A bomb killed at least eight—including four children—and wounded some 70 at a Shi'ite procession marking the Ashura holy day in Pakistan's northwestern town of Dera Ismail Khan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Nov. 24. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility. "We carried out the attack against the Shi'ite community," spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told AFP by phone from an undisclosed location. "The government can make whatever security arrangements it wants but it cannot stop our attacks." (Reuters, Nov. 25; AFP, Nov. 24) On Nov. 25, a second blast targeting an Ashura procession in Dera Ismail Khan left at least a further four dead. (BBC News, Nov, 25) The blasts follow a suicide attack that killed 23 at a Shi'ite procession in the garrison city of Rawalpindi—Pakistan's deadliest bombing for five months.
The only surviving shooter from the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks was executed at a prison in India Nov. 21 hours after President Pranab Mukherjee finally rejected the gunman's clemency appeal. Pakistani national Mohammad Ajmal Kasab was hanged and buried in the prison yard in the central Indian city of Pune just days before the fourth anniversary of the Mumbai attacks. Kasab was convicted in May 2010 on more than 80 charges of waging war against India, multiple murders and conspiracy for his participation in the attacks, during which the group of gunmen killed more than 160 people in three days of targeted assaults on luxury hotels, Mumbai's main railway station and a Jewish cultural center.
The main Islamist rebel groups in Aleppo on Nov. 19 rejected the newly formed Syrian opposition bloc, saying they want an Islamic state. "We, the fighting squads of Aleppo city and province, unanimously reject the conspiratorial project called the National Coalition and announce our consensus to establish an Islamic state" in Syria, a spokesman announced in an Internet video. "We reject any external coalitions or councils imposed on us at home from any party whatsoever." The unidentified speaker, sitting at the head of a long table with some 30 other men and a black Islamist flag on the wall, named 14 armed groups as signatories to the statement, including al-Nusra Front, Ahrar al-Sham and Liwa al-Tawhid. Ahrar al-Sham rejected the proclamation on its official webpage, however, saying that its leadership did not endorse the statement.
The UK Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) on Nov. 12 granted the appeal of Muslim cleric Abu Qatada (BBC profile), blocking his extradition to Jordan, where he is accused of organizing bomb attacks. Qatada has been described as "Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe," and UK officials believe he should remain in prison for national security reasons. While never formally charged with an offense in the UK, he has for years been in and out of custody—either imprisonment or house arrest. The judge stated he did not believe Jordanian authorities would mistreat Qatada, but Jordan allows use of evidence gained as a result of the torture of others, and thus Qatada could not receive a fair trial.
Pretty funny. CIA director David Petraeus, responsible for countless civilian deaths in his lawless drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal territories, resigns in contrition saying, "I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair." (NYT, Nov. 9) After reading numerous accounts, we still can't figure out exactly how this came to light, but it seems to have originated in an FBI investigation of harassing e-mails apparently sent to an unnamed third party by Petraeus' paramour and biographer Paula Broadwell. After the Benghazi blow-out in the presidential debate last month, we were left wondering how the CIA could not have known for two weeks after the fact that the consulate attack was an armed ("terrorist") attack and not just a rowdy demonstration. Now we are left wondering how the director of the CI goddam A could not have known that the FBI was reading his e-mail. And it appears that, at least in the minds of the paranoid, there may be a link between these two apparent lapses...
Obama seemed to score a win in last night's debate by catching Mitt Romney in a lie, or at least an error, over the question of when the deadly attack on the consulate in Benghazi was deemed "terrorism." Obama's snappy come-back "Get the transcript" is already an Internet meme. Here's how the Associated Press "Debate Fact-check" calls it:
Mitt Romney wrongly claimed that it took 14 days for President Obama to brand the assault on the U.S. Consulate in Libya a terrorist act...
OBAMA: The day after [the] attack... "I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people and the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened. That this was an act of terror and I also said that we're going to hunt down those who committed this crime."
After last week's terror blasts in Aleppo, we noted a report in the New York Times to the effect that the US is pressuring Saudi Arabia and Qatar to hold back their support to the Syrian rebels for fear the arms could fall into jihadist hands. Now, the Times runs another story informing us that a "jihadist insurgent group" called the Nusra Front for the People of the Levant has claimed responsibility for last night's suicide attack on an intelligence compound on the outskirts of Damascus—and that the same group also took credit (on a "Qaeda-affiliated Web site") for the Aleppo blasts.
The High Court of England and Wales on Oct. 5 approved the extradition of five terror suspects to the US. The court's decision comes a week after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) gave its final approval of the extradition, which it had initially approved in April. Egyptian-born Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri and four other suspects appealed that ruling in July, but the ECHR declined to revisit their arguments. In its decision, the court criticized the extensive time spent litigating the extradition. In addition to al-Masri, British citizens Syed Talha Ahsan and Babar Ahmad and Saudi-born Khaled Al-Fawwaz are now slated to be extradited. All five men are wanted in the US on terrorism charges and will face imprisonment without parole at ADX Florence, a super-maximum security prison in Colorado. It has not been announced when the group will be extradited nor when they will be tried in the US.