The recent selection of Jenny McCarthy for a spot on The View has angered vaccinators and people who support childhood vaccination. Her opposition to vaccination, however, puts her in company with the most notorious anti-vaxxers of modern times — the Taliban.
The coordinated murders of community health care workers in Pakistan, most of them women, in May has once again put into jeopardy the global polio eradication initiative. While the movement initially experienced exponential progress, it now finds itself trapped in an increasingly bloody battle with Islamic fundamentalists. When a female health worker wakes up in the morning, puts on her shalwar kameez, covering her head and most of her face in a dupatta, she is getting in gear to step out on to the front lines of one of the most important and dangerous wars of our time.
The global battle against polio lends itself well to the grisly metaphors of war. In many ways, the world-wide campaign to eradicate the disease has mirrored the fight against terrorism.
Read more. [Image: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters]
You shoot one 14-year-old girl in the head and you’ll never hear the end of it. So goes the lament of Pakistan’s Taliban insurgency following a spate of bad press in mainstream Pakistani outlets related to the jihadists’ failed assassination attempt of Malala Yousafzai, a young blogger who dared protest the Taliban’s ban on educating girls. Now the Taliban are plotting terror strikes on TV stations and other media organizations, but local newspapers refuse to stay silent.
Read more. [Image: AP]
In a letter issued following international condemnation of the shooting of Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan’s northwestern Swat Valley, the Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan (TTP) states its case for the attack and threatens anyone who challenges its strict interpretation of Shari’a law.
The letter, written in English, says a Taliban gunman “successfully targeted” Yousafzai “although she was young and a girl and the TTP does not believe in attacking women.” It says Yousafzai, who gained global recognition at the age of 11 through an online diary she wrote for the BBC about TTP influence in her hometown of Mingora, was shot because “whom so ever leads a campaign against Islam and Shariah is ordered to be killed by Shariah.”
Read more. [Image: Reuters/Stringer]
From real fighting to Twitter fighting:
The argument began when @ISAFmedia, which generally provides dry updates in military speak of the security situation in Afghanistan, took exception to comments from a Taliban spokesman, tweeting: “Re: Taliban spox on #Kabul attack: the outcome is inevitable. Question is how much longer will terrorist put innocent Afghans in harm’s way?”
The Taliban – who, when in power, eschewed most modern technology, including television and music players – decided to point the finger of blame back at the international forces. Showing an affinity with textspeak, Taliban tweeter Abdulqahar Balk (@ABalkhi) wrote: “@ISAFmedia i dnt knw.u hve bn pttng thm n ‘harm’s way’ fr da pst 10 yrs.Razd whole vllgs n mrkts.n stil hv da nrve to tlk bout ‘harm’s way’”
Today, in cyber war.
“Every pillar of the Taliban regime will be destroyed.” So said a message to the Taliban leader Mullah Omar from the United States in October of 2001. This message, along with a veritable treasure trove of previously classified documents from late 2001, have just been released and posted by the National Security Archive. They involve a great deal of information on the initial US strategic response in Afghanistan and the early planning and development of the War on Terror.
Start looking through the documents here. GWU has taken the time to give some highlights from these documents, including a detailed timeline of Cheney’s post-9/11 whereabouts, and an NSC strategic plan outlining the desire to take down al Qaeda and the Taliban without commiting to “any post-Taliban military involvement.” (Because all that nation-building could get tricky and entangling, no?)
The details of the Taliban’s nearly six-hour attack on Kabul’s six-story luxury Intercontinental Hotel are beginning to come into focus and they make for a gripping tale. For starters, it’s now clear that this wasn’t some spontaneous operation. Taliban commander Qari Talha tells The Daily Beast that the group had spent the past week planning the attack and that Taliban officials kept in touch with the assailants from an “operations room” in Kabul as the raid unfolded. He suggested that the Taliban had “sympathizers” in the hotel who fed the group information about the building’s layout and vulnerabilities, and added that “one or two” insurgents actually stayed in a hotel room as guests for three days and smuggled weapons into the facility before meeting the other assailants on Tuesday night. While the Taliban is claiming responsibility, Fox News and ABC’s Nick Schifrin are reporting that the Taliban-affiliated, Pakistani-based Haqqani network is in fact behind the attack
How did the raid go down? Several reports explain that at around 10 p.m. in Afghanistan, on the eve of a conference in the capital about transitioning security to the Afghan government, eight or nine militants armed with explosive vests, automatic rifles, anti-aircraft weapons, and grenade launchers managed to get past checkpoints, police guards, intelligence officers, and metal detectors at the hotel, where around 70 guests—including provincial governors in town for the conference—were staying (Afghan officials are still investigating how the insurgents infiltrated the building, saying only that they believe there was a “loophole in security”). Some of the attackers “carried tape recorders playing Taliban war songs and shot at anyone they saw,” according to Reuters. They “used different floors of the hotel as positions for shooting guests who were in the garden,” according to the Times, andeven fired rocket-propelled grenades at the house of Afghan Vice President Mohammad Qasim Fahim, according to journalist Bette Dam.
Read more at The Atlantic Wire
Two suicide bombers attacked recruits at a paramilitary training center in northwest Pakistan on Friday, killing 80 people and wounding 120 more in what a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban called “the first revenge of Osama’s martyrdom,” according to AFP. The spokesman, who claimed responsibility for the attack, warned of future attacks in Afghanistan and in Pakistan against Americans, and told the AP that the Taliban was also punishing the Pakistani army for failing to “protect its land” during the bin Laden raid—a criticism that has become quite popular in Pakistan these days. Today’s bombing in Pakistan’s Charsadda district near Peshawar, the AP notes, is the first major militant attack in Pakistan since bin Laden’s death and the deadliest this year.
Read more at The Atlantic Wire
In case you missed it, watch last night’s FRONTLINE, Kill/Capture: Inside the military’s extraordinary secret campaign to take out thousands of Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters.