Entries Tagged as 'Osama bin Laden'

Who Strains the US-Pakistan Relationship?

David Frum December 1st, 2011 at 9:08 am 31 Comments

I’m beginning to think we need to learn the Urdu word for chutzpah. The US discovery that Pakistan for years gave shelter to Osama bin Laden is now being taken as an example of American strain on the US-Pakistani relationship.

Oh and by the way, has Pakistan ever apologized for supporting the killers of US soldiers inside Afghanistan? Thought not…

Meet the Man Looking for bin Laden’s Body

July 16th, 2011 at 12:00 am 20 Comments

Treasure hunter Bill Warren wants to launch an expedition at sea to find Osama bin Laden’s body.

“Yeah, he was a bad man, but I have a compassionate heart,” says the author of Shipwrecks and Discoveries. “It might have been better if we had cremated him and given the ashes to the Arabs.

However, in Islam it is “haram” – meaning, forbidden by religious law, to burn anything endowed with a “soul” – so doing so may have unnecessarily enraged practicing Muslims.

Warren said he has received an e-mail from the bin Laden family wishing him luck on the trip and that they are interested in giving the body a proper ground burial if he retrieves it.

Warren’s compassion for the terrorist leader’s family may also be fueled by hopes for a profitable documentary based on his search. And if you want to join the search as a tourist, you can – for $5,000 per person, meals included. Yet even beyond the documentary and the tour business, Warren has an even larger ambition expedition, one  many might consider explosive: Warren expresses some doubt that it truly was Osama bin Laden who was killed on April 29 by U.S. Navy Seals. If Warren, a Christian conservative, discovers that bin Laden’s was not the body that was thrown into the sea, he hopes that Obama would be removed from office immediately.

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America’s Pakistan Problem

David Frum May 27th, 2011 at 10:00 am 14 Comments

Hillary Clinton visited Pakistan on Friday (Pakistan time). According to the New York Times:

[US] officials described [the visit] as an effort to measure Pakistan’s commitment to fighting Islamic extremism after the killing of Osama bin Laden badly strained relations with the United States. It did not appear to go well.

No, I bet not. Two friends who know Pakistan well recently offered this joking description of the US-Pakistan relationship. “It’s like having a girlfriend who is unsure of her sexual orientation. And who suffers from multiple personality disorder. And one of her personalities wants to kill you.”

Bin Laden’s Kid Lashes Out

May 12th, 2011 at 12:26 pm 14 Comments

One’s first reaction is that it’s a joke – a parody to attract attention.

But no. It’s apparently for real. If so, it shows how hopeless it is to try and convince some that what they believe makes no sense.

In a statement on behalf of the family, Omar bin Laden, the 30-year-old son of Osama, complains that the assassination of his father “blatantly violated” international law, ignored the presumption of innocence and the right of everyone to a fair trial.

In the absence of photos or videos, Omar and his brothers “are not convinced” that their father is dead. They are offended that he was killed rather than arrested to be “tried in a court of law so that truth is revealed to the people of the world.”

They want Osama put on trial as Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic were.

Omar also says it was “unworthy of the special forces to shoot unarmed female members… and one of his (Osama’s) sons.”

Omar also complains that if indeed Osama was buried at sea (“unwitnessed burial at sea”), the family was deprived of “performing religious rights of a Muslim man.”

If answers are not forthcoming within 30 days, Omar says the case will be taken to the International Criminal Court at the Hague, and the International Court of Justice.

“The UN must take notice of the violation of international law and assist us . . . .”

The effrontery of the bin Laden family is dazzling.

Prior to 9/11, Omar lived with his father in Afghanistan, but opposed his father’s fixation on religious violence. He is believed to now live in Qatar with a British wife.

There’s something disquieting about Omar’s curious statement – apparently delivered to the New York Times through Jean Sasson, an American author who helped write the 2009 memoir by Omar and his mother, Najwa Ghana: Growing Up bin Laden.

Omar insists his father “never hesitated to condemn any violent acts made by anyone, and expressed sorrow for the victims of any and all attacks.” Nonsense.

It’s puzzling how this view can be justified with what Osama bin Laden masterminded — not only in the deaths of some 3,000 on 9/11, but the deaths of 224 in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salam, the USS Cole in Aden, and the other terrorist acts both planned and aborted for various reasons.

The family puts it this way: “As he (Omar) condemned our father, we now condemn the President of the United States for ordering the execution of unarmed men and women.”

The bin Laden family is a large one—some 600 people. Osama bin Laden’s father was a contractor and friend of Saudi Arabia’s King Ibn Saud who awarded him the contract to build and repair all mosques as well as royal palaces.

Apparently Osama’s father Mohammed was married over 20 times, had three permanent wives, and one rotating wife – sort of a replacement that could be turned in or exchanged on a monthly basis. Osama has something like 54 brothers and sisters.

The family disowned him and Saudi Arabia revoked his passport in 1991 for anti-government actions and after he opposed American troops being allowed to use Saudi territory in the first Gulf War.

The only likely effect of the bin Laden siblings’ dispute with how their father was killed, and their doubts that he was killed, is that it may persuade President Obama to okay the release of photos of his corpse.

Pakistan: Pariah State to Investors

David Frum May 10th, 2011 at 10:28 am 7 Comments

Domestic Pakistani investors have shrugged off their government’s reckless courting of confrontation with the United States.

International investors are not so sanguine reports the FT:

If the US Department of State follows up on its pledge to pay $25m in reward money for information leading to the capture of Osama bin Laden, then perhaps somebody, somewhere, is in line for a mega-windfall, equivalent to more than half of the money foreign institutional investors have put into Pakistan’s stock market so far this year.

$50 million in equity investment in the first four months of 2011 for all of Pakistan?

In the depression year of 2009, Bangladesh – long thought of as the basketcase of Asia – attracted $700 million, down from over $1 billion before the global economic crisis began.

We are familiar with the problem of rogue states. Pakistan seems in danger of turning itself into a pariah state.

Pakistan’s Markets Not Worried About Rift With U.S.

David Frum May 10th, 2011 at 9:25 am 1 Comment

Pakistani investors seem strangely unworried about possible consequences to their country from being caught harboring bin Laden. Or by their government’s decision to respond to the embarrassment by denial and confrontation rather than apology and conciliation.

The Karachi stock market gained about half a percent on Monday as investors put aside concerns over possible fallout of Osama Bin Laden’s killing in Pakistan, traders said.

The Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE)-100 Index gained 52.72 points, or 0.44 percent, to close at 11,932.68 points with volumes jumping 14 million to 78.651 million shares in what was seen as an indication of interest ahead of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s address to the parliament, they said.

“The session was good in the sense that we saw interest in many shares other than Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL),” said Qasim Ali Shah, head of equities at Global Securities. “Engro Corporation and Pakistan State Oil (PSO) were in the limelight.” The KSE-30 Index was down 76.83 points to 11,609.34 points. Shares of 354 companies were traded out of which 144 advanced, 125 receded, while 85 remained unchanged.

Five Questions About Bin Laden’s Killing

David Frum May 9th, 2011 at 10:54 am 32 Comments

1) Was there an informant inside the Osama Bin Laden compound? Might that explain why there’s so much confusion in the White House account of the action – there is a fact they are anxious to conceal?

2) Was OBL in fact under some kind of Pakistani house arrest? Was he the prisoner of some kind of internal deal among Pakistani factions: the Islamicists unwilling to surrender him to the Americans, the Westernizers determined to neutralize him?

3) Did some person in the Pakistan state provide information to the US about OBL? Is that why the story is confused? Is that why the US seems reluctant to take strong action against Pakistan for harboring OBL?

4) Is the US government really as puzzled as it claims as to the identity of the OBL harborers?

5) If information about bin Laden was provided to the US by someone inside the Pakistan state, was it a Westernizer – seeking improved relations with the US? Or might it have been an Islamicist, looking to accelerate the US departure from Afghanistan and to hasten the day when Pakistan could reassert its authority over Afghanistan through its proxy, the Taliban?

America’s Afghan Mission: The Wrong Front Line?

David Frum May 9th, 2011 at 9:13 am 36 Comments

After the death of Osama bin Laden, the U.S. is now faced with a difficult question. My latest column for CNN.com asks: Is the commitment of 100,000 troops in Afghanistan hurting our ability to fight terrorism in Pakistan?

The killing of Osama bin Laden raises many haunting questions. Here’s the most important:

Has our mission in Afghanistan become obsolete?

To think through that question, start with a prior question: Why did we remain in Afghanistan after the overthrow of the Taliban?

The usual answer to that question is: To prevent Afghanistan from re-emerging as a terrorist safe haven.

There have always been a lot of problems with that answer. (For example: Does it really take 100,000 U.S. troops, plus allies, to prevent a country from becoming a terrorist safe haven? We’re doing a pretty good job in Yemen with a radically smaller presence.)

But this week, we have exposed to sight two huge problems with the usual answer.

1. The world’s most important terrorist safe haven is visibly not Afghanistan, but instead next-door Pakistan.

2. Because the U.S. presence in Afghanistan requires cooperation from Pakistan, the Afghanistan mission perversely inhibits the United States from taking more decisive action against Pakistan’s harboring of terrorism.

Here’s a very concrete example. Through the 2008 presidential campaign, candidates John McCain and Barack Obama tussled over the issue of direct anti-terrorist action inside Pakistan. On February 20, 2008, McCain called Obama “naive” for suggesting that he might act inside Pakistan without Pakistani permission.

In retrospect, McCain’s answer looks wrong. But think about why McCain said what he did. He knew that acting in a way that offended Pakistan would complicate the mission in Afghanistan. The United States looks to Pakistan to police the Pashtun country on the other side of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Guerrilla wars become much harder to win if the guerrillas are allowed sanctuary across an international border. So if the mission in Afghanistan is the supreme priority, then acting in ways that offend Pakistan must be avoided.

But this thinking leads to an upside-down result: In order to prevent Afghanistan from ever again harboring a potential future bin Laden, we have to indulge Pakistan as it harbors the actual bin Laden! …

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Cross-Border Manhunts Put the Heat on Al Qaeda

May 8th, 2011 at 7:34 am 21 Comments

Many pundits are pointing the finger at America for breaking international law with its unilateral incursion into Pakistan to eliminate Osama Bin Laden.  But as any student of history knows: countries have regularly ignored international borders when in hot pursuit of their enemies.

In 1980, pills President Carter authorized an unsuccessful attempt for the helicopter rescue of American embassy hostages held by Iran’s then new Islamic Republic government.

The Israelis tracked down and killed in reprisal – on foreign soil – the Black September murderers (except Carlos the Jackal) who were responsible for murdering their 1972 Munich Olympics athletes.

The Israelis also rescued passengers of an airliner hijacked to Entebbe in 1976.

Germany’s commandos rescued passengers on a Lufthansa flight diverted by Palestinian terrorists to Mogadishu in 1977.

In 1960, ask the Israelis went into Argentina to get Adolph Eichmann to stand trial as the facilitator of Nazi Germany’s Holocaust machinery.

Still on the topic of Argentina, which has always claimed the Malvinas (Falkland) Islands as part of its sovereign territory, the United Kingdom went there in 1982, snatching it back from Argentine occupation because its’ residents were overwhelmingly loyal to Britain.

Then there was Otto Skorzeny’s 1943 glider rescue of Mussolini from his mountain imprisonment after the Italian Fascist Council voted to replace him with Marshal Badoglio.

From East Europe, Bulgarian writer and defector Georgi Ivanov Markov was murdered in 1978 with a poison tipped umbrella on a London bus in a joint operation of the Bulgarian secret service and the KGB.

More recently, former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko was purportedly murdered in London by Russian agents with a rare radioactive isotope of Polonium-210. But of course Russia – democratic since 1991 – could not and would not have done such a thing; the Kremlin understandably denied any involvement.

In fact, in a world of stateless actors, hot pursuit across borders is becoming more common.

For all the criticism about America’s SEALs violating another country’s sovereignty, didn’t Bin Laden do just that? He invaded American airspace to murder over three thousand innocents and create unprecedented mass destruction in a single act of terrorism.

Didn’t he – Bin Laden – settle in like a parasite onto a host wherever he could find a failed or near failed state to use as al Qaeda’s base of operations?

All things considered, sometimes a country’s gotta do what a country’s gotta do. Particularly in the interests of law, justice, retribution, and deterrence – all fluffy white clouds in the high sky of international law. But much more real when enforced by no foolin’ around guys like America’s SEALs.

Watch: Frum on “Real Time with Bill Maher”

David Frum May 7th, 2011 at 7:32 am 71 Comments

On Friday, I joined Irshad Manji, Peter Bergen, Michael Eric Dyson and Jeremy Scahill on “Real Time with Bill Maher”. We discussed last weekend’s killing of Osama Bin Laden, the reluctance of some in the GOP to give the president credit and what it all means for 2012.