Jul 13, 2011

Ahmad Wali Karzai and Abu Sayyaf

Chuck MisslerBy Dr. Chuck Missler
Koinonia House

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Shot by his own bodyguard, Ahmad Wali Karzai was assassinated Tuesday to the consternation of NATO. NATO considered the corrupt half brother of Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai an embarrassing but useful ally in the fight against the Taliban. His death is seen as a new headache for the US-allied forces. What's more, the tendrils of Al Qaida reach far beyond the borders of Afghanistan. Like many other countries, the Philippines have their own band of Islamists longing to install an Iran-style Islamic state - with much less international attention.

Ahmad Wali KarzaiAhmad Wali Karzai was not the United States' favorite ally, and NATO was criticized for linking arms with a warlord and alleged heroin trafficker. "He's the proverbial 800lb gorilla and he's in the middle of a lot of rooms. He's the mafia don, the family fixer, the troubleshooter," said one NATO officer.

He didn't make NATO proud, but Wali provided some useful services as a power broker. He had great influence with the local Pashtun community and wielded more real power in Kandahar Province than did the western-backed governor Tooryalai Wesa. Now that Ahmad Wali is dead, NATO may have more difficulty keeping Kandahar out of the hands of the Taliban, which may in turn prolong the time NATO forces remain in the country. There is currently a plan to withdraw by 2014, but a couple of steps backward may cause NATO to scrap any timetable.

The Philippines' Al Qaida

In the meanwhile, the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf is still causing trouble in the Philippines, despite constant efforts on the part of the Philippine government. More than a dozen gunmen attacked a beach house on Tictabon Island early Tuesday morning and kidnapped three tourists, and Abu Sayyaf has been blamed. The victims have been named as Gerfa Yeatts Lunsmann, 50, her 14-year-old son Kevin Eric, and her 19-year-old nephew, Romnick Jackaria. The mother and son live in the US state of Virginia and were on vacation visiting family in the Philippines when they were abducted. Lunsmann's husband did not go on the trip.

According to Philippine Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, the police and military are working to hunt down the kidnappers and recover the victims. Tuesday's kidnapping took place near Basilan Island, where Abu Sayyaf has its stronghold.

The 400-member strong Abu Sayyaf is a terrorist organization in the southern Philippines with the stated goal of establishing an independent Islamic province with a government much like the regime in Iran. Abu Sayyaf has been involved in kidnappings, bombings, and assassinations for two decades. Its exploits have also involved general thuggery, including drive-by-shootings, drug trafficking, extortion and theft.

The terrorist group has hung on, but not without losses. On June 22, the Philippines' Supreme Court (SC) upheld a guilty verdict in which 17 Abu Sayyaf bandits were sentenced to life in prison for the kidnappings of Ediborah Yap and three other nurses at Torres Memorial hospital in June 2001. Yap was shot and killed during a rescue attempt June 7, 2002 along with fellow hostage Martin Burnham, an American missionary.

The bandits had originally been given the death penalty and ordered to pay P200,000 in moral damages to the family of Yap and to three other kidnap victims, as well as P150,000 in damages to Yap's heirs. The death penalty sentence was changed to a life sentence in 2008 when the Philippine Congress repealed the death penalty.

The police and military fight a constant battle to capture members of the Al Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf. Government security forces in Basilan captured two suspected Abu Sayyaf members in late June after an Abu Sayyaf prisoner in custody gave up a hideout location. Five people were initially arrested in the early morning raid, but it turned out that three of those captured were just local villagers who had been forced to work as porters for the bandits.

The work of fighting tenacious terrorist groups doesn't fall only to security forces in the Middle East. Al Qaida is a terrorist's franchise, after a fashion, setting up killer kiosks in a variety of locations around the world.

In the meanwhile, in Afghanistan, US officials are working to decide exactly how Ahmed Wali's death will affect the balance of power around Kandahar, and what that will mean for future plans for the region.

Related Links

Death of Karzai's warlord brother new barrier to peace - Sydney Morning Herald
Kandahar: Afghanistan's turbulent province - BBC
US seeks release of hostages held in Philippines - Big Hollywood
Philippine officials say no word yet from abductors of 2 Americans - Washington Post
Coalition death toll in Afghanistan so far this year reaches 300 - Channel 6 News Online