Globe Trot
Said al-Shihri
Associated Press/SITE Intelligence Group
Said al-Shihri

Globe Trot 09.10


President Barack Obama ordered the attack that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan last year (in case you missed it). But the president is otherwise not as engaged on the national security front as advertised: An examination of the president's schedule by the Government Accountability Institute indicates that in more than three years in office the president has attended his daily intelligence briefing only 43.8 percent of the time. "Since Obama officials have actively promoted the way the president runs his daily intelligence meeting as evidence of his national security leadership (even releasing a photo of him receiving the briefing on an iPad), it is fair to ask why he skips the daily meeting so often."

Are you better off than you were four years ago? For Iraqis, it's a tough question. Bombings over the weekend in at least 10 cities have left approximately 100 people dead. The violence coincides with a Baghdad court sentencing Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi to death in absentia for murder. Hashimi, long claiming the Shiite government had framed him, fled to Turkey when a warrant was issued for his arrest. He is accused of overseeing paramilitary death squads. Political skirmishes in Iraq aren't necessarily the United States' fault, but the precipitous pullout in 2011 has had predictably precipitous results for security.

In Pakistan a judge has granted bail to Rimsha Masih, the 14-year-old Christian accused of blasphemy. But the case isn't over yet.

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Yemeni forces have killed the second-in-command of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in an air raid. Said al-Shihri, a Saudi national, was released from U.S. detention at Guantanamo Bay in 2007.

The State Department on Friday designated the Haqqani network operating at the Af-Pak border a terrorist group. The designation comes five years after the Haqqanis first took credit for deadly terrorist attacks on targets in Afghanistan, including a rocket assault on the U.S. Embassy. But this is the same Taliban-linked outfit over whom U.S. diplomats supported negotiations with the Afghan government at one time. A 2009 Stratfor report said the Haqqani Network "is closely allied with al-Qaeda and is responsible for the bulk of suicide bombings in Afghanistan." As the Guardian reports, "the surprise was not the decision itself, but how long it has taken."

There is some good news in Afghanistan. Last week, Afghan officers arrested hundreds over "insider shootings" that have killed more than 45 NATO-allied troops this year.

And we want to know more about what U.S. security forces are calling the "Andar Awakening," a series of turning points similar to Iraq's "Anbar Awakenings," where Iraqis began turning against jihadists around 2007. Gen. John Allen, U.S. commander in Afghanistan, says the awakening could represent a new phenomenon in the Afghan war - "a series of local uprisings that remain disconnected from each other and the Afghan government but that could possibly come together to pose a serious threat tothe Taliban.


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