which the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) recently said “remains the foremost state sponsor of terrorism,” has also dismissed accusations that it is providing sanctuary to the Taliban.

In December 2016, Gen. Nicholson told Pentagon reporters that the United States is concerned about the “malign influence of external actors” in Afghanistan, such as “Pakistan, Russia, and Iran,” noting that the countries are assisting the Taliban.

The general explained:

Russia has overtly lent legitimacy to the Taliban. And their narrative goes something like this: that the Taliban are the ones fighting Islamic State, not the [U.S.-backed] Afghan government… this public legitimacy that Russia lends to the Taliban is not based on fact, but it is used as a way to essentially undermine the Afghan government and the NATO effort and bolster the belligerents.

Soon after the top U.S. general made those remarks, Reuters learned from unnamed Taliban fighters that the jihadist group had maintained “significant contacts” with Russia since at least 2007, long before ISIS came into the scene.

An anonymous senior Taliban fighter told Reuters that the “sole purpose” of their cooperation with Russia is to push the U.S. military and their allies out of Afghanistan.

The Taliban alleges that Russia’s support is only “political.”

As part of President Trump’s new South Asia strategy, the United States has authorized the deployment of 3,000 additional American troops, bringing the total in Afghanistan to 14,000.

The Trump plan to end the 16-year-old war in Afghanistan is “determined” to force the Taliban to the peace negotiation table, said Gen. Nicholson.

Moreover, Trump’s plan is expected to pressure Pakistan to no longer harbor terrorist groups fighting and killing Americans in Afghanistan, including the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and their ally the Haqqani Network, among others.

Unlike the failed policy of the previous administration, conditions on the ground will drive Trump’s strategy rather than arbitrary timelines.

In other words, the Trump administration has not set any timetables to draw down its forces, choosing to wait until it accomplishes its goals instead.

Gen. Nicholson has welcomed the changes, recently telling reporters the Taliban leadership has “atomized” as a result, reveals the WSJ. 

“For years, they thought we were leaving,” he added, noting that new U.S. and NATO commitments have eliminated that notion.

Although the Taliban remains the most prominent terrorist group in Afghanistan, ISIS has strengthened its reach and influence in the country in recent months.

The Taliban contests or controls 45 percent of Afghanistan, reported the Long War Journal this week, echoing assessment by the U.S. military and the terrorist group itself.

Terrorists launched a rocket attack on the Kabul international airport soon after Mattis landed in Afghanistan on Wednesday, allegedly targeting the Pentagon chief.

The incident is a testament to the deteriorating security conditions Trump inherited from his predecessor.

Both the Taliban and its alleged rival ISIS have reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack.

Mapping terrorist groups openly operating inside Pakistan

August 24, 2017

Mapping terrorist groups openly operating inside Pakistan, Long War Journal, August 23, 2017

Yesterday, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs took umbrage with President Trump’s speech where he called out Pakistan for harboring terrorist groups. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed that “Pakistan does not allow a use of its territory against any country,” and denounced the so-called “false narrative of safe havens.”

Pakistan’s denial is laughable on its face. For decades, the country has permitted a number of jihadist groups to openly operate under its aegis. Many of these groups – such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harakat-ul-Muhahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Hizbul Mujahideen, and Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami – were created with the support of Pakistan’s military and the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate.

A map depicting the location some of these groups have known to operate from is embedded to illustrate the support Trump spoke about.

(The map is available at the link. — DM)

Pakistan helped create these groups with the idea that they would focus their activities against Indian forces in the state of Jammu and Kashmir to help bring down the country’s most critical enemy in India. Instead, these groups quickly became part of the South Asia jihadist network and allied themselves with the Taliban and al Qaeda. Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) was even formed at the behest of Osama bin Laden and Abdullah Azzam.

The Pakistani state has supported the Afghan Taliban since its founding. Without Pakistani support and safe haven, the Afghan Taliban would likely have a difficult time waging a successful insurgency in Afghanistan. The Afghan Taliban dinks and dunks across the border with ease, in and out of the tribal regions, where they plot, execute and then return to safety in Pakistan – where it also recruits, runs madrassas and training camps, and receives medical care for its wounded.

The Pakistani military and intelligence services support the Hafiz Gul Bahadar and the Mullah Nazir Groups, despite the fact that these two Taliban organizations wage jihad in Afghanistan and support al Qaeda and other terrorist movements.

While the Pakistan government has targeted and killed or captured key al Qaeda leaders inside Pakistan, the fact that Osama bin Laden was able to live in a large home just outside of Abbottabad, the nation’s West Point, and direct al Qaeda’s operations for years raises serious questions about what Pakistani military and intelligence leaders knew and if he received direct support.

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi began as an anti-Shia group and has joined the jihadist network. The Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi is a Taliban movement in northwestern Pakistan. Both have attacked the Pakistani state. Despite this, the Pakistani government has tolerated their existence.

This map does not include groups such as the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Islamic Jihad Union, the Turkistan Islamic Party, and others as these terrorist outfits wage war against the Pakistani state, and the Pakistan military has actively targeted them.

Trump Makes the Right Decision on Afghanistan… and Pakistan

August 22, 2017

Trump Makes the Right Decision on Afghanistan… and Pakistan, PJ MediaRoger L Simon, August 21, 2017

Immediately after Donald Trump’s Afghanistan speech, Lindsey Graham — not always the president’s biggest fan — praised the address and noted Trump was smart to leave the actual direction of day-to-day conduct of warfare to those trained to do it: the generals. He contrasted Donald with Obama, whom Graham called a “bad general.”

True enough, but it’s worse.  Obama wasn’t just a bad general or even an atrocious one.  Consciously and/or unconsciously, he was on the other side.

Sound exaggerated? Then ask yourself this — why would a man as intelligent as Barack Obama 1. telegraph his intentions and pull-out date to the enemy, 2. not keep a decent military presence in Iraq, leaving it wide open to the nascent ISIS or similar religious maniacs and 3. give so much money to the Iranian mullahs in pursuit of a chimerical nuclear deal with a result that they are now all over the Middle East, killing as many people as possible and perpetuating the endless Syrian civil war (with literally millions of refugees), while testing ICBMs for the day when that (sort of) deal expires? And that’s leaving out the red line, the complete punting on North Korea, etc.

I thought this was supposed to be the smartest guy in the room.  Well, if you don’t like America and want to see it neutered, maybe he is.

But our media of course will not even go near this.  They would rather attack Trump for whatever — in the case of his Afghanistan speech for using it to again downplay Charlottesville.  (For an example, see the tweets from NPR’s oh-so-sophisticated political editor. These people are so fixated on Trump’s non-existent racism, they probably wouldn’t have even alter their views if half their families had been wiped out on Barcelona’s La Rambla last week.  It’s almost a monomania with them.  Two hundred hapless loser neo-Nazis with comb-overs are more of a threat than radical Islamists who have killed 1275, wounded 932, in 179 attacks in 25 countries in July 2017 alone! )

As for the specifics of the speech, I have always thought Donald Trump would end up a hawk after all, because — much as we may like to think otherwise — you can’t make America great again without being one.  I never bought the palaver coming from the alt-right and Rand Paul about having to withdraw from all or most international engagements.  It’s based on a theory of human nature that alas makes no sense.  The world has been filled with evil since the beginning of recorded time and no doubt before. Historian Victor Davis Hanson has noted that war, not peace, is the natural human condition.   Someone’s got to be the sheriff to keep things under control, to actually maintain the peace. America — of all nations — has done by far the best job of that, historically. No one else is even close.

So, unfortunately, we’re stuck with the job — unless you can think of a good replacement. That means we have to hold down the fort in Afghanistan lest it be used once again as a staging area for international terrorism, just as it was for 9/11. They seem to have been planning that and more already.  In October 2015, the U.S. military took out an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan that was an incredible thirty square miles.  That’s approximately half the size of Pittsburgh.

This does not, of course, mean that we have any business or should waste one minute trying to turn places like Afghanistan or Iraq into Denmark.  While we can excuse ourselves for believing that dream before the Iraq War, certainly the results of the conflict — actually about a week of it — should have  disabused us of that notion.  It wasn’t the first time idealism has been smashed, but that’s what happens when, just as in life, political reality collides with your ideological theories. Hopefully, you learn.

Praise is also due Trump for, finally, challenging Pakistan, the nuclear-armed, semi-terror state that hid Osama bin Laden virtually in plain sight. The nefarious Pakis and their notorious intelligence service have played both sides agains the middle for too long.

With all that, questions arise about the size of Trump’s commitment.  No mention was made of the number of new troops in the speech, though 4,000 has been bandied about.  Not many, it would seem, in the grand scheme of things.  But who knows?  It would be nice if such a small amount could keep things under control.  If not, as Trump has said himself, it’s in the hands of the generals.

WORTH NOTING: The speech was again well-crafted.  Trump has some excellent writers in Stephen Miller and Michael Anton (aka Publius Decius Mus).

Winning Afghanistan: Support Trump’s Strategy

August 22, 2017

Winning Afghanistan: Support Trump’s Strategy, Clarion ProjectRyan Maur0, August 22, 2017

A US soldier holds the national flag ahead of a handover ceremony at Leatherneck Camp in Lashkar Gah in the Afghan province of Helmand on April 29, 2017. (Photo: WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images)

We have made progress, but the American public rarely heard about it because President Obama did not wish to bring attention to the war and its political liabilities. The progress was then lost due to the rapid withdrawal based on an arbitrary timeline.

“We cannot repeat in Afghanistan the mistakes our leaders made in Iraq,” Trump said.

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President Trump is pledging to “win” in Afghanistan by defeating the terrorist “losers.” He is correct about the disaster ahead if the U.S. retreats from Afghanistan, but his speech doesn’t seem to have addressed the concerns of those who believe that the campaign there is a lost cause.

Trump rightly pointed out that there are 20 groups designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations by the U.S. State Department operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan. If the U.S. abandons Afghanistan, these groups will use the country as a launching pad to target the U.S. and destabilize the region, including nuclear-armed Pakistan.

From this base, they will likely be able to roll back progress we’ve made against terror havens in Iraq, Syria and Libya. And, of course, each success breeds a multitude of new members for the victorious terrorist group as momentum is interpreted as Allah’s blessing.

Yet, these realities do not address the core skepticism of those who oppose the war in Afghanistan — that there’s simply nothing more we can do. President Trump needed to confront this head on.

It’s extremely important that the American public understand that the war in Afghanistan is not like a videotape on loop. We have made progress, but the American public rarely heard about it because President Obama did not wish to bring attention to the war and its political liabilities. The progress was then lost due to the rapid withdrawal based on an arbitrary timeline.

“We cannot repeat in Afghanistan the mistakes our leaders made in Iraq,” Trump said.

Addressing the need to make a long-term commitment to Afghanistan to defeat the terror forces there, Secretary of Defense Mattis said it best when he told President Trump, “Mr. President, we haven’t fought a 16-year war so much as we have fought a one-year war 16 times.”

In 2014, 95% of all operations were being done by the Afghans and they were taking 95% of all casualties, according to Michael O’Hanlon. Foreign forces were only 15% of coalition manpower. The Taliban and other jihadists had a growing presence in the areas where foreign forces decreased, but this territory only encompassed about 10% of the Afghan population.

The Defense Department’s April 2014 report said that U.S. casualties had “dropped significantly” over the previous year and the Afghan forces conduct “virtually all of these operations independently.” The Afghan economy was lunging forward and the Defense Department reported a “dramatic increase in basic education.”

The mantra we always hear in the media is that the Afghans won’t fight the Taliban and other terrorists. They did.

There was also major economic, educational and political progress.

That year, Afghanistan held a hotly-contested presidential election where all of the major candidates agreed that the U.S. military should be asked to stay. The election was a big success, as U.S.-backed Afghan forces made the Taliban and other Islamist terrorists fail miserably in achieving their stated goal of wreaking havoc during the voting.

Despite the extremely high risk, voter turnout was about 58%, matching that of America’s 2012 presidential election. One in three voters were women and a record number of women were running for office, including two for vice president.

After the vote was held, accusations of fraud came from both sides. Sectarian tension was high as each candidate represented different constituencies. Amazingly, despite all these pressures, the parties then reached a power-sharing agreement and had Afghanistan’s first peaceful transfer of the presidency through elections.

It is absolutely essential for President Trump to mention this progress to the skeptical American public so that they can know we haven’t been simply running in circles in Afghanistan. It is also important for the U.S. military that sacrifices so much to hear that their gains are known and appreciated.

Any progress that this new strategy makes will be limited by the assistance that the Taliban and other terrorists are receiving from Pakistan, Iran and Russia.

President Trump put Pakistan on notice like never before. The Pakistani government is going to be held accountable for harboring and materially supporting the terrorist network that sustains the jihad in Afghanistan. It is probable that we’ll see an increase in cross-border operations.

Trump’s praise for India as a strategic partner is a powerful lever to pull to pressure Pakistan. The State Department’s recent designation of Hizbul Mujahideen as a Foreign Terrorist Organization shows that the Trump Administration is serious about this. Hizbul Mujahideen is a terror group that primarily targets India and is backed by Pakistan.

It was strange that Iran’s role in assisting the Taliban and Al-Qaeda went unmentioned in Trump’s speech. Iran is actively murdering U.S. and Afghan troops. However, Secretary of Defense Mattis’ desire to deliver some payback to the Iranian regime for targeting the U.S. military is well-known. You can bet he has plans in mind for that.

All of the talk about the war in Afghanistan inevitably brings up the experience of the Vietnam War. Although there is much to criticize about National Security Adviser General H.R. McMaster, he wrote a critically-acclaimed book about the Vietnam War.

There should be no doubt that the lessons of Vietnam are in the mind of McMaster and have been discussed within the Trump Administration every step of the way towards crafting the U.S.’ strategy in Afghanistan.

As Trump acknowledged, Americans are understandably frustrated and sick of being at war in Afghanistan. But there is reason to believe we can be successful. Moreover, advocates of a withdrawal have yet to explain how we can withdraw and still stop Afghanistan from becoming an extremely dangerous terrorist base.

If we would withdraw from Afghanistan now, how would we feel seeing images on our TV screens of the Taliban coming back to power, carrying out massacres and once again stopping girls from going to school, knowing that we could have stopped it.

We’ve sacrificed too much already to hand Afghanistan back to the Taliban and regressive forces. The consequences of retreat are so dire that it’s worth giving Trump and his team a chance for their strategy to work.

Top Lawmaker Pushes Trump Admin to Freeze Pakistani Assets Tied to IT Breach Scandal

August 3, 2017

Top Lawmaker Pushes Trump Admin to Freeze Pakistani Assets Tied to IT Breach Scandal, Washington Free Beacon, , August 3, 2017

Debbie Wasserman Schultz / Getty Images

A leading lawmaker on the House oversight committee is urging the Trump administration to pursue a court order freezing recent wire transfers to Pakistan made by Democratic IT staffers who are accused of stealing computer equipment from House lawmakers’ offices and penetrating internal congressional networks, the Washington Free Beacon has learned.

Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), an oversight committee member and chair of its national security subcommittee, petitioned Attorney General Jeff Sessions to disclose if federal investigators are moving to freeze recent wire transfers of nearly $300,000 by Imran Awan, a top IT staffer for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.) and scores of other Democrats who was recently arrested on charges of bank fraud.

Awan and several of his family members are believed to have stolen computer equipment used by Congress and penetrated sensitive networks linked to the House Foreign Affairs Committee and other networks.

Awan and others allegedly involved in the scandal remained on the congressional payroll for months after their activity became public, prompting calls by senior lawmakers for an independent investigation in Wasserman Schultz’s handling of the situation.

Awan is also believed to have defrauded the House of Representatives by using taxpayer funds to buy computer equipment that is now missing.

DeSantis, who has spearheaded efforts to move forward with the probe into this scandal, told the Free Beacon on Thursday that the Trump administration must take immediate steps to freeze any assets that may have been transferred by Awan to Pakistan.

“The DOJ needs to do what it can to freeze proceeds from any illicit transactions made by Awan,” DeSantis said. “Given the allegations against him it would be unthinkable that he’d be allowed to funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars to Pakistan.”

In his letter to Sessions, DeSantis seeks to ascertain what steps the DOJ is taking to investigate Awan and his wife, Hina Alvi, who is also tied to the scandal.

“Given the alarming amount of funds that were wired to Pakistan, has the Department of Justice utilized the United States Department of Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) to investigate the financial records of Awan and Alvi to discover evidence of other potential crimes?” DeSantis asks.

“Have any U.S. financial institutions filed reports of suspicious activity on any bank account held by Awan or his wife?” the letter continues.

“Is the Department of Justice investigating whether any funds generated from the sale of stolen property of the House of Representatives were included as part of the wire transfer to Faisalabad, Pakistan?” DeSantis asks.

“Finally, will the Department seek a court order freezing the proceeds of any real estate transaction or from the sale of stolen technological equipment?”

DeSantis has described the situation as one of the biggest congressional scandals in the past 30 years, and other sources intimately familiar with the matter have told the Free Beacon that Congress has been roiled by the situation.

There is concern that sensitive information potentially obtained by Awan and other Democratic staffers could be used against lawmakers who may have been bound up in the penetration of sensitive congressional networks.

“I hope that we can work together to undo the serious damage done by these individuals while in the employment of the House of Representatives,” DeSantis writes. “While we can never tolerate breaches of the public trust, the wire transfer to Pakistan is particularly alarming as Pakistan is home to numerous terrorist organizations. I look forward to your timely response into these matters.”

The Free Beacon first disclosed earlier this week that Congress is seeking a brief from Capitol Police into their investigation of the situation, which some feel has proceeded too slowly.

Senior congressional sources say that investigators should set their sites on Wasserman Schultz, who has been accused of stonewalling on the matter. Some have even called for Wasserman Schultz to resign.

“The extent of the potential breaches has been made more clear” in recent weeks, according to one senior congressional source who would only speak on background when discussing the sensitive matter. “The inexplicable nature of the conduct of Wassermann Schultz and others has broadened” congressional interest.

Lawmakers are confused as to why Wasserman Schultz continued paying Awan and other staffers implicated in the breach for several months after this information came to light.

“At best for her that is gross misapplication of public funds that could merit resignation alone,” the source said. “There’s got to be more to that story.”

Congressional Investigation Into Wasserman Schultz IT Scandal Moves Forward

August 1, 2017

Congressional Investigation Into Wasserman Schultz IT Scandal Moves Forward, Washington Free Beacon, , August 1, 2017

SUNRISE, FL – MAY 11: Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) speaks with the media after she held a meeting with immigration advocacy group leaders met on May 11, 2017 in Sunrise, Florida. The round table meeting was held to address the growing concern about President Donald Trump’s Executive Orders and the increase in detentions and deportations of immigrants. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The scandal is said to have rocked the halls of Congress, despite little mainstream media coverage, sources said.

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Congress is advancing an investigation into a growing scandal surrounding IT staffers working for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.), who are accused of stealing sensitive computer equipment from House lawmakers’ offices, according to senior congressional sources who told the Washington Free Beacon the Democratic leader’s refusal to answer questions could “merit resignation.”

Congressional leaders have now requested a formal briefing by Capitol Police into its investigation of several Pakistani House IT staffers who are accused of stealing sensitive computer equipment and of illegally penetrating congressional networks.

Imran Awan, one of the staffers who worked for Wasserman Schultz and several other Democratic members of Congress, was arrested this week when trying to travel to Pakistan and charged with bank fraud after a months-long investigation that found he wired nearly $300,000 to that country. Several other staffers tied to Awan are the focus of an investigation into claims they stole sensitive equipment and illegally penetrated the House IT network.

Leading members of Congress are growing frustrated with the pace of the criminal investigation and have moved to conduct their own independent prove into the scandal, according to multiple sources who indicated that the relevant congressional committees are making moves to start an investigation, which could include compelling testimony from Wasserman Schultz, who has been accused of stonewalling on the issue.

As more information about the nature and scope of the IT staffers’ collection of privileged congressional information becomes public, lawmakers are seeking to immediately begin their own investigation into the situation.

Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), a member of the House Oversight Committee and chair of its National Security Subcommittee, formally requested a briefing from the Capitol Police on Tuesday, telling the Free Beacon that the situation amounts to “one of the all-time congressional scandals in the last 30 years.”

Other senior congressional sources who spoke to the Free Beacon about the situation described Wasserman Schultz’s lack of cooperation in the investigation as unsettling, and said that her continued payments to these staffers even after evidence of their illegal activity became public may merit her resignation.

“I’m pushing very heard to get a full briefing from Capitol Police as soon as possible,” DeSantis told the Free Beacon. “There’s clearly criminal elements to this and I think there will be more going on. There’s probably going to be ethics issues on why these [taxpayer] funds were spent that [Wasserman Schultz] and others will have to deal with.”

“We have to know what happened now and we can’t wait for a criminal case to be done,” DeSantis added. “We need an immediate briefing from the Capitol Police.”

The congressional investigation into the matter is likely to be helmed by the House Committee on Administration, which has jurisdiction over these issues, in conjunction with House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R., Wis.) office, according to sources apprised of the situation.

The scandal is said to have rocked the halls of Congress, despite little mainstream media coverage, sources said.

“The extent of the potential breaches has been made more clear” in recent weeks, according to one senior congressional source who would only speak on background when discussing the sensitive matter. “The inexplicable nature of the conduct of Wassermann Schultz and others has broadened” congressional interest.

Lawmakers are confused as to why Wasserman Schultz continued paying Awan and other staffers implicated in the breach for several months after this information came to light.

“At best for her that is gross misapplication of public funds that could merit resignation alone,” the source said. “There’s got to be more to that story.”

The accused staffers are believed to have had access to sensitive intelligence information related to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, as well as lawmaker’s personal information, prompting concerns the breach could be far deeper than initially suspected.

Lawmakers such as DeSantis and others have become increasingly interested in questioning Wasserman Schultz about the situation and her behavior.

“Yes, we could ask for her [Wasserman Schultz] to testify” Rep. Louie Gohmert (R., Texas), told the Free Beacon late last week.

Gohmert described the situation as “incredible” and troubling given these staffers’ access to privileged information on the internal House computer network.

“You don’t have to be all that great at hacking to hack into almost anyone’s email and calendar,” Gohmert said. He noted this information is not classified or privileged because it pertains to official congressional business.

IT Intrigue at the DNC

August 1, 2017

IT Intrigue at the DNC, Front Page MagazineLloyd Billingsley, August 1, 2017

Awan’s lawyer, Christopher Gowen, explains that the accusations are “the product of an anti-Muslim, right-wing smear job targeting his client and his client’s family.” 

Imagine a Russian-born IT man working for, say, House Speaker Paul Ryan. Imagine if this man smashed up computers, and purloined secret material from the Intelligence and Foreign Affairs Committees. Imagine if he was kept on the job despite financial misconduct, then attempted to flee to Russian with a wad of cash. The likely explanation would not be Russophobia, and even the old-line establishment media might think there was something to it.

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Debbie Wasserman Schultz made a name for herself last year when the Democrats booted her as Democratic National Committee boss. Now she’s back with a vengeance in a tale centering on her top information technology man, Pakistani-born Imran Awan.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, not limited to issues related to Russia, had been investigating Awan for theft and abuses related to cybersecurity. Awan had been feeling the heat and attempted to flee to Pakistan last week but the FBI arrested him at Dulles airport on a charge of bank fraud.

According to Andrew McCarthy, who prosecuted the “Blind Sheik” Omar Abdel-Rahman, there’s a bit more to the story, even though Awan and his family have indeed been involved in swindles. As McCarthy has it, “this appears to be a real conspiracy, aimed at undermining American national security.”

Awan started as an IT man for Rep. Gregory Meeks, New York Democrat, then shifted to Wasserman Schultz. The Florida Democrat empowered him to add to the payroll his wife Alfi – she attempted to flee the country in March while a criminal suspect – brother Abid, Abid’s wife Natalia Sova, and Awan’s brother Jamal. As McCarthy notes:

“Awan and his family cabal of fraudsters had access for years to the e-mails and other electronic files of members of the House’s Intelligence and Foreign Affairs Committees. It turns out they were accessing members’ computers without their knowledge, transferring files to remote servers, and stealing computer equipment — including hard drives that Awan & Co. smashed to bits of bytes before making tracks.” The smashing tactic recalls the Clinton crew during the last election cycle.

McCarthy wonders how Awan and his family achieved access to highly sensitive government information, which requires a thorough security clearance. In his judgment, the Awan cabal could not possibly have qualified for such clearance.

As the IT intrigue unfolded, Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been pushing back at investigators, and objecting strenuously to inspection of a laptop belonging to Awan. McCarthy doesn’t know what information Awan and company may have ripped off, or whether he sent it to Pakistan. But the former prosecutor is certain that “this is no run-of-the-mill bank-fraud case.”

The Daily Caller has been all over the story and according to investigative reporter Luke Rosiak Wasserman Schultz employed Awan and his wife and “refused to fire either of them even after U.S. Capitol Police said in February 2017 that they were targets of the criminal investigation.” Wasserman Schultz charged the Awans were victims of anti-Muslim profiling.

Other members of Congress had dumped Awan and Company but Wasserman kept him on board and was going to pay him, “even while he was living in Pakistan.” Rosiak also observes that Wasserman Schultz’s record on cybersecurity is shaky and the Hillary Clinton ally “was the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee when it was hacked.”

Last Thursday, President Trump reposted a Townhall tweet charging “ABC, NBC, And CBS Pretty Much Bury IT Scandal Engulfing Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Office.” That prompted a New York Times piece by Nicholas Fandos headlined, “Trump Fuels Intrigue Surrounding a Former I.T. Worker’s Arrest.”

Fandos wonders if the ongoing intrigue is “the stuff of a spy novel, ripe for sleuthing,” but quickly shifts gears. Awan’s lawyer, Christopher Gowen, explains that the accusations are “the product of an anti-Muslim, right-wing smear job targeting his client and his client’s family.”

DNC spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa, called the security charges “laughable,” claiming that Awan was never employed by the DNC and that “the U.S. intelligence community has concluded that Russia was behind the DNC hack.” As for the attempt to flee, with bundles of cash, Gowen said Awan received threats online and traveled to Pakistan to stay with family and save money.

As Cheryl Chumley observed in the Washington Times, Awan’s first employer, Gregory Meeks, suggested the authorities are targeting Awan because he was born in Pakistan and ethnicity “is a factor” in the attention the family is receiving. And now Democrats are rushing to defend Awan, Chumley writes, “saying he’s the target of massive federal Islamophobia. What a crock.”

True to form, with smashed computers, cybersecurity lapses and such, the idea that Awan might be some kind of spy is entirely plausible. So is the concept that, as Sean Hannity has suggested, Awan was the source of Democratic National Committee emails published by WikiLeaks.

Those who dismiss it all as Islamophobia, or a simple case of bank fraud, might consider this scenario.

Imagine a Russian-born IT man working for, say, House Speaker Paul Ryan. Imagine if this man smashed up computers, and purloined secret material from the Intelligence and Foreign Affairs Committees. Imagine if he was kept on the job despite financial misconduct, then attempted to flee to Russian with a wad of cash. The likely explanation would not be Russophobia, and even the old-line establishment media might think there was something to it.

In the style of Andrew McCarthy, some journalist might even flag “a real conspiracy, aimed at undermining American national security.” In the ensuing investigation, government investigators would doubtless leave no stone unturned.

Meanwhile, Awan has pleaded not guilty to one count of bank fraud, ordered to wear a GPS monitor, and surrender his passport. More details about his activities may emerge before his preliminary hearing on August 21.

Forget about Trump and the Russians. The real action is with the Awan brothers and Fusion GPS.

July 28, 2017

Forget about Trump and the Russians. The real action is with the Awan brothers and Fusion GPS., The American SpectatorScott Mckay, July 28, 2017

From a press release that hit on Thursday…

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Judiciary Committee Republicans today sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein calling for the appointment of a second special counsel to investigate unaddressed matters, some connected to the 2016 election and others, including many actions taken by Obama Administration officials like Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The letter follows yesterday’s House Judiciary Committee approval of H. Res. 446, as amended, to request documents pertaining to the FBI’s investigation of former Secretary Clinton.

In their letter, the Judiciary Committee members express concern that the directive given to Special Counsel Robert Mueller is narrow in scope and many concerns arising out of the 2016 presidential election and its aftermath are not being investigated. The members call for the appointment of a second special counsel to investigate grave concerns such as former Attorney General Lynch’s directive to former FBI Director Comey to mislead the American people on the nature of the investigation into former Secretary Clinton; the FBI and Justice Department’s investigative decisions related to the Clinton email investigation, including the immunity deals given to potential co-conspirators; selected leaks of classified information that unmasked U.S. persons incidentally collected upon by the intelligence community; and the FBI’s reliance on “Fusion GPS” in its investigation of the Trump campaign, among many others issues.

If you’re sick and tired of the never-ending “Trump And The Russians” scandal, which for all its hype has produced scant little actual evidence of anything other than desultory cooperation on the part of the president’s camp with an investigation it quite reasonably believes is a kangaroo court, this letter from Goodlatte’s committee might just be what the doctor ordered.

Because as Washington scandals go, Trump And The Russians doesn’t even make it out of Double-A ball. What Goodlatte and the Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee want is a special counsel to take us up to the Triple-A or major league scandal level, because there are opportunities for playing time available.

The unmasking issue still has a lot of undiscovered meat on its bones; we’ve already seen a little evidence of that. The Lynch-Comey-Phoenix Airport nexus deserves a lot more scrutiny than it’s received, as do those immunity grants. And the leaks without a doubt deserve a full investigation, and some smug SOB’s from the Deep State surely deserve lengthy prison terms.

But the Fusion GPS business — and the long-simmering and now-burgeoning Awan brothers scandal — are monsters hiding in D.C.’s closet. Here’s to both those scandals continuing to crackle and spark over the next several months, on the way to full explosions the legacy media can no longer contain.

Readers of this column already have an understanding of the Awan brothers scandal, as this space covered a substantial amount of the background of it back in February when things first started happening. Click here to see that background; we’ll give a very short summary of it now.

The central figure in this scandal is a Pakistani national named Imran Awan, who appears to be connected in some way to his country’s intelligence service. Awan is an IT professional who was hired in 2004 to handle computer equipment for Florida Democrat congressman Robert Wexler, and he then picked up a job as a shared staffer to work for Wexler’s colleague Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Awan rode along with Wasserman Schultz as she ascended to the top of the Democratic Party structure, and soon not only was his boss the chair of the Democratic National Committee but Awan’s relationship with her led to his building a client list of some 80 Democrat House members who were using either Imran or other members of his family (a pair of brothers, one of their wives, his own wife) in a sizable little empire he’d built.

And in the meantime, the Awan family was engaging in a pattern of financial activities that looked a whole lot like a mafia operation — questionable real estate deals, bank fraud, kidnapping and extortion, a used-car dealership that might well have been a front for moving stolen cars to Pakistan for sale, and so on. Awan was arrested at Dulles International Airport on Monday as he tried to flee the country while the FBI and Capitol Hill Police were closing in on a bank fraud indictment. In January he had wired some $283,000 from the Congressional Federal Credit Union to two individuals in Pakistan; he was trying to board a flight to Lahore when he had the cuffs put on him.

But the real juice with the Awans isn’t the bank fraud or the possible stolen cars. The real scandal here is the stolen computers — and the stolen information. It’s alleged that the Awans illegally downloaded documents from their clients, some of whom were on the House Intelligence Committee and other sensitive committees, and even walked off with congressional computers. The FBI, in fact, seized a number of CPU’s and hard drives found at a house owned by Imran that he was renting to a military couple after the tenants had found the equipment partially destroyed in the garage and called the authorities. We don’t know what was on those hard drives.

There are even allegations the Awans were blackmailing their clients with information they’d found in their e-mails. Your imagination can likely conjure up all kinds of entertaining scenarios around that theme.

But the piece de resistance with the Awan brothers scandal is the revelation that Imran Awan, with his foreign intelligence connections, his criminal appearance and his persistent financial problems despite apparently not lacking in the ability to make a buck, had the password to Wasserman Schultz’ iPad from which she answered her e-mail… as DNC chair.

Forget about the Russians and their supposed hacking of the DNC e-mails. If you’re really curious about who got to that information and would have been in a position to shop it to the highest bidder, Imran Awan is the most likely culprit in the room.

Things are moving very quickly on this case, and it’s somewhat telling that Awan was released on bond after being caught trying to flee the country. He has a tracking bracelet on his ankle, but what makes more sense is that he may have turned states’ evidence in exchange for being let out of jail. Awan’s attorney is former Bill Clinton go-fer Chris Gowen, and the lawyer’s statement after he’d been arrested reads like a press release from a campaign operative rather than a criminal attorney; bizarrely so, one might say. It might be that Awan is rolling on Wasserman Schultz and the Clintons have decided to hang her out to dry in order to insulate themselves from whatever blowback the DNC e-mails might generate for them.

Or maybe that isn’t possible anymore. Former Washington police detective Rod Wheeler, who you’ve probably seen on Fox News from time to time and who most recently was in the news as having done some private snooping in the Seth Rich case, has intimated there is a connection between that case and that of the Awan brothers. We’re not going to try to connect those dots without more information, but one’s imagination might run riot with those.

Meanwhile, Republicans in both the House and the Senate are exceptionally curious about Fusion GPS, and with good reason. In case you’re not familiar with this outfit, it’s the “opposition research and strategic communications” firm co-founded by former Wall Street Journal reporters Peter Fritsch and Glenn Simpson which played a significant role in the 2016 election. It was Fusion GPS which commissioned the infamous and debunked “pee pee dossier,” written by former British spy Christopher Steele, sourced largely from Steele’s Russian contacts and containing a mountain of scurrilous and implausible allegations about Donald Trump’s misbehaviors. Fusion GPS was initially contracted by anti-Trump Republican donors, but after Trump got the GOP nomination it was Democrats paying the freight for their work product… and before it was over it looks like James Comey’s FBI, amazingly, was picking up the tab.

That last part is of special interest to Sen. Charles Grassley and the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has made a priority out of Fusion GPS, and had called Simpson to testify. He did, but only in private, and only after threatening to take the Fifth. That’s his right, but what does an oppo researcher need the Fifth Amendment for?

But there’s more with Fusion GPS. On Wednesday Tucker Carlson had as a guest on his show one Thor Halvorssen, a Venezuelan native of Norwegian descent who runs a watchdog outfit called the Human Rights Foundation, and Halvorssen told a harrowing story of Fusion GPS attempting to destroy his life with a smear campaign because he’d blown the whistle on a crooked contract one of Fusion’s clients had with the Venezuelan government to build power plants. That story also got told in a letter Halvorssen sent to Grassley’s committee. And then there is Fusion’s other client, Natalia Veselnitskaya, the “Russian lawyer” whose meeting with Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., and Paul Manafort has been bandied about as some sort of smoking gun proving collusion with the Russians. It turns out that Veselnitskaya had hired Fusion to help her push to overturn the Magnitsky Act, a sanctions bill targeting crooked Russian oligarchs and human rights abusers. In none of these cases did Fusion bother to register under FARA, the Foreign Agent Registry Act, which would put them on the wrong side of the law.

Grassley’s committee, and Goodlatte’s committee, would like to know if this entire Russian business was a setup cooked-up by Fusion’s dirty-tricks shop with the collusion of a few actors in the Obama administration. It’s hard to blame them.

There’s a lot of debate about Trump’s “drain the swamp” mantra these days, but nobody is really denying the swamp exists. And nobody can — not with Fusion GPS and the Awan brothers skulking around in the muck.