The New York Times informs us that Lt. Gen. Zahir ul-Islam, the head of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, has arrived in Washington D.C. to talk to top American officials including CIA director David H. Petraeus. Let’s all give him a big welcome! He will ask the CIA to stop drone strikes in Pakistan (fat chance) and will propose that America equip Pakistan with drone technology so it can do the same job (fatter chance). He will “also request American help in halting cross-border incursions by the Pakistani Taliban from their bases in Afghanistan” (better chance).
In other Pakistan news, the Times describes the tactics of the Haqqani network and the strain that the jihadist group is putting on U.S.-Pakistani ties. One wonders if this subject will come up in the ISI chief’s visit to Washington this week, seeing as the ISI admits it has contact with the Haqqanis.
The Times editorial board argues–and please note Ben’s restraint in not jeering at a Times editorial–that “the original cybersecurity bill should be approved by the Senate” and that “[i]t’s time for the endless talk of cyberthreats to be met by action.” The Senate will vote on the bill on Thursday, says the Hill.
Mohamed Fadel Fahmy of CNN’s Security Clearance blog interviewed Mohamed al-Zawahiri, Ayman’s al-Zawahiri’s brother, who asserts that Al Qaeda is far from defeated. It concludes with a cheerful denunciation of democracy and a call for killing those who refuse to convert:
“We call for fasting, prayers, spreading Allah’s word and Jihad if we are attacked or restricted from practicing our religion. In this case, we invite the oppressor first into the Islamic community to learn our religion. If they refuse, and we are stopped from spreading our religion, then Allah has ordered us to confront them, and this is Jihad.” Al-Zawahiri said.
When asked if he believes the United States is a legitimate target for attack, al-Zawahiri says: “He who kills our women and children should not be sad when I kill his. I tell them not to lead us into a cycle of violence. Your interest so that we all live in peace is to avoid following world leaders who use Islamists as an excuse to ignite this war for their own gains.”
Now that Mubarak is gone, Mohamed Al-Zawahiri continues to dream of an Egypt governed by Shariah law. But he is critical of Egypt’s nascent democratic transition.
“I don’t believe in constitutions, or this secular system created by America to distort the true Islam like we see in the Turkey model. Democracy is not against dictatorship as some try to portray it. It is against Allah’s supreme authority, against Islam,” he insists.
From the Department of Improbable Friendships comes this story from the Wall Street Journal about the Taliban and Iran. The Sunni Taliban, which has killed many Shiites, has opened an office in Shiite Iran. The country has discussed equipping the group with surface-to-air missiles.
CNN’s Security Clearance blog describes the State Department’s annual terrorism report, which says that Al Qaeda’s affiliate groups pose the greatest threat now that the core has become increasingly weakened. Here is the Wall Street Journal on the report. And here is the actual report and related material.
The Hill informs us that James Cunningham, Obama’s nominee for ambassador to Afghanistan, is optimistic about a peace deal with the Taliban.
And Richard Olson, the President’s nominee for ambassador to Pakistan, said that “his top priority would be to press the government there to take more forceful measures against the Haqqani network,” according to the Times.
Andy Rosenthal, the Times’s editorial page editor, discusses Senator John Cornyn’s push to force the Obama administration to disclose more about its targeted killing program.
David Ignatius of the Washington Post breaks down the anti-leak bill and argues that it “deserves another look.”
Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution discusses Al Qaeda’s role in Syria and Mali in this op-ed in The Daily Beast. Money Quote:
Al Qaeda’s success in capitalizing on revolutionary change in the Arab world comes despite a lack of broad popular support. It remains a extreme movement that appeals only to a small minority, but terrorism is not a popularity contest. Al Qaeda today is stronger at the operational level in the Arab world than it has been in years, and its prospects for getting even stronger are rich.
BBC reports that Israeli security officials are being investigated for demanding to read the emails and look at the Facebook accounts of tourists.
The homepage of the Blog of the European Journal of International Law says it has been hacked by a Moroccan Muslim group “for reasons that entirely escape” its editors.
And in this truly hilarious parody, “Weird Al” Yankovic offers this music video–which has been circulating in the intelligence community–as today’s Moment of Zen:
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