Thursday, November 1, 2001
F r i d a y ,  N o v e m b e r  2,  2 0 0 1
Saturday, November 3, 2001

B-52s Unload on Taliban Positions

Excerpts from articles describing the current state of the US and allies' war on islamic extremist terrorism / the Taliban:

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War's Heaviest Strikes So Far Termed Effective by Opposition Northern Alliance

Jabal Saraj, Afghanistan, Nov. 2 -- The attacks started well before dawn, signaled by the roar of jet engines in the night sky.

By mid-afternoon, when they tapered off, forces of Afghanistan's ruling Taliban had received their heaviest pounding of the nearly four-week-old U.S. bombing campaign on the front lines north of Kabul.

With targeting assistance from U.S. military personnel on the ground, waves of B-52 bombers unloaded today on Taliban positions on the Shomali plain and in the hills overlooking Bagram air base.

Plumes of smoke rise from Taliban
positions after a B-52 bombed
targets north of Kabul, 11/02/01

They blasted a Taliban field headquarters, posts held by newly arrived volunteers from Pakistan and more than a dozen Taliban tanks and assorted heavy machine guns and antiaircraft weapons.

The opposition Northern Alliance also reported intensified U.S. Bombing of Taliban positions around the northern city of Mazar-e Sharif, where a rebel offensive has been stymied lately by Taliban counterattacks.

The explosions from the bombs dumped on the Taliban north of Kabul shook mud houses and rattled windows in villages held by the Northern Alliance, miles from the front.

Bright orange flashes emanated from some of the buildings hit on the Taliban side of the line, and huge plumes of smoke and dirt rose in the clear morning sky. ...

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U.S. Warplanes Sent to Rescue Pashtun Anti-Taleban Leader in Southern Afghanistan

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U.S. warplanes were sent to the aid of an Afghan opposition leader who came under attack by the Taliban on Thursday in southern Afghanistan, a senior U.S. government official said yesterday.

Navy fighter-bombers fired on Taliban forces that were attempting to capture Hamid Karzai, a prominent Afghan tribal leader from the dominant Pashtun ethnic group. Karzai, 43, who has lived in exile in Pakistan since the mid-1990s, has been working inside Afghanistan since Oct. 8 to persuade Pashtun leaders to turn against the Taliban, according to his relatives.

Karzai and a group of armed supporters were attacked by Taliban troops as they left a meeting with tribal elders in the south-central province of Uruzgan. U.S. warplanes based on aircraft carriers were immediately sent to help, the U.S. official said.

"There was a battle going on, and U.S. aircraft came in from the sea to provide support," the official said.

Karzai's brother, Ahmed Karzai, who said he had spoken with Hamid Karzai by satellite telephone yesterday, said: "They managed to fight off the Taliban and they have escaped."

... "People are scared," he said. "They know they can get killed for opposing the Taliban." But Ahmed Karzai said that his brother considered his foray into enemy territory a "necessary risk" to help form a new government. ...

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U.S. Chopper Crash in Afghanistan due to Weather, Crew Rescued, U.S. Destroys Chopper With F-14s

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A U.S. helicopter on a Special Forces mission in northern Afghanistan was forced down by bad weather yesterday, but the crew was lifted out safely by a second helicopter on the same mission, Pentagon officials said.

Four crew members were injured in the crash, which severely damaged the helicopter, a Pentagon statement said. None of the injuries was determined to be life-threatening, although one crew member suffered a serious back injury, according to a senior defense official.

The damaged helicopter was destroyed by an airstrike executed by F-14 Tomcats flying off the USS Theodore Roosevelt, an aircraft carrier operating in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Pakistan, the Pentagon statement said.

"It was a pretty hard crash landing," one defense official said. He and other officials declined to identify the type of helicopter involved, where in Afghanistan it went down or what mission it was on.

... The decision to destroy the helicopter could indicate that it went down in hostile or contested territory. But some special operations helicopters carry secret communications equipment and other sensitive technology that U.S. authorities would not want to fall into any foreign hands, even friendly ones. ...

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Northern Alliance May Be Gearing Up for Push South

Excerpt from article describing the increased likelihood of a move on Kabul by the Northern Alliance some time in the near future:

Northern Alliance soldiers, wearing
newly acquired uniforms, 11/02/01

The Northern Alliance army may at last be ready to roll. After weeks of waiting on the Samali Plain, north of Kabul, they are gearing themselves up for a push south towards the capital as American B52 bombers intensify their strikes on the Taleban front line.

Reinforcements are being driven to the front under cover of night, munitions and signals equipment redistributed, and thousands of new uniforms handed out to the ragged Mujahidin strike forces.

More significant than any other indicator of imminent action in this haphazard war, though, is the American decision to continue bombing the Taleban during Friday prayers.

... The air campaign had until yesterday tip-toed around daylight bombing on Fridays, the Islamic day of rest and holiest day of the week, to preserve international Muslim sensitivities. But as Shafaq spoke a series of enormous detonations were rocking the front as B52s delivered their payloads into positions west and east of the old road running from the Samali Plain south to Kabul.

A spy had just reported to Shafaq having crossed the front from the Taleban territory a day earlier. He said that Thursday’s strikes had destroyed at least three Taleban tanks below the Tutakhan mountain and killed dozens of fighters.

... the Alliance is still unsure whether the US is indeed its ally or merely a wayward partner in an unsigned marriage of convenience.

There can be little disputing, however, the gravity of the past three days’ strikes. Day and night, Taleban positions on the main axis route to Kabul have been hit by 1,000lb bombs, and even if only a proportion were accurate, the Taleban’s artillery and tanks would have been seriously damaged. ...

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  • The Times [link inactive]
Lessons From the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan

Link to graphic with details on the lessons learned from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, lessons which should be of value to the US in our current campaign against islamic extremist terrorism:

Lessons From the Soviet
Invasion of Afghanistan

Excerpts from article which details on how US and British forces will deal with the Afghan winter and how the Soviet successes and failures will impact the military campaign:

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War has its seasons and it has been widely predicted that Afghanistan will become almost inaccessible for American and British commandos once the snow and freezing temperatures of an Afghan winter arrive in about three weeks’ time.

Politicians and military alike have said that the campaign in Afghanistan will be more difficult to prosecute in winter conditions. Yet, as past winter wars have demonstrated, fighting in the cold has its advantages, provided the troops are properly trained and appropriately equipped.

... “If you are properly trained, you can use the snow and harsh conditions to your own advantage. First of all, you can get around on skis on terrain which in the summer would pose more difficulties. Rivers are frozen over, and ground that might be boggy or marshy in other seasons, providing problems for vehicles, becomes more usable when covered in snow.”

Marines and special forces can also survive for long periods in dug-out snowholes provided they have enough food, and they can make better predictions of what the enemy will do because each side is having to endure the same weather conditions.

Gathering intelligence of enemy ground movements was also assisted by a snow-covered terrain, General Thompson said, because footprints and vehicle tracks can be spotted from the air. Every movement leaves tracks.

... The American and British specialist troops will also have the potential advantage of taking the battle to the Taleban in the winter at a time when the regime’s experienced fighters might normally expect to hibernate from November to February. The Afghans are accustomed to harsh terrain and a rough climate but during the two decades of civil war action has slowed in the winter months.

The coalition troops will also have thermal detection systems to find heat signatures at entrances to caves. Thermal sights will work particularly well in the winter. They pick out contrasts in temperature, and the warmth of the human body against the snow “is going to jump out like a headlight”, according to one defence source.

The troops will also be able to operate at night, with the help of infra-red sensors and night optic systems. The Taleban have no such sophisticated equipment.

A US Army commando, speaking to The Washington Times, said: “We train for the winter warfare environment and can function in it and actually be comfortable. The Afghans are miserable in that environment and don’t want to come out and play. We do not plan to stop and wait for spring. Advantages definitely go to an air-mobile force like ours.”

However, the coalition troops also need to learn from Russia’s bitter experience. The Americans and British have been consulting the Russians at every level.

The Soviet invasion force that rumbled over the Amu Darya river towards Mazar-i Sharif in 1979 eventually became a 100,000-strong occupying army, the biggest Soviet troop deployment since the Second World War. But in the next ten years it lost hundreds of aircraft and at least 15,000 men and never won the Afghans’ hearts and minds.

The Soviet Spetsnaz, or special forces, proved more successful. Helicoptered or parachuted behind enemy lines in deployments of up to 50 troops at a time, they grasped the vital importance of high-quality intelligence, often speaking local dialects fluently, and scored significant victories against supposed Mujahidin strongholds even in the final years of the war when the rest of the Soviet force had retreated to heavily fortified urban barracks. ...

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  • The Times [link inactive]

Kano Islamic Group Stirring Up Trouble, Again

Excerpts from an article describing the possibility of a renewal of religious conflicts in Kano, Nigeria:

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There is great tension in Kano over the possibility of another outbreak of religious violence in the city. ... a faceless Islamic group has been circulating leaflets since Monday calling adherents out for another round of anti-American demonstration.

They are asking people to assemble at Ado Bayero Prayer Ground today in solidarity with Afghanistan. ... Many residents in Kano have refused to go to work today and many traders too have refused to open their shops for fear of being attacked by the Islamic militants who wreaked havoc in the city last month, killing and burning houses.

... About 200 people were killed in the city last month when sympathizers of the wanted Saudi fugitive, Osama bin Laden, accused of complicity in the September 11 suicide attacks on America, took to the streets chanting anti-American slogans. ...

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U.S. Jobless Rate Goes Up to 5.4%

Excerpts from article describing the U.S. unemployment picture:

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The US unemployment rate jumped 0.5% to 5.4% in October in the starkest evidence yet that America is lurching towards recession after 10 years of uninterrupted growth.

The monthly increase was the biggest in more than 21 years as 415,00 jobs disappeared from the world's largest economy.

Today's figures from the Labour department cap a grim week of economic statistics from the US. Official figures yesterday showed that manufacturing activity in October slumped to its lowest level since the depths of the 1990-91 recession.

U.S. Unemployment Rate
as of October, 2001

... The dramatic rise in the jobless rate will put pressure on the US Federal Reserve to cut interest rates by a half-point, rather than settling for a quarter-point trim, when it next meets on November 6.

The US central bank has already cut rates nine times this year, twice since September 11 in an increasingly frantic effort to stave off recession. ...

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