|Asia News Digest
FBI Detected Terrorist Camps Operating in Pakistan
Despite repeated denials by Islamabad, the U.S. claims the FBI, through satellite imagery, is 70% convinced that Pakistan is running a military camp in Balakot in northeast Pakistan, close to the Line of Control that divides the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan, Zee News reported Aug. 1. This was revealed by DIA expert Eric Benn during the trial of Hamid Hayat of Lodi, Calif. Hayat has been accused of terrorism-related charges.
Benn said the structures and trail in the remote terrain fit the "signature" of "military training," as opposed to regular training of Pakistani ground forces. Pakistan has claimed repeatedly that it does not operate training camps in its territory.
Taliban Militia Kills Three British Soldiers
Within 48 hours of the NATO takeover of southern Afghanistan from the U.S.-led coalition forces, the Taliban hit back sharply, giving NATO a taste of things to come, the Voice of America reported from Islamabad Aug. 1. On July 31, a bomb went off in the southeastern Afghan province of Khost in an attempt to assassinate Khost's governor and President Karzai's close associate, Gul Agha Shirazi. Shirazi escaped by the skin of his teeth; eight others did not.
On Aug. 1, NATO spokesman Mark Laity said well-armed insurgents ambushed a British patrol in the northern part of Helmand province, killing three soldiers. "Insurgents attacked with rocket-propelled grenades and machine-gun fire. Obviously we are all very sad at this tragic event," said Laity.
As one British correspondent pointed out in her article in the Guardian Unlimited a few days ago, if Blair does not give up backing the U.S.-led campaign in Afghanistan now, "the boys from Belfast, Swansea, and Glasgow will eventually come down from the mountains in Afghanistan laying inside the wooden boxes."
Al Qaeda-Linked Extremists Pose Threat in Bangladesh
In an op-ed with the Washington Post Aug. 2, Selig Harrison pointed out that the present Bangladeshi regime under Premier Begum Khaleda Zia has made arrangements to give greater power to the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic fundamentalists. With the help of the Pakistani ISI, 15,000 hard-core Islamic extremist-fighters operating out of 19 known base camps, paralyzed the country by staging 459 closely synchronized explosions on Aug. 18, 2005.
Harrison points out the situation has worsened since then. The Jamaat and its allies have been allowed to make inroads into the higher ranks of Bangaldeshi army. For instance, pro-Jamaat Maj. Gen. Mohammad Aminul Karim has been recently appointed as military secretary to President Iajuddin Ahmed, and to Brig. Gen A.T.M. Amin, director of the Armed Forces Intelligence anti-terrorism bureau.
Harrison's point is that the U.S. State Department has quietly allowed this development to occur. In fact, on July 13, 2006, the U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh labelled the nation as "an exceptionally moderate Muslim state." The next election in Bangladesh is scheduled for January 2007. Harrison demands that this election must not be allowed to be rigged by the present regime with the help of the extremists. If Washington, which has quite a bit of economic leverage on Bangladesh, allows that to happen, it may lead to the destabilization of the entire Indian subcontinent.
Taiwan President's Office Probed for Fin'l Irregularities
Prosecutors are talking to Taiwanese Presidential office personnel concerning the possible mishandling of President Chen Shui-bian's special state affairs expenditure accounts, according to regional press July 31. It has already been announced by the Taiwan local media that NT $15 million (U.S.$458,100) was used inappropriately to purchase Pacific Sogo vouchers. It is also alleged that personnel from the Presidential office tried to cover First Lady Wu Shu-jen's tracks by trying to falsify where she got the funds to buy these Pacific Sogo vouchers. KMT legislator Chiu Yi said the "possible irregularities" in the financial dealing involving the special state affairs expenditure account could be "the straw that breaks the camel's back" of the Chen government.