Tuesday, September 05, 2006

BUSH DIGS UP MOLDY OLD MANUAL OF AFGHAN JIHAD: Tries to make it a reason for why we fight

How do you know when a leader is being deceptive about "al Qaeda" documents? His lips are moving. Another explanation, more benign, is that he's utterly clueless.

From Associated Press, today, in the story: "Bush reminds Americans U.S. is at war."

"Bush said that despite the absence of a successor on U.S. soil to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the terrorist danger remains potent," wrote AP.

"Bin laden and his terrorist's allies have made their intentions as clear as Lenin and Hitler before them," the president was said to have said before an organization called the Military Officers Association of America. "The question is `Will we listen? Will we pay attention to what these evil men say?'"

"Quoting extensively from letters, Web site statements, audio recording and videotapes purportedly from terrorists, as well as documents found in various raids, Bush said that al Qaida, homegrown terrorists and other groups have adapted to changing U.S. defenses . . . " continued the wire report.

"For example, Bush cited what he called "a grisly al Qaida manual" found in 2000 by British police during an anti-terrorist raid in London, which included a chapter called "Guidelines for Beating and Killing Hostages."

Readers of my work from GlobalSecurity.Org and this blog know that when someone quotes from a "document" attributed to al Qaeda, it's time to review it. Because you either won't be getting the entire picture, or its historical context and provenance will be distorted in some interesting but politically expedient manner.

The 'grisly al Qaeda maual' is the same 'al Qaeda manual' that was posted to the US Department of Justice website years ago. It is more accurately known as the "Manual of Afghan Jihad" or "Military Studies in the Jihad [Holy War] Against the Tyrants." (Or simply the Manchester manual, from its place of confiscation.)

You can think of it as a moldy oldy, dragged out and banged about to shake loose the dust of fear when leaders need some to sprinkle on the polity.

From some of my older material on GlobalSecurity, here.

The "Manual of Afghan Jihad" was obtained in Manchester [not in London] in April 2000 by British anti-terrorism agents and subsequently turned over to the FBI's Nanette Schumaker later that month and contains sections on poisons. Its ricin recipe is clearly taken from [US authors] Hutchkinson and Saxon and although it is of similar nature to the recipe in the [Kamel] Bourgass trial, it is not identical.

. . . A further knock on the "Manual of Afghan Jihad" as an al Qaida source comes from its apparent origin in the first jihad against the Communist occupation of Afghanistan, prior to al Qaida. [Hint: Read the text carefully for date cues as well as references to Communists.] The "Manual of Afghan Jihad" was the property of Nazib al Raghie, also known as Anas Al Liby to the US government. At the time the manual was taken off al Raghie in Britain, UK authorities were apparently not that interested in him. Neither, apparently, was the FBI. And he was not arrested. These days, al Raghie, as Al Liby, is on the FBI's list of most wanted terrorists.

An entire translation of the same manual and an image of its cover is on Cryptome, here.

During the London ricin trial, the defense considered the description of it as "the al Qaeda manual" a title manufactured by the U.S. government.

In any case, it has been widely sampled and distributed around the web -- and to journalists -- who cited it extensively in newspaper and magazine articles purporting to show al Qaeda capabilities in chemical and biological warfare.

For example:

Manual of Afghan Jihad 'poison' recipe

This entry, a piece of a larger fragment, was submitted to GlobalSecurity.Org last year by a reporter for the Los Angeles Times.

The Times reporter was looking for an assessment and was told it was trash, originally from the "Manual of Afghan Jihad" where it had been pulled from American sources, much discussed at GlobalSecurity and later written of here and here.

When this assessment was heard, along with judgment on other alleged al Qaeda documents purported to showing similar capability, the story was abandoned.

The illustrative excerpt shows a standard and very old, naive fancy that botulism poisoning can be simply produced by putting some meat and crap in a can.

It originates from American sources, those associated with the neo-Nazi right and its samizdat literature. It is accompanied in the "Afghan Manual" by other idiotic recipes all pulled from the US books cited above.

The complete fragment of the manual, as submitted by the LA Times reporter: -- mistakenly labelled as an Al Qaeda document.

So whatever George W. Bush meant by using the "Manual of Afghan Jihad" as an example of the thoughts of evil men, he wasn't giving his audience the real picture.

The Afghan manual was seized during a British info-gathering raid in which its owner was not arrested. And it was not written by al Qaeda.

And some of what has been portrayed in it as "evil thought" originates from "evil thought" put to paper by ninnies from the extreme fringes of the US gun lobby, then published in how-to-make-mayhem books in the Eighties.

Presumably, this material was thought to be useful when Afghans were fighting the Communists. (Paradoxically, there is also material in it devoted to describing what to expect when imprisoned and facing torture at the hands of various authorities in Middle Eastern nations, but not the United States.)

Portions of the DOJ-mislabelled "Manual of Afghan Jihad" are still on Department of Justice servers.

For example, four parts, of which the third contains the section: "Guidelines for Beating and Killing Hostages."

Manual of Afghan Jihad, Part1

Manual of Afghan Jihad, Part 2

Manual of Afghan Jihad, Part3

Manual of Afghan Jihad, Part4

However, it also seems the Department of Justice, perhaps out of bad publicity, no longer wishes the public to have easy access to it. Part of the manual is missing and the original place holder for the page is long gone. (The Cryptome version is an accurate duplication of the Manchester document.)

But getting back to the Associated Press on President Bush's speech:

"[Bush] also cited what he said was a captured al Qaida document found during a recent raid in Iraq," continued the report. "He said the document described plans to take over Iraq's western Anbar province and set up a governing structure including an education department, a social services department, a justice department, and an execution unit."

This may be true. And it also may be more complicated, with the so-called writings and documents better viewed independently by voters and scholars.

If one learns anything about the interpretation of terrorist documents by leaders and politicians, it is always to ask to see the originals.

Ripley's 'Believe It or Not' content from the Afghan Manual: Upon scanning "Guidelines for Beating and Killing Hostages," it is found: "Religious scholars have permitted beating . . . In this tradition, we find permission to interrogate the hostage for obtaining information. It is permitted to strike the non-believer who has no covenant until he reveals the news, information and secrets of his people."

And, indeed, this is the material favored by George W. Bush.

Now, only the cynical would think of the didactic purpose inherent in substituting "administration lawyers," "secretary of defense" or "command staff" for "religious scholar." Right?

"Bowing to critics of its tough interrogation policies, the Pentagon is issuing a new Army field manual that provides Geneva Convention protections for all detainees and eliminates a secret list of interrogation tactics," wrote the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday.

"They will not apply to CIA interrogators working in [secret] prisons run by other countries, although under the McCain amendment those prisoners . . . cannot be tortured," it continues.

The Pentagon wanted to keep secret a second list of methods, informed the newspaper.

"But when State Dept. officials saw a draft of the manual earlier this year, they raised reservations . . . They expressed concern that even if the techniques were humane and lawful . . . other countries would assume the worst and insist that by maintaining a secret list , the United States must be allowing torture."

Be careful when considering both George W. Bush's citation of "Guidelines for Beating and Killing Hostages" and US war-on-terror policies on interrogations, particularly with regards as to why we are so different in philosophies and ideas. Your head might explode.

Staffers at Whitehouse.gov linked to the Afghan Manual of Jihad, which they erroneously still insist on calling the "al Qaeda" manual.

Curiously, they do not link to it at the US Dept. of Justice, where it was originally put on-line. DOJ makes finding it difficult, so the Whitehouse links to a mirror at the Air Force's Air University.

"The Department is only providing the following selected text from the manual because it does not want to aid in educating terrorists or encourage further acts of terrorism," reads the mirror from when John Ashcroft was in charge.

The material on food poisoning above, foolish as it is, was part of the material edited out by the US government.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Destiny, having recently discovered your blog let me just tell you how much I enjoy the writings of a man equally adept at rock and roll, global security, and snark. Please keep it up.

5:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Bush said that despite the absence of a successor on U.S. soil to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the terrorist danger remains potent," wrote AP.

If you doubt the threat of terrorist aggression you are not only fools, but you deserve the destruction that you receive as your reward for non-vigilance.

6:11 PM  
Blogger George Smith said...

Pointing forward, related piece:
Tortured Debate on Torture.

10:36 PM  
Anonymous amanfromMars said...

"Mr. Destiny, having recently discovered your blog let me just tell you how much I enjoy the writings of a man equally adept at rock and roll, global security, and snark. Please keep it up."

I Guess that makes at least The Three of Us. B-)

A Holy Grail or ITs Source CodeXXXX?

3:57 AM  
Anonymous amanfromMars said...

Would that be more mindless punishment ...."you deserve the destruction that you receive as your reward for non-vigilance." rather than a ForeWord Base for Constructive AIdDialogue.?

4:03 AM  

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