Bin Laden And Pakistans Elections

Bin Laden and Pakistan’s Elections

A letter is being distributed in Peshawar allegedly from Usama Bin Laden, urging Pakistanis to vote for the enemies of Gen. Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan’s elections, which are being held October 10. Thousands of copies of the letter in Arabic and Urdu are circulating in the Northwest Frontier Province, where the religious parties feel they have a chance to capture the provincial government and the NWFP seats in the national parliament.

The letter says in part:

“My brothers of Pakistan: Deliver yourselves from Musharraf, who has brought you ignominy. This call is directed particularly at the clerics among you. Defend your brothers who are engaged in jihad, and do not give the invaders and their allies an opportunity to finish off our brethren.” [Cole translation from the Arabic].

The letter blames Musharraf for taking severe steps against al-Qaeda members and delivering some to the United States. It also alleges that Musharraf has given up on the Muslims of Kashmir.

2) Attack on US Marines

According to Asharq al-Awsat, which has done interviews with the families and friends of the two men who opened fire on US marines on Failaka Island in Kuwait on Tuesday, they were animated by resentments against the U.S. and Israel.

Anis Ahmad Ibrahim al-Kandari was said by his relatives to be reclusive in recent months. He had fought alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan and returned to Kuwait in August of 2001. He was detained, his relatives said, for a considerable time by Kuwaiti security on his return. They say that he was not active in any organization, and that the attack was an individual one. He viewed the American presence in Kuwait, they say, as a form of Western colonialism.

He was also increasingly angry about the treatment of Palestinians by the Sharon government, especially a recent Israeli assault at the Gaza refugee camp of Khan Yunis.

Jasim Hamad Mubarak al-Hajiri, Anis’s cousin, appears to have been motivated by the same sentiments.

Al-Kandari and al-Hajiri are more likely to have been acting locally than taking orders from Bin Laden. From the press reports it sounds to me as though they were the sort of depressed loners who might well have carried out such an attack on their own. After all, it was not particularly well planned, and despite their cold-blooded murder of a brave member of the US armed forces, they accomplished almost nothing from a strategic point of view. It looks to me like the amateurish action of a local cell, or perhaps just a couple of local individuals–despite the obvious link to al-Qaeda via Afghanistan.

In a way, the possibility that this was a local, individual action is more scary than if it were coordinated from abroad, since there are large numbers of individuals in the region who are dissatisfied with US policies. An Iraq war will not decrease their number.

The Kuwaiti government has rounded up at least 26 bystanders or malcontents in the wake of the attack.

There are now reportedly 10,000 U.S. troops in Kuwait, up from 5,000 late last spring.

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