Monday, May 31, 2010

Mullah Fazlullah Reported Killed In Afghanistan

From The Long War Journal:


Mullah Fazlullah reported killed in Afghanistan

By Bill RoggioMay 27, 2010



Mullah Qari Fazlullah.



An Afghan police commander claimed that his forces killed a top Pakistani Taliban leader during a clash in Nuristan province. The report has not been confirmed by US officials.



Mullah Qari Fazlullah, the Taliban commander of the Pakistani district of Swat, was said to have been killed during a clash last night by Afghan border police.



"Maulvi Fazlullah was killed in direct clash with Afghan border police...last night," Mohammed Zaman Mamozai, the chief of the border police force for eastern Afghanistan told The News. Fazlullah was reported to have been killed along with six other Taliban fighters.



US military and intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal could not confirm or deny the reports of Fazlullah's death.



"If the Afghan border police killed him, we should see the corpse," a military officer serving in the region told The Long War Journal. "It shouldn't be difficult to confirm or deny it is him."



The Afghan Taliban confirmed that a clash occurred with Afghan security forces in Nuristan, but denied that the Pakistani Taliban were involved in the fighting. The Afghan Taliban often deny any involvement by the Pakistani Taliban in an effort to present the insurgency as a nationalist struggle against foreign occupation.



The Pakistani Taliban confirmed that Fazlullah shelters in Nuristan but denied that he would lead attacks in the area.



"He could be in Nuristan because the Taliban have been moving back and fourth along the (Pakistan-Afghan) border," Faqir Mohammed, the leader of the Movement of the Taliban in the Bajaur tribal agency, told The News. "He may be living in Nuristan but he is not engaged in any fighting there."



Fazlullah was reported to have led yesterday's assault on the district center in Barg-e-Matal, one of two districts in Nuristan that border Pakistan's Chitral region. Two Afghan policemen and seven Taliban fighters were said to have been killed in the attack. Barg-e-Matal borders the district of Kamdesh, which is under Taliban control since US forces withdrew from combat outposts last fall after an attack by a large Taliban and al Qaeda force.



Background on the Pakistani Taliban operating in eastern Afghanistan



Taliban commander Qari Ziaur Rahman, who operates on both sides of the Afghan and Pakistani border, said that the US pullout from Kamdesh and the Korengal Valley in neighboring Kunar province has given the Taliban greater freedom of movement on both sides of the border. Rahman is known to coordinate attacks on both sides of the border. He is closely allied with al Qaeda and is said to lead one of the six brigades of al Qaeda's paramilitary Shadow Army, or the Lashkar al Zil.



Fazlullah's forces are thought to have moved into Nuristan last fall to evade a Pakistani military offensive that began in May 2009 and targeted him and the leadership of the Swat Taliban. In a phone call to the media late last year, he claimed he was in Afghanistan.



Fazlullah controlled the Pakistani district of Swat for more than two years after the government signed multiple peace agreements that helped him consolidate his power. His forces have survived last year's Pakistani military offensive and have re-infiltrated Swat to wage a low-intensity insurgency that consists of targeted assassinations of pro-government tribal leaders and politicians.



The Pakistani military has claimed it killed Fazlullah, Rahman, Faqir, and other top Taliban leaders in airstrikes and raids over the past year, but the Taliban leaders have eventually granted interviews with the media and mocked Pakistani officials.



Fazlullah is one of the more radical and eccentric Taliban leaders in the Northwest Frontier Province. He has been nicknamed "Mullah FM" and "Mullah Radio" for pioneering the use of illegal radio broadcasts to promote his radical agenda. In Swat, he has preached jihad and called for the imposition of sharia law on his illegally run radio station. He campaigned against girls’ schools and polio vaccinations. Fazlullah also conducted campaigns where he organized the burning of television sets, digital and video cameras, computers, and other electronics as they are a "source of sin."



The 31-year-old radical cleric is leader of the local al Qaeda-linked and outlawed Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM - the Movement for the Implementation of Mohammad's Sharia Law), also referred to as "the Pakistani Taliban." Under the command of Sufi Mohammed, Fazlullah's father-in-law, the TNSM sent over 10,000 of its fighters into Afghanistan to fight US forces in 2001 before the fall of the Taliban.













Read more: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2010/05/mullah_fazlullah_rep.php#ixzz0pZmPrAyH

Nuristani Taliban Commander Denies Fazlullah Killed In Strike

From The Long War Journal:


Nuristani Taliban commander denies Fazlullah killed

By Bill RoggioMay 28, 2010



Mullah Munibullah, the Taliban's military commander for Nuristan province.





A top Taliban commander in eastern Afghanistan denied that a wanted Pakistani Taliban leader was killed in fighting in the region.



Mullah Munibullah, the Taliban's military commander for Nuristan, denied that Mullah Fazlullah, the Taliban leader of the district of Swat in Pakistan, was killed during clashes along the border region. Munibullah said that while Fazlullah had been in the region, he was no longer there and would not have led a military attack regardless.



"There is no truth in Afghan government claims and media reports that Maulana Fazlullah-led Pakistani Taliban attacked some posts of the Afghan army and police at Barg-e-Matal," Munibullah told The News. "I am military commander of Nuristan province and no such incident happened here."



"It is almost impossible for an outsider like Maulana Fazlullah to raise a group of 300 militants in Nuristan and attack security posts," Munibullah continued in his interview with The News. "Except us, no other Taliban group can operate here. We have stopped attacking the Afghan army and police here in Nuristan after the US forces vacated their outposts. We signed agreement with the local tribesmen in which we promised them we would not fight against local forces."



While Pakistani Taliban and al Qaeda and other jihadist groups often take shelter with and fight with the Nuristani Taliban, they do not typically lead operations in the region, US intelligence officials told The Long War Journal.



Afghan officials are now backing off initial claims that Fazlullah was killed in a clash with border police on May 25 along with six other fighters. Earlier that day, reports indicated that Fazlullah led a force estimated at between 300 and 500 Pakistani fighters in an assault on the district center in Barg-e-Matal. The Afghan police, backed by local Nuristanis, repelled the attack.



Fazlullah controlled Swat in northwestern Pakistan from 2007 until May 2009, when the Pakistani military ousted the Taliban from the region after the group encroached on districts near Islamabad.



In October 2009, Munibullah, along with Dost Mohammed, the shadow governor of Nuristan, led the Taliban and al Qaeda assault on Combat Outpost Keating in the Kamdesh district of Nuristan province. US troops withdrew from the base weeks later, allowing the Taliban to claim a propaganda victory.



Munibullah admitted during an interview in 2007 that his forces operate closely with al Qaeda and other Central Asian jihadist groups.



"We are all one now with a common enemy," Munibullah told NBC in the interview. "Everyone – the Arabs, the Uzbeks, the Tajiks and the Chinese – have all accepted Mullah Omar as the supreme leader and we all fight together."













Read more: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2010/05/nuristani_taliban_co.php#ixzz0pZlkLEdv

Former Guantanamo Detainee Is Now A AL Queda Commander

From The Long War Journal:


Former Gitmo detainee featured as commander in al Qaeda tape

By Thomas JoscelynMay 28, 2010



Former Guantanamo Bay detainee Othman Ahmed al Ghamdi, in a tape released by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.





A videotape released by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) earlier this week says that a former Guantanamo detainee is now a commander within the terrorist organization.



The former detainee, Othman Ahmed al Ghamdi, has risen to the rank of operational commander within AQAP as other senior terrorists within the organization have been killed in recent strikes. The tape, which is titled “America and the Final Trap,” confirms that three AQAP leaders were killed in a strike last December.



According to a translation of the tape obtained by the Long War Journal, al Ghamdi denounces the airstrikes, claiming that America refuses to confront al Qaeda directly on the battlefield. (Of course, al Qaeda itself prefers terrorist attacks against civilians, rather than direct warfare.) Along with other AQAP leaders featured in the video, al Ghamdi portrays counterterrorism operations in Yemen as part of a crusade led by America against the Muslim world. This is a standard part of al Qaeda’s propaganda.



Also featured in the tape are Qasim al Raymi, AQAP’s military commander, and Fahd al Quso, an al Qaeda operative wanted for his role in the USS Cole bombing.



In the tape, AQAP threatens America with further terrorist attacks. The AQAP leaders also celebrate previous AQAP-linked terrorist plots. Both Major Nidal Malik Hasan (who killed 13 Americans during a shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas last year) and Umar Farouq Abdulmutallab (who attempted to bomb a Detroit-bound plane on Christmas Day 2009) are celebrated as heroes.



The tape includes a short segment in which Abdulmutallab calls on Muslims to wage jihad.



“He hates America”



Al Ghamdi was a soldier in the Saudi military until early 2000. He deserted the military after he became interested in fighting the Russians in Chechnya – a cause that frequently attracts new al Qaeda recruits. According to a memo produced by US officials at Gitmo and reproduced on the New York Times' web site, al Ghamdi said “he wanted to fight alongside the Muslims in Chechnya because he did not want to see his ‘brothers and sisters’ killed and butchered.”



The same memo notes that al Ghamdi never made it to Chechnya. Instead, he was trained at al Qaeda’s notorious al Farouq camp in Afghanistan and then served on the front lines fighting the Northern Alliance for more than one year.



While al Ghamdi admitted to US authorities that he was a proud mujahedin, “he claimed to have no knowledge of” Osama bin Laden or al Qaeda. But Gitmo authorities found that al Ghamdi frequently lied about his terror ties. He “originally provided the interrogation team with a false name and false citizenship information,” Gitmo authorities noted. Al Ghamdi also “changed his story and appeared evasive at times.” He initially claimed that no on inspired him to wage jihad in Chechnya, but later conceded that a friend “gave him information about the fighting in Chechnya and Taliban training in Afghanistan.”



Al Ghamdi did not always hide his ideological disposition at Gitmo. US authorities wrote that he “dwells in his beliefs.” The US officials elaborated:







The detainee [al Ghamdi] stated that he never harmed any Muslims. The detainee believes all fatwas state that Americans should not be in the Arabian Peninsula. The detainee blames Americans for everything bad that has happened in Afghanistan and other Muslim countries. He hates America.





Al Ghamdi was captured on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan in December 2001 after fleeing the Tora Bora Mountains along with other al Qaeda members. The native Saudi was held at Guantanamo until June 2006, when he was repatriated to his home country.



Al Ghamdi was then enrolled in a rehabilitation program for jihadists set up by the Saudi government. After completing the program, al Ghamdi fled to Yemen where he rejoined al Qaeda. In early 2009, al Ghamdi was added to the Saudi Kingdom’s most wanted list, along with at least 10 other former Gitmo detainees.



In September 2009 al Ghamdi reportedly called his family to let them know that another former Gitmo detainee, Fahd Saleh Suleiman al Jutayli, had been killed in a shootout.



Gitmo ties abound



Al Ghamdi joins other former Gitmo detainees who have gone on to hold leadership positions within AQAP. Said al Shihri is currently the group’s second-in-command. Ibrahim Rubaish, another Gitmo alumnus, is AQAP’s mufti, or chief theologian.



In addition to the aforementioned Fahd al Jutayli, still other former Gitmo detainees have died fighting for AQAP. Yousef al Shihri (Said al Shihri’s brother-in-law) was killed by Saudi security forces in October 2009. Yousef was dressed as a woman at the time, and his garb concealed a suicide explosives belt.



Another former Gitmo detainee, Hani Abdo Shaalan, was killed in December 2009 while he was reportedly assisting AQAP in planned attacks on the British embassy and other western targets inside Yemen. Unlike the other former Gitmo detainees mentioned above, Shaalan was a native of Yemen.



The ties between Guantanamo and AQAP do not end there. Other former Gitmo detainees have reportedly made their way to Yemen to join the organization.



Qasim al Raymi, who is AQAP’s top military commander and is featured in AQAP’s most recent tape along with Othman Ahmed al Ghamdi, also has a brother who is currently detained in Cuba.













Read more: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2010/05/former_gitmo_detaine_4.php#ixzz0pZl3ccLV

U.S. Kills 11 In Waziristan In Predator Strike

From The Long War Journal:


US kills 11 in Predator strike in South Waziristan

By Bill RoggioMay 28, 2010





The US killed 11 terrorists in airstrikes in Pakistan's lawless tribal agency of South Waziristan. The strike is the first in the tribal agency this year.



The strike, which was carried out by unmanned Predators or the more deadly Reapers, targeted "militant hideouts" in the Nezai Narai area in South Waziristan, according to Geo News. It is unclear if the strike targeted al Qaeda, the Taliban, or allied Central Asian terror groups known to operate in the tribal agency.



No senior al Qaeda or Taliban leaders have been reported killed at this time.



The attack took place just one day after Philip Alston, the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions, called for the CIA to end the strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas. Alston claimed the program is not subject to accountability that would exist under a program run by the US military.



"With the Defense Department you’ve got maybe not perfect but quite abundant accountability as demonstrated by what happens when a bombing goes wrong in Afghanistan," Alston said in an interview with The New York Times. "The whole process that follows is very open. Whereas if the C.I.A. is doing it, by definition they are not going to answer questions, not provide any information, and not do any follow-up that we know about."



Alston's comments follow criticisms of the CIA program earlier this year by the American Civil Liberties Union, which has filed a lawsuit against the the Defense Department, the State Department, and the Justice Department, demanding enforcement of its January request for information on the program.



The US government has defended the air campaign in Pakistan, and insisted the program is in line with international laws of war and remains accountable to the US Congress.



Background on US strikes in Pakistan



Today's strike is the seventh reported inside Pakistan this month. So far this year, the US has carried out 38 strikes in Pakistan; all but two of the strikes this year, including today's, have taken place in North Waziristan. An airstrike on May 15 occurred in the Tirah Valley in the tribal agency of Khyber.



The US is well on its way to exceeding last year’s strike total in Pakistan. In 2009, the US carried out 53 strikes in Pakistan; and in 2008, the US carried out 36 strikes in the country. [For up-to-date charts on the US air campaign in Pakistan, see LWJ Special Report, "Charting the data for US airstrikes in Pakistan, 2004 - 2010."]



Unmanned US Predator and Reaper strike aircraft have been pounding Taliban and al Qaeda hideouts in North Waziristan over the past several months in an effort to kill senior terror leaders and disrupt the networks that threaten Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the West. [For more information, see LWJ report, "Senior al Qaeda and Taliban leaders killed in US airstrikes in Pakistan, 2004 - 2010."]



Most recently, on March 8, a US strike in a bazaar in Miramshah killed a top al Qaeda operative known as Sadam Hussein Al Hussami. Hussami was a protégé of Abu Khabab al Masri, al Qaeda's top bomb maker and WMD chief, who was killed in a US airstrike in July 2008. Hussami was a senior member of al Qaeda's external operations network, and was on a council that advised the suicide bomber who carried out the attack at Combat Outpost Chapman in Khost, Afghanistan. That attack killed seven CIA officials and a Jordanian intelligence officer. The slain intelligence operatives had been involved in gathering intelligence for the hunt for al Qaeda and Taliban leaders along the Afghan-Pakistani border.



In early April, Siraj Haqqani, the leader of the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network, said that the effectiveness of US airstrikes in killing senior Taliban and al Qaeda leaders had “decreased 90 percent" since the suicide attack on Combat Outpost Chapman. While other factors may be involved in the decreased effectiveness in killing the top-tier leaders, an analysis of the data shows that only two top-tier commanders have been killed since Jan 1, 2010, but seven top-tier leaders were killed between Aug.1, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2009. [See LWJ report, "Effectiveness of US strikes in Pakistan 'decreased 90 percent' since suicide strike on CIA - Siraj Haqqani," for more information.]



For the past few months, most US and Pakistani officials believed that Hakeemullah Mehsud, the leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, had been killed in a Jan. 14 strike in Pasalkot in North Waziristan. But recently, after four months of silence on the subject, the Taliban released two tapes to prove that Hakeemullah is alive. On the tapes, Hakeemullah said the Taliban will carry out attacks inside the US.



US strikes in Pakistan in 2010:



• US kills 11 in Predator strike in South Waziristan

May 28, 2010

• US airstrike kills 6 in North Waziristan

May 21, 2010

• US Predators carry out first strike in Khyber

May 15, 2010

• US pounds Taliban in pair of strikes in North Waziristan

May 11, 2010

• US airstrike kills 10 'rebels' in North Waziristan

May 9, 2010

• US airstrike kills 4 'militants' in North Waziristan

May 3, 2010

• US strike kills 8 Taliban in North Waziristan

April 26, 2010

• US airstrike kills 7 Taliban in North Waziristan

April 24, 2010

• US strikes kill 6 in North Waziristan

April 16, 2010

• US strike kills 4 in Taliban stronghold of North Waziristan

April 14, 2010

• US strike kills 5 Taliban in North Waziristan

April 12, 2010

• US strikes kill 6 in North Waziristan

March 30, 2010

• US strike kills 4 in North Waziristan

March 27, 2010

• US kills 6 in strike against Haqqani Network

March 23, 2010

• US strike kills 4 in North Waziristan

March 21, 2010

• US kills 8 terrorists in 2 new airstrikes in North Waziristan

March 17, 2010

• US Predator strike in North Waziristan kills 11 Taliban, al Qaeda

March 16, 2010

• US airstrike kills 12 in North Waziristan

March 10, 2010

• US airstrike in North Waziristan kills 5 Taliban fighters

March 8, 2010

• US hits Haqqani Network in North Waziristan, kills 8

Feb. 24, 2010

• US airstrikes target Haqqani Network in North Waziristan

Feb. 18, 2010

• Latest US airstrike kills 3 in North Waziristan

Feb. 17, 2010

• US strike kills 4 in North Waziristan

Feb. 15, 2010

• US strikes training camp in North Waziristan

Feb. 14, 2010

• Predators pound terrorist camp in North Waziristan

Feb. 2, 2010

• US airstrike targets Haqqani Network in North Waziristan

Jan. 29, 2010

• US airstrike in North Waziristan kills 6

Jan. 19, 2010

• Latest US airstrike in Pakistan kills 20

Jan. 17, 2010

• US strikes kill 11 in North Waziristan

Jan. 15, 2010

• US airstrike hits Taliban camp in North Waziristan

Jan. 14, 2010

• US airstrike kills 4 Taliban fighters in North Waziristan

Jan. 9, 2010

• US airstrike kills 5 in North Waziristan

Jan. 8, 2010

• US kills 17 in latest North Waziristan strike

Jan. 6, 2010

• US airstrike kills 2 Taliban fighters in Mir Ali in Pakistan

Jan. 3, 2010

• US kills 3 Taliban in second strike in North Waziristan

Jan. 1, 2010







Read more: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2010/05/us_kills_11_in_preda.php#ixzz0pZk3A5ks

Taliban Take Control of District in Nuristan

From The Long War Journal:


Taliban take control of district in Nuristan

By Bill RoggioMay 29, 2010



Map of Afghanistan's provinces.


The Taliban have seized control of a district in the northeastern province of Nuristan after several days of heavy fighting.



Afghan police have abandoned the district center of Barg-e-Matal as fighting took place in the main town, Afghan political and police officials said. The Taliban now claim they are in control of the district and have boasted that their forces have raised the Taliban banner over the district center.



Afghan officials maintain they conducted a "tactical retreat" today from the district center in Barg-e-Matal after the fighting threatened nearby civilians.



"Since the district headquarters is inside the village in a crowded location we had to make a tactical retreat to avoid casualties to civilians" Jamaludin Badr, the governor of Nuristan, told AFP.



The Taliban control key facilities in Barg-e-Matal, said Mohammad Gul Himat, an Afghan border police commander. "Taliban have control over their radio facility which means Taliban have captured the district," Himat told AFP.



The fate of the Afghan policemen defending the district center is not known. It is unclear if they were killed, captured, or fled the scene of the fighting.



The Taliban issued two releases on the fighting in Nuristan on its website, Voice of Jihad. On the website, the Taliban claimed to have "seized complete control of the district" and "captured four military posts blocking off all the routes to the district center." Both releases included crudely photoshopped images of a white Taliban flag flying over a fighting position built by US forces.



The clashes in Barg-e-Matal began on May 25, when a large Taliban force estimated at between 300 to 500 fighters attacked the district center. Afghan police, backed by a lashkar, or militia of local Nuristani tribesmen, fought back. US air support was called in to aid in the fighting against the Taliban, but no US ground forces have been reported to have engaged in fighting in the area.



Afghan officials claimed that Pakistani Taliban leader Mullah Qari Fazlullah led the initial assault in Barg-e-Matal, and later claimed he was killed. But Mullah Munibullah, the Taliban's military commander for Nuristan, denied that Fazlullah led the attack and said he was not killed in the fighting. Munibullah said only Afghan Taliban were involved in the fighting.



But General Qaseem Payman, the provincial police chief for Nuristan, insisted that "a large number of Pakistani and Chechen rebels" were seen fighting in Nuristan. And in the past, Munibullah has admitted to working closely with al Qaeda and other South and Central Asian jihadist groups.



Payman said the Taliban suffered heavy losses in the battle for Barg-e-Matal despite their success in overrunning the district center.



"In the last one week battle between our forces and the Taliban, two policemen were killed and few others were wounded, but the Taliban suffered heavy casualties," Payman told Quqnoos. "Around forty-five Taliban fighters were killed and dozens of others were wounded."



The Barg-e-Matal district is a known Taliban transit area to and from the northern Pakistani district of Chitral. Last summer, the Taliban took control of Barg-e-Matal for several months after a similar attack. US and Afghan forces were deployed to the region to help local Nuristanis eject the Taliban, but the forces later withdrew.



Barg-e-Matal borders the district of Kamdesh, which is under Taliban control since US forces withdrew from combat outposts last fall after an attack by a large Taliban and al Qaeda force.



Previous LWJ reports on the ongoing fighting in Barg-e-Matal:



May 28, 2010: "Nuristani Taliban commander denies Fazlullah killed"

May 27, 2010: "Mullah Fazlullah reported killed in Afghanistan"

May 26, 2010: "Pakistani Taliban assault district center in Nuristan"











Read more: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2010/05/taliban_take_control.php#ixzz0pZjIppGL

Standing With Heroes

From The American Thinker:

31, 2010


Standing with Heroes

By Lance Fairchok

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance and respect for those who have given their lives for the freedoms that bless this nation. Most Americans no longer visit memorials and cemeteries; our nation's wars do not touch them except for quick sound bites on the news. Fewer still actually know a service member or understand the sacrifices they make with their service, the time away from home and family, the inherent risks and the real possibility that they will sacrifice their lives. Since September 11, 2001, 5,456 American service members have perished fighting terror in all its forms. They all have family and friends who mourn their loss. They are the human face of this long conflict, and they will not be the last -- the fight goes on, as it must. They were the best of us, and they deserve to be honored by the nation they fought to preserve.





Senior Airman Bradley Smith was killed in southern Afghanistan supporting the 4th Infantry Division on January 3, 2010. His foot patrol was ambushed by the Taliban, who detonated a series of bombs as they entered the small village of Ashoque. Two soldiers were killed from the initial blasts, two severely wounded. Airman Smith and the unit medic moved forward to render aid to the wounded and recover the dead. As they reassembled, a second bomb detonated. Airman Smith was standing on it. In all, five members of the patrol perished, and six were badly wounded, including Airman Smith's fellow Air Force member Senior Airman Michael Malarise, who was blinded by shrapnel and is still recovering from his injuries.





Senior Airman Michael Malarsie (left) & Senior Airman Bradley Smith (right):


Both Airmen were part of an elite group of Air Force warriors known as Tactical Air Control Parties (TACP). These remarkable airmen accompany forward Army units to coordinate air support to ground operations. Their training is rigorous and demanding. Their school at Hurlburt Field Florida has a high washout rate. Only the best get to wear the black beret with its distinctive crest. Airman Smith was one of the best, a battlefield airman, who always strived to excel, who always put in the extra effort, who earned the respect of all who knew him.





Brad was born on Sept 11, 1985. It was his birthday when hijacked airliners hit the Twin Trade Towers and the Pentagon. He was sixteen. He and his brother Brian both joined the Air Force. Most Americans spend their whole lives without doing a thing for their nation, but the Smiths had two sons volunteer to serve, to go into harms way, to do what has to be done. Their family has given us their most precious thing: the life of a son, their joy and their pride and their legacy. It is impossible to repay that sacrifice. It should make every American bow his head and say a prayer of thanksgiving that we have such families among us who raise our heroes and know such grief.





As much as Brad was a warrior, he was gentle -- he fed the homeless and mentored young people at his church. He was loyal friend, a loving husband and proud new father, who called his wife Tiffany and their baby daughter Chloe Lynn every day, even from the war zone. Brad loved them with the same irrepressible energy with which he approached everything in his life.





At Brad's funeral, after the service had ended but before the interment, a long line of young men in blue uniforms and black berets slowly walked past the graveside. Each one briefly stopped to murmur private words of thanks and pressed the crest from their beret into the wood of his casket. A hundred and fifty were pinned there when the line ended. Then, in unison, those men, his comrades and fellow TACP airmen, saluted -- a final farewell to a fallen brother. On their chests were purple hearts and awards for bravery, symbols of sacrifice and a commitment to duty we can only imagine. They have faced our enemies for us in all the perilous places of the world. They have fought the depravity of his ideology to bring freedom to those who have never known it.




Remember Brad on this Memorial Day. Bow your head in thanks for the terrible sacrifice his family has made for us. Remember Tiffany and Chloe as they struggle to cope in a world without their beloved husband and father. Remember Senior Airman Michael Malarise, who suffers with grievous wounds still. Remember all who now serve, far from home, in harms way, to guard the freedoms we too often forget were bought for us with the blood of fine young men like Senior Airman Bradley Smith.





The brave men who fell on 3 January 2010 in southern Afghanistan:





SGT Joshua Allen Lengstorf

B Co., 1-12 IN

SPC Brian Robert Bowman

B Co., 1-12 IN

SPC Robert John Donevski

B Co., 2-12 IN

PFC John Phillip Dion

B Co., 1-12 IN

SrA Bradley Randall Smith

10th Air Support Operations Squadron





The Tactical Air Control Party site http://usaftacp.com/ has photos of Brad's funeral and Tiffany and Chloe.

Remembering The Forgotten

From The American Thinker:

May 31, 2010


Remembering the Forgotten

By Bruce Walker

My wife's parents were liberated at Belsen by British soldiers (who had been fighting Hitler for five years). Her future life was possible, quite literally, because of their courage. She never fails to pass a serviceman without saying "Thanks for your service." My father, the most perfect person I have ever known, served in the Army, then the Army Air Corps, and finally the Navy. He joined the Navy in 1942, although he was exempt from the draft in 1941, because he felt that is was the moral duty of every man to fight Hitler. Each day we are safe because soldiers, sailors, airman, corpsmen, and policemen place themselves between us and evil.





When these men have fallen or when their young bodies have been maimed forever in defense of our safety, the poignant moment of thanks we give inevitably dissolves over the years into an empty, formalistic expression of gratitude. We fool ourselves into believing that the trivial problems of our comfortable lives have somehow matched the bravery, the pain, and the nightmares that haunt these heroes for the rest of their lives. Perhaps on Memorial Day, we can drop the mask of studied indifference and hold in our heart this famous line from one of the briefest speeches in presidential history:





... that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion-that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom ...





It is a grim tribute to the Orwellian nature of modern education that some of our schoolchildren, even some of our college graduates -- perhaps even the president himself (who is spending Memorial Day recreating himself on account of the heavy burdens of his busy life) -- do not recognize those words. But what Lincoln said at Gettysburg we should vow each Memorial Day to remember.







Historians still battle over the need or the virtue of the Civil War. Without war, would the South have ended slavery, just as much of the North had, through state emancipation? Maybe: Consider that "slave" states included Delaware, Missouri, and Maryland, and note that Robert E. Lee himself thought slavery was wrong. Historical debates do not diminish a single word from Lincoln's address. Young men do not choose the wars they fight. They simply answer their country's call. They fight for its ideals, even when their political leaders are misguided. America is less its "leaders" and more these noble, scared young men whose honor trumped their terror of war and who gave us "their last full measure of devotion."





We do not need to glorify war to give thanks for their sacrifice. Young men do not make wars, and no one needs remind them of the ghastliness or grisliness of war. Our obligation is to look at Arlington Cemetery (or any military cemetery, or at a local law enforcement cemetery of policemen who died to keep us safe) and respect what these men have given us. Most of the fallen are now forgotten. Their memory, their shortened lives, their mangled bodies laid into some distant grave -- these plain and awful data of history -- cannot hold the attention of a world in which only the last day's news cycle is real.





The faith in America of those brave men who don a uniform to keep us safe has survived the debauchery and deconstruction of the sixties, the cynicism of politics, and the rule of presidents who "loathed the military." The resilience of these good and ordinary Americans transcends political parties (if there are no atheists in the foxhole, then there are also no Republicans or Democrats). Their will to defend us defies the conventional amorality of modern selfishness. When they not only liberate but succor, in spite of their own long campaigns and bitter deprivations, emaciated Jews imprisoned in Hell, like my wife's parents, these Americans do only what is natural to them.





Where is Billy? What happened to Sam? They lie deep in the earth, far from our thoughts, and farther still from our banal lives. Our fathers, our sons, our brothers, and our husbands -- or once they were -- are done with the world of the living. They left it far too soon. Their only monuments are a Cross or a Mogen David in some manicured lawns...and, if we are good enough people, our grateful hearts.





Bruce Walker is the author of two books: Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie and The Swastika against the Cross: The Nazi War on Christianity.

When Masculine Virtues Go Out Of Fashion

From The American Thinker:

May 31, 2010


When Masculine Virtues Go Out of Fashion

By Tom Hoffman

The culture war begun in the sixties has, in large part, been won by the left. Nowhere is this clearer than in the feminization of men. The virtues of manhood which had been extolled and celebrated throughout the middle ages right up to the 1950s have been completely expunged from academia and pop culture. The baby boom generation was the last to be taught the values of rugged individualism, risk-taking, courage, bravery, loyalty, and reverence for tradition. John Wayne epitomized the rugged individual who was committed to fighting "the bad guy," but he was only one of a whole host of competing figures cut out of the same cloth. What happened?





Today, the Boy Scouts are fighting the last battle in a lost cause. Any man who stands up to the "women's movement" is completely marginalized as a sexist and homophobe. These names have become just as stigmatizing as "racist" used to be. It is no wonder that women now are the majority of college graduates and are increasing their role in every institution from private enterprise to public service, including the military. Is this a healthy trend? The answer is clearly "no."





Edward Gibbon chronicles the increasing femininity of the Roman Empire in his six-volume work, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. He catalogues the progressive decadence that rendered the once-proud republic into spoils for barbarian hordes. The consuls in the early republic, who were warrior-generals adhering to a strict code of honor, gradually gave way to the backroom emperors who were no more than brazen criminals and thugs. It is the same script in all noble human enterprise: The fabric which bred success is torn apart by the complacency of the successful. When warfare is demonized as violence and negotiation is raised to an art, the end is near. Today, we are there.





Today's politics reminds me of the make-believe kingdom of Queen Herzeloyde. She was the mother of Parzival, the hero of Wolfram von Eschenbach's 12th-century epic poem Parzival. This masterwork is widely touted as a literary cornerstone of Western civilization. It not only extolled the virtues of knighthood and chivalry, but it also exhorted men to overcome all obstacles on the path to individual greatness.





Parzival's mother was married to a knightly king whose military campaigns against worldly evil kept him away from his kingdom for years on end. Herzeloyde is heartbroken to hear of her husband's death and vows to keep her son sheltered from the knightly world. She sets up a royal court in the wilderness with a deadly sanction against anyone who would allow her son to come in contact with a knight. The boy grows up oblivious of the outside world until he confronts two knights in shining armor on horseback. His mother is distraught to discover that there will be no discouraging her son's ambition to become a knight. She goes so far as to dress her son as a fool upon his setting out upon his adventure in hopes that he will be humiliated and return to her.





Academia, with the help of the media, has labeled all reference to manly virtue as patriarchal, sexist, and homophobic. Womanly virtue, on the other hand, is extolled. Caring, compassion, sensitivity, and understanding are virtues meant to blur the distinction between good and evil and drown out the call of manly conscience to "do the right thing." Like a mother who refuses to see the evil in her son, the feminist professors cast all moral standards as relative and subjective.





Exit the cowboy and enter the mama's boy. Queen Herzeloyde would have no problem raising young Parzival in today's schools, as devoid of examples of manly virtue and rugged individualism as they are. All reference to the service of a higher calling -- to God and country -- has been replaced by the call to community service with the emphasis on care and compassion for the downtrodden.





We now have a would-be queen named Pelosi who sits atop a vast bureaucracy dedicated to rooting out all reference to God and a higher calling while making sure that any reference to manly virtue, rugged individualism, and decency is stigmatized as "hate speech." No nation has ever demonized manhood to its own reward. A nation that renounces violence, no matter how just the cause, signs its own death certificate -- and for a violent death at that.

A Thank You On Memorial Day

From The American Thinker:

May 31, 2010


A Thank You on Memorial Day

By Steve McCann

A soldier, a small American flag on the shoulder of his jacket, slowly walks through the streets of a once-bustling city now lying in rubble. The still-upright walls, their windows and doors blown out, appear as skeletons framed by the blue sky. He steps carefully around the broken bricks and shattered glass, alert to any noise or movement.





The soldier hears a faint stirring and, wheeling around, rifle at the ready, sees a young girl perhaps five or six years of age slowly walking towards him. Her tattered clothes barely cover her emaciated frame. Their eyes meet. The soldier sees eyes that have lost their sparkle and now reflect only the weariness of war and the never-ending struggle for survival.





He offers his hand to her, and, while wary, she senses a genuine kindness in his demeanor. They share a chocolate bar, and in spite of their inability to communicate, there is an instant bond. Soon three other children appear from behind the shattered walls. Welcoming them into the group, the soldier, with a gentle smile, gives all his rations to the youngsters. For an hour or two, they sit and talk to each other as best as they can while the thoughts of the young man gradually turn to the memory of his childhood and family in a small town so far away.







When the time comes for the soldier to depart, the little girl tugs on his sleeve and with tears in her eyes hugs him and kisses him on the cheek. The soldier turns away to go back into the bloody cauldron of war, but he leaves behind children who for the rest of their lives will cherish the memory of that day and of the young man from another country who showed them such genuine friendship and kindness.





The following day, a sniper's bullet finds its mark, and the same young man so full of hopes and dreams lies dead beneath a splintered oak tree.





But in the street of a devastated city thousands of miles from his home, the soldier shared a fleeting moment of peace and tranquility with a new family: those he and his fellow Americans had freed from a life of slavery and oppression.





The country whence this soldier came, the United States of America, is unique in the annals of mankind. When attacked by foreign powers, the United States never viewed those incidents as a pretext to conquer and permanently subjugate other nations. Rather, this country, in the pursuit of self-defense, also aspired to the noble calling of freeing others from tyranny and allowing the people of those nations to establish their own governments based on freedom and liberty.





The basic tenets in the founding of the United States -- 1) that all men are endowed by God with certain inalienable rights, and 2) that the individual and not the state is paramount -- enabled the creation of a society that fostered love and respect, not only of country, but of fellow man, regardless of where he might live.





It is this distinctive trait among all global communities which has motivated countless American men and women over the years to willingly take up arms to defend a land they cherish and to expend blood and treasure so others can live in peace and freedom.





American military cemeteries, with their verdant fields of seemingly endless rows of monuments marking the graves of those who made the ultimate sacrifice, dot the globe. The sons and daughters of the United States interred there now reside in the pantheon of the most noble and heroic in the history of man.





Those who were liberated, initially preoccupied with rebuilding and getting on with their shattered lives, sometimes have failed to acknowledge their debt to those living and dead who rescued them and succeeding generations from lives of tyranny and repression. As the years march inexorably on, the memory of the past, and particularly the most unpleasant chapters, are pushed into the recesses of daily consciousness. With each new generation, the knowledge and experience of war and survival are replaced with the demands of day-to-day living and an unfortunate tendency to fall prey to the false but fashionable proclivity of blaming the United States for all the world's ills.





But the various countries of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East who have experienced peace and prosperity for years or decades would not have done so without the willingness of the United States to expend the lives and wealth of its citizens.





On Memorial Day, when Americans honor the memory of those who without hesitation paid the ultimate price to defend the United States, it is fitting that the people and their progeny around the world whose lives were so impacted by these same sacrifices pause and express their gratitude.





As a survivor of World War II and someone who was brought to the United States as an orphaned child and a "displaced person," I speak for the countless millions who cannot or are unable when I say, Thank You.

What Memorial Day Means To A Veteran

From The American Thinker:

May 31, 2010


What Memorial Day Means to a Veteran

By T.J. Woodard

When I was a young seven-year-old, I noticed my neighbor's mother crying. I learned that her brother-in-law, a helicopter pilot, had been killed in Vietnam. I felt bad about it, but to me, it was just a story.





When I was a high school student, my Uncle Bob, a police lieutenant, sat in our living room and told us of a police officer who had been killed in the line of duty. I remember Uncle Bob sitting there, wiping tears from his eyes as he explained the officer's actions that day. Uncle Bob was on the scene and was about to take command when the shooting occurred. "It was a hell of a brave thing he did," my uncle reported. Uncle Bob's story was of valor and sacrifice, but still only a story to me.





Sacrifice became real for me many years later in Iraq. I was the executive officer (second in command) of a newly formed task force -- Task Force Tacoma. We had the mission of preventing mortar attacks on the largest American air base in the country, the security "outside the wire" for 20,000 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and civilians. It was a difficult mission. The area was known as "mortaritaville" because of the constant threat of attack by rocket and mortar fire.





The reality of the war hit the task force on 22 June 2004. Alpha Company, 579th Engineers, California Army National Guard, were conducting search and seizure operations north of the base. Most of the men were dismounted, walking and searching for hidden weapons caches. A company of Iraqi National Guard (ING) troops were also on the mission.





Shortly before 1100 hours, the radio crackled with "Contact! Small arms fire!" The gunfire was close to the base's fence line, and we heard the very brief exchange. Our ING "allies," the very people we were there to help rebuild their country, had ambushed part of the patrol. Our scout platoon provided overwatch. The scouts reported something that stopped every heart in the command post. "We have one KIA and two wounded. We are evacuating to the north gate. Get that gate open so we can get to the CASH [Combat Support Hospital]." We did so, and the patrol quickly got our men to the hospital.





It was too late for First Lieutenant Andre Tyson. Twenty minutes later, we learned that Sergeant Patrick McCaffrey also died of his wounds. Specialist Bruce Himmelright was critically wounded. In an instant, the reality of war hit three hundred men and women. I spent the rest of the day coordinating the actions of the quick reaction force, ensuring the mortar platoon was ready to fire to support any further enemy contact, calling brigade headquarters to inform them of the casualties, and coordinating with 1st Battalion, 77th Armor to the north, and the 2nd Brigade Combat Team headquarters. I worked nonstop until 2300 hours (11 pm) that night.





Our world was shattered in an instant. That night, after the graves registration team did their job, nearly the entire battalion assembled on the ramp at the airfield to put our men, our friends and comrades, on a C-130 aircraft for their last trip home. It was a somber experience.





Events calmed down for the next six weeks. In early August, the commander's gunner (the man who mans the .50 caliber machine gun on his vehicle), Specialist Donald Roy McCune II, asked to go on a patrol with the scout platoon. He told the battalion commander, "I like working in the headquarters section, Sir, but we just don't go on patrols often enough. I need to get out there in the field." He was volunteering for his last mission.





Just before 1800 hours (6 pm), the radios came alive. "Shawnee 6 hit an IED [improvised explosive device -- Shawnee 6 was the radio call sign for the scout platoon leader]!" Three 155-millimeter artillery shells were wired together for detonation. The explosion caused a crater eight feet wide and four feet deep. The HMMWV (High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle) was thrown in the air and landed upside-down next to the crater. The engine of the vehicle was destroyed -- everything forward of the engine block was gone. A patrol found a tire from the truck 300 meters from the site of the explosion.





The blast broke First Lieutenant Tim Ozmer's back. He crawled from the truck. Specialist John West was critically wounded, hanging upside-down by his seat belt. Sergeant Robert Johnson, who was not seriously wounded, pulled his crew from the vehicle. Specialist McCune suffered serious internal injuries when he was thrown from the vehicle.





Another long night of work followed. At the hospital, I met the remaining scout platoon men and briefed them on their fellow soldiers' injuries. I had never felt such strong emotions before in my life -- the desire to kill the enemy, the pain of seeing healthy young men broken and bleeding, and the exhaustion from conducting one mission after another after another in a very stressful environment.





In November we lost Sergeant First Class Michael Ottolini, who was also killed by an improvised explosive device. Mike never knew what hit him -- he was here one second, gone the next.





As an executive officer, I did not experience much action as a member of the few patrols I did go on. My job entailed running the command post, not being in the field. I engaged the enemy on occasion, but I did not see the amount of action the rest of the unit did. However, I often met the helicopter at the hospital to assist in offloading the wounded. On one occasion, Alpha Company had struck another IED. Most seriously wounded was Private First Class James Huff, a young man who had arrived in country about two weeks earlier. Huff bled profusely from a wound in his side. I grabbed one corner of the litter and with three others rushed him into the emergency room. As we transferred him to a table in the ER, PFC Huff's blood spilled all over the floor. I slipped in it and nearly fell. Not being a medic, I knew it was time to get out of the way and let the professionals work. I backed up to the waiting area nearby.





I stood there, watching the medical team work on PFC Huff. They were proficient, working quickly, and soon had things under control. Fortunately, the hospital had been augmented with some excellent Australian Army medical personnel. A young Australian corporal was busy cleaning up the blood trail on the floor left by the wounded men. When finished, she turned to me and said, "Sir, there is nothing more that you can do. Can I get you a cup of coffee?"





I about fell over. This young Australian soldier saw that I also needed some "attention." I politely thanked her and told her I knew where the coffee was, and I was sure she had better things to do than get a major a cup of coffee. She smiled and went back to work. I went to the coffee pot.





Lieutenant Tim Ozmer would go to Germany, have surgery, and his back would heal. He would return to Iraq later in 2004 and again in 2009. He is still serving in the Army at the rank of Captain. He has the skill and experience to go far in the Army.





Unable to get information through the chain of command while in Iraq, I contacted a friend of mine, a nurse, stationed at Walter Reed. She told me John West was physically doing as well as could be expected, but would often wake up thinking he is still hanging upside down from his seat belt in that HMMWV. John West is a disabled veteran now, but he can walk and talk and has all his arms and legs. John is a brilliant young man who will do well in a civilian career.





Sergeant First Class Ottolini was the father of five grown children. He had come out of retirement from the Army when his unit was mobilized. He would not let his men go into harm's way without him. He is missed by all who knew him.





Bruce Himmelright lives in California. He testified against one of the men who shot him through a video teleconference for a trial in Iraq, after one of the men had been captured. Bruce is a well-adjusted "wounded warrior."





James Huff healed from his wounds. I last saw him at the commissary at Fort Lewis, Washington at a voter registration table. He immediately asked me "are you registered to vote, sir? You have to vote, sir." He continued joking with me and other soldiers.





Specialist Donald McCune would die of wounds in Germany. His loss hit the unit hard. Don had just celebrated his twentieth birthday. He was a tall, skinny kid with a silly grin who reminded me of my own son, only three years younger.





In 2006, I visited Specialist McCune's mother, Darcy, in Michigan. I was on leave for my parents' 50th anniversary, but I made a point of stopping to see her. We met at a local restaurant, then drove to the cemetery, where emplaced was a wonderful marker for Don. When I saw it, all I could do was weep. My wife and I had a nice chat with Darcy. We placed flowers there and watched the deer walk around the beautiful cemetery.





The next morning, my wife asked me if I had been in the command post when Don was killed. I said, "Yes, why?" She replied, "Because you were talking on the radio last night in your sleep." I did not realize I carried any "wounds" of my own. Back at Fort Lewis, where I was stationed, another unit was conducting exercises near the house. At about one in the morning, a burst of machine gun fire would wake me and my wife. Instantly I was on my feet, looking for my helmet and body armor and ready to run to the command post. It took me a moment to realize I was in my home, safe and sound, and the gunfire I heard was from an exercise -- blank ammunition -- as another unit was preparing to deploy.





To many Americans, Memorial Day remains a day of stories. Stories about heroes. Stories about valor. Stories about sacrifice. But to veterans like me, Memorial Day is about men and women, friends no longer with us, feelings of emptiness. It's about men like Mike Ottolini and Patrick McCaffrey, Don McCune and Andre Tyson. But it is also about men like Tim Ozmer, John West, James Huff, and Bruce Himmelright. It's about the heroism of Sergeant Rob Johnson, about the incredible things the medics did to keep men alive.





To a veteran like me, Memorial Day is about people. It is about people who gave their all, people who gave of themselves and people who loved their country and their friends more than themselves. It is about those who died, those who suffered horrific wounds, and those who have serious wounds that we cannot see by looking at them.





It is about people who will never be exactly like they were before they went to war. It is about heroes.



[Note: through a technical error, the first 18 comments on this article have been lost. We apologize to those commenters.]





TJ Woodard is a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel. During Operation Iraqi Freedom he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and the Combat Action Badge. He is a 40% disabled veteran

Lance P. Sijan: Hero and Medal of Honor Winner

From The American Thinker:

May 31, 2010


A hero from my times

Jose Benavides



This is the story of a hero from my times. One of the people that defend America no matter the possible consequences. Medal of Honor recipients all are heroes. Many were declared heroes posthumously.





Captain Lance P. Sijan is the first Medal of Honor recipient to be a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy.



I have added additional data to the Medal of Honor citation, in italics.





Medal of Honor

SIJAN, LANCE P.*

Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Air Force, 4th Allied POW Wing, Pilot of an F-4C aircraft.





Place and date: North Vietnam, 9 November 1967.

Entered service at: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Born: 13 April 1942, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.





Citation:

While on a flight over North Vietnam, Capt. Sijan ejected from his disabled aircraft (Sijan, plummeting to the ground after a low-level bailout, suffered a skull fracture, a mangled right hand with three fingers bent backward to the wrist, and a compound fracture of his left leg, the bone protruding through the lacerated skin.) and successfully evaded capture for more than 6 weeks.





During this time, he was seriously injured and suffered from shock and extreme weight loss due to lack of food. (He would live in the North Vietnamese jungle with no food and little water for some 45 days. Virtually immobilized, he would propel himself backward on his elbows and buttocks toward what he hoped was freedom. He was alone. He would be joined later by two other Americans, and in short, fading, in-and-out periods of consciousness and lucidity, would tell them his story)





After being captured by North Vietnamese soldiers, Capt. Sijan was taken to a holding point for subsequent transfer to a prisoner of war camp. In his emaciated and crippled condition, he overpowered 1 of his guards and crawled into the jungle, only to be recaptured after several hours. He was then transferred to another prison camp where he was kept in solitary confinement and interrogated at length. During interrogation, he was severely tortured; however, he did not divulge any information to his captors. Capt. Sijan lapsed into delirium and was placed in the care of another prisoner. During his intermittent periods of consciousness until his death, he never complained of his physical condition and, on several occasions, spoke of future escape attempts. Capt. Sijan's extraordinary heroism and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty at the cost of his life are in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Air Force and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Armed Forces.

Posted at 01:03 AM

Never Give Up Your Weapons

From The American Thinker:

May 31, 2010


Never Give Up Your Weapons

By David Deming

History demonstrates that destruction awaits those who attempt to placate their enemies by surrendering their weapons. In 149 BC, half a million citizens of Carthage tried to appease Rome by turning over their armaments. But instead of buying peace, they only facilitated their own destruction. Ninety percent of the Carthaginians were killed, and the city of Carthage was razed. Those who survived were sold into slavery, and Carthaginian civilization was forever wiped from the face of the earth. The story of how the Carthaginians sealed their fate by delivering their weapons into the hands of their enemy is chronicled in my book, Science and Technology in World History, Vol. 1.





Carthage was founded on the shores of North Africa by Phoenicians in the 9th century BC. It was the center of a powerful and ancient empire, and as the power of Rome grew, it was inevitable that the Romans and Carthaginians would come into conflict.





Between 264 and 146 BC, Rome and Carthage fought three Punic Wars for control of the Mediterranean. The Romans were victorious in both the First and Second Punic Wars. At the close of the Second Punic War in 202 BC, Carthage was forced to pay Rome 200 talents of silver a year for fifty years. An additional term of peace was that Carthage was forbidden from waging war without Rome's permission. Consequently, Numidians in North Africa began to raid Carthage without fear of reprisal. When the Carthaginians begged Rome for permission to defend themselves, they were refused.





In 157 BC, Cato the Censor visited Carthage and was alarmed to discover how quickly the Carthaginians had recovered from their defeat in the Second Punic War. He acquired the conviction that Rome would never be secure until Carthage was completely annihilated. Cato began to close every speech in the Roman Senate by exclaiming, "Carthage must be destroyed!"





As time passed, the Roman Senate became convinced that Cato was right and resolved to wipe Carthage off the face of the earth. But they needed a pretext for commencing hostilities. The Carthaginians unwittingly supplied one.





Under the terms of peace that had concluded the Second Punic War, Carthage was required to pay tribute to Rome for fifty years. When the fifty years passed, the Carthaginians reasoned that they were also free from the restriction that forbade them from waging war without the permission of Rome. A patriotic faction came to power in Carthage and formed an army to defend Carthage from the Numidian raids.





The war between the Carthaginians and Numidians provided Rome with the pretext it needed, and the Roman Senate promptly declared war on Carthage. When the Carthaginians learned that a state of war existed, they became alarmed and immediately dispatched a team of thirty ambassadors to Rome to plead for peace. Carthage was in no condition to fight a Third Punic War with Rome. Since its victory in the Second Punic War, Rome had grown immeasurably more powerful.





The Roman Senate had already resolved on the destruction of Carthage, but they reasoned it would be advantageous to first employ treachery. So they dealt with the Carthaginians in a way that was both brutal and deceitful.





The Carthaginian ambassadors were told that their desire for peace would be granted. Carthage would be allowed to retain its freedom, territory, and property. But as a condition and guarantee of peace, the Carthaginians were required to surrender three hundred male children from their most eminent families as hostages. Roman military forces were dispatched to Carthage to collect the captives. The commanding Roman consuls were secretly instructed to wage war until Carthage was "razed to the ground."





According to the historian Appian (c. AD 95-165), the Carthaginian children had to be ripped from the arms of their mothers. Some of the mothers were so distraught that they tore out their hair, beat on their breasts, or even swam out to sea, vainly following the ships carrying their sons off to Rome. They would never see their children alive again. But this sacrifice was judged necessary to purchase peace.





Once the hostages had been surrendered, the Carthaginian ambassadors expected peace. But the Romans had a new demand. They insisted that the Carthaginians surrender all of their weapons. The Roman Consul Censorinus explained, "If you are sincerely desirous of peace, why do you need any arms?" He continued, "Bring all your weapons and engines of war, both public and private, and deliver them to us." Oblivious to the Roman maxim, "If you want peace, prepare for war," the Carthaginians obsequiously complied. They turned over armor for two hundred thousand men, javelins, darts, and two thousand catapults. Appian said that it was an "unparalleled spectacle to behold the vast number of loaded wagons."





Having complied with the Roman request to surrender their weapons, the Carthaginian ambassadors foolishly thought they had bought peace by disarming themselves. The consul Censorinus praised the Carthaginians for having the wisdom to comply with the Romans' first two requirements. But there was yet another new demand. "Yield Carthage to us, and betake yourselves where you like within your own territory at a distance of at least ten miles from the sea, for we are resolved to raze your city to the ground."





The Carthaginian ambassadors finally realized they had been deceived into yielding to Rome, without a fight, everything it could have expected from waging and winning another war. There would be no peace, and they had been artfully deceived. The Carthaginian ambassadors "cursed the Romans ... flung themselves to the ground and beat it with their hands and heads. Some of them even tore their clothes and lacerated their flesh as though they were absolutely bereft of their senses."





Having surrendered their swords, the Carthaginians could only resort to words. So they appealed to the Romans for mercy and pity. But none was granted. The consul Censorinus stated "the Senate ... has issued its decrees and they must be carried out." He explained, "We do not make this decision from any ill-will toward you, but in the interest of a lasting peace and of the common security." The only consolation the Roman consul could offer to the Carthaginians was the observation that "the healing drug for all evils is oblivion."





When the Carthaginian ambassadors brought the fateful news back to Carthage, there followed "a scene of blind, raving madness." Some people fell upon the ambassadors and ripped them to pieces or stoned them to death. The Carthaginians went into their armories and collapsed, sobbing, when they found them empty. Most distraught of all were the mothers who had surrendered their children to the Romans. It was now apparent that the loss of their offspring had accomplished no good whatsoever.





The Carthaginians had been disarmed, but they nevertheless resolved to resist as much as possible. They worked day and night to forge new weapons. Statues were melted down for their metal. Women cut off their hair to provide strings for catapults. Assisting the belated resistance was Carthage's immensely strong fortifications. Most of the city was surrounded by a series of three walls, each forty-five feet high. The walls had been reinforced for centuries. It was the strength of these fortifications that had dissuaded the Romans from attempting the destruction of Carthage at the end of the Second Punic War.





The outcome was predetermined from the beginning, but the Romans were forced to resort to a long siege to finally subdue Carthage. To cut off the Carthaginian supply routes by sea, large engineering works had to be constructed, and this took time.





After three years, the Carthaginians were weakened by hunger and disease, and the Romans finally managed to breach the city walls. There followed six days of fighting, street by street, but the Carthaginian resistance was feeble.





The city was set on fire, and there followed endless scenes of horror as the fires consumed both buildings and people. The Romans killed everyone who resisted. The survivors, totaling 55,000, represented less than ten percent of the original population. They were sold into slavery. The Roman Senate decreed that what remained of Carthage be utterly destroyed. The ruins burned for seventeen days. Seven hundred years of Carthaginian civilization came to a bitter end.





Thus the lesson was learned. Surrendering your weapons does not buy peace, but only paves the way for ultimate defeat. If you want peace, prepare for war.

Recalling A Bush Memorial Day Address

From The American Thinker:

May 31, 2010


Recalling a Bush Memorial Day address at Arlington

Phil Boehmke



Today is Memorial Day, the majority of us will have the day off. Many of us will choose go to picnics, parades, cook-outs or perhaps a ball game. A large number of us will be returning home from a weekend getaway. A very select few of us will be celebrating Memorial Day Weekend in Chicago on the tax-payer's dime. I would like to share some excerpts from a particularly moving Memorial Day Address.





Today, we gather to honor those who gave everything to preserve our way of life. The men and women we honor here served for liberty. They sacrificed for liberty. And in countless acts of courage, they died for liberty. From faraway lands, they were returned to cemeteries like this one, where broken hearts received their broken bodies -- they found peace beneath the white headstones in the land they fought to defend.



It is a solemn reminder of the cost of freedom that the number of headstones in a place such as this grows with every new Memorial Day. In a world where freedom is constantly under attack and in a world where our security is challenged, the joys of liberty are often purchased by the sacrifices of those who serve a cause greater than themselves. Today we mourn and remember all who have given their lives in the line of duty. Today we lift up our hearts especially to those who have fallen in the past year.



[...]



The soil of Arlington and other sites is filled with liberty's defenders. It is nourished by their heroism. It is watered by the silent tears of the mothers and fathers, and husbands and wives, and sons and daughters they left behind. Today we pray for God's blessing on all who grieve and ask the Almighty to strengthen and comfort them today and everyday.



[...]



I am humbled by those who have made the ultimate sacrifice that allow a free civilization to endure and flourish. It only remains for us, the heirs of their legacy, to have the courage and the character to follow their lead -- and to preserve America as the greatest nation on earth and the last best hope for mankind.



May God bless you and may God bless America.





These poignant and inspiring words are from President George W. Bush's Memorial Day Address at Arlington National Cemetery, May 26th 2008. As we witness the forced implementation of a freedom robbing agenda, the callous disregard of the will of the people and the sacrifice of our allies on the alter of appeasement by a corrupt political machine, let us pause to reflect on President Bush's words. "It only remains for us, the heirs of their legacy, to have the courage and the character to follow their lead -- and to preserve America as the greatest nation on earth and the last best hope for mankind."







paboehmke@yahoo.com

Why So Few Medals of Honor For First and Second Gulf Wars and the War in Afghanistan?

From National Review and Charging Elephant:

Why So Few Medals of Honor?


May 31, 2010 · 8 Comments

by David French



National Review



This weekend’s New York Times Sunday Magazine contains a fascinating article that hits quite close to home for me. Centered around the story of a 25-year-old Marine who — despite horrific wounds — had the presence of mind and courage to scoop a live grenade under his body to save the lives of his comrades, the article asks a simple question: Why is the military awarding so few medals of honor? Are we less courageous now? Or is the military stifling valor awards in a labyrinthine bureaucracy dominated by rear echelon second-guessers? The numbers are stunning:







Despite its symbolic importance and educational role in military culture, the Medal of Honor has been awarded only six times for service in Iraq or Afghanistan. By contrast, 464 Medals of Honor were awarded for service during World War II, 133 during the Korean War and 246 during the Vietnam War. “From World War I through Vietnam,” The Army Times claimed in April 2009, “the rate of Medal of Honor recipients per 100,000 service members stayed between 2.3 (Korea) and 2.9 (World War II). But since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, only five Medals of Honor have been awarded, a rate of 0.1 per 100,000 — one in a million.”





To be clear, this article hits home for me not because I did anything meriting a valor award in Iraq (I did not), but because I know and served with men who did deserve valor awards but either (i) did not receive them; or (ii) saw the award requests downgraded or denied several steps up the bureaucratic chain. In some cases, we knew conduct would never be considered for more than a Silver Star, so we didn’t make the request.



The men I served with were courageous at a level that civilians simply cannot comprehend. Let me give just one example. In January 2008, a small team of American soldiers was ambushed after an al-Qaeda terrorist faked a surrender (this was common practice). The team leader and another officer were mortally wounded the instant the terrorists opened fire. The senior noncommissioned officer was pinned down and unable to take effective control of the formation; other officers were worked desperately to retrieve their fallen comrades. A Sergeant First Class took immediate control of the situation, personally returning fire and killing the majority of the attackers, directing the team’s defense, and coordinating the recovery under fire of his stricken team members. He shepherded the formation out of the kill zone and coordinated the medical evacuation.



All in a day’s work, you say? How about this additional fact: He did all of this after being shot in the neck in the opening moments of the ambush. He killed the enemy, protected his comrades, and led them to safety while bleeding profusely — collapsing only after help arrived. I’m not sure about you, but I can’t even imagine what I’d do in a similar circumstance.



This courageous soldier received a Silver Star — our third-highest award for valor. It’s a medal he’ll wear proudly for the rest of his life, and he never asked for more. But did he deserve more?



To be clear, our guys aren’t out there begging for medals, but these awards are a critical aspect of the ongoing story of our military and the valor of our soldiers. How can the public recognize the heroes in our midst if they will never know who they are? If their courage goes unrecognized or is unfairly minimized?

Administrator of U.S. North Korean Identified

From One Free Korea:

Robert Einhorn to Lead North Korea Sanctions Implementation Effort


Posted by Joshua Stanton on May 31, 2010 at 11:29 am · Filed under China & Korea, Counterfeiting, U.S. Law, Washington Views, Money Laundering, Sanctions, Cheonan Incident



The Joongang Ilbo is reporting that Clinton Administration alumnus and counter-proliferation expert Robert Einhorn is going to be put in charge of “streamlining the process by which it implements” international sanctions against North Korea, sanctions that are likely to be enhanced after an international investigation found that North Korea torpedoed and sank the South Korean warship Cheonan.



“The U.S. administration was seeking more efficient management of implementation of sanctions, which had been divided between the State and the Treasury departments,” the source said. “Philip Goldberg, the assistant state secretary at the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, had been doubling as the implementation coordinator, but Einhorn is poised to take over.



“The U.S. government also tried to strengthen its sanctions system after the second North Korean nuclear test last year, when Goldberg was named the coordinator,” the source said. Goldberg was appointed to his Bureau of Intelligence and Research post in February.



Another source said Einhorn’s nomination is also part of the U.S. government’s efforts to follow up on President Barack Obama’s order to review “existing authorities and policies” on North Korea. Soon after South Korean President Lee Myung-bak unveiled Seoul’s countermeasures against Pyongyang Monday, the White House expressed its support and said in a statement, “This review is aimed at ensuring that we have adequate measures in place and to identify areas where adjustments would be appropriate.”



You can read more information about Philip Goldberg here and here. Previous reports suggested that he would quit as North Korea sanctions coordinator, but he continues to occupy a senior post within the State Department.



My research and inquiries about Einhorn suggest that we could do worse. He was deeply involved in negotiating Agreed Framework I, but since then, Einhorn has caught on faster than most of those in the foreign policy industry. His statement in 2007 that North Korea was “backtracking” on its promises to disarm suggests that he could see how Agreed Framework II would end a year before most reporters would see through Chris Hill’s glib deceptions.



“Aside from his knowledge of North Korean nuclear issues, Einhorn is tight with Gary Seymour, the weapons of mass destruction coordinator at the White House, and other nonproliferation officials in the Obama administration,” another source in Seoul said. “Einhorn should be able to provide leadership in his new role.



This is another good sign. The report probably means to refer to Gary Samore, an Obama Administration official whose validation of longstanding suspicions that North Korea was secretly enriching uranium departed from Democratic orthodoxy that the Bush Administration’s 2002 uranium enrichment accusations blew up a perfectly good disarmament deal with North Korea over sketchy evidence. Today, the evidence of North Korea’s cheating is so overwhelming that the Obama Administration is also insisting that North Korea disclose its uranium enrichment activities.



Is it bad news that someone from State, rather than Treasury, is going to lead the implementation effort? Yes, State ought to be handling our dealings with foreign governments, but Treasury — and I single out Undersecretary for Financial Intelligence and Terrorism Stuart Levey in particular — has generally been much more determined and effective than State in making sanctions work. The last time State and Treasury confronted one another over sanctions, Chris Hill rolled Treasury and got sanctions lifted against North Korea, in spite of Treasury’s persistent belief that North Korea continues to counterfeit U.S. currency. My suspicions are fueled by this recent history, and also by the fact that the same people are running State’s East Asia Bureau and Treasury’s Bureau for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence now as during President Bush’s second term. All of the key players in both departments are holdovers or career civil servants. During the Bush Administration, the absence of strong leadership at State, the White House, and the NSC meant that more junior officials like Christopher Hill could effectively set policy. Today, the White House and the NSC seem to be setting policy for the more junior officials to implement.



What the policy will be comes down to the question of political will, but the more reliable information I’ve heard, both before and after the Cheonan report, indicates that the Obama Administration is determined to pressure Kim Jong Il rather than caving in and signing Agreed Framework III. Einhorn isn’t one who appears to favor talks for the sake of talks, at any price. There’s reason, then, for cautious optimism. The question, of course, is where the pressure is taking us. Is the objective to force Kim Jong Il back to talks? There isn’t much point in that if, as almost everyone agrees, he’ll never disarm anyway. That’s especially so when China continues to signal that it will block and undermine sanctions against North Korea, and fails to enforce the sanctions in effect now. At some point, one can only hope that the administration decides to make North Korea China’s problem by trying to destabilize the regime.



Another diplomatic source said the Obama administration needed to tighten its sanctions regime. The source said when North Korean overseas accounts were closed off by U.S. sanctions, they simply changed the name of the individual or the company which had opened the account and resumed transactions. The sanctions were aimed at banning transactions by companies or individuals suspected of involvement in the North’s weapons of mass destruction programs.



“U.S. officials have taken note of such [name-changing] practices and they’re preparing measures to eliminate them,” the source said.



At the same time, the Chosun Ilbo reports that the Obama Administration intends to devote more attention to finding and freezing Kim Jong Il’s substantial personal accounts stashed in overseas banks. This is something I’ve been calling for for years.



Sanctions against North Korea by the U.S. government are expected to focus on Kim Jong-il’s personal slush funds. The aim is to tighten the noose around Kim and the rest of the North Korean leadership rather than to increase pressure on the North Korean people, in a parallel with the 2005 freezing of what was apparently money for Kim’s private use in the Banco Delta Asia in Macau.



U.S. and South Korean intelligence are exchanging information about the bank accounts managed by a department of the North Korean Workers Party’s Central Committee codenamed “Room 39,” which manages Kim’s personal coffers. “We discovered long ago that most of the overseas bank accounts that received money from South Korean businesses involved inter-Korean projects were owned by the North Korean military,” said a South Korean government official.



I’ll just pause here to let you bask in the warm, gentle glow of Sunshine and reflect on how much kinder and gentler it has made North Korea.



Room 39 is expected to be the main target of the latest financial sanctions. It has 17 overseas offices, some 100 trading companies, a gold mine and its own bank. The $200 million to $300 million earned by subsidiary companies have gone straight into Kim’s overseas bank accounts. The director of Room 39, Jon Il-chun, is expected to face financial sanctions as well. Kim appointed Jon after the former head, Kim Tong-un, was put on a blacklist of North Korean officials by the EU in December.



The U.S. government may also freeze overseas bank accounts held by North Korea’s Reconnaissance Bureau, which is believed to have orchestrated the attack on the South Korean Navy corvette Cheonan in March. But some experts say the U.S. may find it more difficult to apply financial pressure on North Korea because the North moved most of its money to accounts in China and Russia.



Are these developments connected? I can’t say for certain, but Einhorn has previously expressed support for tightening sanctions on luxury goods that support Kim Jong Il’s patronage system. The overseas accounts probably consist largely of proceeds of illicit activities, or those banned under U.N. Security Council resolutions. The funds in those accounts are probably paying for the yachts, cars, booze, and other luxuries that Kim Jong Il continues to import in violation of those resolutions.



How can the U.S. government reach those funds? I can think of at least two ways off-hand. One is to designate North Korea, Bureau 39, and/or Kim Jong Il as primary money laundering concerns under Section 311 of the USA PATRIOT Act, which would force any bank holding those accounts to freeze them, or risk losing its access to its correspondent accounts with U.S. banks. As the example of Banco Delta Asia showed, access to correspondent accounts in the United States means access to the global financial system. Depositors who are engaged in international business transactions can’t bank at an institution without that access. With the marginal rate at which banks are capitalized, even the threat of Section 311 sanctions would render most banks insolvent.



Another alternative would be to issue indictments and forfeiture counts against the North Korean accounts themselves, under 18 U.S.C. sec. 1956, our strongest money laundering statute. Because North Korea never contests litigation in U.S. courts, the Justice Department would win convictions on the criminal forfeiture counts, and correspondent accounts of the banks holding those assets would be blocked. The banks, in turn, would have to freeze the accounts to avoid absorbing the loss. Because the money laundering statute has extraterritorial jurisdiction, Justice could pursue the assets almost anywhere in the world. But how would we prove that all of the funds were proceeds of illicit activity? We wouldn’t have to. A long-standing principle of money laundering laws is that if illicit funds are “co-mingled” with legitimately derived funds, the entire amount is considered tainted and can be forfeited.



What charges would we be able to prove? First, Justice would have indicted North Korean entities for the supernote counterfeiting conspiracy years ago, had it not been for the State Department’s intervention. Second, an Australian newspaper recently reported that indictments could be forthcoming for the transactions associated with the 2009 Bangkok weapons seizure.



Finally, does the fact that many of Kim Jong Il’s funds have moved to Russian and Chinese banks put them beyond the reach of Treasury and Justice? No. Like every bank that needs access to the international monetary system, Russian and Chinese banks need their correspondent accounts in U.S. banks to operate. Back in 2005, when the Treasury Department first announced its sanctions against Banco Delta Asia, there were also reports that the Bank of China was also under suspicion. This caused such extreme consternation in the Bank of China that two years later, its officers refused to touch the frozen Banco Delta funds that both the U.S. and Chinese government wanted it to transfer back to North Korea to facilitate Agreed Framework II. For China’s government, the downside of its transition to a market economy is that even it doesn’t have complete control over its capital. And in the face of any hint of a Treasury Department investigation, capital is a coward.

Israel Defends Itself In U.N. On Flotilla Intervention

From FOX News and The Audacity of Hypocrisy:

Israel Defends Self at U.N. Security Council Amidst Controversy Over Flotilla Raid


Posted by adminMay 31, 2010Israel offered a vigorous defense Monday amidst a rapidly deepening international dispute over its deadly overnight raid on a flotilla of ships carrying aid bound for Gaza.



Under pressure from even its allies over the incident that killed at least nine people, Israel’s Deputy U.N. Ambassador Daniel Carmon took to the floor of the international body to fire back against the idea that the ships were peaceful, unarmed and humanitarian.



“What kind of peace activists use knives, clubs and fire from weapons stolen from soldiers…to attack soldiers to attack soldiers who board a ship in accordance with international law?,” he asked.



“They are not peace activists; They are not messengers of good will. They cynically use a humanitarian platform to send a message of hate and to implement violence,” he added.



Israeli commandos attacked a Gaza-bound aid flotilla Monday carrying 10,000 tons of aid destined for the blockaded Gaza Strip. The Israeli military said seven soldiers were wounded, one of them seriously.





(Excerpt) Read more at foxnews.

Top Al Queda Financial Leader Killed By Predator Strike

From Long War Journal and Michelle Malkin:

Reports: Top al Qaeda leader killed in Pakistani airstrike


By Michelle Malkin • May 31, 2010 11:13 PM From Bill Roggio at Long War Journal breaking tonight:



Al Qaeda has announced that its top leader in Afghanistan and chief financial official was killed in a US airstrike in Pakistan ten days ago.



Mustafa Abu Yazid, who is also known as Sheikh Saeed al Masri, was killed in the May 21 Predator strike in the village of Mohammed Khel in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan. Datta Khel is a known al Qaeda hub in North Waziristan.



As Sahab, al Qaeda’s propaganda arm, released a statement announcing Yazid’s death on Al Ansar, a jihadist forum.



Rumors of Yazid’s death was first reported by ABC News, which quoted US officials who said a eulogy for Yazid was to be released by As Sahab.



Yazid is one of al Qaeda most important leaders, and he will be difficult to replace. He served as al Qaeda’s leader in Afghanistan and what the terror group refers to as the Khorasan, a region that encompasses large areas of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Iran. The Khorasan is considered by jihadists to be the place where they will inflict the first defeat against their enemies in the Muslim version of Armageddon. The final battle is to take place in the Levant – Israel, Syria, and Lebanon.



The 9-11 Commission identified Yazid as al Qaeda’s “chief financial manager.” In this role, Yazid was responsible for disbursing al Qaeda funds from what is known as the Bayt al Mal, al Qaeda’s treasury. This responsibility made Yazid one of the most trusted and important al Qaeda leaders. Because of this responsibility, Yazid is considered by some analysts to be al Qaeda’s third in command.

Flotilla "Volunteers" Used Violence Against Israelis First

From Fire Andrea Mitchell:

Video Proof: “Pro Gaza” Demonstrators aboard Turkish Flotilla use violence against Navy Soldiers boarding ship


This big story today in addition to honoring our veterans in America is clash between the Israeli Navy and the Turkish Flotilla. All the media and left wing nuts around the world are whining about how those aboard the flotilla were unarmed, peaceful, and attacked for no reason. This is course is complete and utter bullsh*t (again). During the boarding of the Marmara ship, the so called peace loving, Hamas supporting demonstrators onboard attacked the IDF Naval personnel with live fire and light weaponry including knives and clubs. According to reports, two weapons used were grabbed from an IDF soldier. The demonstrators had prepared their weapons in advance for this specific purpose. The Anti-Israel nuts will claim BS, but here is video proof of IDF’s claim:



As a result of this life-threatening and violent activity, naval forces first employed riot dispersal means, followed by live fire.



According to initial reports, these events resulted in nine deaths among the demonstrators and numerous injuries. In addition, seven soldiers were injured, some from gunfire and some from various other weapons. Four of the soldiers were seriously wounded, one sustained moderate injuries, and two have been released from the hospital. All of the injured parties, Israelis and foreigners, were evacuated by helicopter to hospitals in Israel.



Reports from IDF forces at the scene indicate that some of the participants onboard the ships were planning to lynch the forces

.

The events are ongoing, and information will be updated as soon as possible. Israeli Naval commander, Vice Admiral Eliezer Marom is overseeing the events.



In the coming hours, the ships will be directed to the Ashdod port, while IDF naval forces perform security checks in order to identify the people on the ships and the cargo brought on board. The IDF Spokesman emphasizes that this event is currently unfolding and further details will be provided as soon as possible.



This IDF naval operation was carried out under orders from the political leadership to prevent the flotilla from reaching the Gaza Strip and breaching the maritime closure.



The boarding of ships in the flotilla followed numerous warnings given to the organizers of the flotilla before leaving their ports as well as while sailing towards the Gaza Strip. In these warnings, it was made clear to the organizers that they could dock in the Ashdod Sea Port and unload the equipment they are carrying in order to deliver it to the Gaza Strip in an orderly manner, following the appropriate security checks. Upon expressing their unwillingness to cooperate and arrive at the port, it was decided upon to board the ships and lead them to Ashdod.



IDF naval personnel encountered severe violence, including use of weaponry prepared in advance in order to attack them, as well as having their weapons stolen by protesters and used against them. The forces operated in adherence with operational commands and took all necessary actions in order to avoid violence, but to no avail.